Monday, November 15, 2010

Ah 3D….The Little Engine that No One Wanted!

Greetings one and all! (Actually at this point that may be a redundant statement!) J

Jason Pyles – the host of this clever and original blog asked me if I might be interested in contributing my musings occasionally here from a slightly more technical side of the movie going experience. And like most of us who are in love with the sound of our own opinions – I thought: “A place to permanently plant my endless drivel? Woohoo!”

So before I begin my rants – a little about me so that you know I’m not completely talking out my arse. When I was 14 my mother and step father gave me my first Stereo Receiver. It was a Kenwood with an analog dial style tuner and pumped out a modest 60 watts per channel. It lasted me for 14 years! This included the first 2 years of my now 20 year old marriage! Thus began my love of audio equipment and would give rise to my love of video equipment as well.

I spent 10 years in TV News and continue to work in film as a part time actor. So over the last 30+ years I have become an “expert” in audio/video and Home Theater.

Let the whining begin!

You may have read on this blog a copy of a letter that I sent to the editor of Home Theater magazine of which I have been a subscriber since it began in the mid 90’s. I had noticed – not without some understanding – there recent gaga-like obsession with all things 3D. You can read my letter if you want to see why I hate 3D and fail to understand the attraction. Home Theater is a magazine that reviews audio and video equipment as well as movies on Blu Ray and DVD. So I get why they feel they have to cover this feverish attempt by Hollywood and the equipment manufacturers to shove a new/old technology down our throat even if nobody wants it!

I’m still wondering why Hollywood and the manufacturers feel that 3D is thing everyone wants? True some of the films released recently in 3D have done well but not a lot of them. More interesting is the fact that the one director who can claim to have actually pushed the technology forward – James Cameron (of Avatar fame) recently both praised and criticized Warner Brothers for their attempts at making the forthcoming (this Friday) Harry Potter movie a 3D affair.

The criticism came because WB didn’t shoot the film in 3D; they were attempting to make it a 3D film after the fact! A process which by all accounts ends up looking disastrous 9 times out of 10. Want to see an example? Check out the recent Clash of the Titans. It was a retroactive 3D attempt and although I only saw it in 2D – everyone I know that suffered through the 3D version said it was pathetic.

However, in the same interview Cameron went on to praise WB for their decision, at last, not to release the film at all in 3D because they realized that it was, in the end, just a gimmick.

Can someone please tell me who is really itching for this technology? And why they feel it adds to the story? At most, 3D is just the “neato” effect of objects coming out at you briefly, from the screen. What is the attraction? Are you really anxious to look like a dork in your own living room wearing those HUGE 3D glasses? Recently Costco has set up 2 or 3 demo stations in front of the 3D TV’s they’re selling where the 3D glasses are mounted on an adjustable stand that the viewer can raise or lower depending on their height to check out the 3D movie that is playing.

Sometimes I will stand there for several minutes, watching people walk by and check out the setup. Some will stop and look through the glasses for a bit while others just watch the whole station with a kind of bewildered awe of “would I really want that in my living room?” And even those that watch the film for a couple of minutes through the glasses never seem to get excited about it. When they’re done they just walk away with a kind of shrug saying “eh”.

Will this newest “craze” (if you believe Hollywood) take off to the levels that DVD and Hi Def movies did when they first came out? Personally, I doubt it. But you never know – I thought the “musical” was dead and buried but Zac Efron and his pals shut me up on that one. J

But if I’m right – I hope the manufacturers are ready to have one hell of a Black Friday type sale to flush out all of that shiny new 3D equipment that no one wants – after movie goers realize that adding a 3rd dimension visually can’t make up for story that has zero dimensions on the script.

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