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3D Cinema Doesn't Work and Never Will

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the tell-that-to-seth-rogan dept.

Movies 436

circletimessquare writes "Walter Murch, one of the most technically knowledgeable film editors and sound designers in the film industry today, argues, via Rogert Ebert's journal in the Chicago Sun-Times, that 3D cinema can't work, ever. Not just today's technology, but even theoretically. Nothing but true holographic images will do. The crux of his argument is simple: 600 million years of evolution has designed eyes that focus and converge in parallel, at the same distance. Look far away at a mountain, and your eyes focus and converge far away, at the same distance. Look closely at a book, and your eyes focus and converge close, at the same distance. But the problem is that 3D cinema technology asks our eyes to converge at one distance, and focus at another, in order for the illusion to work, and this becomes very taxing, if not downright debilitating, and even, for the eyes of the very young, potentially developmentally dangerous. Other problems (but these may be fixable) include the dimness of the image, and the fact that the image tends to 'gather in,' even on Imax screens, ruining the immersive experience."

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you know what else won't work? (5, Funny)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001422)

shitty filipino horror movies.

Re:you know what else won't work? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001504)

but a hologarphic tiyanak or aswang, now that will work.

Re:you know what else won't work? (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001576)

shitty filipino horror movies.

Prove it.

I KNOW! Ebert's point! It is bulshit. (3, Interesting)

denzacar (181829) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001624)

From

http://www.slate.com/id/2282376/pagenum/all/#p2 [slate.com]

Two Thumbs, Two Dimensions
Roger Ebert is done talking about 3-D movies. Thank goodness.
By Daniel EngberPosted Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011, at 12:00 PM ET

As far as Roger Ebert is concerned, the discussion about 3-D is over. "The notion that we are asked to pay a premium to witness an inferior and inherently brain-confusing image is outrageous," he wrote in his blog Sunday. "The case is closed."

If that means Ebert will stop complaining about the medium, so much the better. For years now, the venerable critic has been griping that 3-D cinema is dim, distracting, and useless. And I mean for years: Even at the age of 10, young Ebert turned up his nose at Arch Oboler's stereo jungle adventure, Bwana Devil. (Deeply unmoved, was he, by the hails of spears.) That was back in 1952; more than a half-century later, he's still shaking his fist at the silver screen—I hate 3-D and you should, too! Professional obligations notwithstanding, Ebert doesn't want to see another movie in three dimensions. Ever.

I've had enough of this persnickety crusade, marching, as it does, under the banner of pseudoscience. "Our ancestors on the prehistoric savannah developed an acute alertness to motion," Ebert writes, in an attempt to explain why movies like Clash of the Titans totally suck:

        But what about rapid movement toward the viewer? Yes, we see a car aiming for us. But it advances by growing larger against its background, not by detaching from it. Nor did we evolve to stand still and regard its advance. To survive, we learned instinctively to turn around, leap aside, run away. We didn't just stand there evolving the ability to enjoy a 3-D movie.

OK, let's not quibble with the idea that human beings might have evolved to jump away from oncoming automobiles on the prehistoric savannah. I'm more interested in the two notions that follow from this dubious logic. First, that we ought not consume any form of entertainment that doesn't derive from a selected biological trait; and, second, that standard flat-screen cinema is somehow better suited to our genetic makeup—more natural, I guess—than 3-D.

I wonder if Ebert really believes that the arts should cater to our Darwinian design, or that we're incapable of enjoying anything for which our brain wasn't delicately prewired. But in the event that he does, I'd only point out that such gimmicky and distracting art forms as, say, music, may very well be fiddling with our cortex in ways that have nothing to do with the fight-or-flight demands of a saber-toothed tiger attack.

It's just as silly to presume that viewing a film in 3-D is any less natural—from an evolutionary perspective or otherwise—than watching it flat. For starters, the human eye did not evolve to see elephants stomping across the Serengeti at 24 frames per second. Nor are we biologically attuned to jump cuts, or focus pulls, or the world seen through a rectangular box the sides of which happen to form a ratio of 1.85 to 1. Nor indeed was man designed to gaze at any image while having no control over which objects are in focus and which are blurry. If all those distinctly unnatural aspects of standard, two-dimensional cinema seem unobtrusive, it's only because we've had 125 years to get used to them.

According to Ebert, the 3-D effect brings in an "artificial" third dimension, which doesn't serve to make a movie any more realistic. In fact, he says, it makes an image seem less real, since under normal circumstances "we do not perceive parts of our vision dislodging themselves from the rest and leaping at us." Here he appears to be confusing cheesy, pop-out effects (which are used judiciously in the better—and more recent—films) with the medium as a whole. Yes, some 3-D movies do contain these gimmicks, but others do not.

In any case, it's not clear to me why one depth cue might be deemed artificial and unnecessary, while others are just fine. After all, a regular old 2-D movie carries its own set of visual guidelines for understanding spatial relationships. Objects in the foreground block our vision of what's behind them. Shading and texture tell us about the three-dimensional shape of an object on the screen. Ebert would certainly agree that you don't need to watch the famous sequence from Dial M for Murder in its original 3-D to understand that Anthony Dawson is creeping up behind Grace Kelly, and that he's going to lift a stocking over her head to strangle her. Yet he's apoplectic over the thought of adding one more depth cue into the mix.

With 3-D cinema, we still have occlusion and shading and texture—and we're still missing motion parallax—but now we get the added benefit of binocular disparity. We don't need that extra information to see that Grace Kelly's killer is lurking behind her, but it adds, at the very least, clarity and precision to the scene. Exactly what part of that is "artificial"? As it happens, the 3-D version of Dial M also gives us something more: When Kelly falls across the desk, her hand reaches through the stereo window, as if imploring the audience for help. It doesn't make us jump out of the way like Ebert's Homo habilis. It draws us into the action.

