3D movies finally dying again?

On the BBC's website, a series of respected directors of photography and cinematographers declare the imminent death (again) of 3D movies. This is something that could not come a moment too soon for me, since 3D glasses never converge properly for me, give me eyestrain and a headache, and are spectacularly uncomfortable when worn over my own glasses.

"From the cinematographer's perspective it may offer production value and scale to certain kinds of film. But for many movies it offers only distraction and some fairly uncomfortable viewing experiences for the audience. I haven't yet encountered a director of photography who's genuinely enthusiastic about it."

Nic Knowland's opinion of 3D is backed by another British cinematographer Oliver Stapleton, who has shot Hollywood movies such as The Cider House Rules and The Proposal.

"3D is antithetical to storytelling, where immersion in character is the goal. It constantly reminds you you're watching a screen - and it completely prevents emotional involvement. Natural human vision bears no resemblance to 3D in the cinema."

"2D doesn't reveal the smoke and mirrors of filmmaking in the same way. Of course that's partly because we're used to it, but also - it's not trying to mimic our vision.

"My goal as a cinematographer is to make the stitches in the cloth invisible. 3D says 'Look at me, I'm a picture!', 2-D simply says 'Once upon a time...'"

Has 3D film-making had its day? [Vincent Dowd/BBC] (via /.)


  1. 3D is a dumb gimmick that has not stuck, despite repeated attempts to jam it down everyone’s throat.   Current iteration is an admitted attempt to justify even higher ticket prices.   Bye-bye!

    1. CG was a dumb gimmick too when it started being used, remember?  That period where trailers were basically tech demos?  Where people would pay to see movies literally just because they had cool effects?  The blatant pandering was pretty frustrating for those who took movies seriously.

      But once the technology faded into the background, it allowed serious film makers to create experiences on screen that wouldn’t have been possible without CG.  In the long term, it expanded the possibilities of the art form.

      1. CG was a dumb gimmick too when it started being used, remember?

        You mean back when CG-heavy films were all teal and orange? Oh, wait….

        1. I’m now remembering the just-after-Terminator-2 era when every single movie had to have a morphing effect in it, whether it needed one or not.  I wish I wasn’t.

      2. What I hate is the CG films that have scenes obviously designed to slot in to the ‘game of the film’. The chase scene from The Incredibles was one example of this, but most of that genre seem to have a number of examples.

      3. See that’s the problem with 3D, it never fades into the background. It can be extremely well executed (Avatar) or not so well. But even when well executed it has the following drawbacks:

        – it dims the picture
        – it puts uncomfortable glasses in your face
        – it creates eyestrain and headache due to the fact that your convergence isn’t the same anymore as your focal point.
        – it can make it extremely difficult to “get into” a movie
        – It can make things look like miniatures
        – It can distract you by making one of your eyes feel like it’s in numb (I’ve seriously no idea what that is caused by)

        Cowboys&Aliens and John Carter in 3D: Made my left eye feel numb, everything looked like miniatures. Needed about 2/3 of the movie to “get into it”.
        Avatar in 3D: Had to be watched with heavy, bulky shutterglasses, most of the movie wasted being annoyed that they slip off my nose and press on my ears.

        I stopped watching movies in the cinema that run only in 3D. I just don’t watch them. If there isn’t a 2D screening of a movie I want to see, I just don’t watch the movie, period.

        1. The dimness is a big issue. A 50 year-old needs twice as much light as a 25 year-old to see the same thing. CG-heavy films already tend to go with a very dark look. Add 3D and most of the action is barely visible to half the population.

        2.  Perhaps I’m just living with better tech here in Australia, but the glasses they use for 3D here are light, simple, and fit over my prescription lenses fine. I still got a Very weird brain effect after watching Avatar though

      4. The first film I saw that emphasized on CGI in a way, despite not having computer generated effects, was 2001 A space odyssey and I can tell it’s always been and will probably ever be one of my all time favorite movie. Many later ones impressed me in all sort of ways (Tron ; Starwars, etc.) and I always felt CGI added something positive to the show, be it strictly positive or meh. I never felt something approaching in the 3D viewing experience. Everything was pejorative at best (the price and the pain) or detrimental (the so called effects). On the other hand I think it puts a real strain on the little movie theaters struggling to survive in the most isolated places. Switching to digital and 3D is a hard process I think for those, economically speaking and I don’t think that’s a good thing. On a side note about the digital copy I saw (The hobbit) I don’t think the new framerate of 48f used by Peter Jackson is the progress he’s promoting. It never showed a better image compared to what I saw in The lord of the ring trilogy but maybe it’s only my aging eyes here ? ;)  Maybe some youngsters can correct my impression… (I don’t wear glasses though and I’m over 50 so I think I still have a decent eyesight).

  2. I went on Monday to see The Bridges of Goblin County (in 2D, since 3D gives me a headache), and left scratching my head over why there was a 45 minute Tim Burton film in the middle of a three-hour Peter Jackson film.  And then it occurred to me that the entire, ridiculously long, repetitive Goblin Town sequence would have been designed with 3D in mind, sort of like mid-20th Century 3D films in which people are constantly throwing things at the screen because 3D!!!

    1. see also the roller-coaster ride in the goblin/orc caves in the current Hobbit film.   (am i the only one to remember the John Candy/second city very funny send-up of 3d films for the sake of 3d? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4u4tTFEF_XE …this being a mockery of the first 3d film push …hm, i wonder if they’ll try the vibrating chairs or ushers running up/down with scent bottles again next?)

    2. I saw it in 3D, and the sad thing for me about that sequence is that it felt like looking at a diorama. All these characters are running around in 3D but the background is flat, so the action appears to be taking place inside a shoebox. A shoebox that somebody is holding in front of you and shaking, from the way the camera moves. It’s a very confusing sensory experience. I suppose it seems more real in terms of the detail resolution, but the the overall experience certainly seems less real.

      PS, I had no trouble at all tracking it with my astigmatic, myopic eyes. It was my brain that didn’t like it so much. “Baaaaaah,” I guess.

      1. Didn’t like that sequence in 2D either though. Same with the one where Radagast flees the Dol Guldur ruins but this one slightly better because it’s been shot in a forest instead of an almost barren plain.

