2D or 3D with the 5D?

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We all know the world has gone ape sh*t crazy for 3D movies recently, obviously the flag bearer being that little movie about blue folk living in the forest (not “The Smurfs”, that is to come!). The problem is I am constantly underwhelmed with my 3D experiences so far for many reasons.


That's me near the front watching "Clash of the Titans" in 3D

So far every 3D movie that I have seen at the cinema in the past couple of years, Beowulf, Avatar, Clash of the Titans have left me feeling not quite happy with the experience. Almost as if it has got in the way of the film. Avatar of course was spectacular visually and I saw it twice, once in IMAX and once in “Real D”. Titans in “Real D” too…Both gave me a slight headache, not as much as Beowulf but it still happened. It doesn’t help that I hate wearing glasses and it never feels “sharp enough” if you know what I mean. Like the way the images projected and the glasses work just aren’t 100% spot on…it’s hard to put your finger on it.

One thing I noticed in Avatar and also when I saw the ironically very flat Clash of the Titans remake  (which was not shot 3D but all done in post) was that the deep depth of field shots worked for me and anything with any type of shallow depth of field felt like cut outs or more accurately 3D pop up books. That seems the best way to describe it for me…Didn’t help that it was an utterly soulless movie which wasted amazing material and made you care for no one…but that’s me just going off on one (why did Sam Worthington who is raised by English sounding Pete Postlethwaite have an Aussie accent? Why remove the Andromeda love story so we don’t care about her anymore? I could go on but I won’t! But I liked Gemma Arterton though! )

The problem is the way we have traditionally made movies is using selected depth of field to draw your attention to what the director wants you to see in frame (there are always exception to that rule, Citizen Kane being a famous example.) But when this is done in 3D that’s when I feel that pop up book  issue…

I really wish I had seen Clash of the Titans in 2D. I kept taking off my glasses as the 3D was bugging me and thought this looks much better, just not in focus! Also the cinema had the damn cheek to charge me £2.50 for the 3D glasses!! Rip-off!

I am not sure what the solution is, as am not sure how well having deep DOF for everything in a 3D movie would work. I understand Kung Fu Panda had deep depth of field for 3D and fake Shallow DOF for the 2D version. It’s a shame I didn’t know that when it was out as I am very curious to see how well it worked. Certainly an animated film can do 3D better than a real movie as you have so much control over the DOF. With a camera you don’t. If we had deep DOF for 3D movies it would be a lot harder for the director to direct our attention to something in the frame that was key…also am not sure our eyes can cope with it either…


Pop up book

I myself will be experimenting with stereoscopic 5dmkII rigs soon but these cameras have notoriously shallow DOF so will everything I shoot look like a pop up book? Do we all need to start using 1/3″ chips for 3d? That’s why the Panasonic “concept” 3D camera looks so interesting, apart from it’s intriguing use of twin lenses one camera. It looks based on an HPX 170 so will have 1/3″ chips, meaning nice deep depth of field (bet you never expected me to say that phrase did you?) Shooting with cameras which cannot be genlocked together is going to be damn tricky but not impossible…

Also, we are experimenting with some post processing Canon DSLR footage to create 3D from already shot 2D footage to see the results. Very curious to see how that works out…

The upside of the big influx of 3D movies is cinemas are finally updating their knackered old projectors and going digital meaning we don’t have to put up with degraded 35mm prints after a week or so of showing them like we currently do and of course part of the reason 3D movies are being pushed is they are damn hard to pirate, it takes the experience back to the movie theatre and away from the bittorrents.

3D TV is also really big right now with Sky TV in the UK launching the first 3D TV service, but you need a “3D ready” TV for it and still need to wear those damn glassed! I am very keen on seeing this in action, they premiered their first football games in 3D this weekend in pubs and clubs. As I will be in Vegas from Friday for NAB I will also be able to check out all the latest 3D tech, I expect it to be littered with it. It’s just until we can walk into a movie theatre or watch TV without wearing the glasses I just don’t feel as excited about it as I did when we got HD. Until the many issues are ironed out it still feels somewhat gimmicky. I am sure in the future it’s going to be amazing as these things always get better, it’s just there is something so perfect about 2D, something so classic that I just hope it never dies out. We have enough 3D in reality, do we really need everything we watch to be like that too 🙂


  1. Well explained, I could never quite put my finger on why 3D underwhelmed me, I think your words work well, like a pop-up book, and just as effective. I haven’t really been moved by one of those since I was a kid – save the latest Star Wars pop-up book, that is choice!

    Some advice, since I screen a ton of movies, I noticed that if I sit towards the back of the theater the 3D doesn’t give me as much of a headache, but I still get slight buzz feeling afterward, also, eat a big dinner, it helps, must have something to do with burning more energy to focus? Who knows, excellent read!

  2. 3D movies were a fad 20 or so odd years ago with those red/cyan or red/blue or red/greenish glasses. It didn’t last long. This looks like to be another phase that people are going through along with marketing and hype.

    All 3D we have now, whether in games or in movies, they only give the illusion of being 3D. I’ll wait for when we can actually have 3D using hologram technology from something like Star Trek holodecks. Only then will it be true 3D.

    But that doesn’t mean this virtual 3D technique can’t be used to achieve some nice effects for photography and cinematography.

  3. I see you decided to make a 3D post of your own eh? lol.

    It’s always going to be a gimmick. Studios want more money so they tack on 3D, best example being Alice and Clash. There is no storytelling benefit to having something be in 3D, neither is there an added experience to be had. You spend all of your time ducking in the theater and looking at the little things coming at you that the story and characters become secondary. Non existant even if you are dealing with an already story-soft film (see Avatar).

    Not to mention the prices are going up here in US again for IMAX 3D and regular 3D. IMAX 3D I believe will be 19.50 in New York! Don’t quite know what that equates to on your scale, but it’s damn pricey. Films are retro-fitted in 3D cause Jim is the only dude out there that seems to really be in love with the format. Most directors think its terrible, some actors as well like Mark Strong. Either way I’m not going to take up 90 pages on your blog. I’ve already beat 3D to death on my own. Good post Mr. Bloom.

    Cheers from New York!

      1. When and where will you appear in New York? This website is an incredible educational tool, and I hope to have the opportunity to see you in NYC. Thanks.

  4. I agree with that last line: 3D is reality, 2D is the special effect. One that were very used to experiencing. It has it’s own features that try to overcome that lack of a 3rd dimension, such as shallow DOF.

    That, and I hate glasses, too.


  5. Yes, you not need very shallow DOF, because then you obtain the cutout effect, that apply to some movies 2D converted to 3D, too.

    I have a very fan of this effect, an I have some 3D glasses for PC and TV in my home, and I have been watching a lot of 3DS movies.

    The best shots are the ones that have not DOF at all. You can focus where you want. Shots that have shallow DOF and defocus in your face, are horrible. You try to focus a element that is defocused!. The brain explodes, bam!.

    The latest movie that I have watched is “How to train your dragon” and have a very good 3D Stereo (3DS), altough some shots have these defocus in front effect that lies. But almost the shots have a minimal DOF, or a DOF that allow to inmerse in the environment.