Which brings me to Ebert's latest post, the one described as his final word on "why 3-D doesn't work and never will." To support this claim, he prints a letter from Walter Murch, a decorated film editor and sound designer most notable in this context for sharing Ebert's curmudgeonly disregard for stereo cinema. Like Ebert, Murch complains that 3-D is too dark, and then adds that it's too "small" on the screen. (I think he's referring to the medium's "puppet-theater effect," which tends to make everything and everyone appear shrunken down to the size of dolls.) These problems could be solved, he concedes, but "the biggest problem with 3-D is the 'convergence/focus issue.' " A stereo film forces the viewers to hold their focus at one plane of depth, even while their eyeballs rotate inwards and outwards to follow the action. "It is like tapping your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time," he goes on. "And 600 million years of evolution has never presented this problem before." (Again with the cavemen )

This is a reasonable point, and it may represent a real challenge for 3-D filmmakers. I've given my own accounting in Slate: In "The Problem With 3-D," I wondered if the unnatural eye movements provoked by stereo cinema might be the source of the bleary eyes, headache, and nausea that sometimes affect 3-D viewers. This wasn't an original idea, of course—the same concern had been laid out in the Atlantic (to pick just one instance) in 1953, not long after Ebert's dad took him to see Bwana Devil. All these years later, we still don't know whether the "convergence/focus issue" causes 3-D headaches, or if they arise from some other aspect of the experience. Either way, I proposed, the problem of visual discomfort would doom the new batch of digital 3-D films to the same fate as their analog forebears: The bubble will pop.

Thing is, I've changed my mind since I wrote that piece nearly two years ago. Or maybe 3-D movies changed my brain: After watching 10 or 20 of these films since then, I've grown accustomed to the ocular aerobics, and the same format that gave me splitting headaches back in 2009 hardly bothers me now. Meanwhile, certain technical innovations, especially in animated 3-D, have begun to eliminate some of the medium's most egregious visual quirks. And while, like Murch, I'm still distracted by the puppet-theater effect in live-action 3-D, that "problem," too, may diminish as we all get used to it.

If I'm right that it takes multiple viewings to understand and appreciate three-dimensional cinema, you might think Roger Ebert would eventually come around. But even before he'd decided the case was closed, Ebert seems to have sworn off any real engagement with the medium. Armed with his evolutionary theory of film, he's content to sit back and hurl the occasional spear of his own. A recent review of The Green Hornet contained only this note at the very bottom: "Yes, it was in 3-D. The more I see of the process, the more I think of it as a way to charge extra for a dim picture." And while he does commend the effect from time to time—it's "useful" in Tron: Legacy and "quite acceptable" in Megamind—he's rarely willing to acknowledge that 3-D might have anything substantive to offer on its own terms, that maybe it's not only a marketing gimmick (it is that, to be sure), but a new kind of filmmaking that brings along both limitations and opportunities.

Take Toy Story 3: I've gone on record with my admiration for the scene at Daisy's window, where Lotso finds he's been replaced by another toy. There's no sight gag there, no objects hurtling off the screen; instead, the image contorts visual space into a crisscrossing, emotional depth. If the scene were flat, Lotso and Daisy would be right next to each other on the screen; in 3-D, they're spread across a lonely chasm, separated by rain-streaked glass. Is this a fluke, or a sign of what three-dimensional cinema could be? Ebert's not interested. He sums up Pixar's innovative use of stereo with a one-line postscript to his review: "Just don't get me started about the 3-D." Don't get him started; the case is closed. Maybe that's for the best.

But please... Let us listen to the point of the Luddite.
While we're at it, let's make all movies monochromatic again. We're half way there already. [blogspot.com]

Re:I KNOW! Ebert's point! It is bulshit. (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001664)

I was skeptical of his point myself, then I started paying closer attention and damned if he wasn't right. Sure it depends upon the film, but ones that are properly filmed give all sorts of interesting things they can do without the extra 3D technology.

Re:I KNOW! Ebert's point! It is bulshit. (5, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001922)

I was skeptical of his point myself, then I started paying closer attention and damned if he wasn't right.

Of course he's right. Watching even the best-made 3D movies is tiring and distracting. If you don't believe it, try watching two 3D films back to back.

And ultimately, even when done well, it feels like a cheap effect. I just don't believe the added value of having a guy riding a dragon seem to zoom over your head (but not convincingly) is not worth the added strain. Worse, in ten years it'll look embarrassing, and every director cares a little bit about how he's going to be perceived in the future. The guys who put all their effort into only putting out 3D movies are going to end up as marginal curiosities.

So many of the big TV and game console people have sunk so much money into it that there's going to be an effort to push it long after its been rejected, however. It will end up the same way each previous effort to push 3D has ended up. The fact that it's even a matter of disagreement is proof that the current 3D technology will never become mainstream. When 5.1 surround sound came out, I don't remember people saying "it's just not convincing" or "it's not quite there yet" or "it causes fatigue". They just said "Wow. That's cool. I want more of that."

I would love for there to be a really great way to portray three-dimensional space on a flat screen. I'm not some purist who thinks color movies were never as good as black and white. Hell, I still have an old quadraphonic stereo system down in the basement, collecting dust.

And I was surprised when I found myself enjoying Avatar more as a cinematic experience watching a good Blu-ray copy on an excellent 1080p screen than I did seeing it with a pair of special glasses at the theater when it first came out. I could enjoy the story and the visuals without trying to convince myself that it "looked almost real with branches flying over my head". And I didn't feel slightly woozy with a headache when it was over watching it in 2D.

