3D Movies Might Not Be As Bad As Roger Ebert Claims

 Pages 1 2 NEXT
 

3D Movies Might Not Be As Bad As Roger Ebert Claims

image

It turns out that Roger Ebert's arguments against 3D movies might not be scientifically sound.

Oh, Roger Ebert, you adorably outspoken thing, you. Hot on the heels of Ebert's journal post citing science proves our brains can't handle 3D, a counter-argument (also based on science) has now popped up. If the argument's to be believed, the science behind Ebert's claims isn't all that accurate.

Slate's Science Editor Dan Engber basically picks apart the arguments with enthusiasm. Aside from pointing out the bad science involved with Ebert's argument, Engber also points out that the aging film critic has been on a decades-long crusade against 3D movies. But it's the scientific arguments that are quite interesting.

According to Ebert, the 3-D effect brings in an "artificial" third dimension, which doesn't serve to make a movie any more realistic. In fact, he says, it makes an image seem less real, since under normal circumstances "we do not perceive parts of our vision dislodging themselves from the rest and leaping at us." Here he appears to be confusing cheesy, pop-out effects (which are used judiciously in the better-and more recent-films) with the medium as a whole. Yes, some 3-D movies do contain these gimmicks, but others do not.

In any case, it's not clear to me why one depth cue might be deemed artificial and unnecessary, while others are just fine. After all, a regular old 2-D movie carries its own set of visual guidelines for understanding spatial relationships. Objects in the foreground block our vision of what's behind them. Shading and texture tell us about the three-dimensional shape of an object on the screen. Ebert would certainly agree that you don't need to watch the famous sequence from Dial M for Murder in its original 3-D to understand that Anthony Dawson is creeping up behind Grace Kelly, and that he's going to lift a stocking over her head to strangle her. Yet he's apoplectic over the thought of adding one more depth cue into the mix.

With 3-D cinema, we still have occlusion and shading and texture-and we're still missing motion parallax-but now we get the added benefit of binocular disparity. We don't need that extra information to see that Grace Kelly's killer is lurking behind her, but it adds, at the very least, clarity and precision to the scene. Exactly what part of that is "artificial"? As it happens, the 3-D version of Dial M also gives us something more: When Kelly falls across the desk, her hand reaches through the stereo window, as if imploring the audience for help. It doesn't make us jump out of the way like Ebert's Homo habilis. It draws us into the action.

Engber's arguments make for fascinating reading, and they do an excellent job of shredding Ebert's arguments. That said, Engber doesn't say that 3D filmmaking is always for the best, and even acknowledges how many filmmakers use the technique as a gimmick. Personally, I plan to continue loathing 3D movies due to the inflated ticket prices and dim colors, but at least I don't have to worry about my brain not being able to process the style.

Source: Slate via io9

Permalink

Doesn't mean it's not a waste of money, though. doesn't suck.

It was rather illogical of him to make such a claim even though there is nothing revolutionary overpowering for the brain....still the picture is misleading, it suggest there is some actual depth to Stereoscopy.

And yet I still don't want 3D films. Lack of any real benefit and adding headaches into the mix kinda ruins things for me.

I've tried viewing 3d for a long time, red and blue glasses, shutter, polarized...and they have never worked for me for some reason even at 20/20 vision its just never worked for me and the very attempnt gives me eye strain and headaches if I try to watch for too long.

as for the science I don't know but I consider Pseudo 3d to be a giant rip off, and while my wishes won't come true that it dies away *with sanctum comming out a movie that doesn't need 3d* I'm just waiting for the day when some useless 3d is thrown onto a romantic comedy or something so they can draw in the guillible crowd, its at that time I'll know I won't be going to theaters ever again.

What's the point of this article?

"Ebert was wrong! Science! 3D movies are still bad!"

Huh?

I would argue, however, that every image you EVER see is two dimensional, because that's the only way your eyes can make it. You can perceive a third dimension through visual clues and the like.

Relative to my own vision, that object that looks really distant is actually slightly higher than the other object that looks closer, and is much smaller (from my own personal knowledge, having been close to said object). I could point out every pixel of my own personal vision and the only thing that would be different on them would be their position up and down, and their position left and right.

I was willing to give this a go until I saw it was from Slate.

Now I can just treat it with the contempt it deserves. Mainly because it attacks Ebert's claims, rather than disproves them. Engber states things as if they're true rather than proving them, and stands in direct contradiction to what others have already said.