    3. Hold the phone, they’ve gone and put 3D into the Hobbit? 

      I have been deliberately blind of all and any news of said film, as I was for the LOTRx3, to enhance my eventual experience.

      That is truly lame, glad to hear though that 2D is on offer, unlike Avatar where I was subjected to 3D headaches and terrible nausea from the writing. MF J. Cameron owes me money.

    4. If I could click that thumbs-up more to give your comment a higher rating, I would.  Loved the PJ adaptation of LOTR, mainly because it uses the effects to support this fanciful world, but the main thing is this great battle of good vs. evil and all the feelings surrounding it.  It’s about the people of Middle Earth first and foremost.  The Hobbit seems to be an exercise in shooting a tremendously expensive movie using 48fps 4k Reds, with actors being thrown in for good measure.

    5. The problem here is not the 3D.  The problem here is that Peter Jackson desperately needed an editor willing to say “no” to him.  (In 2D or 3, that movie still contains four different “everybody dangles precariously over a great height for no great reason” sequences, which is at least three more than it can use.  The Moria steps in Fellowship were a great sequence, but that’s no reason to keep repeating it.)

      1. The problem here is that Peter Jackson desperately needed an editor willing to say “no” to him.

        Yeah, that was proven in King Kong with those endless monster sequences. He just seemed to be in love with the effects. Instead of using them to tell the story, he used the story as a launching pad for a lengthy effects demo reel.

    6. Too bad you didn’t trust Jackson enough to check out the film in HFR (High Frame Rate) 3D, which is how he shot it and how he wants it seen. HFR 3D is no gimmick; it’s a whole new way to experience what we think of as movies. It’s an order of magnitude clearer and crisper than any previous film experience I’ve had. No noticeable eyestrain at all, for me.

      The immediacy of HFR, which has underappreciated advantages and overdramatized disadvantages, adds a visceral dimension that’s very un-filmlike. The Goblin Town sequence, for instance, is a trip to see “live,” which is how it feels in HFR 3D — live footage of a goblin town.

      A whole new medium is born.

      I predict when Avatar 2 comes out everyone will hail Cameron as a visionary for using a version of what Peter Jackson has in the theaters right now.

      Note to Cory: I’d be curious whether you get the eyestrain/headache problem with this one.

      1. I think that was what I saw, I’m 49, it was the best visual film I’ve seen. I still think I’d rather see it in 2d, but it worked, it wasn’t painful (beyond polarized glasses in front of my normal ones).

        The Oz trailer was made by someone who wants us to HATE 3D, I’d seen it the other week in 2D, and it was good, 3D, horrid.

        1. I agree, I’d love to see it in 48fps minus the 3D, just to really be able to separate out what 48fps can do, but something was definitely amazing there.  I understand the 3d haters, but it works great for me, so I’m never bothered by it.  I do feel that in many films it isn’t worth the premium, although it’s hard to figure out ahead of time which those are.  So far the ones that really worked for me in 3D were Coraline, Avatar and Hugo.  Up, Avengers…probably everything else I’ve seen (can’t remember now) were a waste.  Up was especially disappointing: for a movie that spent so much time hyping 3D they didn’t seem to have any concept of how it worked.

      2. I hated the 3D sequences in the Moria and most of the battle ones as well. I appreciated these a lot more in 2D. I’m technically speaking, as a creative process I didn’t liked it either way as it didn’t add well to the story telling, imho. Overall I liked the movie for what it is, an action fantasy blockbuster. As a long time fan of Tolkien books I’d rate it as an acceptable adaptation that won’t see any challenge in my lifetime but I would never introduce a newcomer to this universe in recommending him to watch the movies before or instead of reading the novels. The gap between those is still way too large.

      3. Too bad you didn’t trust Jackson enough to check out the film in HFR (High Frame Rate) 3D, which is how he shot it and how he wants it seen.

        1) Why would I trust some stranger who works for the blockbuster entertainment industry?
        2) What part of 3D giving me a headache didn’t you understand?
        3) Why on earth would I give a shit what Peter Jackson wants?

  3. I will accept 3D movies as a legit thing when someone makes a story that can only be told through a 3D movie

    1. Coraline came close. It used the 3D to good effect, dialing it down when Coraline was in the “real” world and ramping it up to deliberately dizzying effect when she traveled to the other world behind the little door.

      Of course, Coraline is stop-motion animation, which (oddly enough) becomes “more real” in 3D. I’ve yet to see a live-action film that doesn’t suffer from the inverse problem.

      1. Coraline was one of two movies I saw in 3D that looked great that way, but it was a great story and when I later saw it on a small screen in 2D, it still looked great.

        Tron Legacy also looked fantastic in 3D.  It was still a mostly nonsensical mishmash of cyberpunk tropes and very shiny prettiness.
        I’d gladly have traded the experience of seeing those in 3D to have never seen Avatar in 3D, or Beowulf at all.

      2. I specifically saw Coraline in 3D because of the way they shot it. I was curious to see how it differed to other movies coming out in 3D at the time. It was pretty cool that way, I’m not going to lie. 
        What I hate most about 3D is the “oh hey, might as well make this 3D while we’re at it because we can” aspect of it. 

      3. Coraline reminded me of looking at a Viewmaster reel (the kind with the dioramas made with real toys, not the pointless cartoon or travelogue ones) when she goes to the other world, which was perfectly fitting.  I haven’t seen the 3D Nightmare Before Christmas, but I could imagine it being similar if Burton had only shot it that way to begin with.

      4. I’m an animation nerd. I am fascinated by the advances in technology and the creativity of story telling. Coraline to me was pure wonderful. I loved how the fabric looked so touchable. It was inventive, creative, imaginative and one of the few stories where the movie was so much more than the book.

        I work in high tech so I know that for every “big leap forward” in how tech is really used, there are 1000 missed attempts that get you almost there. 

        Although 3D of late has been a lot of missteps, I think it would be a mistake for directors to abandon trying to make it work. Coraline is a great example of what it could look like to advance narrative AND art using 3D storytelling. 

