Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Ebert’s Recommendation — Better than 3D

posted by Nell Minow

Roger Ebert, who recently took on some controversy when he said that video games could not be art, has kicked it up a notch with a piece in Newsweek called “Why I Hate 3D (And You Should Too).”

3-D is a waste of a perfectly good dimension. Hollywood’s current crazy stampede toward it is suicidal. It adds nothing essential to the moviegoing experience. For some, it is an annoying distraction. For others, it creates nausea and headaches. It is driven largely to sell expensive projection equipment and add a $5 to $7.50 surcharge on already expensive movie tickets. Its image is noticeably darker than standard 2-D. It is unsuitable for grown-up films of any seriousness. It limits the freedom of directors to make films as they choose. For moviegoers in the PG-13 and R ranges, it only rarely provides an experience worth paying a premium for.

It isn’t that he can’t enjoy 3D effects in the movies that most benefit from them. But he says it adds little to the best movies and can be a distraction and even deteriorate the picture by dimming it in the kinds of movies that can be enhanced with immersive effects. And he says the push for 3D is driven by commerce (selling new technology to theaters as well as to audiences) more than art.
What interests me most about Ebert’s critique is his endorsement of a better enhanced technology that he believes does enrich the movie-goer’s experience.

What Hollywood needs is a “premium” experience that is obviously, dramatically better than anything at home, suitable for films aimed at all ages, and worth a surcharge. For years I’ve been praising a process invented by Dean Goodhill called MaxiVision48, which uses existing film technology but shoots at 48 frames per second and provides smooth projection that is absolutely jiggle-free. Modern film is projected at 24 frames per second (fps) because that is the lowest speed that would carry analog sound in the first days of the talkies. Analog sound has largely been replaced by digital sound. MaxiVision48 projects at 48fps, which doubles image quality. The result is dramatically better than existing 2-D. In terms of standard measurements used in the industry, it’s 400 percent better. That is not a misprint. Those who haven’t seen it have no idea how good it is. I’ve seen it, and also a system of some years ago, Douglas Trumbull’s Showscan. These systems are so good that the screen functions like a window into three dimensions. If moviegoers could see it, they would simply forget about 3-D.

Take a look:



  • Kevin L.

    Ebert correctly points out that Hollywood periodically has to chase a new gimmick – whether it be the widescreen wars of the 50’s or the audio improvements of the 80’s. To the mind of some Hollywood executives, 3-D is the alternative to releasing movies simultaneously to DVD and theaters (as Disney keeps threatening).
    Another factor Ebert did not include – 3-D movies are far more diffcult to pirate and download.

  • Dave

    I agree that 3D is a technology that is becoming overly abused, but at the same time, there are things theaters are having to do to keep people coming out to see movies. Movies keep getting more and more expensive to produce (at least the summer blockbusters), and there are less and less people who are finding the need to see movies on the big screen as many of us now have large screen HD TVs in our living rooms and blu-ray players and surround-sound stereo systems hooked up to them. There was a time when a 2D version of Avatar would have been enough to drag movie-goers into the theaters in droves, but nowadays, it does take a 3D version of the film to get people to pay what theaters charge, otherwise, many are willing to wait out the six months or less to see the film on blu-ray. Now 3D may not be the solution to that problem (though admittedly there are some movies that it adds a certain something to), but I can certainly understand why Hollywood is trying something, anything, to get butts in seats.

  • Your Name

    I disagree because I happen to think the 3D technology is pretty cool, even if it costs a little extra. I have to admit I had doubts about the 3D movies and technology, but decided to give it a try on the movie “My Bloody Valentine 3D” last year in theaters. I had thought the 3D would be cheesy, like just one quick 3D object and that’s it. But when I saw that movie, I had absolutely no regrets. It was by far the most entertained I had been, watching any movie, ever. The entire film was in 3D, and on top of it, the glasses were very sturdy and clear, not those cheap blue/red paper glasses that I thought the movie would require. At the end of the film, people stood up and applauded, and the whole place was packed too, so the applause was thunderous.
    I just received the June issue of Playboy magazine in the mail, and there is a 3D centerfold version of the Playmate of the Year in that issue, though it uses the blue/red paper glasses. Even Playboy is getting in on the 3D obsession.
    Now 3D TVs are out so I think 3D is here to stay. And why not? If it gives the entertainment value a whole new dimension, then so be it.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    I’m glad you enjoy 3D! I saw “Shrek 4″ in 3D yesterday and enjoyed it, as I have “How to Train Your Dragon,” “Avatar,” and most of all “Coraline.” But given a choice, I think I would side with Roger and wish for the high-def standard instead, which would benefit all movies and television shows. Imagine if we could have both!

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