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 Analog sound has largely been replaced by digital sound.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: