Why 3D is Not the Wave of the Future

It is no secret the 3D revolution has been quickly changing the entertainment market. 3D technologies certainly aided Avatar in attaining the ‘highest grossing film’ title ($2,782,185,928, if you needed a reminder). And now, manufacturers are beginning to produce 3D televisions in the hopes they will be the next big focus in home entertainment. But we’re remaining skeptical here at Unplggd. And up until this point, our reservations have been based purely on our uneducated opinions on the matter. Well it turns out one of the best film editors in the business — Oscar winning Walter Murch — is spreading the faults of 3D technology and how it can never substitute for a 2D viewing experience.

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The blog at the Chicago Sun Times published an article by Roger Ebert which is essentially a transcript of a letter written to Roger by Murch. In it, Murch begins to dissect the failures and shortcomings of this new technology.

First, he states that the 3D image is darker and smaller than the standard 2D counterpart. Second, he claims due to the intricacy of edges in a 3D image, the processing power required of our brains will make the image strobe more easily. But interestingly enough, the greatest fallback, Murch claims, is naturally inherent in the technology and is impossible to alter (unlike the first two issues). This obstacle deals with the “convergence/focus” of our vision.

“...the audience must focus their eyes at the plane of the screen -- say it is 80 feet away. This is constant no matter what.

But their eyes must converge at perhaps 10 feet away, then 60 feet, then 120 feet, and so on, depending on what the illusion is. So 3D films require us to focus at one distance and converge at another. And 600 million years of evolution has never presented this problem before."

Murch assimilates this visual illusion to trying to tap your head and rub your stomach and asserts that this is the reason why so many complain of headaches after watching a 3D movie. And lastly, Murch argues that paradoxically the façade of 3D image will prevent the viewer from ever attaining a true sense of immersion in the film. When their mind is so focused on the visual illusions presented in front of them, it is harder to be drawn into the actual story itself.

So what do you think? We can’t help but see Murch’s assertions as substantial proof to our suspicions we’ve had all along. 3D seems like it will be a fad that shall come and go faster than most of us could save money for one of the TVs. And perhaps the best bet is to invest in better HD technology or a sound system if you’re looking to upgrade your entertainment setup.