Same goes for a drawing... (0)

denzacar (181829) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001956)

Or a still photo. And yet people make movies.

All those "points" are pure bullshit.

Apparently, people didn't evolve to be fooled by 3D illusions.
Quick! Someone call Escher and tell him he was wrong.
And speak up - he's been dead since 1972, so he may not hear you at first.

And that "no immersion for 3D" is utter nonsense.
That "kind of dreamlike "spaceless" space" when watching anything is called BEING BORED TO SLEEP - not "immersion".

WTF! I'm supposed to be immersed into 2D movies due to its superior qualities? Where is all that immersive porn then?
Wouldn't that be the first genre we noticed the effect with? It sure as fuck grabs everyone's attention.

Come on, raise your hand if you have ever thought you are actually IN THE MOVIE while watching it.
Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
Hold on... wait... I once got up to answer a phone that was ringing on the screen - CAUSE I WAS FALLING ASLEEP WHILE WATCHING THE FUCKING MOVIE!

Only single point that is sorta true is about 3D being more expensive. So?
Colored pictures used to be more expensive too. Just like CGI.
Hey... Remember when a computer would cost tens of thousands of dollars - and it wasn't even an Apple?

Re:I KNOW! Ebert's point! It is bulshit. (2)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001894)

But what about rapid movement toward the viewer? Yes, we see a car aiming for us. But it advances by growing larger against its background, not by detaching from it. Nor did we evolve to stand still and regard its advance. To survive, we learned instinctively to turn around, leap aside, run away. We didn't just stand there evolving the ability to enjoy a 3-D movie."

1. A car advances toward us by physically moving toward us, not by "growing larger". That movement makes it appear as if the car were "growing larger" AND the point of convergence of the image moving toward us. Both. It has been long proven that the simple appearance of "growing larger" is insufficient for depth perception, since people with just one eye will observe the growth effect but not the convergence effect, and they have no depth perception. This lack of convergence creating a lack of depth perception is used ALL THE TIME by 2D movie makers. It's how Frodo was made to look so small compared to Gandalf, for example. Frodo was further from the camera and thus appeared smaller than he would have standing next to Gandalf. The lack of 3D convergence made it appear that both actors were standing next to each other, and our brains told us that Frodo must be smaller.

2. Of course we evolved to "stand still" when things approach us. We do not all "run away" when our loved ones approach, nor do we all run away when we are standing on the side of the road and a car approaches us. We use our 3-D vision to recognize which things are threats and which are not. I'm sorry, but a cartoon bear falling from a broken glider does not instill fear in most people. Roger Ebert is the exception.

"we do not perceive parts of our vision dislodging themselves from the rest and leaping at us."

I don't know about Roger Ebert, but yes, I do perceive objects in my field of vision as detached from the background all the time. They don't "dislodge" themselves because they weren't lodged there to begin with, and any 3D movie that changes from 2D (objects "lodged" on the background) to 3D is a poorly made 3-D film.

I found the Yogi in 3D movie to be quite entertaining and the 3D effects did make it better than a simple 2D version. It helped focus the attention on the relevant action by bringing it to the front of the scene, instead of simply having a flat pair of cartoon bears dealing with a flat Mr. Ranger Sir and his hot love interest.

Re:you know what else won't work? (2)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001852)

I know, right? From a sig that has been changed, I hear there's one being made in NYC.

Re:you know what else won't work? (1)

rax313 (1923570) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001886)

shitty filipino horror movies.

Do you even understand the language? Haters gonna hate.

Re:you know what else won't work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35001904)

I suspect this is only funny to the people who have seen circletimessquare's sig ;)

Haven't seen captioning on 3d yet... (3, Interesting)

compwizrd (166184) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001464)

Lack of closed caption support doesn't help either.

Re:Haven't seen captioning on 3d yet... (3, Informative)

TheSync (5291) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001790)

Lack of closed caption support doesn't help either.

Subtitling for foreign languages are done on international 3D cinema distribution - carefully placed by hand for now (see the Nav'i English translations in Avatar, for example).

There is an expectation that Closed Captions for the hearing impaired will be delivered on 3D optical media with appropriate depth metadata as well.

Convergence and Focus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35001470)

Convergence and focus are not linked. If they were, then one-eyed people would be unable to focus.

Re:Convergence and Focus (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001508)

How the mechanisms controlling them, in tandem, might very well be linked isn't the same as claiming that one controls the other...

Re:Convergence and Focus (5, Informative)

ZuchinniOne (1617763) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001552)

Vision scientist here ... sorry to have to disagree with you, but actually they are linked ... mostly for very near objects though, so the problems mentioned would be worst for handheld video games like the 3DS.

Re:Convergence and Focus (1)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001590)

Convergence and focus are not linked. If they were, then one-eyed people would be unable to focus.

This seems wrong on a number of levels...not the least of which is that there's a huge difference between disagreement (focus depth disagreeing with convergence depth) and lack of information (convergence depth unavailable). Would you find it easier to walk in the dark, or walk (eyes open) with inverted vision?

That said...am I the victim of a "whoosh"?

Re:Convergence and Focus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35001628)

I'm thinking 3D Cinema isn't going to work for those people regardless.

Re:Convergence and Focus (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35001706)

You're are an idiot.

Re:Convergence and Focus (1)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001792)

Interesting he links focus and convergence.

I have known convergence in the home was a problem, but not in cinema as you are sat far away from the screen it is not.

