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The Movie Studios' Big 3D Scam 532

An anonymous reader writes "There's a lot of things wrong with 3D movies. Avatar's 3D was well executed, but Alice's 3D was really bad, like all 2D-to-3D conversions. And yet, studios are reconverting 2D movies—including classics—into 3D to milk this fad. On top of that, the theaters are not prepared for 3D, with bad eyeglass optics and dark projections. In this article, a top CG supervisor in a prominent visual effects studio in Los Angeles calls it as it is: it's all a big scam by the movie studios."
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The Movie Studios' Big 3D Scam

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @02:03PM (#31512104)

    Imagine how I feel about all that hype with only one eye...

  • Well, Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spribyl ( 175893 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @02:03PM (#31512108)

    3D does not make a bad script/actor/director/... better.
    Frankly, 3D has nothing to do with story telling.

    • Re:Well, Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by c++0xFF ( 1758032 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @02:10PM (#31512244)

      The point of 3D is to provide an experience you can't get at home. Nothing more, nothing less. Theaters have been dropping in popularity as DVD sales go up and home theater systems get better -- 3D is trying to pull viewers back to the theater.

      • It's a treadmill that the movie theaters can't get ahead on. Instead of trying to stay on the digital advancement treadmill, they should be marketing their tradition and atmosphere etc. I think it's funny that theaters are going to digital projection and touting this as if they were upgrading...even charging more, in Dallas theaters. They should be charging more for the film! It's their only niche. I think it's an obvious opportunity to market something different..."watch a 'real' film" etc...I mean if the
        • by hrimhari ( 1241292 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @02:48PM (#31513034) Journal

          It's an interesting notion, but I don't think that nostalgia would sell as much as quality + novelty does.

          Their current strategy is to show it first, cash as much as they can in 2 months, then launch it on DVD to cash in more, then finally go to TV to squeeze the last drops.

          It works quite well, actually. The real problem is that every model has a limited growth potential, and the movie theaters have reached theirs. They're now trying to insert a new model to increase their growth: 3D.

          It's not a scam. It may or may not give you more fun than 2D. If it does, and you're willing to pay the extra, then it works for them.

          If you prefer to pay less, watch in 2D.

          Sometimes the 3D will be good, sometimes less so. Just as sometimes a movie is good, sometimes less so. What's the big deal?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dangitman ( 862676 )

          It's a treadmill that the movie theaters can't get ahead on. Instead of trying to stay on the digital advancement treadmill, they should be marketing their tradition and atmosphere etc

          That's a nice thought, but we live in an age where people answer their phone while watching a movie. I'd be all for a cinema that disciplined or ejected these people for disturbing other patrons. Unfortunately, those people seem to be in the majority now, so by pissing off the cellphone talkers, they would be eliminating their major source of income. It seems like an intractable problem, unless etiquette somehow becomes trendy all of a sudden.

      • I don't know which theaters you guys are going to, to think that they're dying. Every theater I've been to on a Friday or Saturday evening recently has been absolutely jammed, you can hardly walk through the lobby.

        Reminds me of that old Yogi Berra quote: "Nobody goes there any more, it's too crowded."
        • Re:Well, Yes (Score:4, Informative)

          by JWSmythe ( 446288 ) <jwsmythe@jws[ ] ['myt' in gap]> on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @03:16PM (#31513506) Homepage Journal

                Movies still have their place. I've noticed that there's a substantial under-21 crowd. It's somewhere to go on a date, where you can be alone in a dark room with her. Parents don't generally tolerate sexin' up your date at home. :) Foreplay in the theater, intercourse in the back seat of the car, and back to moms house by midnight.

              The over 21 crowd usually head for bars and clubs, and then back to their own apartments.

              The over 30 crowd usually have friends over for food, drinks, and to watch movies, and then sexless nights with the wife. {sigh}

              Back to the original statement. Ya, I've noticed that the crowd is rather young, compared to the way it used to be 20 years ago.

