Saturday, 12 April 2008

3-D or not 3-D...

Sorry for the lack of posts in recent days, I've been busy writing the notes for a two-month season I've been helping programme at the BFI Southbank (formerly the NFT) this July and August. Can't tell you the subject matter yet, but I'm very excited about how it's all shaping up. Also had a meeting on Thursday to lock in one of the side events, and if we get everyone that we're after, it should make for a very interesting evening's entertainment. More as and when.

Meanwhile, I was fascinated to read James Cameron's comments on 3D cinema that appeared in Variety. I'm dying to see what he's been cooking up with Avatar, as well as what Spielberg, Jackson and co, have in store for Tintin. I've seen a bunch of 3D movies in my time, mostly recently Beowulf, and while some have been akin of having a screwdriver poked through my eyes for two hours, not many of them have really utilised even half the full potential of the medium.

"A 3-D film immerses you in the scene, with a greatly enhanced sense of physical presence and participation," Cameron explains. "I believe that a functional-MRI study of brain activity would show that more neurons are actively engaged in processing a 3-D movie than the same film seen in 2-D. When most people think of 3-D films, they think first of the gimmick shots -- objects or characters flying, floating or poking out into the audience. In fact, in a good stereo movie, these shots should be the exception rather than the rule. Watching a stereo movie is looking into an alternate reality through a window. It is intuitive to the film industry that this immersive quality is perfect for action, fantasy, and animation. What's less obvious is that the enhanced sense of presence and realism works in all types of scenes, even intimate dramatic moments. Which is not to say that all films should be made in 3-D, because the returns may not warrant the costs in many cases, but certainly there should be no creative reason why any film could not be shot in 3-D and benefit from it."

My favourite ever 3D shot was in an otherwise crappy 80s horror movie called Parasite in which woman was killed by a pipe which then "swung out" into the audience, followed by a drop of blood which slowly rolled along the pipe, directly into our laps. Nothing sophisticated admittedly, but a lot of fun.

The Guardian also have a potted history of the genre.

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