    Shooting 3D with DSLR I imagine that you must to put F:11 or more, but the problem here is in low light sequences…

    Let´s see…

  6. Funny you mention the ‘pop up book’ feeling. I wonder how this 3d hype will influence the job of a DOP in the future. It’ll probably be necessary to keep the deepest possible focus!

    curious about the test you’ll be doing!

  7. Agreed, Philip. Did you also notice that the grading on the 3D films without the glasses is better?…seems like they need to add 1/3 minus green and boost the sat. in the grading to compensate for the polarized lenses in front of your eyes.


  8. I think it’s nice to watch some movies in 3D but it will definetly not rule over 2D. Why? Simple: we are used to the dreamy look of 24p-2D-DOF movies.

    Why do we hate watching movies at a 200Hz TV or even footage shot at 50fps. cause it’s not filmic.

    that’s why we convert our short films to 24p

    It’s not that 3D is not fully developed yet, it’s the fact that we will never be able to enjoy it.

    Public Enemies (for instance) could’ve been so much better if they would’ve used 35mm film instead of digital movie cameras.

    and it’s not a 3D movie!

    Imagine there’s deep DOF and you don’t know where to look at and you miss the important part!

  9. Avatar worked in 3D because there was a genius meticulously overseeing it’s impact shot to shot.

    It’s not fair to judge 3D technology on Clash of the Arse Cheeks or Alice in Wonderland. They were both hastily retrofitted with the sole aim of boosting box office.

    Like any tool its only as good as the person wielding it…

    Can’t wait till Ridley Scott, Del Toro and Speilberg have a go!

      1. There were certain times when there was shallow depth of field in Avatar and those were the only moments I thought about the fact that I was watching 3D. It was pretty jarring. The problem is that people would have to make their 2D and 3D movies even more distinct. Shallow DOF is necessary in the 2D version but it would have to be stripped from the 3D version. That requires a lot of planning and might only work in completely CG movies.

  10. If you’re doing a rig with a couple of 5DMkIIs, then you might find frame synchronisation an issue. With the rolling shutter it makes it even more important. Any fast rolling around the lens axis direction will mess things up too as it’ll generate an asymmetry with the rolling shutter distortion.

    My advice would be to use higher frame rates if possible to minimise these problems.

  11. I found enjoying the 3D experience quite hard work. Its like reading a book full of pictures, it doesnt mean its better, sometimes you are best to use your imagination.

    I will give 3D another chance but probably never in my home. This is 3D’s third attempt at mainstream and perhaps it has a real chance this time.

    For me, it belongs in museums and interactive displays at movie world or universal studios, it works well there.

    My wife got sick at Avatar and we left.. says a lot really.

  12. Quite funny, several of my friends have turned round to me and said (on the subject of 3D moviegoing) “I hate having to wear these stupid glasses in order to watch the film…” at which point I (someone who wears prepscription glasses every day of my life) normally laugh and remark “oh boo f**king hoo” or “tell you what next time we can sit next to the disabled access part of the cinema and you can moan to a guy in wheelchair about soar your bum gets after 3 hours solid sitting down watching Avatar” – All in jest of course.

    I totally agree though that often the 3D is misplaced and underwhelming in many films (Alice in yawn-derland anyone?) and the technique/genre has some way to go before it really works in film.

    Interestingly though I’ve found the 3D sports coverage I’ve
    seen much more effective and engrossing possibly due to deeper depth of field used in TV coverage and especially sports coverage. I’m not a golf fan, but I saw one shot on a sky showreel of someone teeing off and it was like watching it out of a window. I’m actually more excited to see how 3D alters the way we watch big sports events than cinema. Never thought I’d say that!

  13. I completely concur with your comments. I feel very strongly that this 3D tech push is trying to revive an otherwise lagging TV/Home Theater/Chain Theater industry right now. I think it’s a stretch to say that it is more than just a fad right now though. I also don’t think they should assume people are going to want to constantly wear glasses for this experience, either.

    For me personally, until color-correct 3D holograms are a reality I don’t think I’m going to be very impressed overall.

  14. 3D is not ready for prime time, watching Avatar was distracting rather than helpful in putting me in the story. Kept taking my glasses off to give my eyes a rest. Maybe soon the tech will be there but its just not there yet.

  15. My problem with 3D, is that its NOT 3D. Its really just what I refer to as “depth-o-vision(tm)”.

    If it was really 3D then I should be able to change my focus between things happening on the screen. Except with “depth-o-vision(tm)” you can’t and you’re stuck with whatever the director wants you to see being in focus.

    Plus there’s little or no parallax effect. If I move my head side to side I should be able to look behind characters/objects. But again “depth-o-vision(tm)” doesn’t allow you to do this.

    1. Exactly! The majority of people going to see Avatar or Alice have completely messed up expectations of what the so-called “Real 3D” will look lke, and “Depth-o-vision(tm)” (©Nick P, 2010) could save everyone a lot of angry tantrums coming out of the IMAX becasue a smurf didn’t jump out and punch them in the face.

      Beowulf gave me a headache but I’d argue it was the most 3 dimensional film I’ve seen. I didn’t really mind or even notice the “Depth-o-vision” in Avatar but clearly there is divided opinion. If you haven’t seen ‘Up’ in 3D I’d suggest giving it ago as for me its still the best one I’ve seen… but is that because its a beautiful film in its own right?

    2. That’s a great point Nick, but how much added work do you think that would be?

      I know we all want something “better” than what we have in every application, but look at the price of creating Avatar for all that we say it “wasn’t”…

      imagine the increased workloads to try and give you every single angle possible…not to mention you have to take into account where every single person is going to sit (and its not like theaters are “standard” sizes…if you sit front right, you’re going to have a drastically different experience than top left)

      In real life, we might be able to look around at whatever we want, but everything is not in focus at the same time. Taking 3D to the point we can look anywhere would make it even more unrealistic, as the focal point isn’t going to change based on where you are looking…everything will be in focus and distcracting


      give the audience control over parallax and focus, and do you know what you get? recorded theatre, that’s what

      and that is bad, and quite silly in fact: by means of a huge technological effort you end up in a spot that is technologically inferior to what you have today

      don’t believe me? watch “12 angry men”, then go watch the corresponding play
      all the drama and emotion that the vote-casting process has in the movie is completely lost in the play

      vastly improved 3D technologies have a very important role waiting for them in the not so distant future, but I believe most of that won’t be in movies

      1. sorry, I should add some relevant background: I used to be a hardcore fan of 3D, I built my first “magic eye” using MS Paintbrush, at age 14, and built my first anaglyphs with a trial version of 3D Studio 3 (that’s pre MAX), but now I know better: I know that if I want my movie to be a movie it has to be me that controls what the audience sees

        (and by the way: I think most of those headaches with current 3D technology come from the fact that the film maker is unable to peacefully instruct the audience how all the muscles in their eyes should be moving)

    4. Excellent point, something that’s been troubling me for a while but I couldn’t phrase it as eloquently as “depth-o-vision”.
      As lovely as Avatar was, the fact that the perspective couldn’t follow a character, say over a waterfall or a ravine, and maintain the limited 3D effect was confounding and left me wanting. I was completely under-whelmed with the purported 3Dness of Avatar, pretty and all, but not that much 3Ding for mine.