        I hate all the crap 3D as much as everyone else, but directors, please, review what has worked. Look at Avatar, look at Coraline, and now please figure out how improve, tinker with, and innovate based on what has already been shown to strike a chord. Don’t stop for one second because of the naysayers. 

    2. Hugo had a few scenes that made clever use of 3D. *Very mild spoiler* Like watching the crowd watching Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat for the first time actually bolt out of the screen because they thought the train was going to come out of the screen at them. 3D adds a level of meta-ness to the joke that would be lost in 2D. But then again, Hugo is the only 3D movie I’ve liked.

      1. But no special effects will save your film if your protagonist is a French orphan, in Paris, who inexplicably speaks with a British accent.

        1. Captain Picard supposedly being French despite Patrick Stewart clearly being English gave free reign for all who followed to interchange the two, I think.

    3. Wim Wenders “Pina”? It is about the modern dance legend of the same name. If he thinks it needs 3D, I’m inclined to trust him, but I’ve not seen it.

        1. I missed that and regret it.  I had trouble with Cave of Forgotten Dreams: the 3D never quite seemed in sync for me, and the lighting never quite got the cave features to jump out of the screen properly.

    1. 48 FPS at least solves one problem, which is that panning shots on film look utterly terrible and always have. You don’t need to wear idiotic glasses to watch 48 FPS either.

    2. No, that we  should have had instead of 70mm. Douglas Trumball’s experiments in the 1970s showed visual bennifits up to 72 fps, I’ve been waiting since I heard about it in the 1980s to see a movie in it.

      In computer monitors and gaming we all know you want even more than 48 fps, so it may just be a start.

      Damn, broadcast HD is a dumb standard.

      1. I saw a Showscan film sometime in the late 80s. Halfway through, the film broke and the projectionist walked down in the dark behind the screen, turned on the light and set about to get another reel. At one point, he even pushed on the muslin screen from behind while chatting with the audience.

        Punk’d! The whole thing was a film but the 60 fps resolution was so convincing it flew right past everyone.

        Higher-than-24fps cinema can’t come fast enough for me. IMAX looks great with still shots but motion blurs terribly. Your grandchildren won’t be able to believe we ever watched such crappy resolution films.

  4. 3D sucks.   Always has, always will.   Sorry, Mr. Cameron, you’re a genius, but don’t try to focus-pull my eyeballs.  It’s painful and I don’t recall giving consent.

    Stereoscopy isn’t ever going to work in a film medium.   Maybe in immersive games, where your eye is tracked and there’s a real time depth of field and exposure adjustment, but as soon as you don’t have control of the sensory experience, it’s broken.

    1. It’s only “broken” for whatever fraction of the population experiences discomfort due to the unnaturalness of focus not matching perceived depth–I’ve never felt any issues with eyestrain or headaches personally, and I think a lot of people don’t. The fact that a good number of people do experience discomfort is a good argument for releasing 2D versions of films alongside the 3D versions (which studios and theaters don’t always do unfortunately), but it’s not an argument for saying that it “isn’t ever going to work in a film medium”, or for saying that it’s a medium where we “don’t have control of the sensory experience” (I can look anywhere I want in the 3D image without a problem, I don’t have any conscious perception of the fact that my brain has to adjust the focus of my eyes in a different way than it’s used to).

      1. By “broken” I meant more that the illusion is compromised, at least it was for me, because that, and things others have mentioned feel unnatural.   The example I alluded to was one of the first scenes in Avatar, where the camera focuses on Jake’s face, then shifts focus to a drop of water floating in zero G.    That felt weird, not being able to focus my eyes where I wanted to.  Maybe the illusion was good enough (until then) that my eyes/brain responded the way they do IRL, so when that happened, it was more detrimental to the immersion in the story than not having the 3D at all.  Same thing happens when things break frame “in front of the window.”   Prometheus was really good about that; very few things actually broke the frame while intended to be in front of it, and there was a minimum of “because I can” 3D moments.   The trick with these films, I think,  is to sit as close as you can or see them in an extremely large format where your peripheral vision doesn’t have a chance to betray the illusion.  

        This is why I think immersive 3D games have a better chance of pulling this off, because you’re in control of where the window is, everything is in focus (until the eye-reading tech I mentioned is a reality), and the interocular distance isn’t dictated by a studio suit wanting the image to “pop more.’

  5. You will notice that Ang Lee, who’s a really good director by anyone’s standards, is a dissenting voice here.   I think the jury’s still out. I was fairly impressed by some of the stuff they did with it in “The Hobbit” but making it 3D just for the sake of it, without thinking about what you’re going to do with it, isn’t really worthwhile. (eg “Jackass 3D”)   I think we just need time for people to figure out how to use the new medium.   
    PS:  getting clip on glasses is way better than wearing glasses on glasses, as I discovered previously with welding shades.

    1. Besides Ang Lee, there is of course James Cameron and Martin Scorsese. The main problem is that most directors aren’t Lee, Cameron or Scorsese.

    2. …Ang Lee, who’s a really good director by anyone’s standards…

      I have significant qualms about any director who turns a 64 page story into a 134 minute film.

      1. and Antinous shows that he doesn’t know what he is talking about yet again since everyone in the biz knows that a movie is just the filmic version of a short story

  6. I was already veering away from cinemas due to the cost and crappiness of the local venues, 3D are pretty much the final straw.

    The ickyness (sticky cinemas) and cost vs convenience of waiting for the online/physical media release was already huge, but excluding me from 90%+ of showings (because i have mono-only vision, one eye normal, one short-sighted. never got it fixed due to the headaches glasses gave me) killed the remaining enthusiasm i had for cinema viewing.
    I refuse to pay extra to have a worse quality picture and uncomfortable glasses forced on me for absolutely no plus side whatsoever…

    I saw only one film in the cinema this year (awkward to organise 2D showing of the hobbit) If things don’t scale back on 3d, i doubt i’ll see more than one film a year in the future either…

    1.  Yes.  They’re uncomfortable, and sharply limited in viewing angle in several critical ways.  One day the tech will do it well; today is not that day.

  7. Oh here we go again with the biased boingboing 3D movie hate fest, just because you cant see through your highly calibrated prescription glasses. Do you want them to start making movies for those myopically-challenged?