      • by Godji ( 957148 )
        Yes, when all they really need to do is to skip the ads. It would work for me.
      • by icebike ( 68054 )

        But you CAN get it at home, and probably easier than you can get it at the theater.

        Best Buy is really pushing 3D TV. []

        Much of this stuff is not yet ready for mass appeal. [] But that fact is changing daily.

        In a few years 3D source media will be much more prevalent.

        This will lead to more demand for 3D programming, and probably more horrid 2D to 3D conversions.

        I would be willing to bet that 2D-3D conversion could be done by in-set software on the fly from visual cues as actors and objects move on the screen relat

    • by dunezone ( 899268 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @02:18PM (#31512440) Journal

      3D does not make a bad script/actor/director/... better.

      For example: Jaws 3 or Friday the 13th: Part 3

    • Re:Well, Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nmb3000 ( 741169 ) <> on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @02:22PM (#31512540) Journal

      Frankly, 3D has nothing to do with story telling.

      That's essentially true, but I don't think movies are simply about story telling -- movies are more about story immersion. You aren't just being told a story, you are experiencing the story through sight, sound (including the associated physical vibration), dialog, etc. In this way I think that 3D can be more than just a scam. As the summary said, Avatar's 3D really was incredibly well done. It could have been better; I read that Cameron originally wanted to film at about 60 fps but Fox shot him down, but this would have helped with both brightness and strobing issues. Once you become accustomed to the 3D picture, it really was a more immersive experience.

      Of course, I think it makes no sense at all to go and "convert" older standard films into 3D, especially because what you get isn't even really 3D. You just can't present more information to the audience than you started with. Avatar was filmed with multiple cameras and therefore had the information needed to present a real 3D stereoscopic image. The Wizard of Oz wasn't.

      Personally I think that well-executed 3D is a great boon to theaters because it provides (at least currently) a much needed physical reason for people to go to the theater to see a movie instead of just waiting to watch it at home. Hopefully they don't kill off this opportunity for themselves by overdoing or abusing it.

      • Re:Well, Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @02:37PM (#31512850) Homepage

        But Avatar was designed, from the ground up, for 3D. I've read bits about the problems with 3D before. Besides the pseudo 3D problem mentioned, there is the fact no one really knows how to use the extra space yet, or the loss of focus it can cause.

        Right now, a director can focus my attention on something with focus, but in 3D that doesn't quite work. Either the whole scene is blurry except what they want me to look at (which can be confusing when your eyes can't pull something you look at into focus), or everything is in focus, so I can get easily distracted looking at neat thing X in the background, and not the plot point I am supposed to be focusing on.

        We're still at gimmick stage. It's going to take some time before there are many movies where the 3D is actually worth something.

        But the whole "take a 2D movie and fake process it into 3D" thing is nearly a scam. I understand if you want to update Gone with the Wind in 3D, you don't have an option (short of a complete reshoot). But when you are starting filming this year, buy the second camera. Either you care about making a 3D movie or not.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      And neither did adding sound, then stereo sound, then 4 channel sound, then 6+ channel sound, adding color, changing the aspect ratio from 1.33:1 to 1.85:1 and wider, going from 16fps to 24fps nor having bigger screens. According to this logic we should just go back to the silent film era with 1:33:1 aspect ratios, no color, 16 fps frame rates, and tiny screens because all the previously listed enhancements clearly don't make the movies better.

    • Agreed. I went and saw Avatar in 3D in February, and while the 3D effects were cool, they were only cool for the first 5 minutes. After that the story took over. The only time I noticed the 3D after that was when it was done badly - fuzzy objects close by when the focus is further back.

      As an aside, I felt Avatar was an OK popcorn movie, although the joke/point that "we saw it back in the 90s and was called Fern Gully" was accurate. I was happy Hurt Locker won Best Picture over it, although I feel Hurt Loc

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MikeBabcock ( 65886 )

      And colour has nothing to do with story telling, and pictures have nothing to do with story telling and audio has nothing to do with story telling.

      That said, each adds its own twist on the telling of a story and changes how and what one can do as a story teller or artist for their audience.

