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3-D != Serious Drama
May 11, 2010 9:11 AM   Subscribe


 
Did Ebert even write this? It seems much more hurried and incoherent than his normally-clear style.
posted by breath at 9:12 AM on May 11, 2010


I like and respect Ebert, but if he were alive in the '20s, he would have hated talkies.
posted by box at 9:12 AM on May 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm waiting for the return of Smell-O-Vision.
posted by Madamina at 9:14 AM on May 11, 2010


Geez. This is why we can't have nice things.

I guess we should get off his lawn.
posted by splice at 9:16 AM on May 11, 2010




I'm waiting for the return of Smell-O-Vision.

Some guy at ITP's winter show last year made a scratch and sniff screen! It was rad. I talked to him about how it was super hard to make because most perfumes are oil based and the oils would ruin the screen. So it was mostly oranges and pine needles. But still really fun.

Much like 3D. Coraline's fantasy world dimensionality vs. real world dimensionality was a brilliant use of 3 dimensions to indicate and explore setting.
posted by edbles at 9:18 AM on May 11, 2010


I already hate 3D. It's fine as a bonus, but the industry assumes it works for everyone. As someone who only has sight in one eye, these movies do nothing for me. Certainly the industry doesn't have to accommodate people like me, but the more it becomes the norm and the standard, the less options I'm left with.
posted by aclevername at 9:20 AM on May 11, 2010 [16 favorites]


I love 3D. It gives me what I want in a going to a theater experience; An image I can't experience better at home.

Lots of things don't equal serious drama. Serious drama and going to a theater are sets that already don't intersect for me. Silly, shiny, 'splody blockbusters are the things I go to a theater for. Everything else is better experienced at my home.
posted by Babblesort at 9:21 AM on May 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


My esteem for Ebert continues to grow
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:21 AM on May 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


When the technology to beam movies right into our occipital and temporal lobes, current 3D smell-o-vision will seem more primitive than shadow puppets on a cave wall.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:22 AM on May 11, 2010


I have an eye condition and physically can't SEE 3-D, so, um... good! RIGHT ON.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:22 AM on May 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Someone is a reactionary and gives a laundry list of reasons why I should feel the same way he does? Nice try, but I think I'll give things a chance and make up my own mind...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 9:23 AM on May 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


His rejection in part relies on his belief that 3D wouldn't have added anything to the great films of the past, which of course is the same old argument that is flawed because it ignores the possibility of greatness coming from films that are creatively driven by 3D. Then he brings up Werner Fucking Herzog's plans to use 3D to illustrate something about the caves that would not be otherwise conveyed. Didn't he just demolish his own point by giving a perfect example of how 3D could be used for a serious purpose unserved by existing technology?
posted by breath at 9:23 AM on May 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wait, he WASN'T alive in the 20's?

;-P
posted by humboldt32 at 9:23 AM on May 11, 2010


Did Ebert even write this? It seems much more hurried and incoherent than his normally-clear style.

His blog doesn't have Newsweek's angry, blind editors trying to remove enough content to make room for wristwatch ads.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:24 AM on May 11, 2010 [9 favorites]


How to train your dragon 3d had one of the best, most subtle 3d effects ever, and it made me feel like i was right in the middle of the situation. When done right it is amazing and this reeks of "damn new fangled technology, get off my lawn".
posted by djduckie at 9:26 AM on May 11, 2010 [7 favorites]


Was there a good talkie in the 20s? Clicking through IMDB's top 50 from the twenties, they were all silent. All right, I guess Cocoanuts, The Love Parade, Welcome Danger are more than passable. But, maybe we are in the 20s when it comes to 3D technology, just throwing things at you in place of art.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 9:26 AM on May 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


I conditionally am OK with 3D. On smaller screens that aren't really designed for it, Ebert is right: the picture is about an f-stop too dim. The glasses are intercepting some photons. However on an IMAX screen, even the fake IMAX screens, this isn't an issue in my experience. In general, the normal theater screen 3D sucks. I would prefer 2D over it. However, pseudo-IMAX and full-blown IMAX are great and it adds to the experience.
posted by mullingitover at 9:27 AM on May 11, 2010


The Newsweek piece has more of a stream-of-conscious feel than most of Ebert's output in text or at the Chicago Sun-Times, but I felt this deliberate, in order to coincide with Newsweek's editorial tone.

A big-city paper's reputation and readership allows for more wordier, reflective musings, while condensed-form periodicals like weekly magazines or tabloids will lean toward breezier output.
posted by Smart Dalek at 9:28 AM on May 11, 2010


Or what shakespeherian said.
posted by Smart Dalek at 9:31 AM on May 11, 2010


I will admit to a certain desire to have the kids off of his goddamn lawn in this article. No doubt.

Aside from a few ooh-ahs and flinches as Vorhees thrusts a pitchfork at the camera, we won't get any more out of the story or dialogue. And he's dead on about the thinly-veiled moneygrab which 3-D represents. 3-D means new projectors, bigger ticket prices, a chance to sell us those Blu-Ray discs all over again, and a new wave of HD TVs that are suddenly Not Good Enough. I can only hear Cartman, moaning and rubbing himself with dollar bills, "Mmmm, Kyle's money!" when I look at 3-D. Extra spectacle for the spectators before they notice what a crap little film they're watching. More circuses to get our bread.

And it'll work, too. Oh, their timing is off, way off. We just got done replacing our standard definition CRTs and DVDs. The usual format wars exist as to which home 3-D technology will win. The economy sucks. If Hollywood had timed this five years from now, they would encounter no resistance, just Vikings hitting a convent, complete conquest.

At most we will have some synchronized whining as people dig yet again in their pocketbooks. Survivor 3-D. Couch potatoes in ugly glasses trying to recreate the sticky floor theater experience.
posted by adipocere at 9:33 AM on May 11, 2010 [9 favorites]


Yeah, he has one good point, which is "Since these movies make so much more than 2-D movies because of inflated ticket prices, Hollywood is spending more money to support Crappity Crap in 3-D instead of stuff which is arguably not Crappity Crap." All his other points are dumb.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:33 AM on May 11, 2010


WHENEVER HOLLYWOOD HAS FELT THREATENED, IT HAS TURNED TO TECHNOLOGY: SOUND, COLOR, WIDESCREEN, CINERAMA, 3-D, STEREOPHONIC SOUND, AND NOW 3-D AGAIN.

I'm surprised he didn't list CGI in there; to my mind, its overuse is wayyyy more pernicious than either 3-D or IMAX.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:33 AM on May 11, 2010 [13 favorites]


What Hollywood needs is a "premium" experience that is obviously, dramatically better than anything at home, suitable for films aimed at all ages, and worth a surcharge. For years I've been praising a process invented by Dean Goodhill called MaxiVision48, which uses existing film technology but shoots at 48 frames per second and provides smooth projection that is absolutely jiggle-free. Modern film is projected at 24 frames per second (fps) because that is the lowest speed that would carry analog sound in the first days of the talkies. Analog sound has largely been replaced by digital sound. MaxiVision48 projects at 48fps, which doubles image quality. The result is dramatically better than existing 2-D. In terms of standard measurements used in the industry, it's 400 percent better. That is not a misprint. Those who haven't seen it have no idea how good it is. I've seen it, and also a system of some years ago, Douglas Trumbull's Showscan. These systems are so good that the screen functions like a window into three dimensions. If moviegoers could see it, they would simply forget about 3-D.

So he's pitching overclocking Hollywood's projection processors. Wo...o.. Oh wait that's fucking boring. How does that differentiate (substantially for a long period of time) from the home experience in ANY way? Ebert has gone mad with power and editors should stop publishing the man's inane dribble.
posted by edbles at 9:33 AM on May 11, 2010


My one recent home 3D experience was annoying. For whatever reason, I saw the red filter significantly darker than the blue, which gave me a head ache, so I squinted and watched the film without glasses. But Avatar ... it worked really well in 3D. Really well. So much that I've considered seeing other movies in 3D when they're crafted for such (I saw Alice in 2D, and found nothing lacking).
posted by filthy light thief at 9:34 AM on May 11, 2010


Sales of HDTV's have been flat for the past few years, and 3D is just a way for manufacturers to sell more TV sets. I can't imagine owning a 3D-TV and having to wear stupid glasses just to view images overlayed on top of each other.

