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Roger Ebert on 3-D


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#1 Justin Hayward

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Posted 02 May 2010 - 09:15 AM

http://www.newsweek....d/237110/page/1
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#2 Tom Jensen

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Posted 02 May 2010 - 10:52 AM

I'm with Roger on this one.
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#3 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 02 May 2010 - 12:55 PM

Agreed. I am not a 3-D person... and I certainly am not going to be buying a 3-D anything anytime soon...
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#4 Stephen Murphy

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Posted 02 May 2010 - 01:46 PM

Couldn't agree more (and I say that as I'm in the midst of shooting a 3d feature!)
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#5 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 02 May 2010 - 02:17 PM

Here's one film critic's answer:

http://www.bbc.co.uk...a_3d_movie.html
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#6 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 02 May 2010 - 03:18 PM

I'm way ahead of Mr Kermode.

A long time ago (this was during the first run of Beowulf) I asked if they had any glasses set up like that for people who just didn't want to be bothered with all the stereo BS. They didn't.

P
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#7 Matti Poutanen

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Posted 04 May 2010 - 12:56 AM

While I have a great respect for Roger Ebert and usually he is spot on, in this matter I have to differ and many of his points seem to be ruled by astonishingly conservative point of view and short sightedness. He seems to believe that the way we make and look at movies does not evolve, like the art form that is movies had reached it´s "high point" and it just can not be anything other than that.

Saying that "it adds nothing to the experience" and "I cannot imagine a serious drama, such as Up in the Air or The Hurt Locker, in 3D" while there has yet to be a serious drama feature in 3D is mind boggling. On the next paragraph he likens the 3D to such "gimmicks" as sound and color. What would Casablanca be in colour? Or Chaplin´s work in colour and audible dialogue? As nonsense as both of these examples in 3D.

They were not intended to be in colour or audible dialogue (the latter). Using a classic movie as an example how we don´t need 3D includes a assumption that there NEVER will be a becoming classic made in 3D. How can one possibly say in 2010 that there won´t be a 3D movie made in say, 2029 that will have appeal for decades?

The people (and especially us cinematographers and DOPs, as we play a big part in the making of new 3D movies) need to refresh the thought process when shooting 3D. It´s like MTV style cutting (I am aware of the irony of using MTV cutting as an example, as it´s one of those big no nos in 3D). Massive amount of people hated it when it began to surface and still do. But it´s out there anyway and has it´s uses. I believe 3D cinematography will truly shine in a couple of years when we stop thinking shots in 2D and then think how to execute them for 3D screens: we should go straight for the 3D result. It would be great to shoot a feature strictly for 3D, forgetting what it would look in 2D just to see what it is capable of.

It´s true that the current trend is to cash in at the box office as quickly as possible and the current 3D features are prime examples of this, but that does´t mean that won´t change when more and more movies are shot and distributed in 3D and there will be more variety.

The money making aspect of the text just sounds naive, like it is a surprise that companies want to make money in the movies and the electronics manufacturers want to sell product. So do the drawbacks (headaches, etc). There are people who get headaches or epileptic seizures from plain old 2D TV. And, you know, if you´re blind you can´t see the movie were it 2D or 3D. The point being that you can never please and/or service every single person on the planet. If wish it were different but that´s how it is.

The article just sounds like a reaction to anything new: fear. 3D changes the movie going experience we are accustomed to. And I´m saying new because, frankly, what i´ve seen and understood the earlier 3D capture/projection systems just weren´t there yet. Neither is the current one, but I feel it`s close enough. And I don´t think it will ever completely supersede movies shot and projected in 2D.
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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 04 May 2010 - 01:10 AM

The truth is probably somewhere in between as usual. Ebert is being a bit reactionary in failing to imagine that audience tastes and reactions could evolve to absorb and accept more and more 3D versions of traditionally 2D material.

On the other hand, 3D is an extra layer of information to process, just as color was another layer of information, and sound was. Which means it has to be controlled and modulated, and its affect on the grammar of cinematic storytelling has to become better understood by directors and camera people. Until then, half the time it WILL be just a distraction. I'm finding 3D to be a bit exhausting actually, which starts to work against the enjoyment factor -- like the first spoonfuls of ice cream are great but two hours later and a hundred spoonfuls later and you feel bloated and overstuffed.

If 80% of all movies become 3D, I can imagine myself seeking out the other 20% just for a break...
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#9 K Borowski

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Posted 04 May 2010 - 01:21 AM

Look at it this way though guys: There were 3D stereographs in the 1850s.


The technology has been around longer than motion pictures, yet it still has not caught on. It simply isn't that much of an additional benefit.