      As movies became a dominant form of media, the experience of those producing allowed for new and interesting ways of making movies that hadn't been considered before. 3D, like adding colour, or audio to those original mo

  • They get to charge more per ticket for delivering the exact same product. What's not to love? (if you're a studio.)

    I'd pay for 3D for a movie that's supposed to be all amazing all the time like Avatar. But even for an enjoyable movie like Dark Knight, which scenes really require 3D? It's better in 2D on a digital screen.

    And let's not even get started on the whole liemax thing where we're told it's an imax theater but it's really just a barely adapted standard theater charging imax prices.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Enry ( 630 )

      I'll pay more to see a movie in true IMAX (and there are a few theaters in my area that do that), but the regular movie theater charges extra for the 3D glasses but doesn't list what the surcharge is. Last I asked, the surcharge was $5, or an increase of almost 50%. Not worth it for a pair of glasses.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Last I asked, the surcharge was $5, or an increase of almost 50%. Not worth it for a pair of glasses.

        Worse still: when I saw my first new 3D movie in the local theater I asked what the extra cost was for. They told me it was a surcharge for the glasses, so I kept the glasses. When I returned with my glasses to see another film in 3D I was told I still had to pay the extra surcharge since now it wasn't for the glasses, but a cost for the upgraded theater.

      • I find IMAX to be useless for non-landscape footage.

        Yes, IMAX is great when you are looking out over an ocean, or a moonscape, or a desert, or whatever, when you are simply "taking in a scene".

        But IMAX is terrible for movies where there are characters on either end of the screen talking to each other.

        For example, we went to see one of the Harry Potter movies in IMAX. It is like watching tennis - you constantly have to drive your attention, and turn your head, from the left to the right, in order to follow

  • Avatar pains (Score:5, Informative)

    by Trent Hawkins ( 1093109 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @02:06PM (#31512172)
    I don't know about anyone else but I've seen a lot of 3d movies before, but Avatar gave me a splitting headache at the end of it. I don't know quite what it is about it, but watching it was painful (not being sarcastic BTW.).
    • Re:Avatar pains (Score:5, Interesting)

      by lolocaust ( 871165 ) <sage> on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @02:13PM (#31512320) Homepage Journal
      I've seen Avatar twice (both times were because someone else wanted me to accompany them when they went to see it). Once in a regular theatre, and the second time in an Imax theatre.

      I got headaches only with the Imax version because of the linear polarization which meant if my head was tilted even slightly to the side, there would be ghosting. The cheapo cinema used circular polarization, which was more comfortable and caused me no eye strain at all. Perhaps something similar happened to you?
      • Re:Avatar pains (Score:4, Informative)

        by nmb3000 ( 741169 ) <> on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @02:27PM (#31512644) Journal

        I got headaches only with the Imax version because of the linear polarization which meant if my head was tilted even slightly to the side, there would be ghosting.

        Actually, IMAX 3D uses circular polarization [].

        I saw the film both at a normal theater (polarized) and IMAX 3D and found the IMAX version to be much more enjoyable. The bigger screen made the entire think much more enveloping: It was more like being in the middle of the action instead of looking through a window into the 3D world.

        That's my biggest beef with 3D, actually. Many theaters just aren't built with it in mind. If there is anything in your field of vision that is either illuminated or obstructing the screen, it will completely destroy the illusion of depth and drive your eyes and mind nuts. Even just the black border of the theater wall against the screen was enough to distract at times (as I said above, the "through a window" effect).

        • Re:Avatar pains (Score:5, Informative)

          by Shirakawasuna ( 1253648 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @05:16PM (#31515474)
          Wikipedia is wrong. IMAX 3D is and has been linear polarization for quite some time now (when it wasn't the shuttered glasses). The only way it could be accurate is if IMAX switched within the last few weeks, which would not represent an Avatar experience anyways.