    I love 3D movies, and Im sure there are many others who do as well, especially kids. So what if it reminds you of the visual plane? Sometimes a movie should play with the field of vision in surprising and interesting ways, if not to merely entertain you. Why complain about it? Just dont go see them and let people who enjoy them do so in peace. As the medium progresses, people like us will be paying for the perfecting of future glasses for those visually impaired like yourself.

    Now, as for the dimming of projector bulbs, thats a serious topic…

    1. Kids do love them, they also like paint chips if they can get them.

      When teh industry practically promised a deluge of 3D titles despite it being such a half assed thing, and without assurances of 2D versions available on the big screen there is reason for complaint. Thankfully the plan was doomed, because of 3D.

      To the many, many people who find it painful and the many more of us who find it inserted where it doesn’t fit it is rather like being forced to consume several kilograms of sour gummi-worms at every movie whether you like gummi worms or not.

      Progresses? Hahaha, 3D has progressed the way low nutritive junk food progresses through the digestive tract, each time it is introduced.

    2. “Just dont go see them and let people who enjoy them do so in peace.”
      You’re right… as long as the 3D promoter don’t force us to renonce to see a movie because it’s only shown 3D. I was forced not to see “Prometeus” because of that last summer (don’t tell me I didn’t miss that much…) so I say it again : “DEATH TO 3D ! “.

      1.  I totally agree. That was a low blow. Prometheus was an act of movie discrimination on a scale that should not be tolerated.

        Which is why I advocate downloading. F-ing great movie.

  8. I saw Pandora in 3D, it was fun.  Haven’t seen any 3D since, all the reviews sucked.  But I hear Finding Nemo is pretty good, so even though my youngest child is 20, I might try it again.

    1. I just checked imdb to see what this “Pandora” movie is.  Since 3D wasn’t really a thing in 2006, I suspect you and the other commenter downthread are thinking of Pandorum?  I had no idea it was released in 3D.  I’ve seen it a few times in 2D and haven’t noticed any of those ridiculous “oh, look, we’re doing a 3D effect because we can” scenes (looking at you Resident Evil 4).

  9. You have to watch it on IMAX for your eyes not to get tired.  IMAX 3d is the bomb and is very good on the eyes.  People get tricked into thinking the crappy small screens can display it correctly.  The theaters love keeping people in regular theaters to keep costs down.  If Avatar didn’t convince people that it’s a viable medium then you’re all sheep doing what the people with money want you doing, laying stagnant.

    EichaelThe0ne – You are so correct!  Yeah the hate fest loves to say all 3d sucks because of  couple of bad movies or improper theaters.

    1. You have to watch it on IMAX for your eyes not to get tired.

      I’ve only ever seen 3D on an IMAX screen, unless you count films from the 1950s. I had a headache within 5 minutes. And it looked far less ‘real’ than 2D films.

      If Avatar didn’t convince people that it’s a viable medium then you’re all sheep doing what the people with money want you doing, laying stagnant.

      Yes, people who don’t like what you like are “sheep”.

      1. Antinous I think someone on Boing Boing or Slashfilm posted a link to a guide about how to watch 3D without your eyes being tired. I used some of it and it was helpful. 

        As for 3D i hate it and Imax doesn’t help. 3D in imax is an atrocity becaue it ruins a great format the 70mm imax tape offers. 3D narrows your field of vision so it makes having a great screen pointless. 
        On the other hand I love 2D imax which was shot in IMAX (not converted since it is not the same ratio!!!). It really makes the scenes feel bigger and as much as some people were dissapointed with the latest Batman you can’t deny it is a prime example of how to use Imax. I’d gladly pay extra for such experiences.

      2. IMAX doesn’t just mean “larger screen than what you got used to when theaters subdivided.”  It doesn’t even just mean “six-story-tall screen that the audience is stacked vertically in front of” like when there were only a few IMAX theaters in the country and they were all in planetariums or Disneyworld.  IMAX is a film format, and I’ve never understood how they’ve allowed the brand to be diminished the way it has.

        This is not to say that 3D (more properly, “stereoscopic”) doesn’t give you a headache, just that what’s marketed as IMAX more often than not isn’t.

    2. “You have to watch it on IMAX for your eyes not to get tired. IMAX 3d is the bomb…” LoL ! Do you know how many IMAX capable theaters there are in the country side ? Not all of the people already live in Metropolis… and that’s a good thing. :o)

  10. I love the way this “fad” has been dying for over 5 years now.

    Seems like these films are pretty popular to me.

  11. You people are all philistines. Much like the way pop-up books changed the world of flat, boring, 2D books, 3D movies will… Oh yeah…

  12. HD or 3D doesn’t make a crappy movie worthwhile. And this sheep saw Avatar in its three unplagiarized prequels and it bored me to tears. Even eye candy gets tedious after a while.

  13. I went through this the first time in the 1950s and the bottom line was 3D didn’t add much. That plus the discomfort using the glasses eventually killed it. Many of us have eyes that mis-track a little or a lot and after 30 minutes fatigue sets it. Brightness, contrast, and shadows give the bulk of depth perception. The in-your-face junk is hyper-stereo done by using a wider spacing that the spacing of the eyes. A little goes a long ways.
    Of the 1950s movies the best dramatic use of 3D was House of Wax starring Vincent Price. The worst was The Creature from the Black Lagoon. That’s my opinion. There’s a long list of films at least as bad as that one.

  14. The only film I liked in 3D was Avatar. I’ve seen it both ways and my wife and I both thought the 3D was like total immersion in Pandora. I’ve seen a few others over the past 40 years and only Avatar really worked for me. I have color-blindness and am partially blind in one eye, don’t know if that impacted some 3D technology, but probably did… 

  15. I prefer the “Trojan Horse” theory–the studios invested in a relative handful of big stereo 3D releases, and theaters rushed to buy expensive digital projection systems, dreaming of capturing those ticket premiums indefinitely. Meanwhile, even when the s3D fad’s long gone, studios will continue saving billions each year by shipping out DRM’d digital files instead of film prints. On the positive side, I’m really pleased with how the interest in s3D has spurred computer-vision R&D–soon the current state of the art in cameras will be “light-field” devices that have infinite depth of field and turn everything they film into voxels…

    1. I’m pretty sure by the time we have a light field camera that has enough speed and resolution for cinema we will have warp drive, quantum computers that sit on your desk, and decent holography.