I'll wait for hologram TV's. Imagine having a glass cube in the middle of your living room, with a holographic image projected from the bottom, filling the cube. Every viewer would get a different perspective depending on where they are sitting. Wake me up when that happens.
posted by mcroy at 9:34 AM on May 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I hate 3D. It mutes the color, dims the scene and if you're close enough to a big screen, it vignettes the edges. The problem is with the polarized glasses.

The new-school glasses-less 3D tech looks awesome, and relieves a lot of the image quality issues - but I don't see a time where we can get IMAX-sized displays that use it.

Home theater in general is surpassing cinema quality, with new screens approaching 100 inches supporting stuff like XHD, wider aspect to show cinemascope movies unletterboxed, better color representation, and now glassesless 3D. This stuff is either in pre-production, or so stupidly expensive only commercial buyers are interested (advertising displays, generally), but it will be in reach of mere mortals within 5 years or so.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:35 AM on May 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Lots of things don't equal serious drama. Serious drama and going to a theater are sets that already don't intersect for me. Silly, shiny, 'splody blockbusters are the things I go to a theater for. Everything else is better experienced at my home.

You sir have not seen Andrei Rublev in a theater.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:40 AM on May 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm with Ebert on this one. If "3D" isn't a textbook example of a gimmick, then the word "gimmick" has lost all meaning. The effect is nominal (I wasn't particularly blown away even by Avatar), often headache-inducing, dark, and requires freaking HEADGEAR and expensive new projectors and TVs. I'm too young to be part of the Andy Rooney crowd but I'm still saying "get off my lawn" because in this case, it's the correct response.

Also...
remember that the new IMAX theaters are not true IMAX
This is the first I've heard of such a claim. What's that about?
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 9:41 AM on May 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Like the special effects in the StarWars prequels, computers are often used to cover up the lack of an interesting plot, bad acting, and poor direction.

Unfortunately it doesn't work. People enjoy good stories. You could write them in crayon on old newsprint and people would enjoy them. But if you create a 300ft tall 3-d ultra-realistic turd with no story, you won't find (m)any fans.

If you have the story, the acting, and the direction, go ahead an add the visuals, but never before that.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:42 AM on May 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'll wait for hologram TV's. Imagine having a glass cube in the middle of your living room, with a holographic image projected from the bottom, filling the cube. Every viewer would get a different perspective depending on where they are sitting.

Gah! That would drive me batty! I'd constantly be walking around the image to see if there was some hidden clue that would lead to a Big Reveal later in the narrative.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:42 AM on May 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


I have mixed feelings about 3D, and I think that filmmakers will mature in their use of it as time goes on. Certain things like the falling ash in How to Train Your Dragon (largely because they used depth of field), and the technical overlays in Avatar are really effective. However, the Dreamworks opening with the fishhook in your face needs to be toned back, and even Avatar had moments where I was thinking, "why is this unmoving static object sitting in perfect focus in the foreground?"

But this is true of every new cinema technology. People using color realized that just because you can oversaturate everything doesn't mean you should. And I hope that 3D filmmakers will realize that just because you can throw something into the near foreground doesn't mean you should do so routinely.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:43 AM on May 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


dances_with_sneetches has it right, I think.

maybe we are in the 20s when it comes to 3D technology, just throwing things at you in place of art.

Here's hoping 3D tech eventually gets into the hands of young, cool, crazy, visionary cinematic types (and no, I can't include Tim Burton in that crowd, not until he gets over his ingrained disrespect for narrative), because thus far it's all just WOW-WOW-WOW, which works for 14 year olds, I guess, but I got over that shit more than three decades ago.

And here's the thing, I could care less what gives 14 year olds a hard-on (all power to 'em) right up until it imposes negatively upon my favorite art form. Which 3D is doing at the moment. I realize there's other factors at work (downloading etc) but 3D's the visible face of the worst phase to hit quality cinema in my lifetime.

So yeah. Lots of HATE.
posted by philip-random at 9:43 AM on May 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I hate 3D... because the nearest cinema with 3D capability is 450km away.
posted by Memo at 9:44 AM on May 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd constantly be walking around the image to see if there was some hidden clue that would lead to a Big Reveal later in the narrative.

Actually if it was well made, this could be a feature, not a bug. I'd get a lot of enjoyment of repeat viewings if I could pick up on new details from different angles.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 9:44 AM on May 11, 2010


In general, the normal theater screen 3D sucks. I would prefer 2D over it. However, pseudo-IMAX and full-blown IMAX are great and it adds to the experience.

That's interesting. Because the IMAX 3D technology is the old-school 80s 3D, using vertical/horizontal polarizing to separate the two images between your eyes and it produces a much more fussy-to-view result for the viewer. Tilt your head slightly to the side, and the image breaks up because the glasses are no longer directly in line with the polarization of the screen and you lose the 3D effect. Plus, IMAX is not a digital projection medium, so showing the picture takes two projectors and can result in the image being ever slightly out of synch or out of alignment, etc.

The RealD process (Digital 3D, etc) is a completely different method, using spiral polarization going in opposite directions for each eye. The single projector has a magic widget which displays each eye's image 144 times a second in alternation. The picture is, indeed, darker than normal because each eye is only getting 1/2 of the light during each second of the film, but this is usually compensated for by making a screen which reflects light more efficiently than a regular movie screen. The main digital artifacting noticed in the RealD format is stuttering during rapid horizontal camera movements.

The main opinion on the blogosphere is that the digital 3D experience provides a less-fuzzy more enjoyable 3D experience than the older IMAX technology. Obviously, your milage has varied...
posted by hippybear at 9:44 AM on May 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


When you make art you make choices. If they are good choices you have good art, if they are bad choices you have bad art. Clash of the Titans slapping 3D on after the movie had already been filmed, bad choice. Coraline thinking about what depth meant in the real world and what depth could mean in a fantasy world, good choice. I don’t understand why Ebert thinks the existence of this new technology is the determining factor in whether or not a piece of media is worth consuming. It’s really just about motivation thought and choices and it always will be. Even when people are making simstim and we’re jacking into one another’s edited consciousnesses, it will always come down to attention and choices of the people making the art. Not the medium it’s being delivered in. It disturbs me that a man who makes his living as a critic doesn't understand this.

Or what blue_beetle said.
posted by edbles at 9:44 AM on May 11, 2010


I liked 3D in Avatar bug Coraline but probably nothing else that I've seen in 3D in recent years. If it's done badly it makes the movie look like a set of cardboard cutouts stacked in front of each other. Even when done well, it doesn't really add much for me to the viewing experience. This is the third go around with 3D in the movies and it's always fade after a couple of years. I bet that there won't be any 3D movies released in five years.
posted by octothorpe at 9:44 AM on May 11, 2010


I agree with a lot of what Ebert says about 3D. On the other hand, I completely disagree with a lot of what he says about video games. And I strongly suspect that the same force -- resistance to change -- is motivating both of these positions of his.

So, thanks to Ebert, I'm thinking about giving this 3D thing another chance.
posted by gurple at 9:47 AM on May 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


maybe we are in the 20s when it comes to 3D technology, just throwing things at you in place of art.

I've been trying to figure out why I disagree with this premise, and I think this might be it: Adding prerecorded dialogue to films removed a level of mediation (title cards) from silent film which gives films more room to explore form and pacing-- Hitchcock, before talkies, tried to tell a story with a few title cards as possible, because they interrupted the image. 3-D adds a level of mediation (the frickin' glasses), which seems to limit film's ability to explore form (less control over guiding the eye through use of shallow focus, etc). I think it's a problematic comparison.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:50 AM on May 11, 2010 [1 favorite]




Listen, Ebert, you're a fine reviewer. I read your reviews when I want to find out what a movie is like and what the good and bad parts are. This doesn't make you good as any other kind of commentator.
posted by LogicalDash at 9:56 AM on May 11, 2010


So with Ebert on this, 3D is the stupidest and most disorienting bullshit ever.
posted by The Straightener at 10:02 AM on May 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think someone said that Avatar was the pinnacle of 3D (for now anyway) while Revenge of the Titans was the nadir. I thought Avatar was amazing, but I'd never seen a 3D movie before. Once the gimic wears off, I think we'll see a lot more flat movies again, and only 3D movies done right.