          I know this because I've worked at an IMAX theater for ~4 years. Here's a quick test to see if the 3D glasses you are using are circularly or linearly polarized:

          1. Get to pairs of glasses (borrow a friend's).

          2. Place one of the lenses of one pair in front of one from the other so that you're looking through two lenses at once.

          3. Rotate the glasses, see if the light getting through cycle through black/clear (a period of 180).

          Linearly polarized glasses will do this, since it relies on the angle at which you overlap the glasses/projected image. Circularly polarized will not and will be either all-dark or all-light regardless of rotation.
      • I got headaches only with the Imax version because of the linear polarization which meant if my head was tilted even slightly to the side, there would be ghosting.

        It's meant to keep you awake during boring movies by keeping your head up.

      • ... It is probably means vision problems: []

  • And they want to do this to our TV's as well!
  • by paiute ( 550198 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @02:09PM (#31512224)

    Blade Runner U.S. theatrical version
    Blade Runner Criterion Edition
    Blade Runner U.S. broadcast version
    Blade Runner Director's Cut
    Blade Runner 25th Anniversary Edition
    Blade Runner Ultimate Collector's Edition
    Blade Runner 3D
    Blade Runner 3D BluRay
    Blade Runner 3D Enhanced Sensory Edition
    Blade Runner 3D Olifactory Special Release
    Blade Runner Ridley Scott Memorial Edition

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @02:11PM (#31512264)

    Hollywood pursing a fad for money?!?!?

    But seriously, Avatar is the only movie I've seen in modern 3D. It added slightly to the movie. A few scenes stood out for some pretty cool 3D effects, but most of the time I was thinking "This just looks like flat 2D layers set slightly above one another." But I don't see it as anything more than a novelty. Hollywood is jumping on it because it's a way to get away with charging $15 for a ticket instead of the usual $9. But it won't make a bad script better. It won't make a bad actor deliver a better performance. It won't make Michael Bay any less an annoying hack. And it won't get me into the theater to see a movie that I normally wouldn't have wanted to see in regular 2D.

    Cool shades, though.

    • I found the way Cameron used 3D quite well executed, actually. Not many "jump you in the face" effects, rather giving it a slight bit of depth all the time. There were some conflicts with the 3D effect and depth perception for me, though - objects in a deeper 3D layer that were filmed slightly out of focus, while my eyes tried in vain to focus on them. I think directors really have some learning to do regarding how to work with the effect. It is a useful effect that can be used to enhance movies. For now, s
  • by onion2k ( 203094 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @02:11PM (#31512268) Homepage

    I go to the cinema a lot. I watch pretty much all the new releases. I always have. I don't agree that all 2D-to-3D releases are bad. I've rather enjoyed them. Ok, Avatar's 3D effect was better than Alice's. Nevermind, I paid my money and I walked away at the end of it feeling I'd had a good time nonetheless.

    I certainly wasn't under the impression anyone had scammed me. I've read the article. I'm still not. I got what I paid for.

  • by damn_registrars ( 1103043 ) <> on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @02:12PM (#31512288) Homepage Journal
    I have yet to go to a 3D movie where I didn't leave with a headache from the glasses themselves. I wear prescription eyeglasses, and without fail before the movie is over I am sore from the poor fit of the 3D glasses. Some of them fit so poorly that they end up putting all their weight on the end of my nose to make life even more interesting.

    I think next time I'll save the $3 and see the movies in 2D instead. The theaters should be able to provide us with more comfortable glasses by now...
    • I was thinking of a pair of these []. But I don't expect another movie to motivate me to the cinema now that I've seen Avatar.
  • by BetterSense ( 1398915 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @02:12PM (#31512298)
    Nothing wrong with 2D. Our brain fills in the depth. Been doing it for eons with other types of pictures.

    There is an entire art of photographic/cinematographic composition that relates to how lines, shapes and form relate to the frame. What does that mean where the 'frame' is all fucked up on the edges from the lameass "3D" effect? Better just put everything in the middle. OOh, that shark looked like he was coming right at me!!!1111

    What people really want is honest-to-god VR. The full immersion kind with goggles with eye-tracking and head tracking, soundstage-shifting binaural sound. Come up with something like that and I'll take interest, but the 3D fad is just stupid, stop it please.
  • From TFA in a nutshell: studios *could* do it well, like Avatar, which costs really big bucks and is time consuming, but they're more likely to do it on the cheap just to get a few more bucks out of the consumer.

