Thursday, August 18, 2011

Why 3D may fail

3D films aren't new they've been around since the 1950's (and earlier) so why aren't all our films now in 3D, why aren't 2D films in the same basket as Black & White? Because as a concept it kept failing.

The biggest excuse is technological. Each studio used their own methods of creating these films and the high costs for the cinemas in acquiring all the equipment and peripherals to display them. But that doesn't explain why it became such a niche market. After all once a cinema has the equipment it's in their own interests to use it and to demand such from the studios.

Perhaps the audience didn't like the equipment they had to wear, the original shutter glasses, the 2-colour anaglyphs; from my own experience I can relate to that. Except polarisation systems existed then and were the main focus of the initial 50's 3D craze.

Perhaps it was the poor 3D, after all we don't just rely on the light received from each eye to determine depth. Given the lack of other visual cues our brains can become the equivalent of motion sick.

So the costs (both for making and displaying), the audience peripherals and the nausea. All good reasons why the technology never took off into the mainstream, but I'm going to add one more - gimmickry. To me it seems that whenever a studio produces a 3D film it just has to, quite literally, throw it in your face. If we consider 3D a new technique then it can enhance a film when used correctly. However watch a made-for-3D film in 2D and make a note of how many scenes have been inserted just to demonstrate the third dimension.

They add nothing to the scene and at times make no sense within context as to why this should be extended from the screen. For me it seems that 3D is still in this phase rather than being used as just another tool in the director's kit. Sure gimmicks are fine, but they don't last, add in all the other problems and to me is seems obvious why this technology splutters along.

Director's need to step back and look to live-action plays as a cue. The actors on stage don't wave swords at the audience or throw things at them (well okay some plays do), but they use the stage space to add to the play - people sneaking up from afar out of the darkness to someone standing at the front etc. Integrate this into films rather than let it be the focus - as a simple example consider how a moving shot through torrential rain to reveal a character would look in 3D over 2D; with no need for raindrops or bits of paper flying out the screen to 'hit' the audience and emphasise how 3D this all is.

They need to learn subtlety otherwise it'll just fade out again.