I mean, there's some nice weasel words in there ("Some", "Others") but binocular disparity or not, there's still that uncanny valley there and THAT is what causes the problems. We know it's there, so our brain isn't fooled. The brain and the eyes contradicting is what causes the problems, not binocular vs. monocular.

Sebenko:
Doesn't mean it's not a waste of money, though. doesn't suck.

More or less this. Weather or not our brains can handle it, it doesn't provide any extras that can't be seen without it, so why should I pay more for it. Especially considering the headache-inducing glasses, the poor colors, and the gimmicky nature of the whole thing.

I'm taking my girl to see Tron 3D on saturday. Thanks for the buzzkill, Escapist.

Low Key:
I'm taking my girl to see Tron 3D on saturday. Thanks for the buzzkill, Escapist.

If you're lucky, it'll rain, too.

I hate any form of 3D in today's state of technology. It doesn't improve anything for me. It degrades visual experience on every possible account.

Fronzel:

Low Key:
I'm taking my girl to see Tron 3D on saturday. Thanks for the buzzkill, Escapist.

If you're lucky, it'll rain, too.

I wish it was warm enough here to rain.

I am beginning to notice Ebert's stance on things now. This is precisely why I never really took his opinion to account when he stated why "Video Games can never be art" or whatever he revised it to. While I respect the man as a critic, sometimes he just spouts utter nonsense and puts an act of pseudointellectualism (har har, oh the hypocrisy :P) just to prove that he's right and everyone else is wrong.

He's been getting on my nerves recently.

People don't actually take Ebert seriously, do they?

I don't typically agree with Ebert on most things, in fact I think he's got an utterly horrible taste in movies. I will, however, be more than happy to join him in his crusade against 3D because I'm seriously sick of it being in every big name film that comes out. Hollywood needs to get it through it's head that 3D is no the future of movies, but I suppose as long as the money continues to flow in surplus they don't really give a damn.

The stupidity never ends.

Ebert bases all of his opinions off of cheesy gimmicks. His "science" is a joke and I'm surprised anyone's taken it seriously at all.

This is equally awkward. Stereoscopic vision is a TINY depth cue. Maybe you haven't noticed, but your eyes are pretty fucking close together. The depth cues from stereoscopic vision are very subtle and virtually nonexistent at the distances and scales we're talking about while viewing movie screens. Lighting and occlusion are overwhelmingly more important depth cues for humans. We need to stop buying into this myth too: it results in damaging beliefs like the assumption that one-eyed people are extremely clumsy or that it takes years of recovery to be able to do things like catch a ball with only one eye. Close one eye, try to catch a ball. If you're even remotely coordinated, it won't prove too hard. The ONLY thing stereoscopic vision has a big impact on is really close, really small differentiation like trying to thread a needle, which is hard even WITH two eyes.

All that aside, I enjoy non-gimmick 3d movies. I thought Tron and especially Avatar (aside from that stupid moment with the arrow) made great use of it and both were much more fun thanks to it. Same goes even moreso for the animated movies I've seen in 3d. It's a nice reason to justify going to a theatre instead of waiting for it to come out on DVD and it's fun. The "it's not realistic" bandwagon is just that, a bandwagon. Try deciding for yourself whether you like it rather than parroting someone else's views about why it should strain your eyes/brain, why it degrades the visual experience, or why it is or isn't realistic.

TL;DR: If I wanted to see the most realistic picture possible, I'd open the fucking door and go outside. I go to movies to be entertained.

Low Key:

Fronzel:

Low Key:
I'm taking my girl to see Tron 3D on saturday. Thanks for the buzzkill, Escapist.

If you're lucky, it'll rain, too.

I wish it was warm enough here to rain.

I actually liked Tron, especially in 3d. Given the horrible things people were saying about it, I expected to be incredibly disappointed. It's no Citizen Kane, but it's fun, incredibly stylish, and cheesy in all the right ways. In hindsight, I should never have listened to all of the reviews that I knew would involve so many rose-coloured glasses.

joebthegreat:
What's the point of this article?

"Ebert was wrong! Science! 3D movies are still bad!"

Huh?

I would argue, however, that every image you EVER see is two dimensional, because that's the only way your eyes can make it. You can perceive a third dimension through visual clues and the like.

Relative to my own vision, that object that looks really distant is actually slightly higher than the other object that looks closer, and is much smaller (from my own personal knowledge, having been close to said object). I could point out every pixel of my own personal vision and the only thing that would be different on them would be their position up and down, and their position left and right.