    I suppose its' a scam only if they do it on the cheap. The headline's a bit more sensationalist than the article, which is more measured in its position.

  • Yeah, Avatar was made made in 3D and it shows, it was very watchable even with the glasses (dunno what the article's author Alexander Murphy was going on about, his eyesight must be ruined already). Didn't notice any problems but it didn't redefine my life.

    Converting 2D films into 3D is just not going to be the same. Even if you can extract objects from scenes into an accurate 3D space, you're going to have to generate content that is obscured in the 2D original, and this is surely going to be noticeable?!

  • I first watched Avatar on a theatre equipped with XpanD 3D. I don't know if it was the projector, the glasses, or a combination, but the colors with the glasses on looked like those produced by a really bad LCD monitor, only less bright. Everything was greenish, blacks were badly crushed, and the heavy shutter glasses really hurt the immersion. I kept taking them off in some scenes in order to be able to see darker areas!

    I rewatched it on a theatre that used RealD 3D, and the experience was much better. It

  • by gregg ( 42218 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @02:17PM (#31512414)

    3 > 2 so 3D must be better than 2D. Personally, I waiting until they 'turn it up' to 11D.

  • by Manip ( 656104 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @02:19PM (#31512456)

    People might think 3D sucks or isn't ready, but if anything gets movies to be shot with two cameras then I hugely support it. While I agree that today, right now, we lack the technology to display 3D well, we might have that technology soon and if we haven't shot our stuff correctly we won't be able to enjoy it that way.

    Plus we might get digital media that allows us to "look around" during a live movie. Can you imagine watching Lord of The Rings about being able to turn your head to get an entirely new perspective of what is going on? Plus the cameras can be stitched together to get EVEN HIGHER resolution than HD.

    • Plus we might get digital media that allows us to "look around" during a live movie.

      You mean kind of like Disney's Circle-Vision 360 []?


      I have no idea why movies; games are going after lameass 3D and ignoring head-tracking. They also ignore binaural sound as if it wasn't the fucking coolest thing in the universe.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cptdondo ( 59460 )

      Bah humbug. Most HD stuff is indistinguishable from DVD stuff, at least for normal people at normal viewing distances on normal equipment.

      I don't see a movie shown in a "holotank" or whatever Heinlein called it. You'd have to have cameras all around, and then stitch them together.

      I abhor the current fixation in Hollywood on big-bang graphics and effects at the expense of any real plots or enticing characters.

      Heck, get a copy of Metropolis; shot in 1927 without any fancy technology, it still leaves you dee

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by plague3106 ( 71849 )

        Most HD stuff is indistinguishable from DVD stuff, at least for normal people at normal viewing distances on normal equipment.

        I think you meant crap equipment. I absolutely (and my wife) can tell the difference between a DVD and a bluray at 1080p.

        And since we still have SD in one room, we continue to see the difference.

        I abhor the current fixation in Hollywood on big-bang graphics and effects at the expense of any real plots or enticing characters.

        You must not be seeing the right movies then, because there

  • Whenever I see ads for 3D films (especially re-releases of 2d films), I do shake my head a little, but I also like the fact that the industry are finding some way to provide something that can't be found at home. And also I noticed a recent film ad (Nanny McPhee, I think) mentioned that the film will be launched in 15 countries simultaneously, which is one of the reasons people prefer to just pirate. Problem is, however, we will all have our own stereoscopic television sets soon enough..
  • Bad summary. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kurokame ( 1764228 )
    The summary overlooks some important points in the article, thereby giving a completely different take-home message. For example: "The good Avatar 3D experience happened because James Cameron is a technically savvy director, and thus the 3D aspect of Avatar was technically well executed. When done right it allows the viewer to more seamlessly enjoy a 3D film."