Ironically, this actually makes the reviewers job relevant again: Someone needs to tell us if the 3D sucks or not.

I wonder if there are possibilities for a comedy to use "Bad" 3D for comedic effect, like you could use 3d to highlight things -- imagine a stoner movie where some guy starts smoking weed, and then has to try make the smoke go away (You know cliché scene). You make the smoke 3d, while the character is flat to explicate the futility of their attempt at concealment. (Huh, that sounds like an idea a stoned person would come up with). Anyway I think there some interesting things you can do with 3D as part of the storytelling and not just "there"

But if it's just a gimmick, yeah it will kind of suck. I think we're seeing a rush of movies that are just using it as a gimmick, and that might actually turn people off.
I'm surprised he didn't list CGI in there; to my mind, its overuse is wayyyy more pernicious than either 3-D or IMAX.
I dunno, I think CG is actually a good thing, it gives the artist an enormous creative ability. But it's not really a "Movie thing", it works just as well on TV, or (obviously) in video games.

"SOUND, COLOR, WIDESCREEN, CINERAMA, 3-D, STEREOPHONIC SOUND, AND NOW 3-D AGAIN." Those are all things that were exclusive to the movie theater, and didn't work on the TV right away. Interestingly, though we'll have 3D TVs pretty soon. Frankly, I didn't give a crap about HD, but 3D might tempt me to replace my decade old NCST CRT
Sales of HDTV's have been flat for the past few years, and 3D is just a way for manufacturers to sell more TV sets. I can't imagine owning a 3D-TV and having to wear stupid glasses just to view images overlayed on top of each other.
Some of them won't even require glasses. Also,
posted by delmoi at 10:05 AM on May 11, 2010


I think his fear is that because 3D works well for a certain type of film and that hollywood is looking to maximize profits, there will be a reduced demand/market for movies that don't need or want to film for 3D. I think that's a legitimate fear. It's not that there's anything inherently wrong with 3D movies but if every movie has to be in 3D to get made, it's going to suck.
I think it's also worth noting that the 3D that you see in real life doesn't look the same as the 3D you see in movies. It's not a convincing illusion, is just an effect. If they want to jack up the ticket price by $5, I want something more interesting
posted by doctor_negative at 10:05 AM on May 11, 2010


Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey : My esteem for Ebert continues to grow

I have almost none for him to start with, but have to admit I couldn't agree with him more on this one.

Especially his closing paragraphs about alternatives - Do most people not see horrible jitteryness at 24fps? I think back to the early days of ubiquitous home PCs, when many CRTs still used a god-awful 60Hz interlaced refresh rate, and what a huge improvement going to 72Hz made (merely going from 30 to 36 "real" updates per second).

I've given my rants against 3d in other threads on the blue, but Ebert has nicely pulled it all together into one coherent whole. Kudos for him, and I can only hope he has the influence to get Hollywood to back off a bit from their latest batch of snake-oil.
posted by pla at 10:06 AM on May 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I agree with Ebert on this. 3-D is an expensive gimmick. It adds little to movies except a 'wow' experience. But a 'wow' experience can only really be sustained in an action/adventure or a kid's film. It won't work for romantic comedies, dramas, or...well most other genres or types of films. Basically because it really can't add anything to the narrative.
The comparison of moving from silent to sound films is not apt because sound film added a narrative dimension that was a very natural progression - and already established in narrative forms. 3-D cannot add that element.
The exception might be some kind of holographic 3-D in which the audience would actually be in the presence of the actors and the drama. But we aren't there yet. And even that would feel more like a museum exhibit.
posted by Rashomon at 10:09 AM on May 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm blind in my left eye (barber shears, age 6), so 3-D movies are just blue and blurry to me. I'm not generally a fan of gimmicky movies anyway, so I don't care if Hollywood keeps pumping them out. I don't feel like I'm missing out because I can't even remember what it's like to see the world in 3-D unless you count several supertrippy acid experiences back in the 90s -- 3-D is where I can catch a frisbee!
posted by heyho at 10:10 AM on May 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I like and respect Ebert, but if he were alive in the '20s, he would have hated talkies.

This.

You can take most of his arguments and they'd apply just as well to the introduction of color.

It's a waste of wavelength, because your mind adds the colors anyway.
It adds nothing to the experience; what does Fargo or Precious gain from color?
It can be a distraction, especially with colors that verge on the unnatural as with Technicolor.
I cannot imagine a serious drama in color.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:10 AM on May 11, 2010


remember that the new IMAX theaters are not true IMAX
This is the first I've heard of such a claim. What's that about?


Here's the scoop
posted by Dr-Baa at 10:11 AM on May 11, 2010


Do most people not see horrible jitteryness at 24fps? I think back to the early days of ubiquitous home PCs, when many CRTs still used a god-awful 60Hz interlaced refresh rate, and what a huge improvement going to 72Hz made (merely going from 30 to 36 "real" updates per second).

pla: There's a big difference between the frame rate of a film and the refresh rate of a CRT. In particular, a CRT's electron beam only scans across one point of the screen at a time, so if it moves too slowly there's an obvious flickering effect. With film projection, or any of its modern replacements like DLP, the entire frame is displayed at once, so it's not nearly as jarring.

It's true that 24fps is the bottom end of what's required to perceive smooth motion, but we seem to be stuck with it since it's how "cinematic" stuff is expected to look.
posted by teraflop at 10:14 AM on May 11, 2010


It adds nothing to the experience; what does Fargo or Precious gain from color?

I agree with your broader point, but Fargo is fantastic in black and white. Every once in a while, I'll put on a movie I love, turn the color off on the TV, crank up the contrast, and watch it as a black and white movie. It doesn't work for every film, but for some, like Fargo, it really ups the noir quotient. It's a fun way to get a different perspective on a movie you already know well.
posted by EarBucket at 10:15 AM on May 11, 2010 [10 favorites]


I tend to agree with babblesort in that movie theatres will increasingly be venues for spectacle, and spectacle is what 3D does well. Ebert says he doesn't want to see The Hurt Locker in 3D; in twenty years, I suspect people will be amazed that something like The Hurt Locker was released in theatres when those screens could be better used for Transformers movies.


And as an aside, I like that the article ends with a link telling me where I can go online to read the article I just read.:

Find this article at http://www.newsweek.com/id/237110


I found it weirdly reminiscent of something I have occasionally experienced as a moviegoer when the trailer for a movie is right before the movie itself.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:15 AM on May 11, 2010


Leaving aside the cash-grab part of it, his complaints are largely regarding the details of implementation. Technical: 3,4,5, and, at a stretch, even 1 (consider it an uncanny valley type situation) or aesthetic: 2 & 8.

So the technology isn't there yet or directors don't yet know how to use it properly. That says exactly nothing about what could be done with it.

As for the cash-grab complaints (6,7,9), well, let's be honest, if everyone were in agreement that the implementation was perfect/amazing, then no one would be complaining about those.


The comparison of moving from silent to sound films is not apt because sound film added a narrative dimension that was a very natural progression - and already established in narrative forms. 3-D cannot add that element.

That strikes me as a bit short sighted given your username. Can you not picture a scene in which some of the viewers look at what is written on a piece of paper, while at the same time other people look at what is written on the back of that piece of paper and the piece of paper appears onscreen long enough to choose one or the other?
posted by juv3nal at 10:20 AM on May 11, 2010


And as an aside, I like that the article ends with a link telling me where I can go online to read the article I just read.

Several outlets are now doing that, so that if someone copies and pastes the text on their blog, the original URL might still be in place.
posted by zarq at 10:21 AM on May 11, 2010


The movies Hollywood is now creaming its jeans to release in 3-D are 99.3% of the time not movies I'd waste time on anyhow, and Hollywood has been dumping obscene amounts of filthy lucre into big-ass brainless spectacle crapfests for decade upon decade already, so I'm not sure how the 3-D fad can really make that much worse.

I'm just waiting for these bozos to work out a way to run a Twitter feed of ongoing audience impressions as a screen crawl like they do on the cable news.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:21 AM on May 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


The comparison of moving from silent to sound films is not apt because sound film added a narrative dimension that was a very natural progression - and already established in narrative forms. 3-D cannot add that element.

