Text 1 Apr 6 notes How Many Dimensions is Too Many Dimensions?

          

Unsatisfied with reality, unfulfilled by genuine life experience, yet driven by our love of narrative and of visual attraction, we created the simulacrum ‘reality’ of movies. And there were movies. And we saw that they were good. (Well, some of them…)

   

But movies were not enough. Because, as much as movies were, they were ‘flat’ — two-dimensional, like a painting, and therefore unlike the world. Movies were a poor substitute for reality, having lost one whole dimension, despite otherwise being a technological miracle. Or so we thought at the time. In fact two-dimensional film ‘reality’ was a powerful substitute for three dimensional ‘real reality’ — more than we could have imagined. 2D movies were good. But we wanted better. More. Sort of like Adam and Eve in the Garden.

So we had to create 3D.

Hey! If 2D is good, why not bring back that lost third dimension, and make it even better! The more like the real world a movie is, the better it will be, right?

Let’s not be hasty.

We use 2D movies as an enjoyable escape from dreary 3D real life. Movies are better than life, though they collapse three dimensions into a mere two. They are our waking dream world, flat yet full. But then we decided that recapturing that third dimension — in other words, making movies more like reality instead of less so — will make them better. Why did we think that?

Read the short piece below by America’s most famous movie critic, Roger Ebert. He shares a letter from Walter Murch, Hollywood’s top editor for forty years.

Why 3D doesn’t work and never will. Case closed.

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I received a letter that ends, as far as I am concerned, the discussion about 3D. It doesn’t work with our brains and it never will.

The notion that we are asked to pay a premium to witness an inferior and inherently brain-confusing image is outrageous. The case is closed.

This letter is from Walter Murch, seen at left, the most respected film editor and sound designer in the modern cinema. As a editor, he must be intimately expert with how an image interacts with the audience’s eyes. He won an Academy Award in 1979 for his work on “Apocalypse Now,” whose sound was a crucial aspect of its effect.

Wikipedia writes: “Murch is widely acknowledged as the person who coined the term Sound Designer, and along with colleagues developed the current standard film sound format, the 5.1 channel array, helping to elevate the art and impact of film sound to a new level. “Apocalypse Now” was the first multi-channel film to be mixed using a computerized mixing board.” He won two more Oscars for the editing and sound mixing of “The English Patient.”


"He is perhaps the only film editor in history," the Wikipedia entry observes, "to have received Academy nominations for films edited on four different systems:

• “Julia” (1977) using upright Moviola
• ”Apocalypse Now” (1979), “Ghost” (1990), and “The Godfather, Part III” (1990) using KEM flatbed
• “The English Patient” (1996) using Avid.
•  “Cold Mountain” (2003) using Final Cut Pro on an off-the shelf PowerMac G4.


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Now read what Walter Murch says about 3D:

Hello Roger,

I read your review of “Green Hornet” and though I haven’t seen the film, I agree with your comments about 3D.

The 3D image is dark, as you mentioned (about a camera stop darker) and small. Somehow the glasses “gather in” the image — even on a huge Imax screen — and make it seem half the scope of the same image when looked at without the glasses.

I edited one 3D film back in the 1980’s — “Captain Eo” — and also noticed that horizontal movement will strobe much sooner in 3D than it does in 2D. This was true then, and it is still true now. It has something to do with the amount of brain power dedicated to studying the edges of things. The more conscious we are of edges, the earlier strobing kicks in.
 

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The biggest problem with 3D, though, is the “convergence/focus” issue. A couple of the other issues — darkness and “smallness” — are at least theoretically solvable. But the deeper problem is that the audience must focus their eyes at the plane of the screen — say it is 80 feet away. This is constant no matter what.

But their eyes must converge at perhaps 10 feet away, then 60 feet, then 120 feet, and so on, depending on what the illusion is. So 3D films require us to focus at one distance and converge at another. And 600 million years of evolution has never presented this problem before. All living things with eyes have always focussed and converged at the same point.

If we look at the salt shaker on the table, close to us, we focus at six feet and our eyeballs converge (tilt in) at six feet. Imagine the base of a triangle between your eyes and the apex of the triangle resting on the thing you are looking at. But then look out the window and you focus at sixty feet and converge also at sixty feet. That imaginary triangle has now “opened up” so that your lines of sight are almost — almost — parallel to each other.


     salt_clear3D2.jpg
     salt_blurry3D.jpg

We can do this. 3D films would not work if we couldn’t. But it is like tapping your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time, difficult. So the “CPU” of our perceptual brain has to work extra hard, which is why after 20 minutes or so many people get headaches. They are doing something that 600 million years of evolution never prepared them for. This is a deep problem, which no amount of technical tweaking can fix. Nothing will fix it short of producing true “holographic” images.