I have been raving about 3D TV in the home for quite a while saying it does not work: http://science.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1699658&cid=32705980 [slashdot.org]

It worked well enough for me. (3, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001474)

i watched avatar in 3d huge screen, and it worked well enough for me to be impressed by it and not to regret 15 bucks i poured into it. actually, i was thinking of going and seeing it again, but didnt have time due to work and life.

really, i started to wonder why i am paying to cinema and widescreen, if we are not going to make use of the screen size advantage.

Re:It worked well enough for me. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35001530)

This coming from an idiot who not only paid to see Avatar, but is willing to pay again.

yes. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001772)

and, as a geek who is very hard to please and very bitchy, i, heretofore, openly declare that, i LIKED avatar.

in fact, i am hoping that some theater puts it up again, so that i can go see it again, instead of bitching pointlessly with people who think it is good to bash something popular.

Re:yes. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35002018)

You're apparently, not very hard, to please, when it comes, to punctuation.

Re:It worked well enough for me. (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001890)

I paid extra to see it at a IMAX theater, and while it wasn't great cinema, it was a fun movie. I'm glad I saw it, even if I found the notion of sex with a blue monkey highly disturbing.

Re:It worked well enough for me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35001666)

Of course "it works". The point is that it is not well designed for human consumption, it causes headaches and eye strain. As a gimmick (see once on occassion for the "cool factor") it works fine but it isn't a good permanent fixture unless you hate being able to see properly.

Re:It worked well enough for me. (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001776)

Except it didn't cause either, not in me at least.

Nor did it back in the old days when I used my Elsa Revelator glasses to play games in 'true 3D' on my PC (before NVIDIA bought them and before the card that I bought for them died).

And perhaps more importantly, even if it does at the start, your eyes learn to compensate.

Re:It worked well enough for me. (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001778)

It also excludes a not insignifcant portion of the population with a number of visual problems. I have strabismus (wandering eye) which means that not only do I not appreciate 3D, I get split vision, making any possibility of enjoying a 3D experience pretty much impossible.

Some day we'll have true holographic projection on an economical scale. At that point, if I'm still alive, I'll appreciate 3D. Until then, I'll have to stick to standard 2D theaters.

Re:It worked well enough for me. (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001868)

Yeah I tagged "ihaveoneeye", which is the truth. No interest.

cool (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001900)

do you wear an eyepatch ?

LISTEN YOU FRANKENSHIT CAIRO COMMIE !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35001974)

I don't wear an eyepatch. I have glass, and very fine glass at that. Big whup! You wanna fight about it?

Re:It worked well enough for me. (2)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001882)

it didnt cause any headache and eye strain for me, and i even had to watch it from a totally oblique angle (right at the left front seats) because tickets ran out in that huge theater.

What do you mean it doesn't work? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35001478)

It generates an extra 3 fiddy per ticket. It works perfectly!

Obligatory XKCD (0)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001674)

XKCD [xkcd.com]

More problems with convergence... (2)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001482)

...in stereoscopy (NOT "3D!): one aspect of parallax is quite wrong - the "doubling" of objects in front of focus plane, of background behind it, etc. Strangely, people hardly realize it's there...maybe because it's so unavoidable.

They also forget how "3D" had its golden area already, half a century ago (with polarizing filters!)

Or how the stereoscopic sister of photography is barely younger than its "2D" sibling, at ~160 years. Quite easily done and inexpensive for a long time.

Now ask yourself this: did you make even one such photo? Know anybody who did?

Re:More problems with convergence... (2)

klossner (733867) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001506)

Re:More problems with convergence... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001532)

Congratulations. Now you can notice how very rare they are / how their compositions are not of average kind.

Re:More problems with convergence... (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001964)

Congratulations. Now you can notice how very rare they are / how their compositions are not of average kind.

Really? Back when people bought a lot of pictures of places they'd never go to and would never see "moving" (as in "on TV") the stereoscope was quite popular and you can still find a lot of pictures from that day. Viewmasters were quite popular, as well.

My first contact with non-Viewmaster pictures was when NASA released a book on the moon mission, IIRC, with stereoscopic image pairs and the instructions how to converge until the images overlapped and focus so they focussed. Not that hard. Reasonable results.

Re:More problems with convergence... (1)

flibbajobber (949499) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001782)

did you make even one such photo? Know anybody who did?

Aw, didn't mummy let you play with the Viewmaster?

Re:More problems with convergence... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001836)

As a kid you convinced yourself it makes photos?

(and actually, it was (well, a Yugoslavian copy of it to be exact...) among the last means to combat boredom at one place of family reunions; not that great even / deep focus gives even weirder results in stereoscopy than movie-like shallow one, IMHO)

not to mention the one-eyed among us (4, Insightful)

swschrad (312009) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001488)

there are a LOT of people with one primary eye, and if the second one works at all, is only used to fill in peripheral data. a LOT of us. it has nothing to do with pinhead 3D glasses with are still as dorky as they were in the 60s. this is a cash grab by the entertainment industry to obsolete and sell-up a bunch of equipment before even the promoters wise up and start looking for the soft-OFF selection in the setup menu.

Re:not to mention the one-eyed among us (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35001694)

there are a LOT of people with one primary eye, and if the second one works at all, is only used to fill in peripheral data. a LOT of us. it has nothing to do with pinhead 3D glasses with are still as dorky as they were in the 60s.

I'm nearly blind in one eye, and as a result am really dominant in the other eye. I never could use the dorky 60's red/blue glasses, but the new 3D technology works really well for me. I'm disappointed to see how many people complain about it, because I really like it.

Re:not to mention the one-eyed among us (2)

WidescreenFreak (830043) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001700)

And WTF do you care about how "dorky" they are when you're supposed to be looking that the screen and NOT each other?! Jesus! It's amazing how shallow people are regarding what they have to wear for two hours in a darkened room!