3-D isn't established in narrative forms? Have you ever been to a play?
posted by EarBucket at 10:22 AM on May 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I already hate 3D [...] As someone who only has sight in one eye, these movies do nothing for me"

"I have an eye condition and physically can't SEE 3-D, so, um... good! RIGHT ON."


I'm sorry for your conditions but I don't understand the point. There's people who are completely blind. Does that mean we shouldn't make/show any movies at all.

It's not like all screens are being converted to 3D as both the conversion and subsequently the ticket prices are expensive which would lead to the exclusion of a fairly large group of potential customers.

In any case even if there was complete conversion you could still enjoy the movies in 2D. While you may not be able to experience the stereo vision aspect the glasses will still work for you and make viewing in mono possible even when it's a 3D projection.

(Disclaimer: I do work for a company that makes almost exclusively 3D content.)
posted by Hairy Lobster at 10:22 AM on May 11, 2010


It's apparent to me that some of you haters have not experienced My Bloody Valentine in 3D. Particularly the scene where Betsy Rue spends five quality minutes wearing nothing but sneakers and running from the killer.

You do not actually want to experience this movie unless you are an unrepentant pervert. "That poor actress," commented my wife.
posted by Skot at 10:23 AM on May 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


remember that the new IMAX theaters are not true IMAX

This is the first I've heard of such a claim. What's that about?


I first heard about it about a year ago, when it was the topic of a FPP, which Dr-Baa linked upthread. The two old forms are covered on Howstuffworks (being the dome and the mega-screen), and the newcomer is IMAX Digital, the tiny brother of the mega-screen.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:25 AM on May 11, 2010


Citizen Kane incorporated every technical trick Welles could think of. And it worked.

There will come a day when a brilliant young turk will create an arty-farty work of genius that would be unthinkable without 3-D. The use of true depth-of-field will create images and evoke feelings that a flatscreened film could not. It will happen. Soon. With luck, it'll even be an arthouse shoestring-budget project on a small scale, not a big studio production.

On another note, once I saw a movie and regretted strongly it was not in 3-D. It was a documentary about the architect Louis Kahn, and man, it did not do justice to his buildings. Put that bastard in 3-D, and man. Nifty architecture demands to be seen in three dimensions. Imagine a 3-D movie swooping along the roof of Notre-Dame cathedral, hovering around the grotesques and gargoyles. Yeah...that'd be cool.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 10:26 AM on May 11, 2010 [6 favorites]


In fairness to Ebert, he watches a ton of movies. 3D is hard to do well, and if you're seeing the half-ass 3D that makes up 90% of the movies, I think I'd bitter on the experience.

There are certain things that you're able to do in 3D and not in 2D, that really changes the experience of movie watching. For instance, in Coraline there are several dimensional changes, such as crawling into a small tent to see a large circus. This does not occur in reality, and there's a certain, dare I say je ne sais quoi, when viewing it in 3D. As if your mind is expecting one thing but shown another, something that simply does not come across in a 2D viewing.

Most of Ebert's criticisms are specious, I Cannot Imagine a Serious Drama ... in 3D, just wait for Terry Gilliam ...

(And you can't imagine a serious movie like "Hurt Locker" using it? Really? Because I can, just think of the scene where Jeremy Renner's character lifts the bundle of wires from the flat ground, or the tight shots of him probing the car. The argument is similar to saying, I can't imagine The Seventh Seal in color. Which is right, the stark black and white contrast, the desolate Nordic seascape, it all looks beautiful in black and white. Mess it up with browns and muted blues, suddenly death's robe is a bit off black... ridiculous! I can't imagine Antonioni's Blow Up or Godard's crayon colored Pierrot le fou in black & white ...)
posted by geoff. at 10:28 AM on May 11, 2010


Up and Avatar made excellent use of 3D, so if there was more of that and less crap, that would be crap.

It short, don't hate 3D, hate the terrible uses of it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:29 AM on May 11, 2010


Also, a parallel -- just as it's hard to picture a quality drama being made in 3-D, how often is color strictly necessary? Isn't it a gaudy trick to put more asses in seats, a distraction from quality filmmaking?

Oh, modern directors concern themselves with a film's palette early in their plans, ensuring that it is part and parcel of the film, and that subtle use of color has enriched every drama in the last fifty years?

You don't say...
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 10:29 AM on May 11, 2010


I never get the enthusiasm for the futuristic idea of a big glass cube with 360 degrees of view, which would more or less require transparency, and means you'd watch every film unfold against the backdrop of your bookshelf, easy chair, that stupid poster you're a little sick of, or whatever else is on the other side of the room (including your friends, if they're in there watching). If I want theater in the round, I'll go to an actual theater (in the round) and watch actors acting, not stare at a console-sized intrusion in my modest apartment. Hell—I watch movies to not be in my apartment, looking at my pile of unwashed laundry.

I thought Up! made great use of 3D—very subtle, beautiful effects and all that. That said, I got more out of it on my second and third viewings, which were in dumb ol' 2D grandpa-vision precisely because I could look at the ENTIRE screen. Look around at the dim canvas of the 3D screen and you'll get a increasing visual dissonance the farther you look from the main focus, because that primary viewpoint is hard-coded into the picture by rule. Call me an old man, but if a film is rendered in a lush, thought-out, and glorious way, I want to own the whole damn frame, and let myself explore without having my eyeballs start to twitch from phase distortions.
posted by sonascope at 10:32 AM on May 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm sorry for your conditions but I don't understand the point. There's people who are completely blind. Does that mean we shouldn't make/show any movies at all.

No, of course not, and I stated that I didn't expect the industry to accommodate people like me. Doesn't mean I can't hate the trend.
posted by aclevername at 10:34 AM on May 11, 2010


The Winsome Parker Lewis: the grar about "fake IMAX" has been going on for a while now.
posted by zsazsa at 10:37 AM on May 11, 2010


The title to this post should be Roger Ebert hates The Business of 3-D. He specifically states that when done well and as part of the artistic process from the beginning, as in Avatar, he's all for it. His gripe is with the suits. Considering how many "critics" are just studio shills, good for him.
posted by billyfleetwood at 10:38 AM on May 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


Citizen Kane incorporated every technical trick Welles could think of. And it worked.

You're right on the money.

Anybody well versed in film knows that the medium is only around 100 years old, started out as a carnival novelty. So it blows my mind that Ebert could be such a pretentious crotchety idiot whenever he talks about 3D or video games.

I will say that I love most of what the Rog has to say on Twitter, only a minority of it is absolutely idiotic.
posted by tastydonuts at 10:39 AM on May 11, 2010


Oh, modern directors concern themselves with a film's palette early in their plans, ensuring that it is part and parcel of the film, and that subtle use of color has enriched every drama in the last fifty years?

Color doesn't cost an extra $5. The surcharge makes claims of dramatic enrichment... suspect, let's say.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:41 AM on May 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


A good movie is fully immersive on its own.
posted by hermitosis at 10:46 AM on May 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


Aside from a few ooh-ahs and flinches as Vorhees thrusts a pitchfork at the camera, we won't get any more out of the story or dialogue. And he's dead on about the thinly-veiled moneygrab which 3-D represents.

First of all, the technology has to advance ahead of piracy. You can't pirate a 3d movie right now. What you get is at best the 2d version with an incredible loss of fidelity. So 3-D is essentially to keeping piracy at bay as blu-ray disc readers and writers become mainstream on PCs.

Secondly, of course you will get more "story" out of 3d. It adds an entire new dimension to the photography of filmmaking. Instead of the medium being limited to a plane, the medium is a volume. Do you really think Stanley Kubrick couldn't have done something compelling with 3d?

Let me rephrase me point - there is no tool that no artist can wield artistically. In the hands of the right artist, anything can be used to tell a story.

You know what the "killer app" of 3d movies would be? Not avatar, it's too susceptible to the gimmickry charge. The ideal candidate for brilliant and artistic use of 3d in movie would be a film adaptation of House of Leaves. I can imagine that, if done well, bringing 3d cinematography to bear on the 5-and-a-half minute hallway scene would set the standard for how 3d is to be used.

I find it absolutely amazing that many of the people arguing against the artistic merit of 3d are the same ones arguing the artistic merits of games. Most games are processed in three dimensions - it's only because of antiquated display technology that it is rendered in two dimensions. Do you really not think that games like Portal or Bioshock would be infinitely better on a 3d display? Then likewise a film could be made that would use that dimension artistically.