With digital and fake 3D from 2D sources, they've eliminated one of the hurdles, double the cost, but I've already heard people start to gripe about the cost and become disenchanted with 3D.

It happened in the '50s and '80s and I'll bet dollars to doughnuts it'll happen again now.


The future is 4K and IMAX to compete with HD sets. This also is a classic pattern that has happened over and over with television and popular music competing with movies as a form of entertainment.

I think the big hurdle is educating the public as to why they want to see a high-resolution experience, and dropping all this brand-named crap that is really just a big screen with the same crummy digital projectors.
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#10 Antti Näyhä

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Posted 04 May 2010 - 01:59 AM

He seems to believe that the way we make and look at movies does not evolve, like the art form that is movies had reached it´s "high point" and it just can not be anything other than that.

Well, he has been advocating the evolution to 48 fps for years...
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#11 Chris Burke

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Posted 04 May 2010 - 07:02 AM

Imagine "Precious" in 3-D.
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#12 K Borowski

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Posted 04 May 2010 - 07:36 AM

Yeah, but Antti, any FILM based evolution, anything that costs more money for an improvement can't be a good thing, right?


I want to know what happened to the brave entrepreneurs that installed 70mm 5-perf. and 35mm 8-perf. projectors 50 years ago. Unfortunately the multiplex chains are run by greedy accountants, but there have GOT to be some real showmen in smaller theatres out there, right?


Even all this XD/Digital IMAX stuff, is based on 2K projection. They are banking on their viewers being suckers.

Not that this hasn't been done in the past too, P.T. Barnum was famous in his exploitation of "suckers," but it used to be different. Most theatres that threw down serious change on a 70mm projector DIDN'T CHARGE EXTRA FOR ADMISSION over a 35mm show, yet they were paying an exhorbitant amount of money for the new equipment.


They knew that if they offered better quality than anyone else, at the same price, and advertised as such, the customers would come to them.

I think theatres are in very very very dangerous waters with 3D, because the surcharge is enough that, if the experience in 3D, just once is less-than-stellar, they will probably stop going to 3D films altogether. I've already seen two 3D films that I didn't feel were worth the extra money ("Alice," and "Clash of the Titans.")




I may want to disagree with Roger Ebert on 48 FPS projection. There are other avenues to be considered for improvement, besides increasing the frame-rate.

One thing I'd like to do away with, in the age of the DI, is the flat movie. Why not recomposite a DI file for a scope frame, with a different focal-length lens, to improve on image quality? There's no reason for flat anymore, and, doing the math, flat is the only format that looks WORSE right now than 2K projection when you assume that flat movies are coming from DI files.

Put those same files on a scope frame and the generation loss is much less. You can get better bang for your buck on roughly half your movies if you just get a new lens for your projector, maybe a couple thousand bucks for a 20-30% improvement in image quality.
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#13 Justin Hayward

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Posted 04 May 2010 - 10:21 AM

It would be great to shoot a feature strictly for 3D, forgetting what it would look in 2D just to see what it is capable of.
The article just sounds like a reaction to anything new: fear.


I agree, exhilarating and horrifying. In a way we would have to sort of re-learn the much of the craft before we could really tackle it creatively. James Cameron has had like fifteen years to play around with it. Tim Burton? His post production…

It does scare me as a guy in the independent film business. We live in an age where a movie like “Easy Rider” would barely get into a few second tier film festivals, let alone get released in theaters. Then you further taunt people with 3-D blockbusters and Noah Baumbach will have to finance his next movie with his Starbucks job.
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#14 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 04 May 2010 - 05:37 PM

The truth is probably somewhere in between as usual. Ebert is being a bit reactionary in failing to imagine that audience tastes and reactions could evolve to absorb and accept more and more 3D versions of traditionally 2D material.

On the other hand, 3D is an extra layer of information to process, just as color was another layer of information, and sound was. Which means it has to be controlled and modulated, and its affect on the grammar of cinematic storytelling has to become better understood by directors and camera people. Until then, half the time it WILL be just a distraction. I'm finding 3D to be a bit exhausting actually, which starts to work against the enjoyment factor -- like the first spoonfuls of ice cream are great but two hours later and a hundred spoonfuls later and you feel bloated and overstuffed.

If 80% of all movies become 3D, I can imagine myself seeking out the other 20% just for a break...


This is a good point, I experienced something more uncomfortable recently as the heads of the NFTS arranged a 3D day a few weeks ago, and we got to see a varying selection of footage from various features, shorts, corporates. By the end of the day I had a splitting head ache - obviously where you sit in the auditorium, the skill of the stereographer and all the posting technicians, even the distance between your eyes can have a fundamental affect on the health of the 3D viewer.