  16. You could argue that we have enough sound and colour in real life, do we really need that in movies too? Once the novelty wears off we’ll develop a stylised 3D grammar as we have with both sound and colour.

  17. I saw Shrek 4D at Movieworld in Australia and thought the 3d was really good.

    Scenes that worked best were ones (like old Viewmaster slides) that had deep depth of field, wide lens, and long takes. Clash of the Titans was shot with a 2D mindset – i.e it cut between regular camera setups really quick. I’d rather have longer takes where you can explore the scene.

    I really want to see something that comes right out towards your face, and I mean right out. I have seen this before at places like Movieworld but not yet in Avatar, Clash, My Bloody Valentine, etc.

    I still feel everyone is making 3D films with 2D mindsets. I’m sure there will be a filmmaker that takes the technology and makes a film that uses 3D in a new and unique way.

  18. I didn’t mind the 3d in Avatar, apart from the first 5 minutes when I think my brain was trying to adjust/ settle in. It was definitely my favourite movie of the year, until I saw Hurt Locker.

    I found the shaky camera work in District 9 far more distracting and disorienting… I had to close my eyes several times, and at one point I almost left the theatre because I thought I was going to vomit.

  19. Film, like photography and perspective painting, is already a three dimensional medium. Monocular cues like linear perspective, occlusion, and shadow, to name but a few, all provide the same sense of depth perception in a film, photograph, or painting as they do in real life. It is true that binocular cues add dimension to the other depth cues (when looking at objects up to 100 feet away), but it is a subtle effect and not the only way we see depth in the world or in film. While many filmmakers have an intuitive understanding of the principles of human perception, it’s not something that they study formally. Most get by in 2D, because there are established filmmaking conventions that they conform to which happen to play well with human perception. Unfortunately, 3D hasn’t been around long enough for such conventions to develop. 3D filmmakers end up using 2D film techniques that induce depth cues which are then contradicted by some of the 3D binocular cues that are layered over everything. When your brain is presented with such conflicting depth information, it will choose one version over the other, but when such conflicts happen many times over the course of a few hours, you end up with a perception headache.
    There are many other factors that influence our perception of 3D, including the focal length of the lens, the composition of the shot, and the movement of the camera, but modern filmmakers don’t seem to be aware of the effects of these important factors on the perception of their films. This is why watching a 3D movie doesn’t really feel like being there, it just feels like its own, somewhat annoying, thing.

  20. Having only seen one movie in 3D, Avatar (it’s a 4 hour drive through to the neighboring nation to get to the nearest 3D cinema so I don’t do it for any movie, next one will probably be TRON2) my experience in it is limited.

    I saw the movie, and though I too got the pop up book feeling, that wasn’t my biggest problem. The overwhelming aspect that kept me from really enjoying the movie was that I experienced what I can only describe as “field order mis-match”. You know, like when you shoot in interlaced mode, accidentally switch the field order and play the result on an interlaced screen. Image was acceptable at low image movement speeds. but as soon as the things moved too much I it started to flicker. I sortof had to ignore this problem, but there where times, like that chase through the jungle in the beginning where the whole screen where unintelligible… shakey-cam and 3D don’t go hand in hand it seems.

    To those that don’t understand what I’m talking about I can only say that it’s like if I was supposed to see the frames in this order:


    but instead I got


    The end of the video linked here sortof illustrates the visual impact I got so I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

    If they get a solution to this problem I’d surely buy a lot more tickets to 3D-movies. I’m not against the gimmick as long as the technology actually works.

  21. I’m on the other team, I think 3D is great. Admittedly I’m yet to watch Clash or Alice but Avatar was just genius and animated films look incredible. It is a different type of film-making but particularly in avatar 3D allowed Jim to show the audience a world we could never have imagined in all the beauty of the 3rd dimension! Brilliant. I look forward to future of 3D films (made for 3D of course! Post 3D just can’t work)

  22. Hey, going have to say I disagree a little here, and agree a little there.

    Here is why I disagree –
    3D is a new medium to the filmmaker’s tool belt. The ability to create new visual environments that actually have a true’er sense of space is really exciting.

    Also, for the past 100 years or so, the eyes of our societies have been trained to recognize flat 2D images as the norm. Our human brain takes that 2D image and translates so that we who watch can understand that it is a representation of a 3D space.

    Granted, Avatar, and the others you mentioned definitely went well beyond what they needed; and not in a good way. This 3D thing is so new that everyone wants to show off, hence the unbelievably week stories; like Avatar for example. I think some directors have lost their way. The story ALWAYS comes first.

    Sooner or later though some guy is going to direct something using 3D in a way that uses the 3D to compliment the story; rather then tons of 3D, and a pinch of story.

    Take for example “Planet Earth,” the film work and subject matter was some of the best documentary work most of us have ever seen. (I know you didn’t like some of the cheats they did, but if it gets the desired shot, then it is a win!) But imagine is some of it had been in 3D, lots of potential!

    3D is just the natural evolution to visual story telling. We first started with cave drawings, then we created writings, to paintings, then photography, photography to moving film, Film to CG, Film/CG to 3D; and so on.

    Here is why I agree –
    Avatar’s story was terrible, it was like Disney’s Pocahontas 2.0! I would even say the scope was too large. It wasn’t an Epic story, using the word story lightly, but it was trying really really hard to be… That just made things awkward for it!

    As for DOF issue. Now people have work to do. With a 3D image, it forces a person to look and focus on top of the DOF that has been set. For some people, it become a visual retraining hoop to jump through. On the other hand, with Traditional 2D the eye just moves between the different points without force. The viewers focus/DOF is already handled. That is why I get stressed from it, 3D that is.

    As for Networks in 3D, I say Yes; almost never. By that I mean, if I’m flipping the channels and happen onto Avatar on TV, I wouldn’t mind it in 3D. By “almost never” I mean, I really don’t want to watch the 5pm news in HD3D and so on. Real life doom and gloom is already depressing, but maybe depressing 3D news is better… (HD3D, I may have to Trademark that!)

    So I guess it becomes a balance issue.

    I’m sensing that you are really making statement about storytelling or the lack of it, using 3D as the tool. I fully agree!

    I don’t blame the tools, I just blame Mr. Cameron for using them like that.

    I’m thinking of the latest “Planet Earth” addition “Life;” imagine the Lizard running across the water in slow motion 3D. That would be cool, if it could be done!

    The key to 3D is not to work against the focus of a viewers eye resulting in migraines.

    As always Mr. Bloom, I love reading your site. I have learned tons, and look at many things in different ways.


    Ps. I hope it doesn’t read like a history paper or sound cynical. 🙂

  23. I think Hollywood is def. pushing 3D a) because they can charge more; and b) it’s harder to pirate. But it does seem, at the moment, that people are happy to spend more, so it may stick around. The fact that so few modern movies are “real” means a lot of the older production inconvenience is not there.

    I could pick a few technical holes in current 3D, some covered here, but there’s an even bigger point: Binocular vision only accounts for some of your depth perception. There’s plenty of 3D cues in a “2D” movie (esp. if you’re always tracking horizontally). Even if it was as bright, as sharp and didn’t require balancing glasses on my existing glasses, binocular 3D would *never* add another 50% to my filmgoing experience.