    The author is not arguing that 3D is a scam. The author is arguing that people are jumping on the 3D bandwagon because they smell money while not
  • I didn't think the 3D version of Alice was fact, I saw the 3D version by myself while my fiancee was gone, and then saw it in 2D when she was back in town. I definitely enjoyed the 3D version a lot more...the added depth it gave to everything really made the world pop off the screen more (literally and figuratively), and I found myself drawn into it a lot more.

    Plus, let's not forget that a 3D movie is a movie that is shown digitally. It could just be me adjusting to more digital content, but film

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by b0bby ( 201198 )

      I have to agree with the summary; I thought that Avatar's 3D was well done and unobtrusive, but I saw Alice in Wonderland this weekend & the 3D was really annoying to me. It's hard to describe but it seems like moving objects in the foreground get kind of transparent. I had noticed it during the 3D ad before Avatar, and it made me think that Avatar would be the same, but since Avatar was ok I figured maybe they'd just overdone it a bit for the trailer. I liked Alice, but I was wishing I was in the 2D ve

      • by Pojut ( 1027544 )

        Websites for Small Businesses in the DC Metro Area []

        Nice! I'm in Montgomery County :-) If I know anyone around here looking for services like yours, I'll point them your way.

        • by b0bby ( 201198 )

          Cool, we're in Silver Spring - it's actually my wife who does the web design, I just help out with the geekier stuff...

  • Where 3D works (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) * <> on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @02:22PM (#31512550) Homepage Journal

    3D works for computer graphic animation, given twice the rendering capacity you would otherwise have. It's pretty simple to move the "camera" point and render again. There will be some tuning of textures, etc., to look right when viewed simultaneously from two camera points. So, given sufficient computer capacity you can get a 3D movie without significant additional labor, and it's the labor that is really expensive.

    3D works for new live action, given proper cinematography.

    Conversion of existing 2D film to 3D is garbage, and should rightly be called a scam. Remember colorization? It was mostly done because the tax write-offs on "new" film were more lucrative to the film company than on legacy film. It wasn't that the audience experience would be enhanced by fake color. When the tax law changed, colorization mostly went away.

    It's not an experience you can't have in your home. Samsung has a "3D ready" 55 inch TV on the market now, for $2300. The price will fall quickly enough.

    • It makes me wonder if the existing CGI movies (e.g. Shrek, Cars, etc.) will be re-rendered into 3D - I would *hope* they saved all the data that drove the render (motion scripts, audio tracks, etc.).

      Any insights?

      • Re:Where 3D works (Score:5, Informative)

        by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) * <> on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @03:19PM (#31513568) Homepage Journal
        I would imagine they did save the data and backups of the software. But don't underestimate the complexity of this task. There is a lot of one-off software and if you don't have someone who understands it still in house, you might be stuck. When I was at Pixar a technical director had to know 29 computer languages, due to the 30-year continuous evolution of their software. I think in the case of Toy Story there was a lot of conscious work put into keeping the film in a state that it could be re-rendered, simply because the folks involved knew how much faster computers would be in a few years, and they hoped to be able to make a sequel - it was a key to selling Pixar as a film studio worth the investment.
    • by Kenja ( 541830 )
      The crazy part is that there are a lot of old movies with proper 3D (shot with two cameras). Think I have a copy of the 1950's Cat Woman of the Moon in 3D around here someplace.
  • New tech (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sitnalta ( 1051230 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @02:27PM (#31512654)

    3D isn't inherently bad, but it's still in the gimmick phase. The simple fact is it's a new technology (anaglyphic doesn't count) and filmmakers aren't that familiar with it (or hate it just as much as you do.) So you're going to see several movies crash head-first into that learning curve.

    And, hey, if 3D makes you sick or hurts, watch the 2D version. It's cheaper.

  • Alice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xest ( 935314 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @02:28PM (#31512664)

    Can anyone tell me what was wrong with Alice's 3D exactly? I saw both versions and the 3D one was far, far better. I'm intrigued to know what the issues with it were.