In point of fact, the brain does indeed take two slightly different images that each eye sees and interprets them to give you a sense of depth, or in short, to see a Third Dimension. You can test this yourself; take something that looks like a dartboard, lay it on the bround, and drop small objects on it, moving in between drops. With both eyes, it's quite easy to land the objects on or at least near the bullseye, while with one eye closed, it's suddenly incredibly difficult

A good cinematographer can give you a 3D like picture without having to charge me extra to wear lame glasses and see a darker image.

Besides Avatar I haven't seen a decent 3D movie yet. The film makers will kill 3D before it ever has a chance to take off.

Am I missing something? Engber doesn't make any scientific arguments. He just goes on and on about how Ebert is biased and 3D is great. Roger Ebert probably is biased against 3D and doesn't want to give it a chance. And 3D can do some interesting things within the film industry. But that's largely irrelevant to the convergence/focus issue which is where the "science" comes in. On that point, he more or less just gives up. His only response is that there may be something else giving everyone headaches instead and we can adapt if we watch 20+ 3D films a year. Humans can adapt to pretty much anything, much to any dieter's dismay, if we force ourselves to do it enough. 3D viewing is likely no different.

On everything else, he pretty much agrees with Murch's email. 3D still has a lot of problems but most of them can probably be fixed eventually.

Jumplion:
I am beginning to notice Ebert's stance on things now. This is precisely why I never really took his opinion to account when he stated why "Video Games can never be art" or whatever he revised it to. While I respect the man as a critic, sometimes he just spouts utter nonsense and puts an act of pseudointellectualism (har har, oh the hypocrisy :P) just to prove that he's right and everyone else is wrong.

He's been getting on my nerves recently.

It's Roger Ebert's lawn; we're just yelled at to get off it.

This is just all sorts of misinterpreted information. Ebert didn't try to disprove the inherent technical flaws of 3D. Walter Murch did, then Ebert reposted the letter and tweeted it. The slate article doesn't disprove anything Murch said, it just disagreed with him on a subjective level.

Argument 1: "3D is unnatural, gimmicky, and makes people's heads hurt."
Argument 2: "No, it doesn't."
Ebert's Position: "I don't like having to put the goggles on over my glasses, wah. And it makes the screen darker."

My Position: I see a movie in a theater about once or twice a year. I haven't seen a 3D one yet, and don't really intend to because I'm afraid of germs, spending money, and social interaction of any kind. Also, every movie screen in my area looks murky, misframed, washed out, water damaged, and unfocused enough already. I don't need 3D to contribute to that problem. My home theater always looks and sounds better.

I went to see the green hornet in 3d the other day had to leave the theater for a short walk because of the screaming headache 3D gives me so even if its not "bad" in the way Ebert claims they are still bad in the fact that like an Xbox i cant use them without debilitating pain

This is utterly stupid. Why is it so ridiculous that people don't like 3D movies.

My argument is this, I like animated films such as The Incredibles and Megamind, but I don't want every single film in the future to be animated. Why would I want all future sci fi and horror films to be 3D. It's simple, I don't want them to be. Make the occassional 3D film, who knows, maybe I would even watch it. But why make them all like this?

Like I said, utterly stupid.

And I agree with Zelda2fanboy, it's not like Ebert did all sorts of scientific research, he merely paraphrased someone who did. I don't care for the man as a critic, so it's best not to give him any undo credit.

Why do so many people have problems with 3D? 3D has done nothing but improve the experience for me. I've never experienced any of these headaches or had problems with my eyes adjusting to the unevenness that 3D makes. I'm getting kind of sick how everyone seems to think their own personal experience with 3D speaks for everyone.

I'd like to add, when done properly, 3D can make the film much smoother. Having a second projector will give you those extra frames to make that effect.

When the Polar Express came out Ebert actually ranted and raved about the new 3D technology. It seemed to work no matter where the audience sat and could finally be worn over another pair of glasses. Like him I was equally impressed, then grew equally tired.

Stereoscopic effects can give footing to movies that are too weak to stand on it's own without gimmicks such as Beowulf, A Christmas Carol, and Avatar and make them enjoyable. However it can't make already great movies such as Toy Story 3 soar higher.

I maintain that 3D is an industry-pushed fad, like 'common usage HD' tv-shows last year.
(You probably wouldn't believe how much content was filmed standard definition, scaled up and then sold as HD.)

