Dullards, dimwits, and dementia: Why 3-D isn’t cool yet

That droplet of blood you see hurdling freely from the screen is not an apt metaphor for the technology that produced it. The plasma and platelets progressed from deep within an abandoned mineshaft to somewhere out in the air, floating in some perceived space above the audience of My Bloody Valentine 3-D. The 3-D itself hasn’t traveled nearly so far.

The old red-and-blue paper glasses are gone — replaced by a black plastic pair — but the game is the same. Here comes some blood. Here’s a swinging pick-ax. Oh it’s so scary – it’s coming right at you!

MBV3-D wows teenage audiences who don’t remember the previous incarnation of 3-D, used mostly by FOX for promotional stunts to save failing sitcoms. But what those newcomers to the form don’t realize is that the blood flying toward them isn’t appreciably more impressive than any blood that would have flown their way in a 3-D movie in 1984 because – in a span in which we’ve seen so much innovation – the technology has mostly lay dormant.

I’m hereby calling bullshit, and I’m blaming movie snobs and fat-cat studio execs. Maybe 3-D glasses don’t fit over little black-framed yellow ones, but these people need to open their minds to the third dimension or fall victim to the fourth.

(I’m referring to time and not a fourth spatial dimension, for the record. Otherwise, the warning is far less clever and far, far more confusing.)

The most impressive shots in MBV3-D were not the goriest ones, but some of the simplest. Watching characters drive cars and shop for groceries, I was struck by the added, well, dimension, and kept wondering what 3-D could do for a much better movie. You might chuckle at the notion of Capote 3-D, and yes, it’s kind of funny, but in theory, it shouldn’t be that ridiculous.

Those executives, drunk on power, and the critics that admonish them, high on pretense, have kept 3-D films to the realm of the novelty, a mere gimmick. That’s because they don’t want to admit that Citizen Kane and The Godfather might be the cinematic equivalent of Ancient Egyptian art, skilled and earnest but flat and immature when compared with the products of the coming Renaissance. The 3-D Renaissance.

Think about it: Art, to some extent at least, imitates reality. We see in 3-D. Sometimes stuff flies at our heads. Not axes or blood, but inconsiderate backpacks in subway cars and stray pieces of trash blowing across the Hudson from New Jersey. You want to make a movie about the hardships of life in the city? Start with the flying 3-D garbage. Now you’re making an art film.

I shudder to think of all we’ve missed because 3-D technology has been on the shelf for so long. Sure, Lord of the Rings was cool. But how much cooler would it have been if 3-D technology had progressed the way computer graphics have in the past 20 years? Imagine you’re not watching the battle with the Orcs, you’re right in the middle of the battle with the Orcs, in full 180-degree 3-D projection. Badass.

Instead, some short-sighted jackasses decided to push 3-D aside. Now they’re trying to bring it back and appear to be struggling mightily.

“Hologram” technology unveiled on CNN on Election Night turned out to be a hoax. Not only was it not truly a hologram, but Wolf Blitzer actually couldn’t see the hologram lady at all. He was talking to a piece of red tape on the ground. So not only was that image not broadcast in 3-D to your television, it wasn’t even broadcast in 3-D anywhere. It was a simulation of a simulation of a simulation, or something like that. Total crap, that’s for sure.

So let this be a call to arms: Within 20 years, I better be able to see that lady in my living room in 3-D. Movies should be as lifelike in scale and depth as possible, but at least 180-degrees of immersion is mandatory. If retinal implants of some sort are necessary, so be it.

Buck up, assholes. You’ve blown this off for too long. It’s a brave new world, and it’s time we start watching our movies – all our movies — in the appropriate number of dimensions.


3-D will have its Day!

My earliest experience with 3-D technology involved school field trips to see films like “Water: The Source of Life”.  Though my initial reaction to the concept was one of enthusiasm, particularly when the requisite flimsy red-blue glasses were being handed out (I love swag!), my joy ebbed soon after I settled in to learn about the tedious power of the sea.   There I sat, the earpieces of my glasses unhooking from my ears and springing away from my head at random, watching an educational film from which I was mostly learning that life is disappointing, which I guess is pretty educational.

It’s been difficult for 3-D to shed this tired, hokey image, although part of the problem is that movie options are becoming increasingly unappealing.  Historically we’ve been graced by such 3-D masterpieces as “The Pencil on Ice”, “Cat Women of the Moon” and “Pardon My Backfire”. But the growing number of films set for release in 2009 includes such easy-to-skip offerings as “Final Destination 4: Where Everyone Dies More” and “The Jonas Brothers: The 3-D Concert Experience”. Although I find the idea of the Jonas Brothers having more than two dimensions to be intriguing, I don’t see the appeal of feeling like they are about to poke me right in the eye (a million twelve year old girls probably disagree). Clearly, few of these pictures have much more to offer their viewers than a nostalgic trip down cardboard glasses lane.  And as we well know, that lane sucks.

But don’t be so quick to give up on 3-D; it’s not out of the running yet.  In fact, I have the feeling that the best is yet to be.  As CNN reminded us during their Election Day coverage, exciting new ‘breakthroughs’ in the field of hologram technology are putting Wolf Blitzer into increasingly pointless and awkward situations every newscast. Holograms are the new black!  They’re not just for Jem any more!  Now they’re also for Wolf Blitzer!  Sadly, teleconferencing is possibly the most disappointing direction for hologram technology to be moving into. What it needs to do is hit the porn industry.

You heard me. Imagine the possibilities of 3-D hologram porn! The porn industry recently asked for a bailout—maybe what it really needs is that sweet, sweet jumpstart that only a naked lady hologram you can enjoy in the comfort of your own home can provide! Imagine the thousands of jobs it will create in Silicon Valley! You know it will draw tons of Pixar deserters to fill those jobs, talented geeks who are eager to spend their days animating something other than a lovable talking fire hydrant having adventures. CNN, you had the right idea, but instead of beaming in Chicago Correspondent Jessica Yellin, maybe we could try beaming in some Playmates. I think Wolf will know how to keep it real.

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