Generally it also seemed to be sacrificing a great deal of what we've fought for in film technology, great colour saturation, image brightness, a wide selection of usable focal lengths - all of these to me are fundamental elements of great cinema, yet all are lost in current 3D technology.

What also struck me was the general feeling of the unsustainable nature of this technology, in a business where there isn't overall a great deal of money being made, why would you want to make the production process harder, more expensive, then make the money extraction process harder, more expensive and for potentially a smaller target cliental, as 9% of a population can't actually physically experience 3D and many more find it an unpleasant even sickening experience.

I really don't want to be negative about new frontiers, but there i'm sensing a whiff of 'the emperor's new clothes' about this all.

Regards,
Andy
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#15 Karel Bata

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Posted 08 May 2010 - 06:16 AM

The NFTS also scheduled a 2 day seminar for producers/directors last week, and a 3 day hands-on for camera assistants last week. Likewise Ravensbourne College organised a 3 day course in stereo TV last month. All were heavily subsidised by Skillset from a £140,000 grant from the EU. And all were cancelled due to lack of interest. What does that say...? :huh:

BTW I'm organising a Directors' Guild 3D networking evening in London next month. Decode will be providing a rig so folks can have a bit of hands-on as well as a chat. If anyone wants to come along send me a PM.
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#16 Rob Vogt

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Posted 10 May 2010 - 11:12 PM

Am I the only person that saw Avatar in 3d for $6... Tuesday nights are good by me ;)
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#17 Keith Mottram

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 11:15 AM

I'm doing a couple of 3d projects. I love the format. But have yet to meet a director who understands it. YOU CAN NOT SHOOT 3D LIKE 2D. Until people get this then this argument is pointless. I have radically changed the way I edit, but I have yet to receive rushes from a director who has changed the way they shoot. why? because they cannot get their head around it. a general rule is that 3D needs to be shot to allow subjective viewing. this counters a directors natural instinct to push their objective standpoint. i am not limiting this to features, but docs, tvads, whatevers... people will think 3d sucks until 3d films are shot by a clued up team- this includes all department heads. oh and one other thing sound is very important with 3d and its effect is often overlooked.

my favourite quote from the old guard came from coppola:

"I feel that until you can watch 3D without glasses, it's the same thing we know," he said. "I personally do not want to watch a movie with glasses."

this is from a guy who is erm shortsighted. does this mean he watches everything out of focus?????
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#18 Justin Hayward

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 11:47 AM

a general rule is that 3D needs to be shot to allow subjective viewing.


I don't think I understand. More wide shots?
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#19 Brian Rose

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Posted 16 May 2010 - 11:15 AM

I'm not wise or visionary enough to make an absolute claim for or against 3D. But I can draw upon my knowledge of cinema history, of past trends. The obvious past precedent is 3D itself, ala the very brief flurry of 3D in the 1950s. That first incarnation was undone because the technology simply was not up to the task at hand, and shooting 3D was far too unwieldy. There is a fantastic photo of an early 3D rig, made from TWO three-strip Technicolor cameras. And if you know what a technicolor camera looks like, you can imagine just how FREAKING huge the 3D outfit was!

Today's 3D is far more practical in modern motion picture production, and the technology has caught up to the theory substantially, with red and blue/green glasses replaced by lens polarizers.

However, the big problem for me that has to be resolved if 3D is to have staying power, is that filmmakers (in my opinion) have yet to master 3D as an art form, and have not figured out how to incorporate it within the story. It is all style and very little function. It remains a gimmick, and as we all know, gimmicks must either become something MORE, or audiences will soon tire of them and go searching for the NEXT gimmick.

I think a closer analogy to modern 3D is the Technicolor craze of 1929-1930. Coinciding with the still novel "talkie," 1929 and 1930 saw an explosion of the use of an early variant of Technicolor that used only two primary colors: red and green. Contrary to popular lore, while two-color film was limited in its tonal palette, it was by no means impractical. Facial tones were quite normal, and within the possible range of colors, those shades were quite rich. With proper lighting and costume and set design, you could do much.

However, the color boom quickly faded. Not, as some mistakenly assume, because of the Depression. The effects of the stock crash would not really hit Hollywood until a year or two AFTER the Technicolor boom had faded.