Is it just me or is this article in existence primarily to show up Ebert. I suspect it is sour grapes over his prior commentary on gaming. One of the favourite pasttimes of sites like this is to make out like one man's opinion is in danger of defining reality for us all, especially if that 'one man' is Roger Ebert.

The guy is outspoken, but he's also a great film reviewer, and it's his right to have opinions on whatever he wishes to have opinions on. This article lingers too long on how "wrong" Ebert is, but you don't have to look as far as a celebrity reviewer to find people who have deep reservations or dislike for 3D.

And, what did we expect to happen, when the technology has been exploited in mostly the wrong ways? So many examples of 3D make the image appear as rows of paper cutouts. Last I used my eyes, that wasn't how the world looked. Tron and Avatar, however, did not look that way. They are examples of great use of the technology. However, Avatar tripped over its own shoelaces, in that, while the stereoscopic illusion provided depth, Camerons cinematography often put that depth out of focus.

Throughout the entire film, the illusion of a 3D word was therefore balked. Cameron's own visual design demanded that my eyes survey the whole image, searching for detail. In a true 3D world, my vision would focus on whereever I looked. I felt like I had cataracts for a large percentage of the film. This dissonance frustrated me in ways that when I later watched the film in 2D, I didn't feel.

This just seems like an excuse to attack Roger Ebert.

Honestly, I don't need science to know whether or not 3D is worth it. I already know it costs more money, dims colors, contributes nothing, gives me eye strain and causes me intense pain by grinding my glasses into my ears.

I don't really care at all about 3D I just go see movies I want to see and if given the choice I see it only in the format it was meant to be seen in.

I have three major problems with 3D:

1. If you have glasses, you're screwed.

2. In 90% of cases, its something hastily added on to an already finished product, meaning that it looks terrible.

3. In the other 10% of cases, I'm perfectly happy with the movie without the 3D part. So why would I pay extra to go to an experience that is uncomfortable?

I still agree with Ebert and think 3-d looks silly, it doesn't add to the experience at all.

UberNoodle:
Is it just me or is this article in existence primarily to show up Ebert. I suspect it is sour grapes over his prior commentary on gaming. One of the favourite pasttimes of sites like this is to make out like one man's opinion is in danger of defining reality for us all, especially if that 'one man' is Roger Ebert.

The guy is outspoken, but he's also a great film reviewer, and it's his right to have opinions on whatever he wishes to have opinions on. This article lingers too long on how "wrong" Ebert is, but you don't have to look as far as a celebrity reviewer to find people who have deep reservations or dislike for 3D.

And, what did we expect to happen, when the technology has been exploited in mostly the wrong ways? So many examples of 3D make the image appear as rows of paper cutouts. Last I used my eyes, that wasn't how the world looked. Tron and Avatar, however, did not look that way. They are examples of great use of the technology. However, Avatar tripped over its own shoelaces, in that, while the stereoscopic illusion provided depth, Camerons cinematography often put that depth out of focus.

Throughout the entire film, the illusion of a 3D word was therefore balked. Cameron's own visual design demanded that my eyes survey the whole image, searching for detail. In a true 3D world, my vision would focus on whereever I looked. I felt like I had cataracts for a large percentage of the film. This dissonance frustrated me in ways that when I later watched the film in 2D, I didn't feel.

Yeah I completely agree with this, it sounds like the guy who made this article is angry at Roger Ebert still.

Did anyone else keep confusing the two people's names throughout the article? I did... They're so similar =/

It´s not really important who is scientifically right or wrong

glasses based 3D is industry pushed add-on money cahscow that drags down most of the cinemtic experience without giving anything back. The only thing they give me is a headache from the glasses after 60minutes.

3D as it is now does not need science to suck!

Every time I watch a 3D movie, my eyeballs start drying out.
I think I'll wait for glasses free, 3D movies before I watch another.

Supp:
I have three major problems with 3D:

1. If you have glasses, you're screwed.

2. In 90% of cases, its something hastily added on to an already finished product, meaning that it looks terrible.

3. In the other 10% of cases, I'm perfectly happy with the movie without the 3D part. So why would I pay extra to go to an experience that is uncomfortable?

Spot on!

The 3D label in itself is quite misleading. Yes you still put on the glasses, but the image quality ranges from piss poor to "excellent" (or barely tolarable in my case). Many times I swear the quality of the 3D picture with the glasses on is no different than standard cinima quality.

 Pages 1 2 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here