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So its Friday again, and this morning I was on National Public Radio debating the use of 3D in films with Jeffery Katzenberg.  Wow that’s quite a statement.  To be included in that piece was a great honor, but I just want to clarify a few things about what I said on NPR.  FIrst off, I am not just a blogger.  Check out my full site, I am a professional VFX supervisor and stereographer. I have done many 3D productions and my opinions come from years of practical experience and film making.

3D is the natural way we see the world and its a great way to get people into theaters to see movies in a way they can’t see them at home.  This is true but it’s very misleading.  You can see 3D at home right now, with consumer level DLP televisions and equipment. In fact its just as good as DIGTAL 3D as touted by the big boys.  I have the same Field of View with my 63 inch DLP sitting 6 feet away as you would on a 40 foot theater screen sitting in the middle front of most theaters.  The images are clear and rock solid.  The 3D pops off the screen.  Its fantastic.  What I do not have is the content. I can watch the two films that Robert Rodriguez made, SpyKids 3D (in which I was Stereoscopic supervisor for),   Shark Boy and Lava Girl 3D plus a bunch of other films made for IMAX and special venues.  These films are in High Quality Field Sequential (HQFS) format and look great on my system. There are no other mainstream films being offered.  Where is the Polar Express? Beowulf? Open Season?  Nightmare Before Christmas 3D?  Meet the Robinsons?  Monster House? The Ant Bully? Superman Returns? Harry Potter?   All these films came out in 3D and the only one to try releasing in 3D was the lame release of the anaglyphic Hannah Montana disc.

Now, what about 3D replacing 2D movies?  Well this is a possibility, but with the way 3D movies are being made right now, being heavy on gimmicks and adding surcharges for plastic glasses, at some point the fickle public will grow tired of this trend and shy away from it.  Its too bad really as 3D presents such a strong visual statement for a film that utilizes it for its storytelling and immersive potential.  I can’t wait to see AVATAR as I feel this will be a truly astonishing film, not only because James Cameron has always taken us to amazing visual worlds, but the 3D will truly fit into the the story and the world of Avatar’s almost beg for this motif. I’m also excited to hear that Cameron wants to prove that 3D can be used for a smaller picture that is more drama and character based.  I agree that it can be used for that, but its all depends on the implementation i of the technique to supplement and not take over the narrative.

Now, I love 3D.  I am very passionate about stereo.  I want it to succeeded, but I am very pragmatic.  I want it to be used effectively, and without being gimmicky. I want stereographers to pay attention to the rules of good 3D,  and realize that only 20% of the audience will be able to resolve their 180 cm convergent parallax.  Good 3D is amazing, transcending, and will take your breath away.   Miss your mark and you’ve just made your audience hate you for making their eyes bleed.  Story be damned.

-3Dfool

3 Comments

  • Phil Streather says:

    “will be able to resolve their 180 cm convergent parallax”

    I am a 3D producer and consultant (recently conducted a 90 minute Masterclass last weekend at IBC in Amsterdam) and I haven’t heard the term “convergent parallax” before. Do you mean 180cms negative parallax (in front of the screen) or 180cms positive parallax (behind the screen).

  • 3Dfool says:

    Thanks for the comment. When referring to the depth axis, I have always used Negative Depth when talking about in front of the screen plane depth. I also used the term Convergent due to the nature of the ocular muscles to go into a cross eyed or converging gaze to resolve the 3D image coming out of the screen. Referring to the parallax relating to depth cues receding into the screen, I call diverging parallax or positive depth space. Which should never ever be more than 65 mm on a projected surface. More parallax in positive space will result in a wall eyed divergent ocular placement that is very uncomfortable, and is not how we see. Imagery at infinity should be parallel, and never more than the distance between our own eyes. When I said 180cm in positive space, I meant negative parallax that was an estimate for a screen in which a 1 meter object would have a 2 meter parallax on a 6 meter screen. Its just that these sorts of “Pushing” out of the depth is very extreme, and only about 20% of people will even resolve this extreme. Of course there are ways to do this, but you have to be careful how you do it, with additional depth cues, speed, and size of the object intended to come out of the screen. Careful planning can accommodate these sorts of effects, but you can’t just take anything and say push it out further…

    -3dfool

  • C J says:

    I hope this thing flys I ‘m up here in Norcal making Dolby 3D glasses as we speak.

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