Re:not to mention the one-eyed among us (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001870)

Just wail until Apple comes out with iGlasses. Then they'll be cool.

Re:not to mention the one-eyed among us (1)

WidescreenFreak (830043) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001926)

Touché. :)

Re:not to mention the one-eyed among us (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001892)

And WTF do you care about how "dorky" they are when you're supposed to be looking that the screen and NOT each other?! Jesus! It's amazing how shallow people are regarding what they have to wear for two hours in a darkened room!

Here, just fit this over your penis for the maximum enjoyment of our theatre. Only seven thousand people have been injured, out of eight thousand. Enjoy!

Re:not to mention the one-eyed among us (1)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001848)

I think it's less about upselling than about giving people a new reason to go to the theater. I can rent a blu-ray from RedBox for a buckfiddy and watch it on my 1080p dispay and 5.1 audio system. (Yeah, I'm way behind on the audio.) But 3D would require both a new display and a new player and I'm not likely to do that until the current units break or wear out. So that's the new hook. If I want to see it in 3D, I have to go to the theater.

Re:not to mention the one-eyed among us (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001998)

hey, you two. its both a floor wax AND a desert topping.

(god, I'm old..)

its both, a cash grab on the home front (new bd player, new discs/movies, new tv and new glasses TIMES the # of concurrent viewers! whee!!); and its also to get people out to theaters when we all were tired of the bullshit (overall) and wanted to build our own home theaters.

those that run out and re-buy their tv/etc are doing it. I watch the various 'coupons' sites (for entertainment value, btw) and I can see that its a certain segment that are suckered into buying 3d equip. when they are told its a fad, they shrug it off. note, I think its almost exclusively younger kids. they don't realize its a re-re-rehashed topic, already.

those that won't re-buy stuff might be convinced to give public theaters a try again.

I'm choosing none-of-the-above. I don't go to theaters and I don't own BD (players or discs) and don't believe in needing more than upres'd dvd's. the 3d thing is not at all any kind of attraction, even if free.

the media co's (equip and other side of lens) are hoping for a 'refresh bump'. well, good luck... I'm not playing, though.

Another problem with 3D (2)

ZuchinniOne (1617763) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001514)

Is that in the past movies have used tricks like focusing in a particular screen element in order to get you to pay attention to it. With 3D movies you should be allowed to focus on any element you want, yet film-makers (including for Avatar) have persisted in using 2D film tricks like this.

The only solution would be to film with a very wide field of view so that your focus point is essentially infinity.

This could also mediate the focus problem mentioned in the article ... but movie theaters would need to change the seating so that there were no seats anywhere near the screen.

Re:Another problem with 3D (4, Interesting)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001616)

Deep focus while filming won't change how your eyes must maintain "focus lock" on the screen while spatial and convergence hints scream "refocus!" (and they are there, that's the whole point of "3D" - objects apparently in front or behind screen)

As a side note, many scenes in those stereoscopic toys (disk with ~dozen photos) that I've seen had very deep focus ... IMHO it makes the whole scene, paradoxically, very flat. Yes, there is "depth" of course - but feels non-gradual, like several backgrounds in old SNES platformers.

Re:Another problem with 3D (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001912)

Yeah, I remember the "parallax, not".

Re:Another problem with 3D (1)

tehniobium (1042240) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001660)

I found this incredibly annoying, and confusing during Avatar...I was practically confused for the first 30 minutes because of it!

Novelty Wore Off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35001520)

I've only seen a couple of 3D movies, and frankly the technology isn't very enjoyable. My eyes hurt when I get out of the theatre; I have to wear the glasses above my own and it costs a premium. I think Walter Murch is right, the current technology is too taxing on the eyes. There's too much information lost on a 2D projection to make 3D any good. I've given up on 3D. I won't be buying a 3D TV any time soon, and I won't pay extra for it at the movies. I think the majority of people are slowly coming to the same conclusion.

TFS: "very taxing, if not downright debilitating" (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001524)

Always thinking that the ultimate aim/goal of the media industry is 'to debilitate'.

CC.

Re:TFS: "very taxing, if not downright debilitatin (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001676)

"Always thinking that the ultimate aim/goal of the media industry is 'to debilitate'."

If, by "debilitate," you mean separating you from your money, you're correct.

Re:TFS: "very taxing, if not downright debilitatin (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001722)

separating you from your money

Well, that is also 'weakening', but I was imagining 'making stupid'.

CC.

3d might not be completely useless... (3, Interesting)

TWX (665546) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001550)

...if you like excessive nudity and bouncing breasts in your horror movies. There was some movie out recently where one of the female actresses ran around naked for something like five minutes, and the whole spectacle was recorded in titillating detail in 3d. For those who want the most sex in cinema, 3d could work quite well. The depth of field is short, the actual on-screen duration for the needed 3d is short relative to the whole picture, and the content will mesmerize those individuals most likely to pay for the privilege enough to keep it viable.

On a more serious note, if 3d is applied to much narrower field depths then the audience might not get nearly as many headaches, as their eyes won't be straining opposite instincts nearly to the degree that they do when the effects go off to infinity. Trouble is, those aren't the kinds of films where 3d will be appreciated, unless, again, porn or on-screen nudity are primary applications.

Re:3d might not be completely useless... (1)

Stregano (1285764) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001702)

Now you understand why I changed my sig to what I did. Porn does not always do it first, but they find out amazing iterations and then somehow, magically, others follow the porn industry. Well, that is my excuse for following the porn industry

Re:3d might not be completely useless... (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001872)

Somehoe, they are not quite up to date anyway, the "feelies" are not up yet.