People still make silent films. They still make BW films. They will continue to make 2d color films. But that doesn't mean all the technology that came after added nothing to filmmaking.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:48 AM on May 11, 2010


The piling-on of Ebert hate is kind of intense. As Ebert says, "I'm not opposed to 3-D as an option. I'm opposed to it as a way of life for Hollywood, where it seems to be skewing major studio output away from the kinds of films we think of as Oscar-worthy." Oscar-worthy or not, every studio clamoring to make 3D movies speaks of desperation (and drooling greed, given the extra price for the ticket).

Having shot Dial M for Murder in 3-D, Alfred Hitchcock was so displeased by the result that he released it in 2-D at its New York opening.

I don't know about that. I'd kind of dig seeing in 3D the scene in which Grace Kelly stabs Anthony Dawson with a pair of scissors, although 3D might have made it easier to see the flash second of gimmick in which the scissors are already attached to his back.
posted by blucevalo at 10:49 AM on May 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


It short, don't hate 3D, hate the terrible uses of it.

But when the terrible outweighs the good by a magnitude of say, 20 or 30 to 1, it's a lot simpler just to HATE the f***ing medium ... until it grows up.

3D's like a spoiled nine year kid who not only gets everything he wants, his getting it denies a lot of other folks access to what they want. I hate that kid and I hate his parents. But I have hope that the kid matures at some point and realizes there's a whole weird world out there that's got nothing to do with his narrow desires.

In the meantime, stay the f*** off my lawn, Junior.
posted by philip-random at 10:52 AM on May 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Anybody well versed in film knows that the medium is only around 100 years old, started out as a carnival novelty. So it blows my mind that Ebert could be such a pretentious crotchety idiot whenever he talks about 3D or video games.

Ebert is not a serious film critic. "I cannot imagine..." He couldn't imagine anything in any of the thousands of films he's reviewed. What Roger Ebert can imagine is a very very tiny spec of dust in what even I can imagine. Somewhere there's a 14 kid who knows exactly what to do with 3d, and just can't wait to get old enough to do it.

A reporter once told Steve Jobs that old people don't understand computers. His response? "Old people die."
posted by Pastabagel at 10:53 AM on May 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I find it absolutely amazing that many of the people arguing against the artistic merit of 3d are the same ones arguing the artistic merits of games. Most games are processed in three dimensions - it's only because of antiquated display technology that it is rendered in two dimensions.

I-- What? Reality is processed in three dimensions. I don't see what this has to do with anything.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:56 AM on May 11, 2010


Weird. Apparently the new Judge Dredd film is going to be in 3D.
posted by Artw at 10:56 AM on May 11, 2010


A good movie is fully immersive on its own.

So is a good book.
posted by juv3nal at 11:03 AM on May 11, 2010


Ebert is not a serious film critic.

Who is a serious film critic anymore? Name one film critic who people take seriously.
posted by blucevalo at 11:04 AM on May 11, 2010


Hollywood... would encounter no resistance, just Vikings hitting a convent, complete conquest.

Now there's an image that calls for 3D... or maybe NC-17.
posted by rokusan at 11:04 AM on May 11, 2010


Also Nthing Coraline as a bloody lovely use of 3D. I think it combined well with them using puppets instead of 3D and gave the whole thing this sort of wonderful magic puppetshow effect.
posted by Artw at 11:05 AM on May 11, 2010


I hope it's as good as the last Judge Dredd, which featured two oscar winners!
posted by Mister_A at 11:10 AM on May 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ebert has been raging on the topic of dim projectors far longer than he's been complaining about 3D. (one example).

And he's very right. There are cinemas that I avoid, and others I prefer, based almost completely on how horribly underlit their films tend to be. The same film in two different theaters can be a world apart. And I've become downright intolerant when a film is too dark to enjoy: I now ask for my money back every time while explaining the reason in the hope that the message might someday trickle up beyond the bepimpled infantry.

Watching a film that's all dark and muddy when it wasn't meant to be that way is a horrible experience. There are too many films I have not actually seen until I watched them a second time at home. I fully expect the same to be true of cinema 3D vs home 3D soon enough.

And that cannot be good for your marketing, cinema people.
posted by rokusan at 11:11 AM on May 11, 2010


Several outlets are now doing that, so that if someone copies and pastes the text on their blog, the original URL might still be in place.

Odd. Never seen this before.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:15 AM on May 11, 2010


What blucevalo said. It seems that people are reacting to the title and not reading the subtitle, "I'm not opposed to 3-D as an option. I'm opposed to it as a way of life." It's something that needs to be considered and mastered carefully, otherwise, you end up with the scenario lampooned in Singing in the Rain, hacks that don't fully understand the new technology making expensive badness.

Pastabagel: I find it absolutely amazing that many of the people arguing against the artistic merit of 3d are the same ones arguing the artistic merits of games. Most games are processed in three dimensions - it's only because of antiquated display technology that it is rendered in two dimensions. Do you really not think that games like Portal or Bioshock would be infinitely better on a 3d display? Then likewise a film could be made that would use that dimension artistically.

Well, most cinema is blocked in three dimensions and projected onto a 2-D screen as well.

You misunderstand and mischaracterize the argument, at least on my part. Games are better as art when they take full advantage of the dimensions of the medium. 3-D cinema is better as art when it takes full (and appropriate) advantage of the dimensions of the medium. Neither Ebert or I want for James Cameron or Harry Selk to stop making 3-D films. What we want is for studios to stop pushing films to 3-D for higher profit margins and for other directors to stop using gimicky and distracting 3-D effects.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:16 AM on May 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


I find it absolutely amazing that many of the people arguing against the artistic merit of 3d are the same ones arguing the artistic merits of games.

Based on the state of the art today, I'm pro games-as-art and anti 3D-in-cinemas.

Ebert is almost completely wrong about games, and almost completely right about 3D.

Now go ahead, box me up all tidy.
posted by rokusan at 11:17 AM on May 11, 2010


I'm opposed to it as a way of life for Hollywood, where it seems to be skewing major studio output away from the kinds of films we think of as Oscar-worthy. Scorsese and Herzog make films for grown-ups.

He writes this, and yet a few paragraphs earlier he notes that Scorsese is making a film adaptation of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, a book that Amazon.com notes is for ages 9-12.

The way of life for Hollywood has been completely at odds with the idea of filmmaking as an art, and Ebert knows this but seems to forget it. How many goddamn romantic comedies are we going to see with a hot pink serif-font movie title, feature a dressing room montage and a dance scene. I walked through blockbuster the other day, and every movie that isn't one of these comedies is a guy scowling holding a huge chrome penisgun composited adjacent to some breast-augmented vixen. Or they are horror movies, the covers of which are all made using that same goddamn Photoshop "Urban Distressed" filter, in which everything is a distressed brown or distressed green showing cracked dirty skin, rust and misogyny.

The way of life for Hollywood is to pump out demoralizing nihilistic or vapid dreck that no intelligent person can watch without becoming physically ill. He cites "Up in the Air" as some great example of film making? Up in the Air is compelling filmmaking for people who consider "The View" edgy. "This is my backpack." Is the script in there? No? It's gotta be around here somewhere.

We are talking about 3D because James Cameron, a director, has made so compelling a case for it that the suits in Hollywood can't ignore it. So if the new way of life in Hollywood is for directors to dictate the kind of movies that get made instead of shithead corporate flunkies, then I'm all for it.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:17 AM on May 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pastabagel: The way of life for Hollywood has been completely at odds with the idea of filmmaking as an art, and Ebert knows this but seems to forget it. How many goddamn romantic comedies are we going to see with a hot pink serif-font movie title, feature a dressing room montage and a dance scene.

Certainly, and Ebert's job and vocation is to point that out as mindless and possibly entertaining fun. Note that Ebert isn't opposed to low-brow and fun movies, he's opposed to having unreasonable expectations of low-brow fun.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:23 AM on May 11, 2010


Now I am excited to see this Maxvision 48 he speaks of...
posted by Theta States at 11:25 AM on May 11, 2010


This is an experiment which convinced me that Ebert is right:

Next time your at a theatre watching the 3D version of a movie, take a few minutes afterwards to duck into an auditorium screening the 2D version of the same movie.

