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Dear Stereoscopic 3D, You are SO dead. Signed, Ebert & Murch

I’ve had my reservations of the notion about 3D becoming the new norm, just solely on the basis that it can add about $12 – 20mil to any animated feature in a time of financial woes. And – estimates reveal it may have diminishing returns.

There’s a million articles about this, (I highly recommend this one, thanks Sir Mayerson) but this one on Roger Ebert’s blog is my favourite. Mainly because it comes from one of my favourite editors of all time (and I have a few), Walter Murch. To wit:

“Consequently, the editing of 3D films cannot be as rapid as for 2D films, because of this shifting of convergence: it takes a number of milliseconds for the brain/eye to “get” what the space of each shot is and adjust.

And lastly, the question of immersion. 3D films remind the audience that they are in a certain “perspective” relationship to the image. It is almost a Brechtian trick. Whereas if the film story has really gripped an audience they are “in” the picture in a kind of dreamlike “spaceless” space. So a good story will give you more dimensionality than you can ever cope with.

So: dark, small, stroby, headache inducing, alienating. And expensive. The question is: how long will it take people to realize and get fed up?”

Indeed, Mr. Murch. In…deed.


  1. Ron Ron January 26, 2011

    I agree halfheartedly, the numbers don’t lie, 3D films are increasingly less profitable over the last 5 years in proportion to their flat 2D counterparts. However, the ends justify the means in the eyes of Hollywood producers, simply because they DO make a profit (most of the time) especially overseas. So it’s a trend that I find will unfortunately continue, despite the fact it will reduce the quality of films since it really does seem to be a gimmick to spend 10-20 million more converting it to 3D.

    Super big-shot directors like Christopher Nolan and David Yates don’t want to film their movies in 3D and can still make a 1 billion revenue movie, why? because they are concerned over the story and the characters rather than the 3D effects, even though they have large amounts of special effects in their films, they all drive the story forward. But Jeffery K. and James Cameron are the ones in the spotlight pushing the medium, so the trend will continue to grow, time will tell if the movie-viewing audience will clue in that they are being conned out of more money.

  2. Lance Lance January 26, 2011

    If I was 16 years old and loved horror movies I’d love Stereo. The whole SAW franchise was probably waiting for Stereo so various people parts can fly out at the audience.

    For everything else I’d like to stay optimistic and see if the cost of the tech drops over time. If this happens, and the market matures some more, maybe the ticket difference won’t be $3-$5 any longer. And it will get used more sparingly or be used more in the home-theatre market as the TV screens evolve.

    I can think of a few movies I have watched 5-10 times or more. None of this is because of a special effect or stereo. They are all strong stories with great characters.

  3. sir warren b leonhardt sir warren b leonhardt Post author | January 27, 2011

    @ Lance – I think the drop of SS3D tech cost is inevitable. I just think it’s not going to be nearly as ubiquitous as some might have hoped. A large chunk of the public either get uncomfortable seeing an SS3D picture or don’t care if a movie is or isn’t in SS3D.

    Besides, a crowd of squirming kids is probably the worst demo to ask to wear headgear for 2 hours. Some kids are okay with it, but I know a lot of parents who’ve given up on Stereo movies just because of the fuss that wearing the glasses can create.

    It’ll probably take off in the home market. Gamers will be all over it once the price drops.

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