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#1 George Ebersole

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Posted 24 December 2009 - 12:58 AM

I saw "Avatar" yesterday, and was wondering what the pros on this board thought of the 3D effects.

Good? Bad? Gimmicky? An evolution?

Thoughts?
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#2 Cody Cuellar

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Posted 24 December 2009 - 02:59 AM

I've been talking to a lot of people about the 3D effects. I saw it with regular polarized glasses at an Arclight theater, and I just wasn't convinced that 3D is anywhere near to where I would even consider watching every movie in 3D. I do want to try the iMax LCD technology to see if its any different.

My first problem with it was the fact that the glasses were too small, and unless you angled you head just right from where i was sitting (middle of theater), the glasses would start to cut off part of the screen. It was probably just Arclight's glasses design, but they weren't big enough. I also noticed quite a bit of image separation at the edges of the screen unless I turned my head to center the glasses on that portion of the screen.

Second problem was the fact that I was finding it difficult to concentrate on the little details. Sometimes during the action I was trying to look at all the little details of the CGI, and just wasn't able to quite focus. I kept getting pulled out of the movie constantly thinking about the fact that I was watching the movie in 3D rather than actually watching the movie itself. In a 2D film, there's no gimmicks that will take my mind off the story, where here I felt like i kept lifting the glasses every once and a while. Also, every 20 minutes my eyes were getting fatigued I felt like and I had to remove the glasses for a second. *I have 20/20 vision.

The last and most important issue for me is FOCUS. The problem with focus and 3D movies is this: when I look at objects in real life, nothing is "in focus". It's all in focus (don't get all quantum physics on me with this) or better, its its all ABLE to be focused perfectly on. My eyes select a subject and automatically focus on that particular subject I'm looking at, and depending on the distances, objects nearer or further away from my eyes in the 3D plane will go out of focus. Now imagine how annoying it would be in real life if you looked at a tree but only a guy standing 100 yards behind it was in focus and the tree was somehow slightly out of focus no matter how hard you tried to focus on it. If you wanted to look at the tree, and it was magically just out of focus, well... you get the idea. Every scene that had selective focus would start to really annoy me, because my mind would see this as a 3D scene that I could look around at, but suddenly was told that I couldn't look in certain spots because they wouldn't come in clear. I would look at a particular object in the scene, have a hard time seeing it, then realize, "Oh its not it focus on the 3D plane, I get it." It just doesn't make any visual sense. Two 2D capture devices set up to simulate a 3d scene do not equal a system that can replicate a real 3D space, unless EVERYTHING is ALWAYS in focus.

All of the deep focus shots looked great, but then there's the question, do we get rid of focus in movies if they all go 3D? It sorta works when they really throw the background out of focus and shoot wide open, but say they're on a wide lens and the focus isn't throwing the background out much, but just enough to where it makes it difficult to look at until you realize you're not supposed to be looking there. Rack focuses in Avatar were a whole other issues that was really throwing me off. So all in all 3D - at least for me - removes an extremely important part of filmmaking; selective focus. With 2D, a rack focus will drag your eye across the screen laterally, and works perfectly since its one plane, and if its out of focus its out of focus and easy to tell. With 3D the focus effects aren't as obvious right away, and being 3D automatically makes your brain think that it will focus on whatever you look at in the 3D space, just like real life, but in reality it doesn't really translate like that. If they were to change focus, you not only have to move your eyes laterally to the crispest part of the image, you have to focus spatially forward and backward and try to "guess" what they're intended target is.

So that's my 2 cents. Not sure how much that made sense...but I'd like to hear what others have to say. So far I've heard a few average movie goers that loved the 3D and felt more immersed, so maybe its just being a filmmaker and not a consumer that makes the difference for me since I probably watch movies differently than a consumer. Other filmmakers have agreed with me and some average moviegoers found it weird too, they just didn't understand anything I was saying. Now the CGI was absolutely stunning and spectacular if that's the 3D you are talking about!

Edited by Cody Cuellar, 24 December 2009 - 03:03 AM.