CC.

Look, shut up, we're trying to sell stuff here (4, Funny)

h00manist (800926) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001554)

This 3D stuff is doing great getting people to buy stuff. Yes we know it's snake oil, we don't give a damn, it sells. If we could just sell snake oil for this much money that would be great, but people won't pay $800 for a "full snake oil kit", unless you call it "full 3d graphics and video setup kit", you just don't sell as much. Now take your science mumbo jumbo elsewhere and let us get to work, we have people to fool and orders to fill, ok?

Theory vs. Reality (4, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001566)

Walter Murch, one of the most technically knowledgeable film editors and sound designers in the film industry today, argues, via Rogert Ebert's journal in the Chicago Sun-Times, that 3D cinema can't work, ever. Not just today's technology, but even theoretically.

Since 3D cinema pretty clearly empirically does "work" for most reasonable definitions of the word "work", arguments that it theoretically cannot work are obviously evidence of either bad theory or pointless misuses of language, or both.

Other problems (but these may be fixable) include the dimness of the image, and the fact that the image tends to 'gather in,' even on Imax screens, ruining the immersive experience.

Experience, including experience of immersion, is subjective. If a sufficient number of people didn't find 3D using existing, non-holographic technology, to increase immersion when executed well, it wouldn't be a successful selling point.

Some people don't like it, and it doesn't work well for some people (just like all the non-movie, non-holographic 3D tricks -- all of them work well for some people, and for any one of them they aren't comfortable for other people.) And, for that matter, things like shaky camera work -- for some people, that induces nausea and breaks immersion, for some people, it increases immersion and the sense of reality.

Movies rely on lots of tricks of the eye -- whether 2D or 3D -- and the experience of movies is subjective. Arguing that something you don't like that lots of people demonstrably do somehow can't work even in theory is rather pointless.

Re:Theory vs. Reality (5, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001698)

By "works" he means "replace 2D as the primary way movies are made".

3D Cinema is a gimmick with novelty appeal. It will die when the novelty wears off just like it did the last n times it was tried. TFA suggests this will always be the case: that 3D Cinema can't be made into more than a novelty gimmick, unless we get something like holography instead of funny goggles.

Re:Theory vs. Reality (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001828)

I wonder if they said the same thing about surround sound, stereo sound, color, mono sound, and moving pictures.

Oh, yes. Yes it was! Hmmm...

Re:Theory vs. Reality (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001838)

By "works" he means "replace 2D as the primary way movies are made".

Nothing in the actual article supports that interpretation.

3D Cinema is a gimmick with novelty appeal.

Yes, clearly that's his claim.

It will die when the novelty wears off just like it did the last n times it was tried.

It never died off, its been fairly regularly used, though not on everything. Its become more popular as new techniques have reduced the increased cost associated with producing and showing 3D films. Will it completely displace 2D? Probably not, any more than CGI will completely displace live action. Heck, color -- while dominant -- hasn't completely displaced black and white.

But I suspect that it will continue, over time, to become more common, rather than burning out.

TFA suggests this will always be the case: that 3D Cinema can't be made into more than a novelty gimmick, unless we get something like holography instead of funny goggles.

3D cinema that doesn't work exactly like normal 3D vision won't ever be comfortable for everyone, sure, but that's true of every trick of the eye used in filming movies that doesn't let your eyes do exactly what they would naturally be able to do -- which there are plenty of used in 2D movies. And yet movies "work".

Re:Theory vs. Reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35001844)

So it's like Space Nuttery? Nah, not even, there's at least ONE 3D cinema, there isn't a single shred of physical reality backing any of the delusional Space Nuttery pipe dreams. That's probably why these dreams won't die, ever, there's no reality to it. Like religion, really.

Re:Theory vs. Reality (1)

WidescreenFreak (830043) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001742)

Since 3D cinema pretty clearly empirically does "work" for most reasonable definitions of the word "work", arguments that it theoretically cannot work are obviously evidence of either bad theory or pointless misuses of language, or both.

It seems to me to be more of trying to find an excuse to justify why they don't like it and to try to convince others not to like it. (Hell, it roped in Ebert, didn't it?) Personally, I love 3D. I don't get the headaches or nausea, even with red/blue 3D. 3D does work ... for me. So, coming out and saying that it does not work is bullshit. Simple, opinionated bullshit used by someone trying to mask his clear dislike with scientific theory.

Re:Theory vs. Reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35001896)

Ebert clearly has a vested interest against 3D. If you read any of his reviews for the past few years, they all contain a dig at 3D, even if the film being reviewed isn't in 3D.

If the movie is in 3D, he'll dock points and complain about it. If it isn't, he'll remark on how great it is to see a movie that's not 3D.

In short, Ebert isn't exactly a non-biased source. He hates 3D for some reason. I guess it reminds him a bit too much of technology and video games, and therefore prevents his precious cinema from being "art." In any case, he's taken it to the extreme that while I did respect him as a film critic, his reviews aren't worth watching any more.

Re:Theory vs. Reality (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001980)

> Since 3D cinema pretty clearly empirically does "work" for most reasonable definitions of the word "work", arguments that it theoretically cannot work are obviously evidence of either bad theory or pointless misuses of language, or both.

My first thought on reading the headline is "I saw Green Hornet last weekend in 3D and I'm pretty sure it was working." Admittedly virtually everything about the experience sucked but there was definitely a 3D effect of sorts.

I suspect he's using "work" in a different context. And I don't necessarily disagree. Once the novelty wore off, I stopped being interested, and now only pay the funny glasses tariff when daughter insists.

The stupidity of slashdot editors continues (1)

z-j-y (1056250) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001574)

will never work, theoretically?

