Monday, August 2, 2010

I'm glad most people are starting to catch on.

This is kind of funny to me, considering the conversation I had with my friend last night about how Michael Buffer has apparently made $400 million from saying "LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLE!!"

The topic of the day is how American Industry is almost completely driven by entertainment.  Michael Buffer is rich as shit now, not because he said "let's get ready to rumble," but because of the fact that when he said it, there were generally 80,000 people waiting to hear him say it because it got them fucking pumped to see The Macho Man Randy Savage body slam Hulk Hogan.

But all that is completely irrelevant to what the above article is about.  Its talking about how mommy and daddy Smith are getting sick and tired of having to pay 75 dollars to go see The Secret of Nimh in 3D.

3D is a gimmick, and that is all it ever will be.  Sure, there will some people who will always bite the lure, and there will be some who only do it for bragging rights, but the fact is, 3D movies are generally just marginally better than the cheaper 2D experience.  And the reason why varies from person to person.  Some get motion sickness from it, some get headaches because the way the image is portrayed puts strain on their eyes, and some people just don't like it.

Ignoring all those things though, 3D is always flawed by 1 principle problem:  You cannot make a flat image appear to "pop out" at you.  You can try, but there are very few people who will be watching the movie from the correct angle to make the effect work, and for everyone else it just looks weird.

Is 3D a bad idea?  No, not at all.  3D has the potential to give incredibly more detail than a standard 2D image.  It has the potential to give viewers a way to see movies differently.  But it is never done correctly.  At least not currently.  I will say the Nintendo 3Ds currently has my curiosity peaked because they are taking a completely different approach to 3D display, which is think is something all other companies should do.

What do I mean?  3D should not be about making images appear to pop out at you.  The 3 dimensions the term refers to are width, height, and depth.  3D should add exactly that:  Depth.

The viewing field is always a well defined area.  The image cannot be expected to escape that boundary, because once it does, it ceases to exist.  But the viewer can be given a sense of depth inside that viewing image, and that can be done relatively well, and easily.  Its like drawing on a piece of paper.

If I draw a rectangle of 4 lines, its a flat image.  There is nothing more to it.  It has depth, no invisible sides, and nothing inside.  Why?  because that is all I can see of it.  However, if inside that rectangle, i draw 4 lines that lead towards an imaginary vanishing point, I can give an observer a point to focus on that makes their mind think there is space inside the rectangle that can be occupied.

But lets say I want to further enable, and at the same time, limit, what the viewer can perceive.  All I need to do is draw a second, smaller Rectangle inside the first one, making the corners line up with the lines leading to the vanishing point.  I have just created a 3D world with which I can populate with other objects.

Why does this work?  Because, the viewer knows boundaries exist, and if I play inside those boundaries, the viewer will believe that he is looking at a 2D image that is meant to mimic 3D.  He knows there is no actual depth, and that if he shifts his viewing angle, the perceivable image will not change.  But if populated correctly, with proper usage of shadows and tricks to always lead the eye to the imaginary (but well defined) vanishing point, the ILLUSION of 3D works.

An image cannot escape its boundaries, but how it fills those boundaries is what needs to be looked at. 

Is 3D dead?  No, but its young, and not fully encompassed in terms of feasibility now.  Personally I think the potential for 3D television is huge, because a person watching a TV can almost always get themselves in optimum position for 3D imagery to work.  Its not so simple in a movie theatre though. 

There is a huge push for 3D television right now because the HD revolution is already passed.  1080p is a common household thing now.  Companies need their next selling point, and because they are in a competition right now for dominance, the technology is not having proper time to mature.  Personally, I am looking forward to 2 years from now when the technology has ripened to see what will be available.  I don't know that I'll ever be sold on 3D movie theatre experiences, but who knows.

But, how does this all lead back to the topic of the day?  Movies provide entertainment.  And people want to be entertained.  People will always pay to go see the latest movie, whatever it is, because they want something to occupy their mind from the day to day drivel.  People are so accustomed to being entertained, they often lose track of how entertaining something actually is.  Did you see Inception?  Did you like the ending?  Did you talk to your friends about how it didn't make sense?  That's all part of your entertainment experience.  Whether you really liked the movie or not is almost irrelevant.  That it gives you and people you like to hang out with something to do and talk about is.

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