    2. Yes, i’d like to think 3d will progress to stereo light-field cameras (or could they do it with one?), and some eye-tracking software to figure out where in the field you are focusing. 

  16. I’m always astounded by the people declaring they can’t see/watch/suffer 3D movies. It’s like the people in the old Monty Python sketch who couldn’t bear “tinny” words.

    I haven’t watched any of the post-converted live action movies, possibly those have been poor, but the animated features from Dreamworks and Pixar have used 3D well. The current process is an excellent one.

    I’d be curious to see research done on the correlation between pained-3D-movie-goers and painfully-distressed-automobile-owners.  i suspect the  people who have trouble with 3D in movies have trouble with 3D in real life.

    1. (apologies for the fail formatting. noob on the loose…)

       “i suspect the  people who have trouble with 3D in movies have trouble with 3D in real life. ”

      -Possibly.  That’s an issue for me and my less than perfect eyes.
      3D movies are likely more problematic for people that have bio-mechanical focusing and/or bio-electrical image processing issues.  The current state-of-the-art — even when well executed — can devolve into a headache inducing and stomach-lurching affair.

      Perhaps it is akin to going from a single-vision lens to progressive.  It takes time for the brain to adjust to the new and interestingly bent light drumming the back of your eyeball.  This might not sit well with some (also, progressive lenses + 3D = not good)

      So, if you enjoy 3D, great. 

      I don’t.

    2. i suspect the  people who have trouble with 3D in movies have trouble with 3D in real life.

      When you have nystagmus (or something very similar to it) anything that messes with your vision tends to not work well.  (Considering my mind does a really good job of compensating for what my eyes do, 20/30 vision, adding another layer to work with is just all that more taxing.)


    3. “i suspect the  people who have trouble with 3D in movies have trouble with 3D in real life.”

      You should check out these 2D glasses I invented.  They have one eye-hole completely blacked out, it’s incredible!  Everything looks flat, like a cartoon!

    4. Lots of people have eye issues. Movies can’t be accessible for everyone, but it’s no surprise some of us are getting angry that they’re becoming inaccessible for more people. I have an eye problem that makes bright light painful and bright screens unusable. I might well have eye problems that make 3d movies unwatchable too, and even if I don’t, I understand the frustration.

      Oh, wow, the commenting system is buggy again.

    5. “I’m always astounded by the people declaring they can’t see/watch/suffer 3D movies. It’s like the people in the old Monty Python sketch who couldn’t bear “tinny” words.” Despite my found love for the Monties I disagree with your comparison. Why being so moronic with statements like those ? To me 3D has been a shitty experience and who are you to tell me I’m a reactionary ? Do you detract all those who do not share your opinions and loathe at them ? By the way you’re probably wrong about 3D in real life (as far as I’m concerned too) so you would make a pretty bad scientist as well.:o)

      1. “You’re probably wrong about…” isn’t much of a scientific method, Mr. “bad scientist” labeler.

        Seriously…I go to a 3d movie and I see 3 dimensions in full color, brighter and with less flicker than the conventionally projected movie I saw in the theater across the hall an hour earlier and I live to tell the tale. So does just about everyone else.

        A small fraction of the audience goes to a 3D movie and claims to be reduced to a quivering, vomiting, sweating, staggering, gasping pile of flesh. Yet they are eager to tell everyone about it and get quite indignant at anyone who doesn’t share their pain. Something is wrong there.

        The only person who can tell you how these people sound to me is me.  It’s like listening to the guy who gets up at a city council meeting to complain about the flying saucer that hovers over his house 24 hours a day.  It is that out of alignment with my own experience in watching these movies.

        My alternate comparison was to the princess in the fairy tale who couldn’t sleep with a pea under her mattress.  Maybe I should have gone with that.

        1. It is that out of alignment with my own experience in watching these movies.

          And your personal perceptions are truth, science and law all twined into one infallible package.

  17. Doubt very much 3D is going anywhere.  It’s a legitimate medium of cinematic expression, and like most things, a hell of a lot more people can do it badly than can do it well.  But Cameron, Scorsese, and (apparently) Lee have done very good work with it; it was used subtly and effectively in both Prometheus and Dredd, and parts of the Hobbit looked incredible in 48 fps 3D.  The majority of directors don’t know how to use it (and probably didn’t want to in the first place), and wind up with that absolutely godawful flattened, pop-up book effect.  But most of those films are shit anyway.

    1. “…and parts of the Hobbit looked incredible in 48 fps 3D.”

      Well I guess I must see it again in 3D cause I struggle to remind any of thoses “incredible parts” you mentioned :o)  Too bad for me but that won’t happen, like never.

  18. Did you actually read the article, Cory? The point of the piece is that, while 3D hasn’t automatically become the format of choice for audiences or directors, it’s not going away any time soon.

  19. 3D movies have been around, in one form or another, since shortly after the birth of cinema.  It was there before any of us were around and it will outlast us. Even if it goes away from the mainstream, it will be back for a new generation after a decade. I personally love 3D. I’ve collected View-Masters since I was a toddler and I’ve had a home FS 3D system since the late 80s. That said, I really don’t care for many 3D movies since the turn of the Century. The new digital projection isn’t that good, the jacking up of prices for 3D films is criminal and the use of 3D these days is (generally) too conservative for my tastes. I mean, it varies. I took off my glasses half way through Tron Legacy and it didn’t matter much, but Prometheus was gorgeous in 3D. Overall, however, I’ll take dual projection or stacked frame 3D over the new stuff any day.

    Still, I’m thrilled to have the option of seeing a 3D movie if I desire. Which brings me to the question: If 3D bothers you so much, why not just see the 2D version and let those of us who love 3D have our fun? It’s not like you’re being forced to see it in 3D. There’s always a 2D screening. Always.

    1. There is often a 3D screening… just not necessarily in your city. When Dredd came out, the nearest 2D release to me was about an hours travel away.

