Tag Archives: convergence

Update: Ebert FUDs 3D and Digital Cinema


Walter Murch wrote to Roger Ebert, and since they agree that 3D has problems, it is “Case Closed” for 3D. 

Why 3D doesn’t work and never will. Case closed. – Roger Ebert’s Journal

I wish I wasn’t the one having to defend stereoscopic 3D. Like Ebert and Murch, I am not the target audience. I have a dead certain ability to suspend disbelief at the slightest whim of a director, no matter the material. I like to enjoy movies even if it is kids movies or even if it is in a language that I don’t understand while doing a QC pass. And, I know what is wrong with 3D, so I have that problem of having to avoid looking “there”.

Oh, and disclaimers in advance about being able to make any critique of the talent and exceptional understanding of Walter Murch. But he needs better reasons to convince the world against 3D movies, as the reasons he gives in the Ebert letter are over the top or wrong.

How many people get headaches from watching 3D? No one has done that study. I think the problem is overstated. My bet is that if the poll were taken the number would be dependent upon seating position and light available to the eyes. Just a guess, but since the studies haven’t been done, I am just as much an expert as anyone. Certainly, people’s impressions of 3D experience is affected by seating position. See: Scotopic Issues with 3D, and Silver Screens and 23 degrees…half the light. 3D What? 

Is there a problem with light level. Absolutely. It isn’t going to be solved soon, and will probably only be solved by lasers in the projector. Get your grass roots going, and insist that the studios and exhibitors crank up the mastering level and the light level in the auditorium…but expect to pay more, as the bulbs are not cheap and they will burn by the gross if cranked up. But get your game on guys, instead of kvetching. This is like saying CGI will be gone soon since it was sometimes poorly done in the early days. 3Questions – Laser Light Engines

Side note: Yes; Avatar was dark. I saw it in the most perfect of settings, in the same position which minutes before had been the set-up position for the light meter during re-tweaking. As perfect as possible for the color timing of that print. I’ve also seen it ‘hotter’ in post facilities. Different movie. Much more immersive. I’ve also seen clips from Star Wars and Casablanca redone in 3D. Absolutely enticing. None of this stuff is impossible to get around. It is just a little early on the curve. 

Expensive? Sure. So is the equipment that the exhibitors were forced to purchase for no reason beneficial to them. Sure, many get the finance costs of the digital cinema projector and media player paid by the studios (though by no means do all exhibitors get this.) But no facility gets their 3D equipment paid for by the studios, even though the studios take a part of the increased ticket price and so does RealD if that is the type being used.  

How much does the 3D add-on equipment cost? Depending on the system, it is as much or more than what an entire film projector system used to cost. The digital projector and media player and associated equipment costs 3 times that.  

The basis of his argument is based upon a difficulty that the brain could have overcoming a convergence/focus issue, where the brain wants to jump into a focus that doesn’t exist. Sure, but movie directors have been leading my eyes around with a focus/out of focus that I can’t enter since Maltese Falcon days, and probably before. I have trouble speaking to this argument entirely since I have always been told that the parallax issue is no longer in the mix after 25 feet, maybe 30, 40 at the outside. He elucidates the problem with examples of 60 and 120 feet. At these distances there are other visual clues telling us about the 3rd dimension, regardless of whether the movie is 2D or 3D. Discussing these topics are also fraught with making the eyes static players and the brain im-plastic.  

Ultimately, there is an audience coming in stronger numbers by the day, these human units who have been playing 3D games, watching with diminished field of vision, stroby, small, dark, in addition to bristling poor internet stuff. Myself, can’t watch ’em. But they are getting their entertainment in many different ways, and much or it 3D. With only the movies through and in the pipeline, many if not most of their tent-poles are that way too. As it becomes a better technology it will be all they will tolerate…and all that that implies.   

For me, that’s the definition of ‘case closed’.

5 May 2010 – In this week’s Newsweek Magazine, respected film critic Roger Ebert, challenges the shift from rayon to steel-belted, from NCR to IBM, from Walkman to iPod from film to digital by attacking 3D as less than food for dogs.

Consider this Why I Hate 3-D (And You Should Too) Deconstructed, a brief respite from the State of Digital Cinema Series that was heading in some of the directions mentioned in this piece.

The headings of the NewsWeek article are kept, but for standard copyright reasons, the detail paragraph or paragraphs are not copied over. They should be read, or the corresponding arguments will not read well.

Thus, reading this diary presumes that you open two browser windows, and reading the Ebert parts first.


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