Monthly Archives: January 2014

The Death Of 3D… Really?

What is with the obsession the “media” seems to have with proclaiming 3D is now passe, gone, dead… [fill in the blank]?


I think there is a problem with how content producers promote it. Time and time again you see 3D promoted as a visual effect and that, in my opinion, is severely misguided. It fosters the idea that 3D is something to experience and then move on to the next visual effect. And sure enough, as if on cue we have seen “4D”, “5D”, “HFR 3D” and “HDR HFR 3D” being promoted as new “beyond 3D” and “to be experienced”.

I often ask myself why it is so difficult for content producers to understand that any visual effect has little to do with how good the movie is? I get that it might be a reason to pick one movie over another of similar interest but, in my opinion, it is misguided to promote visual effects as a reason to go see a movie. Nobody waxes poetic or gushes over the amazing typeface that a book has. I submit that the quality of a book has little to do with the typeface that was used and the quality of a movie has little to do with the visual effects. From a design point of view, making good choices about a typeface and good choices regarding visual effects make sense. It should be a given that design choices should be in the best interest of the story. It does matter how the story is told. But the tools to tell the story play a supporting role. If the story is not good – I don’t care how much design goes into it. ┬áIf the story is bad the book will be bad and the movie will be bad and the stage play will be bad.

Many content producers/promoters seem to have a hard time prioritizing what is important. For those who are still confused, I’m trying to say “It’s the story, stupid!”. Everything else is window dressing which can be appreciated and admired, etc., but the story is the single most important thing… that is, if you are seeking something besides mindless entertainment.

It is true that flashing lights are more attention grabbing than darkness or a steady light. Explosions, nude scenes, violence, gore, sex, 3D, thumper sound, and so forth are all attention grabbing elements. They are the lowest common denominator. Like shouting, they get attention. But why is it so hard for content producers to understand that there is a difference between getting attention and creating art through storytelling? Aren’t books, movies, imagery, dance, etc. about storytelling? No? These things are about mindless entertainment? I don’t see it that way. Reading “the death of 3D” bugs me a great deal.

Rather than turn this into an ongoing rant, I suppose it would be better for me to take my own advice and tell the story of 3D in a thoughtful and interesting way. It is a visual effect but more importantly, it is an experiential sense. 3D is fundamental to human perception and when not present because of blindness, amblyopia or something else, there is a perception paradox. In my opinion, a perception conflict is like looking at pieces of a puzzle that don’t fit exactly. Try describing a series of events absent time and space. Stories are more meaningful when we can relate them to our experience. Perhaps when 3D in the movies doesn’t match our human 3D experience the perception conflict is similar to what is experienced when a perception is absent. It is possible to adapt if people are of a mind to adapt. On the other hand, they can push back. The human mind can take different pathways in terms of acceptance or rejection of perceptions and perception conflicts. The differences among us can be very striking. I have written in the past about experiential vs. referential imagery. But all imagery and perception go towards fostering story and life experience. Start with a great story and the tools that are used to tell it become much more powerful.


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