      1. That does stink. The multiplexes ’round these parts always have a 2D version showing along side a 3D version.

    2. “I’ve collected View-Masters since I was a toddler…”
      So did I ! But those were static images, right ? The colors, contrast and luminosity of the system (I guess it was similar in the U.S. and Europe ? Some sort of binocular, with a lever on the side to switch pictures) most probably compensating for the effect ? I still have fond memories of Winetou and Zorro in View-Masters :o)

      1. There is a View-Master knocking around the house somewhere that used to give me the willies as a child. The disc was called something like “Delightful Devon” and featured a view over a cliff edge… ‘boake’…

        I guess that the difference is that with View-Master the 3D effect was the entire point of the entertainment, while films are supposed to tell some sort of narrative (no matter how opaque or fragmented) and any 3D should be subservient to that task. Instead, the current technology is literally “in your face”.

    3. “the use of 3D these days is (generally) too conservative for my tastes.”

      Your tastes are primarily the reason why people hate 3D.

  20. I’m one of the folks who can watch 3D just fine, and I have to say that I find it’s benefits to be rather modest in even the best possible situation.

    That said, the quote “3D is antithetical to storytelling, where immersion in character is the goal” doesn’t really apply to Hollywood, as modern Hollywood is largely unconcerned by character, or even storytelling – never mind casting folks based on acting ability.

    That said, the quote is simply wrong. 3D is a tool. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s an imperfect tool, that causes some problems for a given segment of the community, but I’d be interested to see where it goes once they get past the stupid gimik stage where they use it just because they can, and actually use it selectively and creatively.

    Imagine it being used as colour was in Pleasentville…

  21. ‘Up’ was a good 3-D experience, but then again it focused on story and wasn’t in your face trying to gee-wow you all of time. Probably the only great 3-D film I’ve ever seen was ‘Captain EO’ at Disneyland. 3-D shouldn’t be used to give you a roller coaster experience or blasted at your retinas for 3 hours straight. When a movie does that it’s the same as torture. If it’s done judiciously it can be done to great effect. But even the great directors like playing with their toy a little too much. “Oooh look! The face is coming out of the screen right at you!” [ba-humbug]

    1. The 3D in My Bloody Valentine was very well done. It was shot in true 3D with dual lenses and on set SFX. That’s why the 3D was so good.

  22. Pixar does 3D well. Not sure of any others that impressed me, but I can’t really get that worked up about it. I don’t like whiny teenage vampire movies either, but I don’t mind if other people like to watch them.

  23. I don’t mind 3D, and I can see it just fine, but I guess I’m still waiting for the movie that really uses it in a mind-bending way. Avatar was not it, despite being a good movie and a huge cinematographic achievement. I saw Life of Pi the other day in 2D and was glad I didn’t bother with 3D.

    Now if somebody does the Carlos Castaneda books in 3D, I will be all over it. I want to see sorcerer combat in the Mexican desert.

    1. I haven’t read much about Life of Pi movie, I read the book, it made my last trans-pacific flight many years ago somewhat enjoyable as long flights go. 

      Saw several seconds of a trailer and still couldn’t see how it would translate well into a movie. 

      So you are glad you skipped the 3D, but was it a worthwhile movie in your opinion?

      1. “A visual feast!” – SedanChair
        “4.5 out of 5 stars!” – SedanChair
        “The 16 and 11-year-old boys with me actually sat through it and said they liked it afterward!” – SedanChair

  24. Death to the demon, 3D!

    My main concern (aside from finding the experience uncomfortable and underwhelming) is that releasing the blockbusters in dual format (or triple format with 48fps) fills up the available screens, reducing choice.

  25. I can watch 3D films, but if you offered me a 3D TV for my home, I’d be indifferent and continue watching films in Neanderthal-mode. Fairly certain that 3D was something the cinemas were convinced was going to save them from people like me who hate cinemas.

    So yeah, call me biased or whatever, but I’m fully done with 3D. I would sooner watch any film in 2D than in 3D, even the films that do 3D “right”.

    1. The honest truth behind 3-D? The studios embraced it as a way to hinder movie piracy. You can’t just put a camera in the cinema and film the movie, then upload it. It turns a crappy pirated movie into a horrible mess. Plus they have their hands all over the codecs needed to view a 3-D movie at home. In the early ’00s the studios were touting 3-D as the savior of their revenues. If only they could get everyone to embrace it. Side benefit was that 3-D until recently was better in the cinema.

  26. 3D is a traditional scam periodically pulled by the hollywood movie industry on each new generation of moviegoers everr since the fifties. It is a highly ritualized affair where this new “revolutionary” technology is trumpeted to ridiculousness, the theaters are blackmailed to buy expensive equipment and raise the prices and finally, as always, after the cow has been milked, hollywood allows it to fade back into obscurity, waiting for the next generation’s vallets to grow up.
    The whole phenomena is as predictable and boring as the changing of seasons or american interventionist phases which also follow a generational cycle.

  27. 3D won’t work for film, but it will for video games and for sports.  Gaming where you can immerse yourself in a 3D lifelike “holonovel” such we saw extensively on Star Trek Voyager and for sports, where lasers can recreate a 3D mini-stadium field on your coffee table or living room floor, similarly to the Star Wars chess game.

  28. I’m yet to see any argument against 3D that wasn’t said about color movies a few decades ago. 

    Technicolor was unrealistic, often eye-hurtingly bright, it was used as a gimmick (Wizard of Oz, anyone?), and colorblind people couldn’t benefit from it.

    Neither of that killed it. 

    1. Talk about stretching for a false equivalency.

      “Eye-hurtingly” bright?  Sheesh. Huge numbers of people won’t see 3D movies due to headaches, or the complete inability to enjoy the 3D effect — you’re comparing those numbers to the “hordes” of people who refused technicolor because it was “eye hurtingly” bright?  Right. Color movies were embraced by critics and by the VAST majority of movie goers, so much so that it immediately killed the demand for b/w movies.  Yeah — once color movies came out — non-color movies essentially died.   Uh, not so much with 3D vs 2D where polls show the 3D haters often to be in the majority of movie goers.