    BTW – did anyone see “Up”? I heard that was “good” 3d, but I heard that about “Avatar” also.

    PS – “Public Enemies” was 360° shutter (as well as 2/3″ sensors I think). Michael Mann is a serial offender in this regard, you can’t blame video for that.

  24. Phil,

    Would you consider reviewing the new Panasonic HDC-TM700K (only $999 US) ?

    Some of the smooth 60p footage looks incredible for the price, and it seems better suited for 3D use than a pair of 5D…

  25. I’m short-sighted,so I have to wear glasses anyway, which means 3D glasses on top of glasses. I agree that 3D would be so much better if it could be done WITHOUT the 3d glasses… Very uncomfortable!

    I’ve also noticed the pop-up book effect, and you’re right it just seems fake… not only, that but colours seem washed out to me, even on an FX-laden movie like Smurfs (I mean Avatar).


  26. The main issue I have with 3D films is not so much the techniques they use, but the content they suit. James Cameron will live to eat his words – 3D isn’t game changing at all. I am far more emotionally engaged with a film with good writing, acting & story telling than something resembling a theme park ride… Film is about suspending your disbelief and engaging with the characters onscreen – THAT is where the magic happens, not in some artificial process to trick your eyes into momentarily believing the screen has depth. The screen DOES have depth – in the actors eyes & minds and in the writers heart.

    1. If it’s all about the acting and writing Tim, then why does a good DP even matter on a film set?

      Its about both… the technology plays just as big a role as the content in my opinion.

      1. “why does a good DP even matter on a film set?”

        is that a strawman argument?

        “the technology plays just as big a role as the content in my opinion”

        And that is where I will agree to disagree….

        IMHO everything in film exists to serve the story

  27. 3D is still in it’s experimental stage… I’ve had a chance to see my last 3D tests on a 3D screen that don’t require glasses. It’s the same technology that’s used on the new Fujifilm FinePix REAL 3D W1 camera that lets you watch 3D images on the LCD without glasses. The new 3D tv’s that are coming out are going to be ‘old news’ pretty fast.

    As far as shooting 3D with DSLR’s… it doesnt work very well. My company shot two tests for our latest short film with the 7D and 5D. The main problems is the frame rate synch and too much distortion because of the rolling shutter issue. I think Phil is right, 1/3″ chip cameras will work better. Plus deeper DOF works a lot better in 3D anyways. Other problems we found is that it’s impossible to do live/on set preview of the 3D effect when shooting with DSLR beacuse the cameras don’t have dedicated video out with synch time code. And shooting 3D without being able to preview it live is like shooting 2D blind.

  28. If I wanted 3D I’d just go outside.

    For the most part I have not a valid 3d experience at the movies. I find that I end up feeling like I am watching a 2.5D movie and after a while really just a 2D movie.

    The only thing that knocked me out, and it was for only the first ten minutes and then my eyes went back to 2.5 d was the Kelly Slater Tahiti Surf movie in IMAX.

    I have seen 3d tv and in its present form and i1t sux.

    Phillip please let us know if your eyes see anything at NAB that is worth talking about.


  29. I don’t really agree. I thought that the 3D in Avatar was masterfully done and absolutely did make it a more immersive experience. I only noticed the DOF problems a couple of times; generally Cameron’s storytelling kept me focused on the things he wanted me to focus on.

    There certainly were a few times where I would have liked to let my eyes wander around the frame and explore some of the stunning scenery, and I found it a bit jarring to be unable to focus, but it’s not really so different to being unable to focus on a regular 2D film. Overall, I think that the added depth worked really well in this film, and helped the extraordinarily detailed imaginary world come to life. The same goes for Pixar’s “Up” and the adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s “Coraline”.

    I certainly don’t think that 3D should be used for everything, and many of the live action films where it has been retrofitted don’t work nearly so well. I definitely got the gimicky pop-up book feeling a lot more in Alice in Wonderland.

  30. I helped a friend out with a pitch for a studio that was shot in stereo. F-that, yo. You have a 40 pixel variance from front to back (0 being the screen-plane – 20 in front and 20 in back). If you go beyond that in either direction (deep into the frame or sticking out over the audience) you either go wall-eyed or cross-eyed. That’s where the headache comes from. Two hours of eyeball aerobics.

    I like stereo for specific things. Documentaries get a thumbs-up for this process for me. Fictional narrative doesn’t need it. Unless they’re jabbing you in the face with a stick (or as Cameron says, “Bouncing tennis balls off your forehead”), after about twenty minutes of watching it, it becomes invisible. I don’t think it replaces depth-of-field as a framing device, either. If that’s the case, then I ask this: Why spend twice the amount of money to get one-half the impact?

    One other thing: You have to worry about something called “screen-violation” when you frame for stereo. It limits your compositional possibilities. Which is why you feel like you’re looking through a tunnel to watch the movie. You have to be very carefully about framing left of frame and right of frame. In other words, you ARE looking through a tunnel.

    Oh yeah… Post is a complete pain-in-the-ass, too. Ask a compositor how fun painting out stuff is in stereo.

    Other than that… I’m a fan.

    1. Hmmmm, I hadn’t thought about doco’s. Something with long (duration), wide, static shots of the Andes or something would def. be better in stereo.

      That I might pay for.

  31. You’re right Philip it is a special affect at the moment. I think for true 3D to work, a film would have to be interactive.

    Human vision isn’t really 3D until you pick something up, move your head, or interact with the scene in front of you. If you’re sat still, your vision may as well look the same as ‘depth-o-vision’, where you sense depth but don’t exploit it.

    The thing with truly interactive 3D films is that it removes the way the film was shot to the control of the viewer!! So if you were able to exploit a holographic depth to the image by moving into it and rotating your view point, it becomes more like a computer game than a film.

    That’s why I think 2D film will always be around. True 3D is exciting, of course it is, but it’s a completely different medium to film as we know it!!

    I think we’ve already experienced true 3D films anyway – it’s when you wait impatiently spinning your view around in Call of Duty for the cut scene to end!!

  32. Isn´t it all about that most (all) movies have the cameras (lenses) too long from each other?
    All 3D then becomes unnatural. The Lenses should have exactly the same distance from each other as your eyes.

    Most movies do not have that so the 3D becomes more a special effect than a natural thing.

    I do not think you can do this with a HDSLR if you´re going to be able to pan them separately to set the ground plane. They are too big.

  33. When I watched Avatar, I thought, damn, finally we can shoot cool, shallow DOF pictures and now we need deep DOF. I sincerely hope that the 3D craze will pass, except for some animated and extreme special FX films. Also when you go to the movies and talk to someone next to you, you always have to laugh, because everyone’s wearing these silly glasses. I don’t even want to get used to them.

  34. Phil- I think that the lack of genlock is the main stumbling block for these cameras shooting 3D. The two cameras must be in absolute sync- that’s the one thing that cannot be fixed in post with stereoscopic footage.