    I don't like the fact they encourage you to leave the glasses in a recycling bin then try and charge you for a new pair each time now. I also don't like how much more 3D films cost, but personally, 3D is about the only thing I applaud Hollywood for- all 3D films I've seen so far have been stunning, and finally, they're actually doing something to give me a reason to go to the cinema again, rather than just trying to sue pirates into giving them money without actually innovating, or trying to sell me HD copies that don't look that much better than the upscaled DVD copies of films I have already, only for twice the price.

    I actually dislike this article, it's exactly what gives ammunition against the internet movement for changes to copyright because it feeds the idea that Hollywood can't win either way- they get told off for trying to protect a dated business model in the harshest way possible, and now it seems if they do something fresh to earn their money like so many people, they get slagged of for it too.

    I feel dirty defending Hollywood, but is it so bad that they've decided to offer a new way of viewing movies, that for many people, like me, does in fact make the films that much more fun and enjoyable to watch, without getting rid of the classic 2D versions for those who prefer to keep watching it in 2D?

  • by Kozar_The_Malignant ( 738483 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @02:31PM (#31512730)

    There are three main 3D formats out there, IMAX 3D, RealD, and Dolby 3D. IMAX 3D uses linear polarization, RealD uses circular polarization, and Dolby 3D uses the Red/Blue color separation. In the first two, the glasses appear light gray, while the last has obviously colored lenses. I saw Avatar in the first two and Alice in the third.

    My personal preference is for the polarized techniques. The IMAX was definitely the most immersive. The Dolby 3D seemed too dark and sometimes lighting made me aware of reflections on the inside of the lenses. Additionally, in the Dolby 3D, some of the colors, particularly greens, just seemed off.

    • by Tacvek ( 948259 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @03:10PM (#31513396) Journal

      The IMAX3D is pure marketing. The technology used is not standardized. In some locations they use linear polarization, in others they use circular polarization, and in some places they even use LCD shutter glasses.

      RealD always uses circular polarization, although the glasses polarization is actually slightly elliptical. If you tilt you head while wearing them the brightness of the film can vary some, but ghosting does not occur. Of course, tilting your head by too much will destroy the image. (Thing about watching the move with your head at a 90 degree angle to the horizon. The images would then appear to overlap "vertically" rather than horizontally, and since they don't when overlapped) like that...)

      Dolby 3D does not use the old 2 color glasses trick, but does use a related trick, where there are two red wavelengths used, two blue wavelengths used, and 2 green wavelengths used. One set of RGB wavelengths is intended for each eye, and the glasses contain filters so only the correct light for each eye enters. This can cause some issues with color perception, as at most one of those could be tuned to the optimal wavelengths for each of the cones in the eye. Further the fact that the different eyes are seeing different wavelengths can result in different perceptions of brightness of two "equal" reds for example.

  • by PhantomHarlock ( 189617 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @02:37PM (#31512836)

    A former vfx animator here and cinema fan. I watched the three hour spectacle that is avatar in RealD with the circular polarized glasses and came away with no ill effects. The brightness was adequate, the new glasses let through more light than the old horizontally polarized glasses, if I remember the older IMAX experience correctly. I also thought the 3D in alice was fine, they did not go with the temptation to put the Cheshire Cat in the forward plane, which they could have because he is a floating entity that can be shown off without touching the sides of the screen, like the bird critter from Captain EO that made you cross-eyed. (with the re-release coming up you can do go to Disneyland and see what I am talking about)

    I do agree that 2D -> 3D conversions of older films are the equivalent of colorizing a black and white film ted turner style, it shouldn't be done out of respect for the original film. But the industry will always exploit their properties as much as they can. If you don't like it, don't watch it. And I also agree that movies intended for stereo showings should be shot with two lenses, not converted later. Both processes bring up multiple difficulties in post production, in different ways. With true stereo shooting you can't fake nearly as much stuff, you have to map it in 3D space rather than faking comps in 2D post. With fake 3D you can do more VFX compositing in 2D, but then a thousand monkeys will spend a thousand hours rotoing into 3D.

