The New, Headache-Free 3D Universe

If you haven’t heard that 2009 is the year of 3D, it should be clear very soon. There are over 15 feature movies coming out in 3D this year – “My Bloody Valentine 3-D” and “Coraline” were the first and are still in theaters. Coming soon are “Monsters Vs. Aliens,” “Pixar’s Up” And “Horrorween.” So […]

Last Updated: March 11, 2010 @ 5:29 PM

If you haven’t heard that 2009 is the year of 3D, it should be clear very soon. There are over 15 feature movies coming out in 3D this year – “My Bloody Valentine 3-D” and “Coraline” were the first and are still in theaters. Coming soon are “Monsters Vs. Aliens,” “Pixar’s Up” And “Horrorween.”

So what is all the excitement about? It’s because we’re talking about modern 3D. The old cardboard red and blue (anaglyph) “glasses” — and their associated headaches — are long gone. If you hear someone refer to these old-style glasses for theater use, you can feel completely comfortable in correcting them. You can drop that notion altogether – that was your father’s 3D.

That’s why I was so vehemently against Dreamworks Animation’s use of anaglyph glasses for their 3D Superbowl ad – sure there is some awareness generated, but awareness of what? Headaches? People will just get confused and think that they have to bring those very same glasses to the theater.

No. What we are now talking about is “passive polarized” 3D glasses in most cases. Beverly Hills based RealD espouses this technology and I mention them by name as they are essentially the theatrical projection standard for modern 3D with 90-95% of all installations. The technology is not color coded and will not place any undue processing requirements on your brain for a 3D experience. Therefore, no headaches like your father had. To the contrary – the experience is thrilling when done correctly (yes, there can be badly made 3D movies, just like any other 2D movie) and immersive.

So the technology is much better – what about the content? The goal of any great director is to have 3D take a back seat to the audience’s experience and use the format to augment the story.

It is when you forget that you are watching a 3D movie that the magic happens! You brain is more engaged and your experience is heightened with a greater attachment to what is going on in the movie. It should be seamless – a great 3D director / DP will take a scene and determine how to best use 3D to bring the audience into the movie; a window, rather than a wall with a projection if you will. You will see a gradual departure from those “comin’ at ya” 3D movies toward a much more fluid integration of 3D… more subtle.

Believe me, when 3D is done correctly it is like adding color to a movie. The clarity is also astounding; something about the brain bringing two different images together of a single scene works much better than having only a single image. The brain is doing some fuzzy logic calculations there and the outcome is a totally new experience for the theater.

3D expertise in filmmaking is expanding and 2009 will be a testament to that. We have the masters of course: James Cameron (“Avatar”) for example. He has been involved with modern 3D for years and actually partnered with Vince Pace to invent and build an industry leading 3D camera system called Fusion.

But we have the new generation as well like Thomas Jane (“The Dark Country”) who has the vision to create a 3D experience and the wisdom to call upon 3D veterans to assist him in making it happen. Add somewhere in the middle these directors, all of whom are engaged in 3D projects: Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, Robert Zemeckis, Steven Soderbergh, Tim Burton, George Lucas, Gore Verbinski, Jerry Bruckheimer, Alexandre Aja, Joe Dante, etc.

Oh, and all future digital animations from Pixar, DWA and Disney will be in stereoscopic 3D, starting right now. Need I go on?

 Jim Dorey is the creator and editor of MarketSaw.com, a site focused on 3D movies and technology. Jim has been featured in many media outlets such as Wired, Slate and Computer Graphics World, helping to bring the viewing public closer to what is the modern 3D experience. Endorsed by leading companies such as RealD and widely read by industry visionaries and the general public, Mr. Dorey is in a unique position to evangelise stereoscopic 3D and to ensure its continued success.