  35. I think 3D at the moment is still a fad, it is basically wowing the movie goers, because of supposedly it is a ‘new’ experience, or was it just James Cameron’s hype of Avatar that made everyone think he invented the technique, just because he hasn’t done a movie since Titanic, we were all made to think the technical leap for a movie was 3D, which may now set a new standard, to bring people back into the movie. I honestly think it is a phrase Hollywood and film markers go through, for as long as I can remember, movies like the Matrix, Saving Private Ryan and Star Wars (The Phantom Menace), all had some form of technical improvements to wow moviegoers, and James’s movie is no different in the way it is marketed.

  36. You are right, the usage of shallow depth of field in 3d Movies sucks! It looks like the directors have no clue how to to tell the story in 3d!
    And that is in my oppinion the main problem why most of the known directors are not interessted in using 3d for their movies!
    3d is good to get the audience closer to the screen but it is usless in this early stage to tell the story!
    It is interesting to see the battle between producers who see the profit of 3d and the artists who see just a carneval ride attraction at this point. They should use 3d for games, animations, theme parks and mojo adult films for now!

  37. Makes me really happy to see I’m not the only one unhappy with the “3D revolution”!

    The technology is definitely not there yet! And the SOLE reason we’re hearing and seeing so much about it, is the greedy nature of the studios!

    The sad truth is that they are right! The theaters are packed and they have the perfect excuse to charge you more! But the biggest responsibility lays with all of us when we go watch a 3D movie (I’m guilty as charged) no matter what your excuse may be…

    3D failed back in the day… and the only significant breakthrough this far, is suppressing color aberrations, by using circular polarizers on the glasses lenses, instead of red and green filters… But today the studio’s marketing machines don’t fail!The majority of the audience will guarantee the profitability of ANY film, should the marketing campaign be done right… don’t even get me started…

    Just as someone wrote above, story, THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENT on any film of any nature, seems to be at the bottom of the list of the requisites to green lighting a movie, these days…

    But back to 3D. What is it, really?!

    “Do we need it? NO!
    Do we want it? YEAH!
    This is the new shit
    Stand up and admit!”

    Wise words of Marilyn Manson

    The biggest problem with 3D is that for it to have a remote chance of working properly, both lenses need to mimic the basic functionality our eyes, at least partially. This means they need to converge when we look at a closer object and rotate over their own axis, which is a completely independent movement from panning, but that can and should complement it… if your genius somehow doesn’t find this complex, I urge you to put a little bit more thought into it; even when you’re not panning, and your camera is completely locked off, convergence factors and lens axis rotation still need to get busy… and if that doesn’t sound intricate enough, try to focus on top of all of that…

    If you think I’m exaggerating, try to lock off your head, as much as humanly possible, observe a busy scenario with a busy street or a game in a stadium and try to register as many individual actions your eyes make… and notice that your left and right “edge of frame” barely shortens on either end, no matter what your eyes are doing… not try to translate all this into a shot and how is it going to impact the audience?!

    The obvious conclusion is that we’re no where close to achieving such technological colossus.

    What the studios are forcing us to do, is to skip a very important step in picture evolution (I didn’t say motion, because it also applies to stills)…
    The first thesis about moving beyond RGB into Spectral color was exposed on the past decade at a Siggraph held in San Diego, but of course nothing more was heard about it… because no one found an angle to fatten the studios pockets… so… who cares… lets stay with RGB cause 3D is what we really need… is it?!

    In our sad reality, I think we should all follow Marilyn’s anthem because the majority of us will be right there on the next movie singing along to the new 3D shit!

    Or even worst… pitching to shoot the next 3D shit…

    Keep rockin’ Phil!

    T ; )~

  38. Correct me if I am wrong but as of yet you don’t see what you are shooting in 3D. You view it in 2D on a monitor just like on a normal shoot and then hope that it looks good in 3D.

    A lot of times the more exciting 3D elements are added in post on the fore/backgrounf. I don’t understand how you could make well planned compositions in 3D if you are viewing things in 2D.

      1. Our eyes see very different from what 3D video looks like which is a major point that has been discussed here isn’t it?

        But my main point is that I do think theres a big difference in how one would compose objects in 3D if one could see it as it will look to the viewer when shooting.

        For now most of the images are composed exactly like 2D movies. I think there’s a lot to learn in how to make the best out of 3D.

        For now we have seen only hollywood movies that use it as an effect. Im looking forward when someone comes up with ways to use 3D as a part of the storytelling.

        I’ve mostly enjoyed animated 3D movies but at the end it’s still the story that I remember (or dont). And other then the annoyance of the glasses pressing on my nose I always forget that I’m watching a 3D movie after the first 20 minutes.

    1. There is a way to do it, actually. At the studio I work at in Denver, we have been experimenting with 3D lenses that shoot two images at once, side by side. All you have to do is have a pair of convergence lenses on set to see the result.

  39. I’ve been thinking this for quite some time and I’m glad someone agrees with me. A lot of my friends think that 3D is the next new thing, and everything should be made this way. Personally I could care less. The quality is so cheap looking, and if anything it takes away from the story telling (which is the main point of the movie, isn’t it?) The media is hyping it up to sell more movie tickets because the box office is taking a huge hit from pirated versions all over the internet. They need some kind of “edge” on the market so they’re going with “3D” and charging 200% the normal ticket price. Thanks but I’ll keep my $20 and spend it somewhere more useful.

  40. I could go on and on as well, but something that really annoyed me when I saw Alice In Wonderland was that if I took the glasses off, the colors were different. The glasses added a green tint to everything. As someone who is seriously considering a career as a colorist, it really annoyed me that the glasses were taking away from work that someone had put into the film, to make the film look the way it was supposed to.

  41. Nice post – pretty much my sentiments on 3D as well.. You are definitely not alone Phil – it feels gimmicky because it generally is ( especially when its considered an after thought for films- and gets put through in post for a bit more box office $ )

    I Don’t expect it to be anywhere near as huge as everyone is making out ( particularly the tech companies ) – especially in the home / consumer market.

    Gradually it will get there,
    probably in stages:

    Brilliant quality (stereoscopic) (sharp + hi-res+ good viewing angles) (glasses free viewing) = 6+ years

    Brilliant quality TRUE HOLOGRAPHIC genuine 3D imaging (glasses free viewing) = 15+ years

    3D will have its uses – but I see it as a side evolution of film – that happens gradually over time and sits next to 2D, sort of like CGI… Plenty of amazing movies are still made without CGI / VFX – some use them , some dont – some use them more appropriately than others etc…

    I see a lot of hesitation from directors to move to 3D until the tech stabilizes / matures a lot.

    Interested to see the results from the 5D mk II stereo rig / post filters etc !

    I assume when final output is done we will be able to view them with REAL D glasses (polarized) ?

  42. I not seen anyone mention prescription 3D glasses. I need specs and I hate wearing two pairs – and I also dislike wearing other people’s glasses that I’m not used to.

    I asked one of the world’s experts on the subject, who works for Dolby Labs, and he said no one had even thought of making prescription spectacles for 3D, and that it would be a long time before the two main polarizing glass mfrs would make glass available for prescription glasses.

    So I’ll wait, if you don’t mind, & stay with 2D

  43. I absolutely hate the 3d phase Hollywood is going through…as well as the larger tv networks. Sure it’s neat for a while, but it’s a parlor trick at best! Like Bloom said, at best it looks like a pop-up book…where little kiddies hold out their hands at the theaters to try to grab the 3d stuff.

