2D, 3D, 4D … how close can we get to the real thing?

I remember my first 3D experience was opening up a book on dinosaurs, putting on clumsy red-blue celophane glasses and being wowed by a velociraptor sticking out of the page when I was five. This illusion of a two-dimensional image popping out at you, as though it is physically taking up the space before you, is now one of the most popular modes of viewing movies in our cinemas today. And while my velociraptor experience had my jaw dropping, it seems like audiences are beginning to naturally expect a 3D version of every Hollywood blockbuster that makes a theatrical release.

Woaaah.... what?

Now while it’s obvious how 3D viewing has changed the way WE see movies, it’s also important to consider how it has changed the way filmmakers approach their films visually. Taking into consideration how much more real, exciting or detailed a film can be with this added 3D-ness, filmmakers must now choose angles and shots that give us perspectives tailored to being interesting in simple 2D form, but amazing when it’s in your face. So why not pay that little extra to have a unique experience? And why not produce a film with that added techincal aspect, if people are going to buy into it?

And if that isn’t real enough for you, 4D seems to take it to the next level.

I recently went to see Tron Legacy in 4D, complete with swerving, tilting chairs, wind blowing in my face and extra light bouncing into my eyes as the action occurred in 3D. And I must admit … it was AWESOME.

But while our cinematic technology has gotten sophisticated enough to make the viewer as visually (and physically) involved in the film as possible, what are the complaints? Why do people groan when they hear Justin Bieber has a 3D movie coming out (other than the fact that they don’t like his squirrelly looks and pop fame)? And why do some people long for the old school charm of hand-drawn animations?

It seems to me there’s a serious divide when it comes to giving the 3D (and maybe soon 4D) trend a tick of approval. On the one hand, 3D  has steered films into creatively exciting avenues, acting as a motivating force behind improving and progressing the art of filmmaking with technology and visual styles no one would have dreamed of in decades past. Having said this, however, the somewhat overwhelming appetite for 3D has also  influenced an unstoppable flux of movies that abuse the 3D effect to reel in an audience, and can often leave the action looking messy and confusing… or just plain… BAD.

What it really comes down to though is the importance placed on story and how effectively it can be told, whether that be in 2D, 3D, 4D or shadow puppetry. So it seems that no matter how far we may progress in our technology, filmmakers and audiences alike need to place greater importance on the fundamental basics that make for a great movie – basics that have proven to be timeless and universal.

In an LA Times scoop, Christopher Nolan said he was “able to make the case that pushing forward cinematically” isn’t defined by 3-D. And in agreement with this director, I’m looking forward to seeing the various forms of originality that can manifest on the big screen, ’cause it’s going to take a lot more than a pop-up image of a velociraptor to make my jaw to drop today.

Owning quite the collection of unreturned 3D glasses,

The Film Kid


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