April 3, 2009

Eye doubt it

Coraline2.jpg I want to love 3D movies. Sometimes I actually do. Coraline was beautiful. U23D -- and I'm not a huge U2 fan -- made me think that while 3D is still a gimmick in narrative film, there's no reason a concert film should be shot in any other format.

But every time some critic or studio suit goes on about the old days when bad 3D technology gave audiences headaches, I get, well, a headache. As I've been telling everyone throughout this latest generation of 3D technology (my Facebook friends can confirm this) the films give me moderate to severe eyestrain every single time, without fail. I'll suffer it if I really think the effect is going to add something artistically (and the film isn't too long) but for something like Monsters Vs. Aliens, I'll be seeing it the old fashioned way, thank you very much.

Today in Slate, Daniel Engber also calls bullshit on the no-headaches myth, and explains why the technology is inherently and unfixably hard on the eyes. But what jumped out at me, so to speak, was this claim by Jeffery Katzenberg that someday "people are going to own their own glasses -- I think from a fashion standpoint and a coolness standpoint, people will want to have their own glasses."

I knew studio execs were out of touch with audiences, but does he really not know that movie theaters won't let you wear your own glasses? Or rather, they will, but you still have to pay for the new ones. Obviously when the new generation of 3D began I saved my first few pairs of specs so that I could avoid the $2-$3 surcharge the next time. But I quickly wised up that what's billed as a charge for the glasses is, of course, just an extra charge for the movie itself, like paying more for IMAX. So why would anyone pay for their own glasses on top of the extra fee they're already being charged?

Mark my words, Avatar will be the swan song of this generation of 3D.*

*More a hope than a prediction.

Posted by Daniel Radosh


Yeah, 3D makes my eyes water every time -- happened in "Beowulf", happened again in "Coraline" (but at least the latter was worth it).

Alice: Why do you always have to be so cheap?

Ralph: Cheap? CHEAP?! Is that why you think I won't get you a set, 'cause I'm cheap? Well, that shows how much YOU know!!

Alice: All right, what IS the reason?

Ralph: Do you wanna know the reason?

Alice: Yeah!

Ralph: You wanna know the reason?

Alice: Yeah!

Ralph: The REASON! (pause) All right, I'll TELL you the reason! I'm waiting for..3-D television, THAT'S the reason!

Alice: (sarcastic) Are ya' waitin' for 3-D REFRIGERATORS, too?

@therblig. That just jogged loose a memory of that exchange being used in a promo -- must have been early 80s -- for one of those periodic broadcasts of a 3D TV special. You had to get the red and blue glasses from Burger King or something.

I loved "Coraline," the only 3-D film I've seen with the current technology.

Can't say it bothered my eyes.

I get minor eye-strain because the astigmatism in my right eye is worse than my left. Under normal operation my brain somehow averages out the two images into one mostly-clear image.

In the case of 3D movies where each eye has to decode a slightly different 2D image I find myself having to look away from the screen every so often.

Stop your whining. Headaches are a small price to pay for those enlarged pores in the close ups!

I think you're a little off on your swan-song prediction, Daniel. For one thing, DreamWorks Animation has said it will never make another non-3-D movie. I agree that a swan song will eventually come, as I don't think audiences will ever be as wildly in love with 3-D as Jeffrey Katzenberg likes to believe, but "Avatar" is closer to the beginning of this boomlet than the end.

OK, i've seen two 3d movies in two days now (MvsA and Coraline) and have not experienced any headaches. I did, however, feel my eyes were pretty tired after the second one. I guess these things could effect different brains differently, not every kid that sees a flashing japanese cartoon goes into seizures... but i think there pretty cool and probably the only thing that's going to save movie theaters. at least until they figure out how to bring the experience home to your hi-def TV.

for my money the 3d in MvA was much better utilized, but Coraline was an infinitely better movie (that was probably just fine in 2d)...

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