Wednesday, October 13, 2010

On 3D Conversion and Common Sense

^that picture is just awesome - via

One might argue that out of all the experiences one takes in during a cinematic viewing, perhaps the most painfully uncomfortable is the feeling one has approximately 1-3 seconds after having just removed their 3D glasses, post viewing. That new grooves that have attached themselves to your face, indentations that were not there just 2 hours ago. While the nauseating feeling will go away shortly, I can honestly say no amount of nose scrunching suffices as a cure.

Now, everyone here, and most likely everyone they know, has probably done a post, rant, podcast, or whatever on 3D; specifically on 3D conversion. I don't mind 3D as a viable use of cinematic technology to enhance an experience. I think, when tactfully used, it can greatly add to the overall experience, examples being found in Avatar, How to Train Your Dragon, and Toy Story 3 most recently. What I do mind, is its demonstrably horrid use via conversion.

Not only does it lack any of the visible signs that would lead one to believe they're watching a 3D movie, it adds the annoying glasses factor. Now you might be saying: but Uni people have been wearing glasses for years! Yes, I know, I was one of them. I wore glasses from age 6 to 21, at which time I got LASIK eye surgery and said to hell with them. But there's a big difference between having glasses customized, altered, padded, and shaped to fit my nose and facial shape, and wearing plastic that grinds into my skin. To be honest I don't know anyone who enjoys wearing the damned things, and more often than not it adds an unnecessary layer.

Movies like Alice in Wonderland and Clash of the Titans really didn't need the 3D conversion to become big hits. That's not to say anything of their quality (of which I found little), it was simply known they would be successful regardless. Which helped put a smile on my face when I read this week that the creators of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows have decided to forgo the 2D to 3D conversion. Which is basically the recognition that adding $2 bucks to the cost, along with the uncomfortable glasses, doesn't balance out when weighed against a movie most people will see anyways, and the absolute indescribable crap that these conversions are.

Still, I find myself wondering - are studios self destructive? What could the studios possibly gain from adding something that horrible to a movie? Everyone knows opening weekend takes are all well and good, but the majority of the money made on a film comes from the long term theatrical run. If word coming back is "good movie, but that 3D really screwed the experience" you're killing your own profit. Sure, it might bring a few faces that weren't going to be there originally (especially for something like CoT). Nowadays though 3D isn't a rarity, and therefore its appeal is ever weakening.

It's a bit like cake. If I give you cake once a year, you'll most likely really look forward to it. Perhaps plan out your eating habits in anticipation for it. Yet if I give you cake every night you're going go, "great, loved dinner, cake was good, now what?" Basic supply and demand, if you overload the supply, you lose the demand. What's worse though is that there is a demand (box office figures generally back that up), but instead of supplying us with delicious, home made, fresh cake, you're supplying us with 3 week old, stale, cake made from flour, asparagus, and rotted milk. Therefore killing the demand. It's counter intuitive!

What's worse is you're charging us the same price for both, when one of them cost you a notable amount less. Now, movies have always done this regardless of if it's a $20m or $500m production.  Still, there can be an argument made that cost of production doesn't define quality (I present exhibit a: Transformers 2 vs. Slumdog Millionaire). Yet, cost of 3D, filming vs. conversion, does define quality. You're asking me to buy a $500 TV with wires hanging out, and half broken screen, when I can wait a month and buy a different company's TV at the same price, top of the line. Only the desperate, and stupid, would do that!

If you want to survive, and continue to make a crap load of money on 3D production in years to come (as TV seems to be going that direction), it is entirely in your best interest to act in a manner that glorifies 3D, not demeans it. Still, there has to be a common ground. Somewhere in the middle, whereby you can make a lot of money, not spend millions on 3D conversion, and keep 3D a commodity people desire. So, here's my 2 cents: Stop making shit movies nobody wants to see! Take the extra millions you're going to spend on converting, or in some cases filming (Step Up 3D?!?), and hire some proper writers and directors. Perhaps a cast that can act? If you can't even get that right, as 2010 has well displayed, no amount of 3D conversion will save you in the long run. You'll simply put yourself straight out of the entertainment market.

Unless of course, you've forgotten about DVD sales, the biggest market for a movie. Sorry to inform you, but 3D TVs are a good 3-5 years off before they're common place. Don't shoot yourself in the foot now, for a lifetime of pain later.

Univarn, over and out.

5 better thoughts:

MovieNut14 said...

Had Avatar not made so much money upon its release, there wouldn't be so many movies in 3-D.

SugaryCynic said...

Harry Potter's not going to do 3D conversion? This makes me happier inside :D

Mike Lippert said...

The irony of Harry Potter is I believe its a WB movie and they announced that all of their big tenpole movies would be in 3D just before summer. It's nice to know they are showing some common sense. After all, you don't want to alienate an audience when you still need them to buy tickets to the second half of the movie next year. 3D is just promlematic in general. The conversions are crap yes but a lot of movies made for 3D tend to play to the camera to make the most of it and when you watch that on 2D on TV it just looks stupid and draws attention to itself (no way I would ever wear those horrible purple cardboard glasses that come with the DVD). On the other hand, I do want to check out the theatre with the moving seats in Toronto. That's a gimmick I'm willing to pay into at least once.

Castor said...

If only studios would just focus on story-telling and developing interesting characters, they would watch the money and accolades flood in. All the gimmicks in the world would never come close to that.

filmgeek said...

I like that cake analogy; very true. I don't have a 3D cinema particularly near me but I like to think I wouldn't see a lot of 3d films if there was one. I'm glad Harry Potter will only be released in 2D now too

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