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That 'Brothers in Arms' moment - Off in the distance
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2009-04-08 10:04
Subject: That 'Brothers in Arms' moment
Security: Public
Last night, we and uitlander went and saw Monsters versus Aliens. In 3D.

Wow!

This is probably going to be the first 3D film a lot of people see, and in that sense, it may well be to 3D cinema what Brothers in Arms was to the CD: the release that everyone will remember later as the one that defined their expectations.

(Or this iteration of 3D may be yet another big flash in the pan - who knows? Though many cinemas have refitted new projectors to cope, I assume those projectors can also do 2D.)

So how was it?

As a film, pretty good, if not up with Pixar's best. But the auditorium was, I think, somewhat stunned by the effects, the sheer 3D-ness, and it's possible that they took a while to warm to it, as there wasn't lot of laughter for the first half of the film. But then again, I think the story does take a while to get going, and that first half is setting the scene for the slam-bang action of the second. The writing isn't deep, but this is meant to be for children as well as adults.

As 3D? Pretty stunning for anyone with full stereo vision. Projecting at 144 fps produces an image stability that makes it easier to watch, and the screen turns from a flat plate to a window into the 3D arena. At one point, I was quite certain a large alien gun was stretching half-way into the cinema.

It's likely that computer-rendered animations will dominate the first 3D releases, since it really only requires a second rendering pass, with slightly different camera angles, and that's just computer time. Indeed, it appears that Toy Story 1 & 2 will be re-released in 3D. But I'm going to have to wait until I've seen a few live-action productions before I can really say how well the technology works: there's an occasional unreality in Monsters versus Aliens that could be coming from the 3D, or could be from the animation.
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User: vatine
Date: 2009-04-08 05:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
One thing that John Scalzi mentioned on Whatever is that 3D films require a slightly different approach to cuts. YOu can't cut between "near" and "far" as frequently as you can with 2D (because when there's 2D action, your eyes do not need to re-train when the focus plane moves, whereas in 3D, your eyes will do it on their own).

I don't know that that's necessarily a problem with most computer-animated movies, though, but it's certainly another factor to consider in the film-making.
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2009-04-08 05:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's a good point: with a deep depth of view, the old tricks using differential focus just aren't going to work the same. If we take this as a step-change in the medium (like speech, like colour, like stereo for sound recordings), it will take film makers time to work out how best to tell their stories, how best to focus viewers attention on the important bits.
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User: vatine
Date: 2009-04-08 06:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yep. I have a nagging feeling that it may well work to plan for 3D and shoot the 2D as a special case, if that makes any sense. But I don't know how boring it would be.

It may be that some clever use of different cameras may well let an animated film to be expressed in both 2D and 3D, since most of the animation should translate anyway (though it may be that the animators have less leeway for time-saving tricks when there are multiple possible views of a scene).
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Bjorn
User: bfrb
Date: 2009-04-08 06:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
There was an article somewhere this week discussing how watching two-dimensional 3D screws up the way we focus (not just on the cuts), and generates discomfort. The technique now is basically the same as it always has been (with polish) and the writer concluded that like previous 3D crazes this one too would falter.
I saw Beowulf in 3D and while I enjoyed it more than I expected, my stereo vision being crap, it was certainly taxing on the eyes.
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2009-04-08 06:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's certainly a possibility that this is another iteration of something which is unperfectable with foreseeable technology. On the other hand, existing 2D screens already screw with your eyes: they show out-of-focus items that your eyes cannot focus on. I believe this is something that many years of viewing have trained our eyes/brains into accepting, and I suspect that 3D viewing training is also required to fully cope with such films.

(Certainly, by later in this film, it seemed to be working better. And even at the start, it worked vastly better than the previous thing we watched, some years back at the Waterloo Imax.)

As I said, I'll have to watch live-action rather than animated (and Beowulf was animated) to fully decide.
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User: vatine
Date: 2009-04-08 06:59 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Well, you get "out of focus" things in your normal vision too and the trick is, usually, to make sure that hte thing in focus is what you want to focus on. As long as the viewer isn't tempted to try to focus on anything out of the focus plane, the fact that it's out of focus doesn't matter. Though, indeed, there may be an element of training to it.
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The Uitlander
User: uitlander
Date: 2009-04-08 07:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
There was a mild headache that started a few minutes ito the 3D projection, and stayed throughout the film. With the limited peripheral vision in my left eye I got what I think was a small taste of the 3D bellinghman talks about.

At the start there is a 'gasp' 3D moment, and I got that. There are various other 'gasp' moments, only some of which I saw in 3D. Having only previously had brief seconds of 3D followed by acute migrane throughout the course of my life this was quite an interesting experience.

Overall I think got a 3D-lite version of what everyone else was getting (I didn't see the gun in 3D although I know what bit is being referenced), and it confirmed that the 3D glasses work well. When my brain wasn't coping with 3D I just saw the usual 2D image that is the world as we both know it anyway. Take off the glasses and you get the world with dodgy ghost image that is pretty close to what I get when I'm tired.
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Bjorn
User: bfrb
Date: 2009-04-08 07:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I suspect neither you nor I are reliable on this, but I was actually pleasantly surprised as to how well it worked. Most of my monocular use is habit and due to lazy-eye of sorts so I should be fairly exhausted after a couple of hours of deliberately using both eyes. In fact I was less tired than I probably expected.
That said, I really wouldn't want this to be the default movie experience, not that I go often to the movies, but I would go even more seldom than now. So I'm biased towards 'hopefully this will all go away' :)
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kit
User: mizkit
Date: 2009-04-08 06:19 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Huh! This kind of makes me want to go into Dublin to see it in 3D!
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2009-04-08 06:53 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You could wait for it to come out on TV ... oh, OK, no, maybe not.
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