Consequently, the editing of 3D films cannot be as rapid as for 2D films, because of this shifting of convergence: it takes a number of milliseconds for the brain/eye to “get” what the space of each shot is and adjust.

And lastly, the question of immersion. 3D films remind the audience that they are in a certain “perspective” relationship to the image. It is almost a Brechtian trick. Whereas if the film story has really gripped an audience they are “in” the picture in a kind of dreamlike “spaceless” space. So a good story will give you more dimensionality than you can ever cope with.

So: dark, small, stroby, headache inducing, alienating. And expensive. The question is: how long will it take people to realize and get fed up?

All best wishes,

Walter Murch

            «<END»>

   

WHAT DOES PROFETCETERA SAY?

Now this is a great case in point that all cultural objects are in fact theologically grounded. In the complex cultural mix of narrative, motion picture photography, 2D and 3D movies, neural capacity, and those odd interpenetrating things known as ‘reality’ and ‘fantasy,’ we see here a fascinating marker of the power of suppressed truth.

If Romans 1 tells us (and believe me, it does) that the central activity of fallen humans is the suppression of truth (not vice, as in the above logo, but the idea is the same), and if it is true as I have argued extensively in my book Meaning at the Movies (and believe me, I have), then perhaps here we can see how suppressed truth always returns to the surface of things. It can’t not. Movies provide, to a greater or lesser extent, an escape from reality, while functioning as objects in reality. In other words, movies are real things that, temporarily and with our blessing and complicity, short-circuit reality.

When watching an effective movie, you enter the world of that movie, and leave this world behind, so to speak. But you also know that the reality you are entering is fictional. In a sense, truth and lie coexist symbiotically, if only for a moment. So movies are a marvellous moment where truth and lie intermingle, where depth bubbles up to the surface and the surface sinks into the depths, where humanity is laid bare, and where we see, as in a glass darkly, what we really are.

And so while we tell ourselves that we’d just LOVE the hyperreality of THREE dimensions in a movie (‘DUDE, that spear came like right AT me!!!’), in fact, when we actually try to process 3D on a flat 2D screen we find it less satisfying than the patently ‘fake’ two-dimensional world of classical filmmaking. In other words, we escape actual three dimensional reality by watching highly produced 2D simulated reality but then desire more realistic reality in our filmic unreality and so we restore the lost 3rd dimension only to find the extra reality we got was too much reality so we long for the subtly diminished flatness of the old screen which better replaces the overfullness of our lives. Whew. 

The reality is that unreality wins every time. We tell ourselves we want more reality, but really we want less. Truth is what we suppress even while we claim to embrace it. Reality is best in small doses, lest we wake up. 

We do not wish to be alienated from our alienation from ourselves.

Don’t believe me?

Then take a look at these new, de-‘alienating’ Anti-3D glasses, on sale here:

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Tempting, No? If you put them on, what would you see?

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Futuristic 3D Movies… Make Us Sick

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3D Movies. You’ve got to love them right? But when in-your-face special effects turn into headache-inducing nausea… the fun is over. What’s more, all your friends love 3D movies. You’ve been there before, a movie is playing in both 2D and 3D, all your friends want to see the 3D version… so what can you do? Finally, ThinkGeek has the solution to deliver old skool 2D images to your tired eyes with the De-3D Cinema Glasses.

The De-3D glasses eliminate the 3D effect from 3D movies, allowing you to watch in the comfort of 2D. How do they work you say? In a traditional 3D movie, two images are displayed overlapped on the movie screen. Standard 3D glasses filter these images allowing one to be seen by the right eye and the other to be seen by the left eye. The difference between the two images creates the 3D effect and also the annoying eyestrain and headaches you may have experienced. The De-3D glasses are specially designed to eliminate the left eye image and show only the right eye image to both eyes. In double-blind scientific tests it was determined that when watching 3-D movies the right-eye image was consistently more action packed and and humorous than the left-eye image. Amazing but true.

Next time your friends want to go see a 3D movie, bring your De-3D glasses and you’ll be able to experience the best of the cinema with none of the motion sickness, headaches or nausea. Your friends will thank you too… for not puking on their shoes.

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TOO MUCH REALITY!!!!! or NOT ENOUGH?

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  1. profetcetera posted this

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