      And… colorblind people couldn’t benefit from it???  (By colorblind, I assume you  mean red/green and other forms of color deficient vision–as opposed to actual color blindness–ie, people who see only black/white/gray which is like .004% of the population.)   People with color deficient vision most certainly do benefit and enjoy color movies.  Ask any “color blind” friends if they “benefit” from color movies over b&w. They’d laugh at you.

      Try again — the color movies vs 3D movies argument is just silly.

      1. Film projectors used to use carbon arcs, which are much brighter than what are used in projectors today. Back then, movie palaces were incredibly huge and the throw to the screen had to be much brighter, but in smaller theaters, the same systems were used. So, yes, Technicolor films could be “Eye-hurtingly” bright in smaller theaters.

        Are you serious? Demand of black and white films were immediately killed when color movies came out? That’s a total load of Bills**t. You, sir, have no idea what you are writing about. You should stop now to save yourself further embarrassment.

  29. 3D movies are only dying because they are being made obsolete by 4D.  I personally am holding out for 5D or higher; if I can’t see into other dimensions, then where is the cinematic magic?

  30. What annoys me is the idea that if I don’t want to see a 3D movie, I can just “go see the 2D version”.  As if the decisions the director made when shooting for 3D mean nothing.  The truth is, if you see a made-for 3D movie in 2D, you are often getting an inferior product–full of scenes (such as the goblin town one mentioned above) that suffer or make no sense or look flat or “wrong”. 

    So, you’re basically making a movie that a huge chunk of the population is not going to experience according to the director’s and cinema photographer’s  intent. 

    So, since I can’t enjoy 3D, I don’t choose the 2D version.  I just don’t see the movie at all, preferring to spend my money on one that I can experience as it was intended to be seen.

  31. Cory look up sales data for most 3D movies. Yes 3D tickets are more expensive but outside of horror movies they have fewer viewers per screen than 2D. 

    The real premium experience that people are willing to pay is IMAX, yes also in 2D. That is what should be the future. 

    1. Sadly, IMAX is a term applied to just a large screen anymore. It’s not the original IMAX, a curved screen that wrapped nearly around the audience and with around 60 speakers behind it. The old Cinearama format outshone the current IMAX being pushed at your local cinema. The kicker is that there’s some older cinemas with screens bigger than IMAX, and you get to pay far less to see a movie on them. IMAX is just marketing.

      1. IMAX isn’t just marketing. A true IMAX shot IMAX shown movie is still something amazing. 

        While cinerama is cheap the last movie filmed in the format for it was done in 1974. In post conversion you either get a distorted view (streched) or a cropped one.  Either way it’s not the same as a movie with scenes shot for Imax. Not to mention you are seated in a much different way in an imax cinema

        Also what I meant was true IMAX not the new so called Liemax cinemas. Not to mention Cinearamas are very very rare and to be honest Liemax is still a better experience than what most cinemas offer. Though if Cinerama is an option than for sure go for it.

        In the end I’m happy to live in a city with a true Imax screen. I’d rate Cinerama 2nd (or few of the very big non Imax screens some cinemas have) and then regular 4k projector cinemas.

  32. 3D does nothing for me, it’s like looking at card board cut outs, nothing that makes me think WOW after the session, apart from the WOW have I got a headache!

  33. I’ve always looked at 3D as a lazy man’s way of bringing me into a film. Forget story or effects, if I feel the movie is ‘around me’, I’m in it. I saw Avatar in 3D and kept taking my glasses off so I could see what was going on.

    To me movies are moving books or comics or my imagination playing like a moving painting. I’m already in it via my thoughts, trying to do it physically is pointless to me.

    I don’t want to do work to experience a film, I just want to sit back and have it wash over me and experience it that way. That’s why I paid.

      1. I never said Cider House Rules was a bad movie (although, there is The Proposal) but I would never want to watch it in 3D. His point is moot. It’s like Judd Apatow commenting on a theoretical Stanley Kubrick movie in 3D.  I’d love to see 2001, The Shining, or if Kubrick would have finished A.I. in 3D.  So, you’re right… his remarks are “FAIL”.

        1. In other words, it’s like Commodore Crush commenting on 3D movies. Your credentials that make me give your snark credence are…? I’ll take a respected cinematographer’s opinion on 3D long before I’ll take yours, especially when expressed as one line dismissal of an industry professional. You I consider an expert on your preference between crunchy and smooth based on what I know of your oeuvre.

  34. Hey Cory, I’m a little surprised that you would do such a disservice to the “makers” and DIY 3D enthusiasts around the world by generalizing 3D with big studio movies and bad CG (from comments from the director of Cider House Rules?). There are people all over the world who enjoy making and watching 3D and have been into this art before and after the 3D craze. The trouble is not a lot of folks have seen good 3D like this. For example, my friend Neil Surry just took the new GoPro 4K 3D rig and attached it to a quadcopter for a spin around the Sydney Opera House. There are lots of these folks on YouTube, and I feel these videos are much better that what is out there commercially. Also Cory, 15% of people can’t do 3D statistically, so don’t feel bad.

    1. “I’m a little surprised that you would do such a disservice to the “makers” and DIY 3D enthusiasts around the world”

      What on earth does this article have to do with makers and DIY 3D efforts?

  35. The final paragraph in the quoted section is unintentionally wonderful. I’m pretty sure we could find much the same comments about ‘moving pictures’ vs painting and illustration if we looked.

    Personally, I have enjoyed several films in IMAX 3-D (both major releases and the stuff IMAX did/does for museums).  Other 3D formats haven’t done much for me, but they don’t cause me pain either.

    But, as a rule, unless the film was shot or rendered in 3D, I go see it in 2D. Forcing a 3D effect on a film shot through one lens isn’t any different than colorizing a b&w.

  36. So…the real statement is that you would prefer to have something that I enjoy taken away because you don’t enjoy it?

  37. “Natural human vision bears no resemblance to 3D in the cinema.” Natural human vision bears no resemblance to 2D in the cinema, either. All film chops time into discrete intervals, strictly limits the dynamic range, and enforces a frame around the world. It’s nothing like natural human vision. It’s just that we’re used to film’s arbitrary restrictions, to the extent that some of us consider them virtues.