    Absolute bologna, IMO. To make great movies, you don’t resort to trickery. You stay the course with good storyline, (real) good cinematography, good acting, good (2D) SFX. If a movie is done greatly, it won’t need 3D trickery to make it better.

    Besides, the 3D thing doesn’t work well with all of the audience. Especially if you are like me, and naturally scope out the whole screen, even if the main subject is the only thing in focus. I tend to let my eyes roam around during movies, and the last 3D movie gave me a headache cuz I did that.

    Love your stuff Philip,

  44. Another point: you all mention 3D vision, but what about 3D *sound*?

    I used to work in the hifi business in the 1970s/80s and we went through a similar debate about quadraphonic then. Quad died because it didn’t present a realistic sound stage; good stereo is *genuinely* ‘solid’ in an ‘audio 3D’ sense, because your two ears can pinpoint both the direction and distance of sounds.

    So-called 5D sound came along to provide sounds ‘behind’, but it’s never convinced me because while it provides sounds ‘behind’, the sound stage in front is never realistic. I wonder if you cameramen ever get blind people to judge your work? I really, really miss good stereo, which in the era of the MP3 seems to have gone into abeyance. Do you ever listen to good stereo?

  45. Hi Philip,

    One thing I know for sure is that in the not so distant future you will shoot a stunning 3D movie.

    I’ll wait till then to decide – unless I beat you to it 😉

    Hope I see you in NYC.


  46. I also got nasty head ache with Avatar 3D… I did not like the way how I was forced to look where director wanted. In case of 3D this is a bigger problem as the areas outside DOF are impossible to look at. In traditional 2D movie I can observe background events event though there are not in DOF.

    Another issue was action scenes where viewer has to find the right point to look at. If you look elsewhere the cut is blurry and the whole scene is difficult to follow.

  47. I think 3D is here to stay for at least 10 years, before other mediums will be exploited. It’s what Hollywood wants right now and they are even releasing 3D players for 240hz TV’s. When a market exists like this, it is no longer just a fad, but a method (initially IMAX was a fad). Reasons are obvious; you can charge more for doing almost the same amount of work.

    I like 3D a lot, but I also think it is a little over the top, when it comes to post and viewing. My complaint is this: we are in for a huge ride here and I don’t think everyone will be able to keep up.

    I mean, you have three main 3D technologies being pimped as of now: colored lenses, polarized lenses and LCD. Most people are just confused with how polarized lenses work, much less with the idea you will have to change batteries out of your LCD lenses, once you buy your 3D Blu ray player.

    The other thing is watching all of these smaller film companies try to keep up. At my studio we have a few solutions and are ready to roll with 3D, but it is going to be crazy to see the rest of the community stumble / catch up.

    Two more technologies are still on their way for viewers: 4K projection / TV and dome theaters. 4K is not far behind, since most major projection manufacturers have 4K projectors ready or almost ready to sell and in some cases 4K TV’s are out. Dome theaters have existed ever since Omnimax and have been furthered with the newer planetarium upgrades, laser projectors and cheaper technology. All we are really waiting for, for that tech to come out, is a proper 180 degree lens and a 6K camera or 4K 1:1 ratio and we are set. Some folks have been messing with using two RED cams with half hemisphere lenses, but it’s a little tricky.

    I have developed media for all of these formats and am excited about what is to come, but again my biggest concern is keeping people up with the know. I’m not really into blogging at the moment and I like other people input. My hope is that film makers, who will have an amazing effect on the medium, like P. Bloom has on HDSLR’s, will get the jump on these techs, before the techs pass them by and they loose their chance to get their brighter opinion and capacity into the matter.

    As a final note, if RED ever gets their Cinerama camera out, this will be an interesting addition to all of the other mediums out there. Eventually, we will be going to theaters that include all of these mediums, not just the top four: IMAX, Digital, 35mm or 3D

  48. Hi Mr Bloom,

    Interesting article. I currently work in the 3D field and these are as you state strange and interesting times. My company deals with 2D to 3D conversion as well as live event recording.

    We will be at NAB. HDlogix is the name. I unfortunately wont be there but ask for Will or Simon they will be more than happy to give you a tour and show you what we can do. Very interesting and I think in a lot of ways our system is a lot better and far easier than big heavy stereoscopic rigs.

  49. I am still on the fence when it comes to 3D.

    Avatar did a better job of making the 3D environment more organic. Beowulf was 2D images in a 3D environment so it was quite obnoxious and led to that popup book feel Mr Bloom talked about. Avatar did seem to have a little more depth. Rounded features were rounded and had less of a cutout feel. That is not to say that it still needs to be further developed as I found myself taking the glasses of at about the two hour mark for 5 minutes just to get rid of the vertigo.

    As for other films like Clash of the Titans and Alice in Wonderland, it felt similar to when I create projects using the moving camera options in After Effects or Motion. 2D images in a 3D environment. Cool for titles and effect-driven projects that need to be given a sexier look, but for narrative projects, I feel that it detracts from the the story (although some would debate any story in Clash of the Titans).

    I wear glasses, so glasses on glasses is annoying. They don’t even have specialty glasses for those of us who are ocularly challenged so I am concerned about my prescription lenses getting scratched by the toss-away cinema ones. Equally, the 3D glasses sit further away when they are covering prescriptions, so there is a slight doubling of the images.

    I was at Future Shop (like a Best Buy) just yesterday to see the new Samsung TV at $3500. Very expensive and it comes with two glasses. If you are like me and have four family members, oftentimes with 6 people at our house at any given time, that is an extra $250-$400 CAD per pair. So the home theatre technology is prohibitively expensive. I realized that the 3D effect is directly proportional to the size of the screen, so the depth of the elements was lessened.

    I am not writing off 3D, but there has got to be more development to create far more organic feel to the experience. It is not just we pros who notice the differences, my children notice them as well. Until there is that more organic feel to 3D, there will not be much buy in from consumers and this will be another fad, not to be heard from again for another 40 years.

  50. 3D is here to stay whether we like it or not. What the final format will be isn’t known yet and will likely change several times before they perfect it. I’ve seen Avatar and A Christmas Carole in IMAX 3D and liked both. Fortunately no headaches but did get tired of wearing glasses!

    The biggest problem I have right now is the price! If you want to see it in 3D they charge an extra $2-3. IMAX? add another $3-4. Now you’re paying at least $15 here in Atlanta. NY is up to $20! That’s for 1.5 to 2.5 hours of entertainment. And i’ve heard they’re going up again! So a family of 4 just dropped $60 just to watch it and now you add in the cost of drinks/snacks and you’re up to $100! It’s just outrageous! As much as I like movies and love seeing the newest technology I simply can’t justify the cost.

    It’s a shame especially since Hollywood made a fortune last year and could make even more with more 3D and IMAX. But where once going to the movies was a weekly or every other weekly activity is now turning into a special occasion event. More like going to Six Flags! Hollywood is losing more people like me that will wait until it comes out on satellite or Blu-ray. Yes, it’s only a 50″ TV and not 3D (yet) but at least I only spent $5.99 for the ENTIRE family to see it! (And the refrigerator it just a few steps away.)