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#3 Cody Cuellar

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Posted 24 December 2009 - 03:02 AM

Oops... Can I delete that first post?
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#4 Michael Campanella

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Posted 24 December 2009 - 09:45 AM

The last and most important issue for me is FOCUS. The problem with focus and 3D movies is this: when I look at objects in real life, nothing is "in focus". It's all in focus (don't get all quantum physics on me with this) or better, its its all ABLE to be focused perfectly on. My eyes select a subject and automatically focus on that particular subject I'm looking at, and depending on the distances, objects nearer or further away from my eyes in the 3D plane will go out of focus. Now imagine how annoying it would be in real life if you looked at a tree but only a guy standing 100 yards behind it was in focus and the tree was somehow slightly out of focus no matter how hard you tried to focus on it. If you wanted to look at the tree, and it was magically just out of focus, well... you get the idea. Every scene that had selective focus would start to really annoy me, because my mind would see this as a 3D scene that I could look around at, but suddenly was told that I couldn't look in certain spots because they wouldn't come in clear. I would look at a particular object in the scene, have a hard time seeing it, then realize, "Oh its not it focus on the 3D plane, I get it." It just doesn't make any visual sense. Two 2D capture devices set up to simulate a 3d scene do not equal a system that can replicate a real 3D space, unless EVERYTHING is ALWAYS in focus.


I have to say that I agree with everything you said here. This is my biggest critic of Avatar, from a technical point of view. It's something that while watching the movie reminded me that I was seeing something that is still in it's infancy. I think if film makers want to seriously create 3D films they will need to re-examine certain time honored techniques, and it starts with the focus issue. Too often in the film my eyes would wonder onto a certain object in the frame and be irritated that it wasn't in focus.

Having said that I got to say that for me, that wasn't eought to ruin the experience. I really enjoyed Avatar as a whole. I thought it was very submersive and the amount of detail was fantastic. I loved the little touches, like the computer displays, windows, and so on. I heard the story isn't too original, my gf says it's Fern Gully in space, but that really didn't bother me either.

I had no trouble witth the glasses or my eyes either, the film pretty much flew by for me. I think I will watch it again after Christmas to try and look at it even more technically without being distracted by the story.
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#5 George Ebersole

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Posted 24 December 2009 - 11:08 AM

Years back I saw "Captain EO" at Disneyland using the same 3D technology. Whether you like Michael Jackson or not the 3D effect was fairly interesting. But it didn't wow me to the point that I wanted to see more films in 3D. I don't think either drama or story benefit from it too much.

Imagine "Citizen Kane" in 3D, or "The Godfather" in 3D. Imagine a Kurosawa film in 3D. Again, I think 3D is interesting, but this film, for all its visuals to dazzle folks it just didn't make me want to see more 3D.
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#6 Kyle Reid

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Posted 26 December 2009 - 03:39 PM

Years back I saw "Captain EO" at Disneyland using the same 3D technology. Whether you like Michael Jackson or not the 3D effect was fairly interesting. But it didn't wow me to the point that I wanted to see more films in 3D. I don't think either drama or story benefit from it too much.

Imagine "Citizen Kane" in 3D, or "The Godfather" in 3D. Imagine a Kurosawa film in 3D. Again, I think 3D is interesting, but this film, for all its visuals to dazzle folks it just didn't make me want to see more 3D.


I don't agree that "drama or story" cannot benefit from a stereoscopic presentation. I believe it is always a benefit for the storyteller to have access to a wide variety of tools that (s)he can use to communicate his/her vision to the audience. It certainly doesn't mean this tool can be applied to any film and make it more expressive and immersive. No, this tool has to be implemented as intelligently as other tools such as color, focus, composition, brightness, or contrast. Certain stories might not benefit from it, but just the same, certain stories are also better as novels, or plays instead of films.
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#7 George Ebersole

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Posted 27 December 2009 - 01:25 AM

I don't agree that "drama or story" cannot benefit from a stereoscopic presentation. I believe it is always a benefit for the storyteller to have access to a wide variety of tools that (s)he can use to communicate his/her vision to the audience. It certainly doesn't mean this tool can be applied to any film and make it more expressive and immersive. No, this tool has to be implemented as intelligently as other tools such as color, focus, composition, brightness, or contrast. Certain stories might not benefit from it, but just the same, certain stories are also better as novels, or plays instead of films.

Interesting. What would be a good use of 3D for a dramatic effect?
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#8 Kyle Reid

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Posted 27 December 2009 - 04:39 AM

Interesting. What would be a good use of 3D for a dramatic effect?

I honestly think that it would have to be decided in context, as would the use of other traditional composition or storytelling elements elements. We don't blink at using long or short lenses to enhance the perspective in different ways than we see as humans for dramatic effect. Having the ability of a character/ object to step out from, or recede into the frame seems like it could offer many dramatic possibilities just the same, but asking what would be a good use of it seems to me like asking what's a good use of sync-sound in the early days of sync-sound films, we still have to figure that out.
I'm not trying to be abrasive at all as I have nothing invested in this technology, but it is exciting to think that we may have another potent tool at our disposal as films makers to strike the hearts and minds of our audience and keep them coming back the the theaters.
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#9 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 27 December 2009 - 08:49 AM

Reading the responses above, I have no idea what movie they were watching. I saw it two days ago in IMAX 3D and it was spectacular. The glasses were not an issue and I forgot I even had them on as the movie wasn't "throwing" things at the audience the way gimmicky 3D movies usually do.

