I started responding to one of my friends through a thread on Facebook, and it turned into a rant and a long post. Since the purpose of this site is for rants and/or long posts, I felt it was appropriate to share here.
@ Jason: I’m actually surprised 3-D has taken so long to go anywhere. The technology has been around forever… and it’s never been very successful. The weird thing is I don’t know why…I think people want to see it utilized well, but it just hasn’t effectively been executed ever in a way that people have taken to it. I remember as a kid thinking it was cool just looking through those cellophane red/blue glasses and seeing figures pop out. And then there was that “Virtual Reality” gaming product that never took off. I think people have been interested, but it’s just poorly executed or too expensive. You would think after decades 3-D would have found its niche by now. Avatar is probably the most successful venture I’ve seen to date… and it’s a movie not a product you would go buy.
First… I totally agree. WTF 3D? Ever since Lawnmower Man, NO, ever since TRON we have been waiting to immerse ourselves in a world better than our own. Now I know there is a big difference between Virtual Reality and 3D, but we aren’t being entertained by either at the moment so what does it matter?
I think the biggest problem with 3D is that content producers don’t know how to utilize it best. I find that when movie producers make a 3D movie, they have to add extra “features” for the 3D crowd just because they are watching it in 3D. It’s exactly like painting a turd gold. The script sucks but “that’s ok because we’re going to add 3D elements and the audience will ooh and ahh, hem and haw! Let’s send Brendan Fraser on a ridiculous mining-cart roller coaster because we have 3D! Let’s randomly throw shit at the camera just because it’s 3D!”
I have yet to see Avatar. I was excited to see it before it was released, and I’m still excited to go see it. I will see it eventually, there’s no rush. I’m waiting for the hype and the larpers to go away, and a babysitter. But I’m really afraid they added stuff just because it’s 3D. However, James Cameron is a half-decent director and I trust he’ll entertain me. If he added “fun things” just for those goofy 3D glasses, I’ll never see another one of his movies again.
I feel 3D is an enhancement, not a primary feature. If you go to a movie just because it’s 3D, you’re going for the wrong reason!
I think the most exciting thing to happen in 3D happened in the 80s: Michael Jackson’s Captain EO at DisneyLand. THAT was SO cool. I was also 10 years old and I still believed in Santa and Leprechauns. And yes, it threw a lot of stuff at the camera, but since it WAS a novelty, it was totally okay. The fact that a lot of producers are still using the same antics 24 years later is annoying.
I think the most exciting thing about 3D in the past year didn’t belong to James Cameron. It belonged to Pixar. The re-release of Toy Story 1 & 2 in 3D is a pretty big bet in the technology. The reason being that Toy Story was never written, produced or designed for 3D in the first place. The fact that they “enhanced” an original movie by re-rendering it with a 3D camera instead of the original 2D is actually very compelling. They took something good, made it better. It wasn’t a case of “so we have this 3D thing we can do…”
Where do I see 3D headed? Well until we can grasp the fact that just because we CAN utilize a Z-axis that it doesn’t mean that every producer needs to throw shit at the camera for “surprise” elements. We, as an audience, need to let producers know that we’re over the whole “Ak! Look out!” effect. Just make a good movie, and we’ll go watch it. I suspect this is what James Cameron has done with Avatar (I’ll find out in the very near future).
On the technology side, we have so many hurdles left to jump: no more 3D-glasses, holographic or multi-layered displays, and improved virtual reality goggles are all foreseeable technologies that we’ll most likely see in our lifetime. True virtual reality environments, the ones you plugin to another world while your body lays there…like Avatar, Tron, Matrix, Minority Report, Total Recall, etc, we may be centuries away.
And for that world, which we are preparing the foundation for right now, I’d like to apologize to my great-great grandkids in advance.