  51. I do think 3D can add to the viewing experience. Recently saw ‘How to train your dragon’ and during the flightscenes you genuinely feel a sensation of airborne speed, which is awesome.

    I refuse to see ‘Clash of the Titans’ in 3D because it was not shot in 3D. That means the filmmakers did not even consider 3D cinematography while actually shooting the film. It’s fake, only converted to cash in.

  52. Seen Avatar cartoon/Kids movies with a bit of sex and violence (mild)
    3D is for the hard of thinking…
    Not for the me this 3D
    I want story telling and escape into a world that the film maker through skill, script, and great actors has created.
    then again I don’t have a TV… DVD player for movies 2D
    So I’m not really who they are aiming at… Thank the Gods…

  53. Remember holograms or holographic images or whatever they were called. We were first introduced to them in Star Wars, yes Star Wars, all those years ago. Weren’t they supposed to be the next big thing?!

    Its all a load of tosh. I’m with Mark Kermode on this one – nice clip Mr.Bloom, thanks for sharing.

    1. But that’s the same problem you face with 2D cinema, just because it’s three-dimensional doesn’t affect your ‘right to focus’ 😛

      I have been very interested in 3D cinema since I saw my first IMAX film over 10 years ago, and I still think it is one of the most exciting prospects for cinema… IN THE IMAX. For me the ‘local cinema’ 3D thing hasn’t really got there yet, partly because I feel a bit like we’re all looking into a shoebox.


      I think the ‘out of focus’ effect you mentioned in this article may be ghosting? i.e. Left eye recieving a small ammount of right eye image and visaversa.

      Also although we don’t have so much control of attention via depth of field in 3D cinema we do have convergence, and I think it has more effect that we realize – I do not regularly find myself gazing at detail in the background of scenes (sometimes to my surprise given the fast becoming typical ‘shallow depth of plot’).

      Ultimately I think there will always be a place for 2D, people simply don’t want to have a fully emersive experience all the time

  54. Man – I wanted to read all the posts before posting yesterday, and now this thing has exploded. Awesome!

    Here’s my take, from someone who is a 24/7 nerd for film toys but loves good writing, acting and directing way more than a 3D spear flying at my face. I’m with Philip and Nick P in regards to “depth-o-vision.” Avatar’s 3D was amazing to look at in the sweeping battle and aerial scenes. But many narrative/dialog scenes were difficult to experience.

    I particularly remember a stacked shot – maybe Ribisi with the Colonel behind him (but I can’t remember for sure) – both looking at a computer screen? Ribisi was in focus as he spoke and the Colonel was not. Then, when the Colonel spoke, we didn’t get a rack focus back to him! But I’m looking at him in 3D. My eyes focus automatically on what I look at in the 3D real world (in fact it’s hard to get them not to). What’s going on? Maybe my eyes need to work harder? And they did. And it didn’t help. It couldn’t, and that’s a problem.

    This actually works in 2D. It keeps us focused on the character that’s in… well… focus. We see his reaction that is more important than our view of the speaking character (you know, the “now I have all the information I need from you and am going to kill you, but you don’t know it yet and I’ll let the audience know first” reaction). But in 3D, our eyes and mind are tricked just enough into thinking that viewing an image should work the way we expect biologically. This scene and others like it should have been shot with a wide enough DOF so that we could selectively choose who we focused on in the conversation.

    That said, I don’t think infinite DOF is necessary for 3D. I don’t think deep DOF should to eliminate a director’s ability to add focus to a scene or shot. But how we actually experience and observe events needs to be reconsidered when filing 3D so that it works – so that we’re not taken out of the story (or is that still important?). Elements necessary to the story should all be “selectable” as points of focus for the viewer. Then, if the story’s good, I won’t be so bored that I’ll need to look in the distance and see how cool that 3D carnivorous plant is, so that can stay out of focus. For me, it’s learning a new set of “180 degree line” rules for the 3D filmmaker. I’m sure we can break ’em, but we don’t even know ’em yet.

    On a side note, I wear glasses daily and still hate wearing those damn things in the theater. Have you all seen this? 3D, no glasses:


    It’s not 3D like we’re used to in the theater – it’s more of a 3D window, but it’s something!

    Thanks Philip for starting this. Looking forward to having you in NY!

    1. I agree with everything you said up until “biologically”

      the example you provide is exactly what I was talking about up there: your eyes wanted to go to a place that is different than what the director wanted you to look at, so a struggle emerged, and I guess some degree of 3D-induced sickness too

      the solution you vote for is “keep 3D, use deep DOF if necessary”

      the problem with that is that it makes the director lose his ability to make you focus on the character that’s not talking, and so you’ll probably miss that subtle reacion that might be important to the story

      the solution I vote for is “keep movies 2D, use 3D for something else entirely until you learn how to use 3D for storytelling, not just gimmicking”

      1. A director losing the ability to choose exact focus is a good point, but ultimately the choice of the director when selecting a format for a film. I don’t think that a medium’s limitations are an argument against its development or use (where would HD-DSLRs be then?). The limitations are aspects to keep in mind when considering the appropriate format, and have to be addressed once you make that choice.

        The key point is “…until you learn how to use 3D for storytelling, not just gimmicking.” I would be very sad if 2D filmmaking became tomorrow’s “the way cinema used to be,” left behind in favor of newer technological novelty and spectacle with crappy stories. If there is an argument for a storytelling side 3D, I say 3D should be a similar choice to film stock for creating the look and feel which tells your story best. Then if you choose 3D, you accept the limits of your medium knowing that you made the right choice for your story, and if that forces you into a deeper depth of field for some shots that you’d prefer to be shallow, reframe them so they show what you want. If that’s ruining your story, 3D wasn’t the right choice (and 2D lives on!).

        I’d be interested to hear what support is out there for using 3D as a narrative device (and I wonder if people had the same conversation when color first developed). The immersive aspect of the 3D environment is a point we’ve all heard, but clearly it only goes so far if we get confused and suffer headaches while watching – I mean, if you have to take off the glasses, you’re not totally immersed in the world on screen. Thoughts anyone?

  55. While I was working at Sundance this year we had a party at the “3D Lounge” on Park City’s Main Street. I saw 3D TV and even a 3D video game but I always found it hard to focus my eyes. I think 3D works better on an IMAX screen because that’s what it’s designed for but TV’s and the “Real-D” were developed as retrofits for existing technology. I have a feeling we may see some more 3D advancements at NAB this year, BTW I’m driving in on Friday, hope to see you there Phil.

  56. I think the 3D effect can work well in some situations and add a lot to the right sort of film. Seems like technology has finally got to the point where we can have a serious go at making it another image making tool.

    I’ve just started expermenting with it in stills (on my 5D2) and was amazed when my first one worked out, felt just like pulling a photo out of the developer! (It’s the thrid shot here http://missionphotographic.com/huw-m-promo-photos/)

  57. Hitchcock originally made Dial M for Murder in 3D with the Natural Vision 3-D camera rig but by the time it was released the interest in 3d had gone buh bye. I wonder if the “3D pop up book effect” had anything to do with it.
    Audience back then were not a techy nor as fast as today but subconsciously it might have been a factor.

    Nice take Mr Bloom.