    1. When I leave a movie theater with a headache, a soring nose and the impression of having been robbed of the pleasure to watch an otherwise good show, then that’s not a lack of arbitrary restrictions I feel are missing, it’s a crappy tech that was enforced to my common sense as a client and viewer. DEATH TO THE 3D ! I’ll be very pleased when this crap will be wiped for good.

  38. I have trouble with the current crop of 3D movies; my brain apparently can’t process the effect properly and I get the proverbial raging headache.  Aesthetic considerations for me are outweighed by the ability to watch a film without becoming nauseated.   If other people can enjoy a movie in 3D, and filmmakers can use it effectively and make money from it, great, go for it.  Meantime, please allow me the option of going old-school, lest I stop going for the “movie theater experience” altogether.

    1. “Aesthetic considerations” What the hell are talking about ? Maybe Peter Jackson’s photography director (the names eluding me at the moment, despite he’s a well renowned person in the art) lost himself but I can’r recall a single moment when I felt that the so called 3D effects added aesthetically to what I previously saw a week before. All was more dimmed and the effects diminished the actual effect the scenes gave when I first saw them. All in all everything 3d was detrimental to this movie. I won’t go see such another piece of 3D shit anymore, that’s for sure !

      1.  Some people enjoy 3D movies and think the effects add to the overall experience.  YMMV.  I can’t watch them, but I wouldn’t deny anyone else the chance.

        1. And so do I ! But for me, as a cinema goer, I wish it will disappear as it’s a waste of money, energy and resources for nothing much. I’m fairly tolerant but please 3D enthusiasts, don’t use as an argument that it really adds to the art, Especially by comparing that stuff to the breaking days of the talkies or the advent of the color movies ; that’s just piles of nonsense that comfort your detractors :o)

  39. Just watched The hobbit 3d and that was my first expperience with this tech. All I can say is that’s been one of my worst viewing evening in a theater. After 15 minutes, the glasses (Active 3D) began to hurt my nose so bad and after 30 minutes my head was sore. So imagine how I felt after 165 mintutes… Luckily I had seen the movie before and already made my mind up about it because, to be sincere, I think 3D didn’t add the slightest plus to it in any way but instead, it felt like a real pain to me (plus it was more expensive !). The only thing I appreciated in this 3D experience were some ads shown before the actual movie and that’s a shame. So much money wasted in a technology absolutely meaningless. I feel really sorry for the people running the movie theater as well for they too invested so much time and money to promote that 3D tech. What a waste !

  40. If you have seen a 3D movie, than you just had your eyes checked. I hear a lot of people complaining about 3D and how eye strain and other factors are reasons why 3D should be disregarded as a form of entertainment. The real reason is because you are having convergence issues with your eyes. Visit http://www.3Deyehealth.org and become enlightened on what benefits 3D viewing is actually bringing to eye health and what steps the american optometric association is doing with 3D for vision screening and rehab.

    If Prescription 3D lenses were an option, how many people here would then change their mind about 3D viewing if dizziness, discomfort and other depth perception issues were eliminated?

    What about the link below which is the most recent published study on 3D in nearly all forms of entertainment…it describes the explosive growth and is contradictory to this article. I am not sure our media, consumers and even consumer electronics manufacturers are clear on 3D… does this enlighten anyone?


    1. Thanks for taking into account my eyeballs health but as I said elsewhere I’m over 50 and still have a fairly good sight (I don’t wear glasses and that’s no coquetry here, it’s just that I still don’t need ones).

  41. I’m pretty meh on 3-d movies, but I have to say that Kraftwerk’s 3-d visuals during the MOMA shows were amazing. I was pooh-poohing it until the moment it started. Between that and what people are saying about Coraline (haven’t seen it), I have some hope that people will do interesting things with it. As long as I can choose to see my lame summer blockbusters in 2-d if I want.

  42. The vocal minority who wants to smoke in the cinema, or watch 2D, posts a lot of comments, petitions and blogs, and buys the occasional 2D ticket.

    The silent majority just buy a *lot* of 3D tickets. Because it’s cool to hate on 3D, but 3D is frankly a better cinema experience for the vast majority.

    People who like black and white, or mono sound, or 2D, will always have plenty of media available for them. But cinema (and gaming!) will always become more immersive, as a trend, not less: so I expect wider fields of view, and circular polarisation to become the norm. Eventually, as the science advances, we’ll have goggles that monitor your eye’s position, orientation and focus, and tweak the light into your eye to keep it maximally comfortable.

    At the moment, a lot of cinematographers haven’t yet “got” how to shoot in the new medium – they are still using 2D tricks with focus, that will just not fit with the viewer’s brain as 3D tricks. But they seem to be getting better about it.

  43. You wanna watch 3D movies… go ahead.  I despise them; utterly, inherently and with great spite and furious anger.

    I also don’t care for brussels sprouts… but I’m not going to be upset if you enjoy eating them… nor do I advocate the burning of B.S. patches…. per se.

    However, because this is the Internet…I am going to let loose my true feelings about the perceived demise of the 3D format:

    HAHAHAHADIEDIEDIEEE! Blast you into a billion smithereens: never to be beholden by the eyeballs of honest folk!   To Lowest Level of The Seven Seven HELLS with your Diabolical glasses of Blurring… Fiendish Increase in Price… WHILE DIMMING THE BRIGHTNESS FOR EVERYONE?!?!? 

    F#$% YOU 3D  DIE DIE DIE!!!  Get thee hence bitches… seriously.

  44. It depends entirely on the movie. If anything is going to cause the demise of 3D it’s not the quality, it’s hollywoods own greed. It’s often done in a verry lazy manner that’s only there to hike up the ticket price, serves no purpose. But when it is done with care and attention to detail it is an amazing experience. Hugo 3D is one of the best cinema experiences I’ve ever had. The way the camera moves, the set designs, the subtle zoom in effects on emotional performances was expertly done.

    Prometheus aswell, it’s a poor story, but a visual feast. Pure eye candy. The 3D ads a massive sense of scale and really compliments the landscapes and detailed sci fi enviroments.

    1. The “quality” of the movies themselves is more important than the quality of 3d in general. The more these movies are being written to adjust for the quirks of 3d film, the less I want to see them. 3d is annoying and straining, but I want cinema, not gimmicks for children.

Comments are closed.