The case for 3D photography (why is it an important art form).


So a photograph is in 3D or a movie is in 3D… what’s the big deal? Why does 3D matter? Why does 3D keep cropping up and why all the hoopla all of the sudden? Isn’t 3D just a gimmick to show a pole or something sticking out of the screen? What does it have to do with the movie?

These are all important questions to answer. Certainly 3D has been used as a gimmick to get “ewws” and “ahhs” from a movie audience as poles stick out of the screen or the “tunnel” shot comes into view or the flying around scene, or the… well, you get the idea. It seems that Hollywood is a bit stuck on the gimmick shot list. But it isn’t just Hollywood. Lenticular posters to date have been produced to have the most dramatic effects possible with cutout layers shifted as much as possible to make thing JUMP and art directors happy with the “effect”.

But the case for 3D isn’t about gimmicks or “in your face” drama. Sure, that can be fun, but one can argue that 3D certainly isn’t essential to have for a movie or as an added enhancement to a photograph based upon what they have seen thus far.  And I’d say that was true to the extent that 3D is being used only as a gimmick and not woven into the fabric of the movie or photographic image. Once our thinking changes and we look at 3D as integral to the depiction of the imagery that we are presenting, then everything changes.  For movies, it is the same as when sound was introduced and when color was introduced.

Binocular vision is more than merely depth perception. As light radiates off of objects, the light goes in all directions. Slight changes in viewpoints make a difference in terms of how things are perceived. Texture, hardness, softness, weight, mass, material properties and fragility are just a few characteristics that binocular vision helps humans to determine. In many cases some or all of these properties are not easily discernable with 2D imagery. Little research has been done regarding the brain’s evaluatative properties as it compares and processes the separate viewpoints from each eye. But we do know that this processing occurs and lights up areas of the brain that don’t light up when a person views 2D imagery.

3D imagery engages binocular vision brain processing but unfortunately, if the imagery is not accurate it can cause all sorts of undesirable things; including eyestrain. I believe this is part of the reason why 3D comes and goes. Bad 3D is not enjoyable and is the antithesis of compelling. Gimmick 3D is briefly entertaining but not integrated into normal world perception. Like a rollercoaster, it is fun to enjoy once in a while. When care is taken to accurately image a scene in 3D – it is quite another matter altogether. Binocular vision of 3D imagery has the potential to transport your perception of reality from where you are to a place within the 3D imagery. It becomes possible to experience  the imagery in the same way you experience the real world. With 3D still photography, a moment in time can be examined in detail and experienced in a way to greatly enhance memories and even relive the moment. With 3D motion imagery the potential exists to experience real (or unreal as in the case of Avatar) world imagery.

As artists perfect the craft of 3D stereoscopic and autostereoscopic imagery, as they did with sound and color, expect dramatic new experiences that have never been possible before. Rich, immersive experiences that grow our understanding and perceptions. Storytelling that engages us in new ways providing real context and experience.

Trust me, it is exciting to see the transformation from watching a movie or looking at a photo. Now we can exist within the movie or photograph as it can be perceived as reality is perceived. “Hold onto your hat Dorothy, I don’t think you are in Kansas anymore.” Unfortunately, you have to see it in person to believe it. This is going to be a big problem with the internet! I have absolutely NO way to show you one of my photographs. For me, the internet is useless except to tell you about autostereoscopic life size high dynamic range 3D imagery.

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2 Comments

Filed under 3D Photography

2 responses to “The case for 3D photography (why is it an important art form).

  1. Have you considered adding several social bookmarking links to these blogs. At the very least for myspace.

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