Monday, May 3, 2010

Is 3-D Dead?

If it isn't, it probably has started its slow decline.

Over the last several years 3-D has gained in popularity and is now found in everything to computer monitors to TV sets. But has 3-D jumped the shark? Is 3-D beginning its slow downward decline to its death? The truth is I don’t know.

On Friday, The Week reported on Roger Ebert’s post “How 3-D is killing Hollywood”, in which Roger goes through listing the reasons why he feels 3-D has been ruining Hollywood films. And you know what; I have to agree with Roger. 3-D is probably the most innovative and destructive force in Hollywood today. When 3-D is done right it can bring great success to a film project, but when it is done poorly it works to destroy people’s fondness for the technology.

I often hear people say how they hate 3-D. They hate wearing the glasses and hate how distracting it can be. But when it’s done right, people talk about how amazing the technology was. An example of this is Avatar, which was widely accepted as being innovative in terms of its use of 3-D. Even critics of 3-D films found the 3-D in Avatar to be enjoyable and worth seeing. Yet those that went to see the 3-D version of Clash of the Titans did not have the same things to say about the film. Clash of the Titans was originally shot with a regular camera and then was converted to 3-D with less than spectacular results.

Which brings me back to my question, “Is 3-D dead?" It’s unfortunate, but I have a feeling that the technology is on the way out. Why might you ask? Well I'll give you 3 reasons.
      1. 3-D is Over Used. Every film is now releasing in 3-D, whether or not the film benefits from it or not, just to be able to charge a premium on the ticket. This has lead to the over use of the 3-D technology. 3-D was great when it was used occasionally by films, but now that every film being released is being made in 3-D, the novelty of the technology has worn off and has worked to expose the weakness of the films using it. Such things like basic storytelling and plot have been pushed aside in favour of 3-D.
      2. Push Back. Another reason why 3-D has probably jumped the shark is the push back against it. A few months ago, there was an advocacy group that was calling for people to boycott ‘Alice in Wonderland’ to send a message to the studios to stop using 3-D. And it’s just not this group; many people just hate the format. Even Directors have come out against the technology. Michael Bay apparently pushed back against the studios demands for a 3-D Transformers film. (And I applauded him for it.)
      3. 3-D is Too Distracting. Any artist that paints a painting is very careful when they chose a frame, in order to insure that the painting isn't overshadowed by it. In the case of 3-D, I feel that the technology has overshadowed the film. 3-D, when used properly, is a powerful tool to bring people into the film. The only problem is that very few filmmakers know quite how to use the technology, and thus many 3-D films end up bringing you out of the picture instead of bringing you in. Sure it’s fun to see things fly at the screen the first or second time, but after that it just becomes distracting.

Certainly the above list is not exhaustive, but I think you can see why I might think that 3-D is dying. Fundamentally the technology is good; it’s how it has been used that has really worked against the technology. 3-D, (I think), is on a death march. If 3-D continues on the same path, it will definitely decline.

So what do you think? Do you still like 3-D?

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