Why 3D is not the future of video

In the final days of 2010 I have managed to see my first 3D film: Tron Legacy.  The experience has confirmed what I had already come to suspect, that 3D in its current incarnation is not the future of video, be it cinema, TV programmes, or video games.

That’s quite a bold statement to make, but I’ll gently walk you through what’s been buzzing around in my head for months.  Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way first: films, TV programmes, video games have traditionally been displayed in 2D.  As human beings, we see in 3D.

Perception

So why hasn’t this bothered us before?  Well, the human brain is a remarkable thing.  We may not be able to number-crunch as well as computers, but the brain is able to make sense out of our chaotic and often unpredictable environment.  As we look at a 2D photograph or video, we’re able to interpret what we see and ‘convert’ it into 3D in our minds.

Sure, we don’t get the added sense of depth that 3D technology provides, but I’ve coped well-enough up to now without wanting to reach out and grab those butterflies that adverts and tech demos are so fond of using.  As for the aforementioned tech demos, I found them to work better with 3D than the actual film itself.

How so?  For a kick off I found the picture a bit blurry (even though the latest 3D technology is supposed to keep the image crisp and clear) and in Tron: Legacy when the main protagonist of the film got sucked into ‘the Grid’ and everything was supposed to leap into 3D… I didn’t really notice it.  Could it be that technology is now trying to do something for us that our brains have already been doing for us on some unconscious  level?  You know, making sense of what we’re seeing.

Direction

I’m hoping that most of you will agree with me that Inception was one of the highest quality film releases we’ve had in some time.  It wasn’t in 3D though, was it?  Did that matter?  Well, no.  It received critical acclaim nevertheless.

As far as I see it, if you’re watching a film or TV programme, you’re viewing the world created by some very talented people through a window that the director has chosen to show you.  All of the precise camera angles selected, the lighting and the direction, have all been chosen for maximum effect.

Do I really want those butterflies to start flying towards me?  I jest, but if anything this new realm of 3D entertainment is perhaps better suited to video games.  Video games are a very immersive form of entertainment, and 3D could perhaps enhance this.

Yet… I then read about a warning from Nintendo about its 3DS handheld, stating amongst other things that it ‘could affect the way depth is perceived’ in young children’s eyes.  I honestly don’t know what to think.

To the future!

I’m not some kind of luddite who is adverse to new technology.  Far from it.  Multi- touch interfaces and high definition displays are now common pieces of technology for many people, and offer better experiences for users than what came before.  3D?  I just don’t buy it.

I’ll be all-for holographic technology and virtual reality environments when they come out as they’ll truly be a leap above and beyond what we have today, but more and more I’m feeling that the film industry and other companies with vested interests have conjured up 3D shortly after everyone made the leap to HD.  I mean, seriously?  It’s just never enough for them.

And that concludes my rant.

Yours,

A concerned citizen.

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