No, the problem was there was little effort to explore the use of color cinema beyond a flashy gimmick. It was a marketing device: "All Talking! All Singing! In 100 Percent Natural Color!" was the spiel of "On With the Show," the first talking, color picture (now lamentably surviving only as a b/w dupe print). It was flashy, style without substance. Mammy (1930), starring Al Jolson, was recently restored with two technicolor sequences, and demonstrates the failure to understand color. Costumes were garish, bright green or orange. Actors in black-face (this film is about minstrel shows) instead appeared greenish. It's all very odd, and the use of color to begin with was unclear beyond, again, gimmickry! Sets were brightly lit with few shadows or dimensionality (in part due to the need for strong light to get proper exposure)

As a result, by 1930, audiences were not interested anymore. Color films began to flop. In just two years, Jolson went from starring in the biggest box office champ of 20s ("The Singing Fool") to starring in BO flops. Only very late in the game, with "Doctor X' and "The Mystery of the Wax Museum," were artisans beginning to use Technicolor in ways to serve the story. Both films are masterful uses of early color, and should be sought out! But then the economy caught up to Hollywood, and Technicolor's expense became unjustifiable. It would be set back several years.

3D, likewise, is a gimmick. It's used for action flicks, for cheap thrills. As Ebert points out, it doesn't create an immersive environ, so much as separates the near from the far, to create two fields of view. There is little apparent thought to the importance of composition, and editing. Techniques, cliches and tropes remain in place, without acknowledging that 3D cinema done RIGHT and PROPER changes EVERY aspect of production, from set design, to camera work to editing.

I also doubt 3D because it is all about depth of field, yet more than ever it seems the industry has forgotten just what depth of field means? I have been privy to discussions, with pros and novices, who have equal lack of knowledge about depth-of-field. The hem and haw over the DLSR and 35mm lens adapters, talking about how they give you a "depth of field look." It's all style. They want to imitate a look, without even understanding how to achieve it. Subsequently, they waste money on gear that is unnecessary, when all is needed is to adjust lighting and camera position to alter DoF. As for making intelligent, artistic decisions about composition and DoF? Forget about it.

I think about truly 3D films, like Gregg Toland's work in "Citizen Kane," and "The Best Years of Our Lives," which crafted scenes where EVERYTHING was in focus, where you truly were immersed in an environment you were welcome to explore. Or 65mm and (true) Imax photography, with its incredibly detail in light and shadow, on a massive screen that envelops you. 3D, at this point in time, is a flashy imitation of an original. It's like a sugar substitute or a McDonald's milkshake...evoking the original, but ultimately less satisfying and good for a quick fix.

3D is, at this point, cinematic fast food. And just as consumers increasing demands for QUALITY, FRESH food products (Five Guys or In n Out anyone?) has forced fast food to adapt, so hopefully audiences will soon tire of 3D as a gimmick, and the market will demand that Hollywood again adapt, to provide quality entertainment as opposed to flashy style.

If it were me, I'd return to 65mm. But that's increasingly a pipe dream. I have read that Werner Herzog will be using 3D on a new documentary, and promises to use it in a subtle, artistic way to serve the story. So there is hope!

BR
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#20 Karel Bata

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Posted 16 May 2010 - 12:33 PM

"I have read that Werner Herzog will be using 3D on a new documentary"

And Martin Scorcese
and Ang Lee
and Michael Ghondry: "I have a lot of ideas. I'm not supposed to talk about that because people have a lot of opinions, but I'm the one who knows what it really means. It's a tool that I'm really excited to embrace and I have tons of ideas. There's one thing that has never been done and I can't wait to do. That can only be done in 3D. I'm really excited to know that the studio is going for it."
What can he mean...? :blink:

What we are seeing are the first steps in a new direction in film-making. It will not replace 2D, and the fad for converting everything into 3D will subside. After all, is anyone really interested in seeing "Sex and The City 3D"? But there is a mine of rich possibilities there waiting to be explored. Did those early pioneers in color film guess at what would become possible with color? Become routine? Personally I'm looking forward to the first creative uses of 3D in forms where reproducing reality isn't the goal, such as in music videos. And, yes, we'll see some truly awful ones. But we will also see a few that will be pure genius. That will completely wow us.

And it's just the beginning. Wait till HDR tone-mapping becomes a usable tool, or we see cameras capable of shooting in moonlight. It's not far off. Fasten your seat belts... :o

BTW it's a strangely common myth that using polaroid glasses is a new thing, and that up to now we've been limited to using to using red/blue anaglyph glasses. The principal of using polaroid filters was first demonstrated in 1936 and Bwana Devil (1952 - things moved a bit more slowly back then) was the first 3D color feature using polaroid glasses. It involved a dual strip projector which limited subsequent exploitation. But in 1970 Flesh for Frankenstein used Stereovision. This used a special lens attachment which squeezed two images side-by-side, and which were later unsqueezed and projected through polaroid filters. Some 36 films were made with Stereovision over 25 years, using either a 35mm widescreen (above-below), anamorphic (side by side) or 70 mm 3-D formats.
What has recently revolutionized things is going digital. Now we can routinely fix things that once presented huge problems.
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