Re:The stupidity of slashdot editors continues (1)

arielCo (995647) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001718)

The word theory, when used by scientists, refers to an explanation of reality that has been thoroughly tested so that most scientists agree on it. It can be changed if new information is found. Theory is different from a working hypothesis, which is a theory that hasn't been fully tested; that is, a hypothesis is an unproven theory.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory [wikipedia.org]

Think Conservation of Energy+Matter vs Perpetual Motion: if a correct theory (in the sense of the word explained above) says something can't happen, it won't.

I've been to 3D cinemas (1)

Punto (100573) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001582)

they work.

Re:I've been to 3D cinemas (2)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001876)

So have I.

They often don't work.

A movie needs to benefit from the tech and it needs to be used competently in the creation of the film.

Otherwise it's just a pointless waste of money and looking silly in those glasses.

That's too bad! (1, Funny)

mugurel (1424497) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001586)

Just now we can finally watch 3D movies without glasses [youtube.com] .

Re:That's too bad! (1)

cinderellamanson (1850702) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001748)

that was hilarious!

thats funny (1)

Dr Max (1696200) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001618)

Thats funny cause i enjoyed the new tron and the only good thing about avatar was how it looked. Does Mr Murch from the article mean by "can't work, ever" that it will never make money or no one will enjoy it. Don't get me wrong i don't think its perfect but i'm pretty sure its working.

Re:thats funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35002012)

I saw the new tron in enhanced 2 d sterioscopic and in traditional 2 d. The psudo-third dimention added significantly to my enjoyment.

Vergence / Focus not a Cinema problem (5, Informative)

TheSync (5291) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001626)

From this reference [etcenter.org] :

According to Prof. Martin Banks, Professor of Optometry and Vision Science at U.C. Berkeley, the vergence-accommodation conflict should be kept at less than ½ to 1/3 diopters for the majority of a 3D viewing experience to avoid discomfort and fatigue.

Which means if you are sitting ~16 feet from the screen, things can come ~10 feet out of the screen without you having any discomfort or fatigue. That is plenty of depth budget for most 3D movies. Thus, focus/vergence mismatch is not a real problem for stereoscopic 3D cinema.

Now if you are ~20 inches from the screen, things can only come out ~3 inches out of the screen before potential discomfort or fatigue, so vergence/focus mismatch is a real problem for small screens. Thus personal gaming devices, computers, and televisions will need careful depth budgeting in stereoscopic 3D.

"Super multiview" [kist.re.kr] non-glasses 3D displays (generally with >32 views) where more than one parallax image is projected into your pupil at a time can force you to focus on the virtual 3D image where your eyes converge (this is how a hologram or the real world works, only they have nearly infinite number of parallax views).

Re:Vergence / Focus not a Cinema problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35001796)

What about depth? I think that's the true power of a 3d display... being able to simulate a window open to a deep vista. Is there a limit to how far BACK a 3d display can comfortably display? Or is it infinite?

Re:Vergence / Focus not a Cinema problem (1)

TheSync (5291) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001888)

Is there a limit to how far BACK a 3d display can comfortably display? Or is it infinite?

Once you are >=4 meters in front of the screen, there is no limit to how far back into the screen a virtual stereoscopic image can comfortably be.

I'm sure will be an surgical procedure ... (1)

porky_pig_jr (129948) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001634)

or something, to adjust our eyes to commercial 3D. Probably it will become obligatory at some point, done shortly after birth. We all should support our entertainment industry, shouldn't we?

butthurt (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001646)

sounds like the interviewed editor is just butthurt. you can't say something will never work when it has obviously been working, avatar came out in 3D, then plenty of movies have followed suit, like avatar these have mostly been shallow eye candy movies (Tron), but Alice in Wonderland was available in 3D and had a solid story to go with the visuals.

Re:butthurt (3, Insightful)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001732)

Yeah, it was a huge fad in the 50s, too.

Nobody's going to deny that Avatar was a great experience in 3D. Problem is... every other 3D movie ain't Avatar.

Not the problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35001648)

3D cinema works very well. The only problem is that there are no 3D films, just 2D stereoscopic ones.

he has a point (1)

X10 (186866) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001652)

I think Murch has a point here. Converging on one distance and focus on another is not what your eyes were made for, or rather, what your brain was made for. If you'd stay in the 3D cinema for the rest of your life, your brain would adapt quickly. But adapting to a situation where one moment you're in the cinema and another your in reality, that may prove harder. Although, I must say, I thought I'd never get used to vari-focus glasses, and I did within a day.

Re:he has a point (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001822)

Just like black and white movies! Black and white is not what your eyes were made for, or rather, what your brain was made for. If you'd stay in the BW cinema for the rest of your life, your brain would adapt quickly. But adapting to a situation where one moment you're in the black and white and another your in color, that may prove harder

Head/eye-tracking and electro-active lenses (1)

blutfink (793915) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001720)

How about making use of head/eye-tracking and electro-active lens technology? Expensive, yes - but not impossible. I was under the impression that this stuff is in use these days in military-grade flight simulators.

Say whatever you want to... (1)

Immostlyharmless (1311531) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001726)

Sure, it's not *perfect*. I'll give you that.
There's ghosting on occasion.
You can't always look at what you want to and have it be in focus on the screen (cause lord knows they *never* intentionally obscure background by having it out of focus in a 2D movie).
After extended viewing sometimes your eyes hurt. (Again its not like my eyes ever hurt after walking out of a dark theater into a bright parking lot after watching a 2D movie, right?)