I wouldn't mind seeing more films like this in the future. :)
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#10 George Ebersole

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Posted 27 December 2009 - 10:53 AM

I honestly think that it would have to be decided in context, as would the use of other traditional composition or storytelling elements elements. We don't blink at using long or short lenses to enhance the perspective in different ways than we see as humans for dramatic effect. Having the ability of a character/ object to step out from, or recede into the frame seems like it could offer many dramatic possibilities just the same, but asking what would be a good use of it seems to me like asking what's a good use of sync-sound in the early days of sync-sound films, we still have to figure that out.
I'm not trying to be abrasive at all as I have nothing invested in this technology, but it is exciting to think that we may have another potent tool at our disposal as films makers to strike the hearts and minds of our audience and keep them coming back the the theaters.

I think it's an interesting tool, but I didn't feel emotionally impacted by the new effect. I thought it was unique, and it seemed to visually add to the experience, but I didn't notice a shot in the film that to me said "this needed to be in 3D".

I'm just curious what kind of shot would benefit from a "third dimension".
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#11 Thomas James

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 11:13 PM

Phillips was going to market an auto stereoscopic 56 inch 4K television that would sell for $25,000. This television had 46 different views for a total of 400 million pixels. I think that some of these views would be computer generated.
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#12 Colin Green

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Posted 29 December 2009 - 04:28 AM

I saw this film just yesterday, walking in with an open mind, but stuck on the fact that I am not a big fan of Major CGI usage, especially when a film begins to rely on it. The problem mostly becomes apparent when you have real life actors, working alongside computer animated characters, when you are working entirely with green screen and etc... it usually leads to lifeless characters and flat performances. Luckily, avatar seemed to really go the extra mile in making sure that this was not the case, keeping the real time actor, to CGI animation interaction to a minimum.

As someone had mentioned earlier, my biggest problem with the 3D aspect of the film, is that it sacrifices sharp, and smooth rack focuses. And for a lack of better explanation, I felt even though the 3D element brings a whole new element of depth to the screen, a sense DOF was lost in the film. And watching the film with the 3D glasses might as well take the exposure down a stop or 2.
The overall feeling of blurred, and darkened scenes, leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth, and curious to see where it will be taken next, and if adjustments, can and/or will be made.

Aside from the films 3D element, I felt that it was a decent film. It has a solid structure, with somewhat predictable outcomes, but it kept me intrigued, and managed to suggest several subtle, motivated messages in the process. A good film, but for as cookie cutter as it seemed at points, I'm not sure its worth all the initial hype
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#13 Tony Brown

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Posted 06 January 2010 - 06:49 PM

I saw this film just yesterday, walking in with an open mind, but stuck on the fact that I am not a big fan of Major CGI usage, especially when a film begins to rely on it. The problem mostly becomes apparent when you have real life actors, working alongside computer animated characters, when you are working entirely with green screen and etc... it usually leads to lifeless characters and flat performances. Luckily, avatar seemed to really go the extra mile in making sure that this was not the case, keeping the real time actor, to CGI animation interaction to a minimum.

As someone had mentioned earlier, my biggest problem with the 3D aspect of the film, is that it sacrifices sharp, and smooth rack focuses. And for a lack of better explanation, I felt even though the 3D element brings a whole new element of depth to the screen, a sense DOF was lost in the film. And watching the film with the 3D glasses might as well take the exposure down a stop or 2.
The overall feeling of blurred, and darkened scenes, leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth, and curious to see where it will be taken next, and if adjustments, can and/or will be made.

Aside from the films 3D element, I felt that it was a decent film. It has a solid structure, with somewhat predictable outcomes, but it kept me intrigued, and managed to suggest several subtle, motivated messages in the process. A good film, but for as cookie cutter as it seemed at points, I'm not sure its worth all the initial hype


Agree with all but the last paragraph

Extremely predictable, message was about as subtle as a hammer to the head and an hour too long. There were 12 people in the cinema, 3 with me......
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#14 Frank Cook

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Posted 09 January 2010 - 07:56 AM

For some reason 3D films give me a headache within about 5 minutes. This one was no exception. I didn't even make it through the coming attractions (also in 3D) before my eyes hurt.
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#15 Larry Nielsen

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Posted 09 January 2010 - 07:28 PM

Hmmm, all of this is very interesting. I know the I/O was controlled heavily as so not to achieve the common head aches of 3D, also as I look at my computer and type this, through my peripheral vision, my TV is out of focus, yet my computer screen is not. Funny how we can trick our eyes and accomplish depth of field. Also if everything on a screen is in focus, then don't we defeat the purpose of drawing attention to what we want our attention drawn to? I believe what it did capture was the ability to show us depth within a scene, different planes. I think if anyone see's this movie again with these thoughts in mind, they may appreciate it even more.