I predict that you will be amazed at the glorious brightness of the picture and the saturation of the colors.

Unless 3D is of the superior and integral variety, such as the aforementioned Coraline and Avatar, I always seek out the 2D version (at least until film distributors force theatres to exclusively show the 3D versions).
posted by fairmettle at 11:26 AM on May 11, 2010


Mark Kermode explains 3D (he is also not much of a fan) and how to turn 3D back into 2D with modified glasses
posted by Lanark at 11:28 AM on May 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


I saw How to Train Your Dragon 3-d on Friday, and during the flight sequence, I was giddy. After the film, I told my husband that I'd finally experienced dragonflight, which I'd been dreaming about since I was a fantasy-obsessed preteen.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:32 AM on May 11, 2010


And you know, after Star Wars there was a huge rush to produce films with the kinds of space effects, robots, and creatures developed by ILM. Most of the results were pretty forgettable, even with my haze of sci-fi fanboy nostalgia.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:35 AM on May 11, 2010


Avatar and Up were both amazing in 3d, but I saw Clash of the Titans last night and it was just a muddy mess.
posted by empath at 11:35 AM on May 11, 2010


Did people here RTFA? He totally says there are great things done with 3D, just that it has very little to add to cinema aimed at adults.

Avatar? awesome! How to Train Your Dragon? awesome!
But he's talking about the industry pressure to shoe-horn it in to the more adult, less-popcorny fare.



(Ooooh wait, IMAX screens showing 3-D adult films. Now there' s a market!)
posted by Theta States at 11:36 AM on May 11, 2010


What's funny is that in Newsweek's actual print edition (which I am somehow getting for free for something I gave money -- NPR? PBS? I don't remember.) this "heavily-edited" and "reactionary" piece is spread over 4 or 5 pages.

When did print start charging for page views?

Maxvision 48 does sound awesome though, and though I disagree with the headline and the premise of the piece, if you look at the crappiest examples Ebert gives (putting movies in fake 3D and fake IMAX to charge more money, having directors who are great in 2D forced into it just to think it will get people into the theater) are a very good argument.

But I agree that the whole piece is just kind of clunky and far below his usual output, especially this phrase:

I have the sense that younger Hollywood is losing the instinctive feeling for story and quality that generations of executives possessed.

I love big summer blockbuster crap as much as the next guy, but still I realize that this started happening long ago and was the SOP in Hollywood before I was 10. If anything "younger Hollywood" is the only thing saving it from themselves, and that's just because new filmmakers don't have money so they have to focus on story and quality.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:36 AM on May 11, 2010


I like Ebert for a lot of reasons, but he's totally wrong about this. It's not his preference, and that's fine, but it's not a sign of the collapse of the film industry that 3D has made a comeback, and it's not being forced on an unwilling audience.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:47 AM on May 11, 2010


(Ooooh wait, IMAX screens showing 3-D adult films. Now there' s a market!)

And Ebert would (and rightfully so) be the first to critique: "Eh... I've seen bigger."
posted by hal9k at 11:51 AM on May 11, 2010


Self-link, but I posted a pretty comprehensive (I think) rebuttal here, and there's been some lively discussion.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 11:51 AM on May 11, 2010


and it's not being forced on an unwilling audience.

Neither is the Double-Down.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:52 AM on May 11, 2010


3D should sort itself out in time. Some people will buy 3D gear, a lot won't. Once the buzz wears off, film and television producers will be increasingly reluctant to invest in 3D production for programming that doesn't really merit it, because it simply isn't that much fun to watch unless the content is enhanced by it in a big way, and because the content has to work for the 2D that most people will continue to use.

It's a bit like the old stereovision viewers of the Victorian era. People enjoyed looking at them, but nobody ended up successfully publishing regular photo books or magazines in that format even though the technology was trivial. Sometimes substance really does win out over form.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:58 AM on May 11, 2010


Playboy raises the bar with 3-D centerfold

I see what you did there.
posted by aught at 12:06 PM on May 11, 2010


Also, on-topically, the whole 3D thing is kind of lost on those of us who are legally blind in one eye. (You can bet I won't be rushing out to buy a 3D tv, that's for sure.)
posted by aught at 12:08 PM on May 11, 2010


A dance movie, Step Up, is coming out in 3-D. I saw the preview and I thought I had gone a little crazy. This is what Ebert is talking about. You Got Served a Shiny Pair of Glasses and a Mild Headache. Or the recent Clash of the Titans. Movies which could have taken the money for 3-D and aimed it at ... dialogue, story, good writing, or at least a Perseus whose plight interested me. At each point in the evolution of movies, Hollywood has opted for shiny toys versus quality. Tone down the CGI portion of your film, then spend that money to find some quality latex guys and hire a Joss Whedon to punch up your shooting script a bit. Find a comic book guy who will punch some holes in your history. Offer some physics undergrads three hours to come up with better technobabble.

This won't happen, but I can dream, even if dreaming is what movies were for, once upon a time.
posted by adipocere at 12:20 PM on May 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Did people here RTFA?

lmao of course they didn't, are you new to the site or something?
posted by hamida2242 at 12:26 PM on May 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Next thing you know, he's going to say that any snack other than popcorn and/or soda will detract from the filmgoing experience.

Also, I hear he wasn't so big on Heavy Rain. ;_;
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:37 PM on May 11, 2010


We should make a movie in 3D that is so awesome Ebert will have to change his mind. Anyone sitting on the great American screenplay for Taters 3D? Tagline: Taters grow in the ground.
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:41 PM on May 11, 2010


The way of life for Hollywood is to pump out demoralizing nihilistic or vapid dreck that no intelligent person can watch without becoming physically ill. He cites "Up in the Air" as some great example of film making? Up in the Air is compelling filmmaking for people who consider "The View" edgy.

Yes, you're right. But filmmaking is now (arguably always has been) primarily a business, not an art. At least in the United States.

I don't think that Ebert has ever made any pretense of being the kind of critic who writes primarily to get people to watch edgy, risk-taking movies (although I can point to occasions when he's done just that). He wrote the screenplay for "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls," for Pete's sake.

However, I can think of any number of critics who are nothing more than shills for the vapid dreck that you describe, and Ebert isn't one of them.
posted by blucevalo at 12:53 PM on May 11, 2010


For me it comes down to simple suspension of disbelief.

When there's an alien or another type of creature or an advanced technology introduced into a story, I will accept its existence if it is either not explained at all (since I want the story to work I have to grant it) or if it's explained away competently, with coherence and plausibility. But I will not accept an explanation that's condescending, obviously impossible, or incoherent. In other words, I'll work with you until you do me a disservice, because I want to enjoy what I'm watching, but I'm not dumb and don't want to be treated as such.

To me, 3D is the same way: I will believe that a 2d story is real even if it doesn't look exactly like real life, because I want to believe that it's real. The instant the story is in 3D, however, it had better be damned well done or else its just a distraction. If its not done subtly, then I stop thinking about the plot or enjoying the visuals and just start thinking about the ways it looks different from a normal movie - which is kind of nice, but which is also way less fun; its too cerebral. And if the visuals are in 3d and don't look good, it's the worst of all worlds.

Escaping the uncanny valley is an accomplishment, but if you still remind me of the existence of the uncanny valley (even if positively) you're still not a success.
posted by Kiablokirk at 12:57 PM on May 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


He writes this, and yet a few paragraphs earlier he notes that Scorsese is making a film adaptation of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, a book that Amazon.com notes is for ages 9-12.

This does not disprove Ebert's contention that Scorsese makes movies for grownups.

Adipocere, my understanding is that Clash of the Titans was already in the can and then hastily converted to 3-D to cash in on the trend. Point being, that movie was doomed to suck long before some schmuck decided to make it suck in 3D.
posted by Mister_A at 1:03 PM on May 11, 2010


I can't see 3-D, in the movies, on TV or in real life. I have ambleopia, or lazy eye. I've trained it to follow the other one around, so you don't know by looking at me, but BOY do I notice it.

Double vision anyone? Light sensitivity? And you want me to watch 3-D on top of it? No thank you.

Also, the technology is kind of gee-whiz, but it's not good yet. I've also heard that exposed viewing can permanantly damage your vision (actually the way your brain interprets what you see.) Of course I can't find the damn source on-line to link to it, but it convinced me!

