Monday, September 6, 2010

Week of 09/06/2010

No More 3-D!
– by David Matthews 2

I have a really simple request to make…

Can we PLEASE get rid of this whole “3-D” junk?

I’m serious. It seems like the whole multimedia world is on this “3-D” kick.

Hollywood has really hyped the “3-D” gimmick, especially with computer animated and with the new “Resident Evil” movie. Magazine publishers now want in on the “3-D” scam. Playboy Magazine already did its first “3-D” centerfold, and the Italian version of “Vogue” just did something similar with Victoria’s Secret model Miranda Kerr.

And it’s enough to literally give me a headache.

Okay… first of all “3-D” is NOT something new! In fact it has been around for over fifty years! 3-D was one of many gimmicks used by theater-houses to keep people showing up instead of watching television.

That’s all that it was back then. It was a gimmick. It was right up there with “Smell-O-Vision” and all the myriads of different ways to describe stereo audio. It was an attempt to market the whole experience as another way to “feel like you are there” instead of being stuck in your seat just WATCHING it.

Remember “The Tingler”? It was the name of a movie that employed a gimmick whereby old World War II buzzers were planted in certain seat cushions. Audience members were then warned before the movie began of a disease that would be similar to an electrical shock. At the certain time during the picture, the projector operator would hit the buttons, and random audience members would feel the vibrations and mistake that for the disease.

That took creativity, imagination, skill, and a little bit of investment, not to mention working with the theater owners. Did it work? Well it got the attention of the masses, and that was important. Even the movie posters referred to it as a gimmick, but that didn’t stop the audience from paying their money and wondering if they would get shocked or not.

And that was still far better than today’s fare of over-hyped “3-D” films.

How lame is 3-D? This is how: you still need those stupid glasses!

One red filer, one blue filter, one for each eye. You can even make them yourselves! That’s how simple they are!

Or sometimes the companies will use “special” glasses, but the basic principle is still the same. You add a red line and a blue line, and the close those two lines are, the closer the image is supposed to be.

It’s cheap, it’s cheesy, and it really has no place in the 21st century theater experience.

Let’s get brutally honest here… we live in an age of incredible technical advancement. We have multi-layered audio, digital-quality pictures, computer-generated special effects that are so realistic you’d believe that Brandon Routh really DID fly in “Superman Returns” instead of using green-screen and wires.

Plus we’re in the age of digital video, where you can create your own theater experience at home. You can get better quality video on your HDTV set and Blu-Ray player, better quality audio with the latest home theater setup, and you can even get the same kind of popcorn and candy from the grocery story. The only thing missing is the soda fountain.

So WHY is Hollywood still wasting time on this “3-D” gimmick?

One word: MONEY.

You pay $9 for a normal movie in the theaters. Cheaper if you go during matinee times. Cheaper still if you were still alive when “3-D” made its original debut.

BUT… if you spend a little extra for the added gimmick, you can bump the ticket price up to $18. Same movie, double the cost, plus you have those cheap glasses which can be recycled over and over again.

What a waste! And I really mean WASTE!

Listen, there was a reason why studios played those gimmick games fifty years ago… they wanted to get their money back on really bad movies they bankrolled. So why waste the money now?

And, worse yet, why waste this on lame gimmick on movies that clearly don’t need it?

Why waste the animation on movies that you know will be box office giants? Why waste it on movies that are already stunning viewers with computer animation?

And let’s think of the sheer stupidity of this gimmick in the typical theater environment. If you’re there in a movie that is popular, then you’re probably NOT going to get a seat where you could fully appreciate the illusion of depth. If you end up with a seat at the front, then the entire peripheral vision will be filled with the movie, and you’ll be at an angle where you’ll be looking UP, not OUT. That neutralizes the whole “illusion” of objects coming “towards” you. You just wasted eighteen dollars.

Do you know what the REAL advance in 3-D animation is? Being able to see the full “3-D” illusion WITHOUT the need of those stupid glasses! If you can’t do that, then stop trying to force-feed the half-century-old gimmick on us just for a lame excuse to double the ticket prices.

And for the rest of the multimedia group… the magazine and comic book publishers… please, just STOP. Showing a fashion or centerfold model should be good enough without the needless gimmick and it actually takes away from the quality of the images where you use it. Ditto for the comic book industry. Reading “Superman Beyond” and trying to figure out how it played into the whole “Final Crisis” story was painful in and of itself. There really was no need to go through it WITH the “3-D” feature. It just caused a strain on the eyes to go with the strain on the intelligence.

The difference between a good gimmick and a cheap one is whether or not it plays into the product. The hidden buzzers in “The Tingler” worked because they tied into the movie. Forcing people to pay double the normal ticked price just for a few seconds of “special” animation added after-the-fact is nothing more than a waste of time and money.

Until the technology exists to give the illusion of depth without the need of external devices like glasses, it is high time that this gimmick be relegated back into the dustbins of history.

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