    Last year at NAB I saw some incredible demos of 30" - 50" polarized plasma sets. Every other horizontal line was polarized opposite, and with 1080 lines there was not an appreciable degradation of resolution per eye and it looked amazing. The brightness was there too since LCDs and plasmas can put out a lot of light. The first models were selling for $10,000 etc. but the price will come way down as they figure out how to manufacture it more inexpensively. As a long time fan of stereo imaging, I am looking forward to the new stereo blu ray format. It uses the same RealD circularly polarized glasses. In fact I used the RealD glasses I got from the RealD demo theater earlier in the day. The RealD theaters are powered by the Sony CineAlta 4K projectors...really nice stuff and affordable compared to what digital projection used to cost.

  • If you're douchey enough to go see the movies that get 3d-ified, and they suck, you only have yourself to blame.

  • What? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jasno ( 124830 )

    I thought Avatar's 3D was a stupid gimmick. The parts I remember being in 3D were the ashes and the credits. Did I miss something?

  • Anti-Piracy types, the studios, and the cinema chains have got to be feeling a big crunch from the recession. Why on Earth would I pay $10+ for a movie ticket and another $10 for (about $1.00 worth cost-wise) soda and popcorn to be forced to sit in some seat with horrible legroom and the inevitable kid kicking the back of it and chatty neighbors when I could just wait a few months for it to come out on dvd so I can buy it and watch it at home on my 61" TV with whatever drinks and snacks I want. Or, I could

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      $10 for (about $1.00 worth cost-wise) soda and popcorn

      A large bag of potatos cost a dollar or two, depending on potato, store,m etc. A single potato will make two $1.00 bags of McDonald's or Burger King fries, or a whole $4 bag of potato chips. Of course, you have to make the fries and chips yourself.

      Soda? It's just carbonated sugar water and costs almost nothing to manufacture. A large fountain coke costs the restaraunt or theater a penny or two; the cup costs them more than the contents.

      People will pay a

  • by johnlcallaway ( 165670 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @02:48PM (#31513046)
    It's a '3d Simulation'. The people on the right side of the theater don't get a different perspective than those on the left. Avatar was not a '3d' movie, it was a 'simulated 3d' movie.

    I kinda like the 'depth' that the effect brings to the screen. But what drives me nuts is that I can't bring out of focus images into focus. I think this is why I get headaches, my eyes try to focus on the 'close' stuff or the 'far' stuff and can't. Avatar drove me nuts with the stupid bugs 'in front' of the screen. I don't mind things flying out at me, they are gone quickly enough. But when things are made to appear right in front of my face and stay there, my eyes want to focus on them and can't. I found that my eyes were tired after the movie, and I wondered if that was from an unconscious attempt to focus on things that weren't in focus. My wife said she didn't notice it such an effect at all, and she didn't get a headache.

    I saw Alice in Wonderland without the 3d simulation, and in the future will probably skip 3d simulated movies if I have an option. Although I might try an Imax version of Avatar if it's still out in a few weeks after reading some of the responses about not getting headaches at those theaters.
  • milking it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by __aaoyac5342 ( 927649 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @02:53PM (#31513126)
    Yeah I definitely agree that Alice in 3D was quite terrible 3D work. I hardly noticed I was in a 3D show other than the fact I was wearing the stupid glasses and that the screen looked much darker than normal. Maybe it was the theater I went to but I felt like they had somehow conned me into paying an extra $5 to see the not as good version of the movie.
  • Dislike it as well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Strider- ( 39683 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @03:14PM (#31513478)

    I dislike the 3D movies as well. Though, in my case, it was because of how they played with the depth of field. Much of Avatar was stunningly beautiful, but half of the time my ADD mind wanted to look at things that Cameron didn't want me to look at, and were thus out of focus. The strain of trying to focus on things that my brain was telling me I should be able to focus on, but couldn't, drove me nuts.

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. -- Wernher von Braun