I'm stuck in my flat, 2D world.

And get off my damn lawn!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:38 PM on May 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


The only movies I've actually gone to the theater to see in the past few years have been 3D. Coraline, Up, Avatar, and How To Train Your Dragon. They were each wonderful, in their own way, and the 3D added to each experience in a unique way.

At home, I've got a nice screen and a good sound system. There aren't obnoxious people talking and eating loud snacks and texting and taking phone calls all around me. There aren't babies crying, or desperately incontinent people shoving their way past me. Plus, my chair is much more comfortable.

If they want me to go to a theater, stand in line, pay good money, and put up with all the crap that a modern movie-going experience entails, they're going to have to draw me in with something spectacular that I can't get at home.

They get this. I'm psyched that they get this.

Meanwhile, there's no shortage of non-3D movies to put on my Netflix queue.

It seems to me the system is working just fine.
posted by MrVisible at 1:43 PM on May 11, 2010


Escaping the uncanny valley is an accomplishment, but if you still remind me of the existence of the uncanny valley (even if positively) you're still not a success.

Although this should be temporary. Look at color. The colors in The Wizard of Oz don't look like normal colors would (of course it helps that its Oz so maybe shit is weird there). But that was true for many early color movies. Eventually they got stuff sorted out and nobody complains about color not being done right. Same will happen with 3D.
posted by wildcrdj at 1:48 PM on May 11, 2010


Eventually they got stuff sorted out and nobody complains about color not being done right.

O RLY
posted by Greg Nog at 1:58 PM on May 11, 2010


HEY YOU OLD MAN! GET OUT OF THAT ABANDONED HOUSE! WE'RE TRYING TO PLAY IN THE LAWN OVER HERE! Jeez!
posted by fuq at 2:30 PM on May 11, 2010


Who is a serious film critic anymore? Name one film critic who people take seriously.

Philip French in the Observer?
posted by biffa at 2:31 PM on May 11, 2010


I saw Avatar in 3D on opening night, and it made me feel so headachey and vaguely nauseous that I was relieved when it was over. I really hated the experience of being forced to look at this one thing, when I wanted to look at some other detail elsewhere-- my eyes felt they were going to go permanently cross-eyed from the strain. I actually had to take a break in the middle of the movie because the experience was so unpleasant.

And this was after my friend told me, "All you have to do is close your eyes for a few seconds, and you'll be fine!" When I told him I felt bad, he said, "well, did you close your eyes for a few seconds!?" Ugh, of course I did. The only way that would have worked is if I kept them closed for the entire movie. I then swore never to see 3D again.

I totally agree with Ebert on this. Shame on all you Ebert haters. I don't agree with him on everything, but he seems pretty perceptive here. And I really dislike the attitude, "you're old or irrelevant if you don't like this." Well, 3D is a gimmick for greedy studios that allows them to add pricy surcharges to already steep ticket prices. It will fade away in time, like the last 3D trend.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 2:34 PM on May 11, 2010


I don't know about that. I'd kind of dig seeing in 3D the scene in which Grace Kelly stabs Anthony Dawson with a pair of scissors,

I saw it in 3d, and that's the only good scene. It's kind of jarring for the rest of the movie.

For all of you saying that someone will come along and make the great 3d movie, I'd remind you that 3d has been around since the 60's. What we're seeing now is a technical refinement of a technology, but it's not really new. And so far, no luck.

I'm not saying it couldn't be done, but Dial M For Murder is a great example. The problem with 3d is that you're constantly aware of it even when it's not doing anything and it takes you out of the moment. The dialogue was constantly being undercut by you noticing the table looking a little to close compared to the actors, or whatever.

I think in Coraline (which I thought was great, btw) it doesn't really matter because even the 'real' world in the film is so artificial that you don't get a weird vibe from it.

Avatar was far to horrible a movie for me to give a shit what dimension it was filmed in. James Cameron's white savior fantasies can suck it.
posted by lumpenprole at 2:48 PM on May 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's simple, actually. Does 3-D advance the story? In some cases, it does. In some it doesn't.

Some people here are suggesting that Ebert is some sort of Luddite. Not at all. Does color in a film advance the story? In Wizard of Oz, yes. In The Third Man, no, and The Third Man is probably the single best argument against the colorization of movies ever. Does that make color bad? No.

No matter what the technology, the fundamental issue is the story. Spectacle is great, but it has it's place.

Ebert states this fairly explicitly that the issue is that studios - whether the executives understand the distinction or not - will blindly pursue 3-D for financial reasons, and the industry and viewers will pay the price. Both literally and figuratively.
posted by Xoebe at 3:00 PM on May 11, 2010


Home theater in general is surpassing cinema quality, with new screens approaching 100 inches

Holy crap. I thought I was being excessive by getting a 46". I like it, but I'm not upgrading for a long time ...

I can't imagine how much power that would suck up. Because you wouldn't have a 100" LCD, right? It would have to be plasma or LED, I would think.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:14 PM on May 11, 2010


Some people here are suggesting that Ebert is some sort of Luddite. Not at all. Does color in a film advance the story? In Wizard of Oz, yes. In The Third Man, no, and The Third Man is probably the single best argument against the colorization of movies ever. Does that make color bad? No.

That's right, but I will never forgive Ted Turner for colorizing the old films he did. I really like TCM, too, but every now and then they show one of those colorized films, and it's like one of those old painted b/w photographs where the always-pastel color is too even and never quite right.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:24 PM on May 11, 2010


Who is a serious film critic anymore? Name one film critic who people take seriously.

The writers at Cineaste, Cahiers & Positif?
posted by juv3nal at 3:24 PM on May 11, 2010


Well, 3D is a gimmick for greedy studios that allows them to add pricy surcharges to already steep ticket prices. It will fade away in time, like the last 3D trend.

When it comes to big budget animation, sci-fi and action, I think it's here to stay. I do hope, however, that the smaller theaters will get non-3D prints (or copies, I guess) for when the venue isn't right for it, or for those people who don't want it.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:26 PM on May 11, 2010


Damn.

I can't take Ebert seriously on technology.

This saddens me. I like and respect the man. But to have such strident views on video games, without having actually spent significant time on them, is the mark of a closed mind.

And I can't take a closed mind seriously.
posted by effugas at 3:35 PM on May 11, 2010


Imagine a 3-D movie swooping along the roof of Notre-Dame cathedral, hovering around the grotesques and gargoyles. Yeah...that'd be cool.

Hell yeah. Or a 3-D version of Teshigahara's Gaudí, with the camera floating slowly through the Sagrada Familia cathedral? I'm there.
posted by mubba at 3:39 PM on May 11, 2010


Most of Ebert's criticisms are specious, I Cannot Imagine a Serious Drama ... in 3D, just wait for Terry Gilliam ...

Well, Ebert didn't like Brazil, so ...

I do think he has a point when it comes to overuse of a gimmick, and also the tech he's talking about with faster frame rates, which sounds great for non-3D movies. 24fps does work, but I notice the flicker.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:41 PM on May 11, 2010


I think the worst abuse of 3-D effects came before How to Train your Dragon even started. First, owls and feathers in my face. Second, toys in my face. Third, criminal masterminds in my face. The Shrek trailer actually wasn't bad. And then when we got to the corporate identification, that stupid kid in the moon throws a fishhook in my face. And having fond memories of being told to be careful how and where to cast when other people are around, that just isn't cool.

It reminds me of that shot in the original House of Wax where the barker with the paddleball breaks the fourth wall to joke about messing with your bag of pop corn (YT). Rather than putting all the good jokes in the trailer, we now have all the in-your-face 3-D moments in the trailer.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:55 PM on May 11, 2010


Also, the technology is kind of gee-whiz, but it's not good yet. I've also heard that exposed viewing can permanantly damage your vision (actually the way your brain interprets what you see.) Of course I can't find the damn source on-line to link to it, but it convinced me!

Someone find me an image of Carl Reiner in The Jerk.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:58 PM on May 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I saw Avatar, my first thought was that the movie I'd really love to be able to see that way is African Queen. Just two people, a boat, and an intense amount of natural scenery, some expansive and some so close and cloying that you are uncomfortable in your seat.