Just my two cents.
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#16 Sean Ryan Finnegan

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 07:56 AM

I simply don't think that we've evolved the craft of cinematography to take advantage of what 3D has to offer yet. An integral part of cinematography is telling a three dimensional story on a two dimensional plane - many of the techniques, conventions, and styles revolve around orienting audiences in the space of a scene so that they aren't disoriented when the camera moves. The problem, in my opinion, is that 3D movies kind of throw all those techniques, conventions, and styles out the window. 3D demands its own set of techniques and conventions, and instead we're currently applying rules from regular filmmaking to it - and that, in a nutshell, is where all of us filmmakers are feeling this sort of weirdness with 3D.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't a critique of 3D. In fact, it's more a critique of filmmakers in general who are so glued to the conventions of filmmaking that we keep trying to apply the same rules and styles to a totally different visual experience. In time, I think there will be a new generation of filmmakers who realize that 3D has entirely different limitations and when they finally push the envelope, we'll see 3D movies that are totally mind blowing and not disorienting. But....that time is not now.
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#17 Daniel Sheehy

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 05:14 PM

...The last and most important issue for me is FOCUS. The problem with focus and 3D movies is this: when I look at objects in real life, nothing is "in focus". It's all in focus (don't get all quantum physics on me with this) or better, its its all ABLE to be focused perfectly on. My eyes select a subject and automatically focus on that particular subject I'm looking at, and depending on the distances, objects nearer or further away from my eyes in the 3D plane will go out of focus...

I enjoyed the movie, but found the 3D a bit distracting.
Giving depth to the image generally didn't make it more life like.

Generally, my eyes wanted to flit over the scene for a brief second, establishing and supporting the depth that I'm being told is there in the picture. But I couldn't. This constantly reminded me that I was viewing an illusion.

However, the effect was awesome in some of the wide, scenery shots though, especially the scenes involving the trip up to the nesting grounds. (Maybe the limited conflicting depth cues in such a wide scene helped..?)
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#18 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 05:29 PM

"Interesting. What would be a good use of 3D for a dramatic effect?"

Uhm, I haven't seen the movie, but I would guess that the fact that it's about a guy who is paralyzed and has his consciousness plugged into another world might be the thematic link to the "immersion" of the 3D format.
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#19 George Ebersole

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 12:42 AM

I simply don't think that we've evolved the craft of cinematography to take advantage of what 3D has to offer yet. An integral part of cinematography is telling a three dimensional story on a two dimensional plane - many of the techniques, conventions, and styles revolve around orienting audiences in the space of a scene so that they aren't disoriented when the camera moves. The problem, in my opinion, is that 3D movies kind of throw all those techniques, conventions, and styles out the window. 3D demands its own set of techniques and conventions, and instead we're currently applying rules from regular filmmaking to it - and that, in a nutshell, is where all of us filmmakers are feeling this sort of weirdness with 3D.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't a critique of 3D. In fact, it's more a critique of filmmakers in general who are so glued to the conventions of filmmaking that we keep trying to apply the same rules and styles to a totally different visual experience. In time, I think there will be a new generation of filmmakers who realize that 3D has entirely different limitations and when they finally push the envelope, we'll see 3D movies that are totally mind blowing and not disorienting. But....that time is not now.

Which is kind of a shame since the technology has been around, but probably not as portable as the "Pace". Still, a few more 3D films produced over the last 20 years or so to keep interest would have helped keep interest and evolve this new version of the art.

But again, as cool as I thought Avatar was as a film by itself, the 3D didn't give me any "wow" moments. I hope this doesn't sound to snobbish, but to me a "3D" experience is going to see a stage play or something.

I got more thoughts, but I'll wait until I can think of a better way to say them.
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#20 George Ebersole

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 12:44 AM

For some reason 3D films give me a headache within about 5 minutes. This one was no exception. I didn't even make it through the coming attractions (also in 3D) before my eyes hurt.

That's actually a real medical condition that happens with certain types of people who play FPS games, though they usually get nausea in addition to the headache.
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