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Why Roger Ebert Hates 3D and Why He’s Wrong
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January 26, 2011 | by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
So why does 3D have so many people so irritated? Ask Roger Ebert and Walter Murch. They think our brains can’t handle the multitasking.
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Posted by Brian Garrett  on  01/26  at  12:55 PM

Sorry to say that I agree with Roger - maybe not for the exact same reasons, but 3D just doesn’t do it for me, nor do any of my friends - at least not that they are admitting.  I’ve seen both Tron and Avatar in 3D and both left me feeling rather like “eh” - in what I was seeing the 3D felt extremely gimmicky and completely unnecessary.

So basically from here on out I’m voting with my dollar and I won’t be seeing any 3D movies.

Posted by Grant Clauser  on  01/26  at  05:36 PM

Brian,
It’s OK to hate 3D. I hate popcorn and cats, but to say 3D can’t work because our brains aren’t wired for it ... that’s just crazy talk.

Posted by Michael Hamilton  on  01/27  at  03:12 PM

Maybe I’m daft, but merely strolling down the avenue I see the world in 3D and my brain doesn’t seem conflicted. And, my ears detect sound far more expansively than 5.1

I give Roger Ebert and Walter Murch “two thumbs down”.

Posted by Ed  on  01/28  at  02:42 PM

People do not all see 3D the same way.  Just like our ears differ, so do our eyes.  I had laser eye surgery done and have “monovision” where one eye is used for reading the other for distance viewing.  3D in my eyes may not appear as impressive as it is to others.  Also, I can’t help but remember the movie “The Jerk” with Steve Martin where he invented the optigrab for glasses.  Everyone ended up cross-eyed.  I don’t think we know enough about 3D to comment whether is will cause problems or not It does cause headaches and eye strain in some.

Posted by steveo1950  on  01/28  at  05:02 PM

Just a quick IMHO…somewhat 3D movies are gimmicky - and a Billion or so dollars says WE LOVE IT!!!  Everything outside the sublime intellectual and immersive experience of a well crafted book is just a gimmick. And boy do we love it. 

I love Avatar in 3D for the great effects and gimmickry (those transparent displays - would be mostly totally impractical, but boy were they cool to see. I loved Avatar in 2D because it was just as good a story, just as good a sound track, and still fabulous to look at. Yes, I like the story as probably all social democrats do (and NO WAY is it just Pocahontas). It ain’t Shakespere, but it’s a darn good emotional story line and rock solid entertainment - and a hell of a lot more interesting than the endless back and forth of sports.

Posted by Joel Cohen  on  01/28  at  09:57 PM

I believe the point they were making is that, when an object in a 3D film appears close to you, your eyes will tend to pull towards the center in order to converge, and focus, at that location. However, the real focal point remains, farther away, at the screen surface. The gimmick of thrusting sharply defined objects into your face could cause that optical confusion and possible discomfort. I especially noticed in Avatar that the in-focus depth was mostly behind the plane of the screen. When objects, like the tips of branches appeared forward of the screen, they were out of focus, keeping your eyes looking ahead at the detail on the screen - in a natural way. In theaters, most viewers will be 20 or more feet from the screen, so that both on-screen and behind screen details will be effectively at infinity so far as the eye’s convergence is concerned.

Posted by steveo1950  on  01/29  at  12:54 AM

Joel, you are very correct about when the imagery comes forward. Almost everyone seems to hate that after the first ‘thrill’. And yes, it is akin to the 3D stereographic images where you have to cross your eyes - is unnatural and straining. Behind the screen imagery is mostly natural.

But, again, the focus is ALWAYS on the screen. Never on the imagery’s position - because the imagery is on the screen, and on the screen only. Our brains ‘move’ it off the screen by taking advantage of our visual system (double images and we converge them, and our brain places them in space). 

Now if a cinematographer want to simulate a natural experience - or maybe what we are most used to seeing 2D photographs, then the images that are in the plane of convergence will be set to be focused and other planes might be made out of focus. It is hard to notice that with our natural vision, but photographs have and make use of that all the time. Part of the whole science of depth of field.

I just read another view of this whole controversy…and really what is so natural about 2D. After all once our eyes get past the infant stage, we live in a 3D world. Our convergence and focus have to work constantly and nearly instantly. What is entirely unnatural is the artifical 2D media world we had to deal with since the first marks on a rock were made. TV, cinema, books, newspapers, and so on all force our eyes to a single plane.

Maybe that is why studying for finals always leaves us bleary. (or maybe its the cramming and oreos!).

Posted by Enrique  on  02/01  at  02:16 PM

I know 3D is the flavor of the moment, but make no mistake if the movie is garbage to begin with, it really does not matter if it’s even in 4D.
And to be honest, even a 65” panel is a joke in 3D. you can only start to get close to the cinematic experience on a projection system with an 8-10 FT wide screen.
So let’s start getting ready for 4K resolution and we will soon forget about 3D.

Posted by Tim  on  02/06  at  03:34 AM

Ed, since your own vanity precludes you from wearing glasses you have opted to destroy your own depth perception with laser surgery. As you can no longer view the real world in 3D, you are not likely to be able to enjoy 3D cinema. If you are truly so risk averse as to worry about the health implications of simulated 3D in a temporary, reversible situation such as a visit to the cinema, I’m sure you would not have chosen to have an irreversible risky surgical procedure on your eyes, the long term effects of which are unknown!

The article above describes the visual process the wrong way round, as has been picked up by some comments here. It is the focus that remains constant and unaltered at the plane of the screen, while convergence changes depending on the separation of the two projected images thus creating a 3D effect. The flexibility of the visual system differs between people and without going into too much detail, some people have greater convergence reserves and some people are better able to decouple their convergence and focussing linkage. If discovered early enough, people with less flexible systems can improve with simple exercises- have regular eye tests people!

Posted by Mike  on  02/11  at  04:13 AM

While 3D may not be the perfect expression for every movie, when done well, I really like watching it. I hate the ‘paper glasses’. When I put on the paper glasses, I was very disappointed. The next night, we watched Chuck in 3D and after about 10 minutes, the paper glasses came off. On the other hand, I have been playing World of Warcraft with the Nvidia 3D set up and have to admit it is cool.

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