Right now it is clearly an expensive gimmick. But eventually it will open new creative doors.
posted by meinvt at 5:00 PM on May 11, 2010


Did people here RTFA? He totally says there are great things done with 3D, just that it has very little to add to cinema aimed at adults.

Avatar? awesome! How to Train Your Dragon? awesome!
But he's talking about the industry pressure to shoe-horn it in to the more adult, less-popcorny fare.


One thing I'll never forget learning in my film history class is that, when color photography processes were still new, people shot comedies and musicals in color, and still shot serious dramas and action movies in black-and-white. In fact, the original Technicolor process was not inherently the over-saturated, ultra-bright result that we associate with the term "Technicolor" today. It was nearly as capable as modern color processes at producing subtle, true-to-life color. It's just that when color became available, everybody turned it up to eleven to create spectacle. This B&W vs over-saturation split lasted for nearly fifteen years, if I recall correctly. It tapered off when people began to demand everything be shown in color.

Basically, the argument was, "color does nothing to help a film aimed at adult audiences, and even distracts them; but, kids love color, so let's blow it out."

It's also interesting to note that WWII newsreels were almost universally monochrome, despite WWII being one of the most color-photographed historical events in history. There's more color footage from WWII than from Vietnam, in fact. Partially the newsreel issue was due to classification; but not totally. A major factor was that people considered it disrespectful and uncouth to present footage of war in the same medium as a children's musical.

Ebert also bitches about the economy of the situation, decrying the day when all movies have to be shot in 3D. But, how is this different than the situation with color today? Even if a director wants to show the movie in greyscale, they're almost universally required to shoot in color. If they win the battle with the studio to show it as they intended, it's then desaturated in post-production.
posted by Netzapper at 5:28 PM on May 11, 2010


I'm waiting for the return of Smell-O-Vision.

Playboy raises the bar with 3-D centerfold


I am waiting for Smell-O-Vision centerfolds.
posted by little e at 5:29 PM on May 11, 2010


So far, I'm liking 3D more than I thought I would. How to Train Your Dragon was indeed awesome.

Is it ok if I hate IMAX? Because I think it's awful - I can see every frame going by, and every jiggle of the camera. Which I hate. So I assume that IMAX + 3D would be truly horrendous.
posted by sneebler at 5:37 PM on May 11, 2010


So I assume that IMAX + 3D would be truly horrendous.

I saw AVATAR in IMAX-3D. It may just be my particular eyes, but the moment I put the glasses on, it's as if the monster screen shrunk down to more or less "normal" size (ie: diminished by the scope of the cheap lenses I had to wear, if that makes any sense). Unlike my experience of The Dark Knight in the same theater where the big screen was, if anything, too big much of the time (all that headache-inducing fast cutting WOW-BANG-KAPOW), except for the occasional static wide shot moment (a few overhead shots, the hospital explosion) where the sheer awe inspiring bigness was indeed a beautiful thing.
posted by philip-random at 6:08 PM on May 11, 2010


3D can never be art.

Never.

Well, maybe if you use maple syrup. But only maybe.
posted by clvrmnky at 7:42 PM on May 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ooooh wait, IMAX screens showing 3-D adult films. Now there' s a market!

It's old-school and a good primer on everything that's wrong with bad 3-D, bad pornography, the 70's, and (presumably) cocaine; the psychedelic 1976 3-D adult film Lollipop Girls in Hard Candy is something you should see in a theater if you ever have a chance. NSFW trailer.
posted by peeedro at 8:43 PM on May 11, 2010


Basically, the argument was, "color does nothing to help a film aimed at adult audiences, and even distracts them; but, kids love color, so let's blow it out."

This is true, but it's also true that many filmmakers continue to use b/w for various reasons - sometimes budget, but often for dramatic effect. While drama can be filmed in color, there's no reason it has to be.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:48 PM on May 11, 2010


As a technology I can take or leave 3D (although lets be honest, as a moving going experience, mostly leave, given the premium ticket price), but 24fps is basically why I've all but stopped going to the movies. One particular pan shot across the casino in Ocean's Thirteen was such an impenetrable blurry mess... my inner A/V geek died a little that night. I just couldn't believe that someone involved in the movie making process had looked at that and thought "yep, I want that on the big screen with my name on it." I feel broken and just can't enjoy the cinema properly now. Help me Hollywood, I need you!
posted by adamt at 10:09 PM on May 11, 2010


I am not convinced by 3D yet. I decided to give How to Train Your Dragon a go in 3D, and I didn't really feel much benefit. There didn't really seem to be much depth to it, to me.
posted by that girl at 10:25 PM on May 11, 2010


@that girl, it is my understanding that "How to Train..." was actually shot just as a regular animated film, and the 3D stuff hung off it at the end in post-production. So none of the animators were actually thinking about the 3D stuff during production.

This is exactly what Ebert is complaining about: they are often adding very little and charging a premium for a gimmick.

I saw Coraline in 3D, mostly because it was intended to use this "new" 3D tech from the beginning and it was... ok.

I wear glasses, so usually I hate wearing yet another goofy pair of uncomfortable specs, but the new crop of 3D is a little more easy on the eyes. A little.

Still, as Ebert says: dark, mostly silly, adds very little to the story and expensive for no reason.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:55 AM on May 12, 2010


That girl - Really? I would have thought rendering an extra camera, as Pixar are doing with their re-releases, would be cheaper than the false 3D, which is pretty involved for such a crappy effect.
posted by Artw at 6:57 AM on May 12, 2010


The future of cinema from a movie critic? Seems to me that most of them lack vision, else they'd see a crap movie and would see potential in it.

3D will only become more popular. Once you no longer need special glasses and the technology is more affordable and generally refined, why would you not want to shoot in 3D by default?

As for 3D not adding anything to a drama, that is more BS from someone who is obviously not a creative type. People will find tasteful, non-intrusive, creative ways to incorporate 3D into all sorts of genres, just like they did with sound and colour.

It's not about the medium itself, it's about how the medium is used.
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 7:16 AM on May 12, 2010


(quietly pees self worrying about Tron Legacy)
posted by cavalier at 7:45 AM on May 12, 2010




(quietly pees self worrying about Tron Legacy)

Tron Legacy has one leg up on a lot of the competition, in that it's being filmed using the same 3D camera technology that James Cameron developed for Avatar. Despite all the kerfuffle about the quality of the script or whatever, the 3D in Avatar was pretty much universally acclaimed as groundbreaking and a triumph. So, I have no worried that it will at least LOOK good, and have the same immersive "looking through a window" qualities that made the Avatar 3D experience worthwhile.
posted by hippybear at 10:28 AM on May 12, 2010


I really have no feeling about 3D. No great desire to experience it. I suppose I will at one point, but... meh.

I think I would like a really good black & white movie over the schlock Hollywood puts out these days, but if they ever figure out how to make a really good movie that happens to be in 3D, that's okay.

A well-written book is my preference though. I'd rather use my imagination a bit than have it spelled out for me.
posted by Doohickie at 10:53 AM on May 12, 2010


As for 3D not adding anything to a drama, that is more BS from someone who is obviously not a creative type. People will find tasteful, non-intrusive, creative ways to incorporate 3D into all sorts of genres, just like they did with sound and colour.

There is nothing more tasteful than the only place in town with 3D entertainment and an excellent cut of beef.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:32 AM on May 12, 2010


A well-written book is my preference though. I'd rather use my imagination a bit than have it spelled out for me.

Me? I'd rather get all my literature from direct oral histories, like they used to do it before they abstracted the whole thing with this alphabet. Either that or semaphore.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:35 AM on May 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


heh. "I prefer a good book" is like the Steampunk "I don't own a television"/"I deleted my facebook account".
posted by Artw at 11:36 AM on May 12, 2010


I prefer to dream up fascinating, exciting scenarios populated with lively, interesting characters. I'd rather use my own imagination than have someone else spell it all out for me from theirs.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:59 AM on May 12, 2010


Ogg like stare at fire!
posted by Artw at 12:02 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Tron Legacy has one leg up on a lot of the competition, in that it's being filmed using the same 3D camera technology that James Cameron developed for Avatar.

(dries self, does laundry)

That's ... better! I missed Avatar, but yeah, people seemed to like it, so, yay! I just don't want my tron universe muddied and generally low on brightness/clarity :|.
posted by cavalier at 6:51 AM on May 13, 2010




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