  58. I have similar feelings about 3D. The 3D still stresses my eyes out and I often feel that the 3D actually takes away from the movie by shifting your focus to some none essential element in the shot because it’s popping out. Such as when I watched Alice in Wonderland, the focus was taken off Alice because these shrubs were coming into the scene and my eyes wanted to go to the shrubs instead of the characters.

  59. Completely agree with you Philip. I saw Avatar twice, and it was my first and last 3D movie. I left the cinema with a headache and the constant fidgeting of the specs, distracted from what was a good yarn. After the first few minutes of “Wow”, “Cool” and “that doesn’t look right” I got use to the effects, and didn’t even realise the darn thing was in 3D! Hopefully this fad will go away very quickly.

  60. The biggest problem I have right now is the price! If you want to see it in 3D they charge an extra $2-3. IMAX? add another $3-4. Now you’re paying at least $15 here in Atlanta. NY is up to $20! That’s for 1.5 to 2.5 hours of entertainment. And i’ve heard they’re going up again! So a family of 4 just dropped $60 just to watch it and now you add in the cost of drinks/snacks and you’re up to $100! It’s just outrageous! As much as I like movies and love seeing the newest technology I simply can’t justify the cost.

    Scott Spinella

  61. I already wear specs, so having to wear 3D specs as well causes no end of problems. I thought Alice…was ok, but a 2D Sunday afternoon movie at best.
    In the UK – my night out to watch Alice with my wife cost about £40 – popcorn at £3.50 for a small sweet cup….I’m with Scott Spinella on that one.
    A real bummer if the movie sucks!

    The focus, be it in 2D or 3D should be to serve the story. As for 3DTV – I am going to take some convincing.

  62. Hey Philip. I don’t have the time to read everybody’s comments, so please accept my apologies if I’m treading in familiar ground here. I enjoyed your blog about 3D movies, especially your experience at the cinema and I wholeheartedly agree. I always get a headache and eye-strain for the first half hour of the movie and I never leave totally satisfied. My main problem is that of which you also mentioned; the fact that subjects pop from the screen and shift one’s gaze somewhat.

    I absolutely loved Avatar and for the most part really enjoyed the full immersion of the 3D aspect, however I often found myself looking at the wrong third of the screen! In the ‘lecture-style scenes’, where we are viewing our character through a dirty frame, whatever is dirtying the frame often popped off the screen and made me look at it. I spend most of the movie looking at the back of people’s shoulders! 🙂

    Anyway, nothing too important. Just thought I’d agree with you.

    Take care


  63. Which are the best 3D glasses? The ones you take home or the shutter ones you have to deliver back at the end? Only used the latter and it was a good experience. I wonder if they are similar to the former ones. Anyone used both?

  64. damn, you spoke out of my soul.i guess 3d will be the future and that means we have to live with it and work with it, most importantly. like to see the post report on the 5d footage to 3d. i still quite like 2d myself,gives me a break form real life.

  65. I’ve just purchased a Loreo ( http://www.loreo.com/ ) 3D Lens in a Cap. It’s made to turn SLR cameras into a 3D camera where 2 images are recorded onto one frame. It mounts to the camera like any lens would (make sure to get the correct one for different mounts like APS-C).

    It’s a good (inexpensive) way to experiment with 3D (and it’s a true-3D, not what I call a 2.9D!). I use it on my Canon 5D MkII.

    Though the stills seen through a viewer aren’t quite as sharp as the 2D’s, the video is quite interesting, and I can imagine live events with a lot of action as a rather creative and effective use.

  66. Hey Philip

    when making a rig with two 5Ds – do you just want to stack them next to each other, or to use special prism converters?

    How to overcome the issue that interocular distance will be ~130mm when for close-up shots or just shots in front of screen it should be closer to human’s 60mm

    I saw suggestions for photography stack 5D bodies in portrait mode to reduce i.o. dist,
    but interested how to solve it for video?

    ( and as few people mentioned, frame synchronization is a big pain,
    ideally even sensors shall be manufactured on the same die – another advantage when Panasonic stacks sensors itself )

  67. Several people commented on cons and pros of shallow DoF, but it is actually one of undecided topic in art direction when compatin 2D and 3D,

    it is intersting to see how many techniques from 2D do NOT apply to 3D and in fact harm it, since everything in conventional 2D cinema is focused on making it look like 3D by creating the feel of depth, and in 3D it is already granted

    I’ve seen several examples, such as
    – diagonals and triangles which are important in 2D, but do not work in 3D
    – close-ups in 3D is very hard to do right, and head cannot be cut like in 2D, and should not even be close to the edge of the screen, so both left and right images have it ( unless the actor is behind the screen )
    … and so on ..

    also, quite a few comments complain about dizziness,
    but I’ve seen the number like 15% of population have some problems fusing stereo imaging, which is a lot,
    plus depth continuity seems much harder problem than regular continuity in 2D, and even in 2D it is hard task, well, Art.

  68. Couldn’t agree more. Took the missus to see Toy Story 3 in the third dimension today, and we were saying how even that felt like a missed opportunity, it somehow missed the quality of the technique that was used so well in Up before it. While I disliked Avatar intensely for it’s terrible storyline, I thought the technical aspect was incredible, the standout shot for me though was as they wake from cryo-sleep near the beginning of the movie. The sense of depth in that one shot was captivating, even though it was a scene where nothing much happened.

    The whole 3D boom has become the easy option for studios to sell tickets and it’s a shame as it’s destroying the end product to a degree. I have to wear glasses when I’m at the cinema, and placing 3D glasses over the top is a nightmare. The headaches kick in after about 2 minutes, and because the 3D specs are so far away from your face, half of your view is taken up with the frames!

    The only movie I care to see in 3D at the moment is Tron Legacy, and reportedly only the parts of the film in 3D are the scenes that exist in the Tron world. Chris Nolan was asked to make Inception in 3D and he told the studio he wasn’t willing to do that, as it would detract from the experience of the story, if only more film makers would insist on that at present!

  69. >>If we had deep DOF for 3D movies it would be a lot harder for the director to direct our attention to something in the frame that was key…also am not sure our eyes can cope with it either…

    The answer is using depth of Field creatively. You don’t need to have huge depth of field in all shots for 3D to work.

    What you absolutely should (strive to)avoid is depth of field that is neither here nor there type scenarios.
    The best 3D for narrative filmmaking is what I would call using the “Circle of Isolation”

    here’s more on it: http://realvision.ae/blog/2010/07/circle-of-isolation-shooting-good-stereoscopic-3d-for-live-sports/


    1. P.s .. you cant really use two 5Ds together (even on a beamsplitter rig) as the sensors need to be genlocked and currently there’s no way to do that.

      No.. frame sync with a clapper/audio will not sync the left-right videos in post. You will only manage frame-sync that way not Cmos sensor “line scanning” sync.

      This is critical on any scene with moderate motion, as the scanlines across the sensor will be off. Genlock is the only way to guarantee true sync (even shooting at a faster fps of say 60, may help to a certain extent, but not for high motion scenes)

      Mis-sync exhibits itself as motion artifacts: eg. hind legs of an animal looking like they are in front of the front legs, wheels, people walking, etc..
      (I’ve not read all comments, so excuse if it’s been addressed already)

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