Hey, io9.com linked to an article on Slate which takes issue with the analyses on 3D
I linked to yesterday on Ebert's blog.
The article on Slate is confused and sets up multiple straw men that are so silly that they are laughable.
I pretty much stopped trying to make sense of the author's arguments when I came across this gem:
"If all those distinctly unnatural aspects of standard, two-dimensional cinema seem unobtrusive, it's only because we've had 125 years to get used to them."
I don't know about you lot but I am almost 41 years old, so arguing that I've had 125 years to get used to regular cinema is just plain silly. There are only a handful of people in the world that are 125 years old and my guess is that they don't go bonkers over Avatar 3D: The ultimate extra-special director's cut™. I may be wrong of course.
There is another important thing to remember here: we may not have evolved to see movies in 24 frames per second (or 25 for PAL or 29.97 for NTSC) but the framerates acceptable for human vision were very carefully worked out over a long period of time. There was a lot of experimenting in the early days of films and over time we settled on some standards (PAL, IMAX, Dolby etc) that don't stand too much in the way of storytelling. With 3D we've seen "revolution" after "revolution" over the past 50 years and every time it turned out to be plain old hype and marketing, instead of real and lasting innovations that enhanced storytelling.
The linked problems of convergence and focus that Walter Murch used in his letter to Ebert are by no means trivial. In fact they are central to the whole normal 3D vision thing we have going about. We move our head and eyes constantly to focus for milliseconds on our surroundings and here is where 3D movies break the illusion on a truly massive scale.
When we stand in a forest we look around and our eyes focus (unconsciously) on different trees, birds, moving branches, mushrooms etc etc. All this so we can build a picture of the world that approaches
In a 3D movie we are constantly trying to focus on items that are out of focus and that will never get into focus, no matter how much we try. In the real world this wouldn't happen, so our brains are left with only one conclusion: we're being tricked and scammed! Our internal model of reality is too often aware that we're in a cinema, because we're seeing things suddenly disappear from the screen instead of seeing things disappear in the corners of our peripheral vision. If you don't suffer from this then congratulations, you're a rare person.
The author on Slate says that with practice he's become used to this weird state and that the tech is far from perfect but one day it just might be in which case it will be nice to watch. This may be the case, but that doesn't mean we as a society should embrace crap technology simply because at some point we'll get something better. This is like saying Windows 98 was a brilliant OS because Apple came up with OSX and iPhones and whatnot years later, making us forget the transgressions to good taste perpetrated by Microsoft.
I'll just wait for those improvement and let the whole 3D blockbuster thing pass me by.
Yes, true 3D movies may become common or even the norm, but it probably won't be with the tech that's now in use. And that is what Ebert and Murch were saying.
And which vision (heh) I wholeheartedly embrace.