To 3D Or Not To 3D

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

March 4, 2009 Ed Cartoon

Recent 3D releases Coraline and My Bloody Valentine 3D are causing viewers to question if 3D could be the next revolution in filmmaking.

Reserved mainly as a gimmick for children’s movies, 3D technology has evolved little over the past 50 years. For a while, it seemed as though the idea of theatres being filled with audiences wearing 3D glasses was a concept set aside for science fiction novels and futuristic comics. However, movie theatres appear to be making a move towards 3D movies as a permanent feature.

As an industry constantly struggling to compete with major competitors such as television, the Internet and pirating, film could have found a niche market in 3D movies.

Considering the recession, the transition to 3D may seem like an unnecessary expense for theatres, yet it could actually increase profits. The unique format would force viewers to come to the theatre, rather than stay at home and watch downloaded versions of a movie on their computers or wait for the DVD release.

Critics of the new style argue it is merely a novelty that will not last, yet a similar argument was used when sound and colour films first emerged. Perhaps viewers cannot imagine the expanse of capabilities for 3D graphics simply because they have not been invented yet.

After all, the abilities of digital modification and CGI are nearing exhaustion, so the next logical step would be to take film graphics to new heights.

Not only would artistry and design be taken to a new level, but the way people watch films could be changed forever. Today, a typical viewer has little engagement with a film and acts as an observer rather than as a participant. With technology allowing characters to literally jump off the screen, filmmakers now have the ability to intensify the level of engagement between film and audience.

However, it is unlikely we will see a 3D movie winning an Oscar anytime soon. Typically applied to children’s movies or action films, 3D graphics are not necessarily applicable across the board.

While a James Bond film could be improved by the addition of another dimension, more dialogue-focused movies, such as He’s Just Not That Into You, would have little use for enhanced graphics.

Additionally, the idea of donning 3D glasses to watch a film at the theatre is strongly reminiscent of childhood visits to Disney World. If filmmakers are serious about popularizing 3D graphics, they will have to focus on breaking the strong association between 3D technology and children’s movies by integrating the technology into more mature movies with frequency but taste as well.

While the odds seem to be against it, if 3D technology could be successfully implemented, it could entirely change the playing field for the film industry.

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