You know what though? I've been playing CoD: Black Ops in 3D, it looked KICK ASS. I played Mafia II in 3D, guess what? It looked KICK ASS. I've watched at least half a dozen flicks now on my TV. For the most part, it all still looked KICK ASS. You don't want it? Fine, we get it; no one's forcing it on you. They still show all the 3D flicks in 2D, most of the HDTVs out there for sale are still 2D. So don't buy it, but please STFU already about 3D fail this, 3D fail that. Some of us like it, we bought it, and they are willing to sell it to us. You guys can go brood in the dark and watch whatever the hell you want to. Enjoy it, please! In the meantime, I'm going to go back to playing some more CoD...OMGZ in 3D. Let the hatefest continue...

If you want really decent 3D (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001740)

go outside.

Re:If you want really decent 3D (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35001984)

go outside.

Nah, framerate is too low.

Eye-Tracking To Improve Depth-Of-Field (1)

LionKimbro (200000) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001768)

Reminds me of this YouTube video -- Eye-Tracking To Improve Camera Motion And Depth-Of-Field. [youtube.com]

I can see the limitations in a theater -- only one setting can be used by all people. But in a single person's experience, it has been made to work -- you can focus dynamically based on what the person is looking at.

Besides... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001906)

Green Hornet sucked. 3D just made it suck harder.

David20321 (5, Interesting)

David20321 (961635) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001918)

Looks like Ebert is really set in his curmudgeonly "new forms of media are trash and always will be" pattern. Guess what -- 2D cinema already violates many of the visual absolutes that our ancestors took for granted. This article complains that 3D separates focus and convergence, but 2D cinema already separated those from visual perspective, something that never happens in nature. We also evolved to have control over the plane that we are focusing on, which 2D cinema takes away. Even aside from depth cues, our ancestors only needed to perceive motion when they themselves were moving, there was no idea of sitting still and watching from a moving camera. I guess this "motion picture" thing will never catch on. It will always make some people motion sick from camera movement or give them headaches from the brightness and flickering.

What is with the timing of this article anyway? The most successful film of all time, Avatar, is a flagship of 3D cinema. Maybe his next article should be "why the cell phone can't work, ever" because calls sometimes drop. Or maybe "why flat TVs will never catch on" because they don't have as deep blacks as CRT.

Works for me (1, Interesting)

cowtamer (311087) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001932)

There is a certain percentage of people for whom stereoscopic 3D (as implemented today) will just not work. These people need to stop writing editorials and go do something more productive. The solutions to the issues of vergence and accommodation (focus) are possible, but will take a little while to become commercial.

By the way, I've seen Captain EO (the ONE 3D movie edited by Murch, on whose letter Ebert bases his opinion) and I was NOT impressed...

3D will _never_ work for the following people:
    * People who are stereo blind (i.e., don't see 3D in real life either)
    * People who are extremely sensitive to motion artifacts
    * People who are watching badly made 3D (i.e., converted from 2D, or edited badly)
    * People who think it's a good idea to watch anything 3D for more than 2-3 hours at a time at the current level of technology

3D _might_ work for the following people with some more exposure, but probably won't:
    * People who've never worn glasses and can't handle the thought of something on their face
    * People who are extremely sensitive to vergence (how the eyes are positioned relative to each other) and accommodation (focus) mismatches
    * People who get motion sick easily

There are many "killer apps" for this tech over the horizon unless people who delight in bashing things they themselves can't appreciate "win".

Hint: The "killer apps" will probably not be the 3D-ization of current media such as news broadcasts or handheld consoles.

---
“Well-informed people know it’s impossible to transmit voice over wires and that were it possible to do so, the thing would be of no practical value.” The Boston Post, 1865.

Re:Works for me (1)

WidescreenFreak (830043) | more than 3 years ago | (#35002002)

I wish I had mod points for you.

I've been using the built-in red/blue 3D from nVidia with a number of my games, and for the most part it works great. Try flying through a mountain range or a bank of clouds in Microsoft Flight Simulator X with 3D turned on. Or watch IMAX Space Station 3D, which is phenomenally good even in red/blue. 3D WORKS! I sat completely mesmerized with the 3D of "Space Station 3D" Blu-ray 3D converted to red/blue with PowerDVD 9. My wife, who doesn't care for red/blue, watched some of it and said simply, "Oh, WOW!" Now, that said, in order to get the proper filtration I needed to double-up on the red/blue tint by gluing the cells from pair of glasses onto the front of another pair so that the red and blue tints were darker. That eliminated ghosting completely and made the images nearly flawless in their 3D effect.

3D does absolutely work. The problem is that the technology is nowhere near perfect, but like any other technology it has growing pains. Sadly, the haters use it as an excuse that it will NEVER work, which is utter bullshit.

The best part (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35001936)

is all the "expert" advice we'll get from the Slashdot crowd telling us how Murch is wrong and how 3D is so super awesome cool. Just like it was in the 50s.

Fp nIgga (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35001970)

ver7 sick and its

Murch is at least partly right (1)

wmeyer (17620) | more than 3 years ago | (#35002008)

Murch is right in his analysis of the problem, and that's why the stereoscopic process in use now so closely resembles what you see in a ViewMaster, but does not look like what your eyes see in real life. Whether he's right about a possible solution with holography remains to be seen. It may yield a workable solution for a small audience, but it may also be unworkable in even today's small cinema spaces.

The industry has already learned the reality of Murch's analysis; I've attended engineering presentations on the problems, and the issues which are presented by attempting to cheat the eye on a single focal plane. One thing holography would fix is the problem of people getting sick when an inexperienced -- or foolish -- director tries to force the effect too far.

Just like TV will ruin your eyes? (1)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 3 years ago | (#35002020)

Whatever, Mom.

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