So, box office receipts have plunged this month despite all the new 3D movies, theaters, hype and fat increases in ticket prices. As covered here a number of times, Outside In is double 3D-less: the film uses no 3D CGI, just real photographs and also will not be presented in 3D at all. Now IMAX fans and Francis Ford Coppola are chiming in as well as Michael Bay and Christopher Nolan about why 3D is not the holy grail of filmmaking. (see links below)
I don’t think 3D will die, though, it does have a place. I really enjoyed U2:3D. The 3D in Avatar added a bit (although not much). But I see a lot of bad uses of 3D. I thought 3D actually detracted from much of Hubble 3D except for the closeup astronauts shots.
I’m not the only filmmaker pointing out that the 3D is not the future of cinema (like sound and color were), including in the giant screen IMAX world. There are some very good reasons. First, current (and for the foreseable future) a 3D image is lower resolution, much dimmer, poorer colors and full of various artifacts (ghosting, strobing etc.). So if you want the best possible image quality, 2D is way, way better. Secondly, our stereo vision is only really stereo for objects very close to us. If you add stereo 3D to distant images, they look silly. Third, shooting 3D is a pain in the butt, expensive and camera on twice as big and huge as their 2D counterparts.
Stereo photography has been around for many, many decades yet 99% of still pictures are 2D. While Hollywood may decide to try to make tons of 3D movies, I’m not sure how long the hype will last. 3D will likely settle down to some subjects (it’s a cool way for look at certain objects that are very close/small – that “reach out and touch” kind of thing). Maybe sports, cartoons, some animation, concerts…and continued use in IMAX.
In my own personal experience, the very best, most immersive cinema experience is a giant screen 2D experience, especially IMAX domes. Outside In is primarly aimed at those screens. Perhaps technology will allow 3D that brings the best of both current 2D and 3D together, but until then, 2D is still king of the big screen.