By Marc Silvestri
"The Almighty did hover above paradise, shook his impressive head in lament and spoke in a thundering whisper: "Adam, thou art made in my image (sort of) but your constant stumbling and planting of thy face 'tis profoundly embarrassing." Adam looked meekly upon his maker, "Father, insertion of my face into the fertile soil of Eden 'tis ofttimes unavoidable. Whenas I approacheth one of thy glorious fruit-bearing trees, judging distance betwixt foot and protruding root verily does vex me!" The Lord considered his creation and gazed with sympathy into the single blue eye he had placed midway 'twixt Adam’s ears. "Hmmm," The Boss Of Bosses mused (thunderously), "I have given thee two arms, two legs, two testis, and for some reason, two nipples, yet gifted thee with but one eye. Alas, though the symmetry pleases me no end, mayhap 'tis more prudent to fashion a second." The Lord made it so, and thus created 'depth of field'."
-Face psalms 11:14
What's better than 1D, sexier than 2D, but not as unwieldy as 4D? Why, 3D of course!!!! Seeing stuff fly out of the screen at you (often for no reason other than to have stuff fly out at you) is the coolest thing to happen to movies since the invention of cutting a hole at the bottom of the popcorn box! Whoot! Well, okay, maybe not that much. But I have to tell you I actually do like 3D – within reason.
While 3D may not be as critical to film as let's say sound, it shouldn't be passed off as the "gimmick" some insist that it is. (To be clear, 3D, while enhancing the movie watching experience, should in fact never be the critical component of any film, that's the job of story and character. And if your film needs the 3D component to be tolerable, you've got bigger problems than getting someone to where those sexy glasses). So in other words, if you look back at all the years of filmmaking, a great film will stand the test of time regardless of format, just like great music (Stereo or mono, video or no video, a great song is a great song. I believe the same holds true for film). So what makes 3D cool enough for someone to wear glasses that will certainly NOT get you laid, and to put down good $$ on a 3D TV (yes, I did purchase one) when there is currently like 5 things to watch. Hmmm, let's discuss, shall we?
I view movies pretty much the way that I view a blank piece of paper. It's really about who's holding the pencil. And 3D is massive pencil. I was watching the blu-ray of 'Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey' – one of my all time favorite "flawed" masterpieces – and was sitting slack-jawed at how F$%&ALL gorgeous it was. Every shot in that film is a clinic on composition and light, and the thought that someone, someday, would do a 3D conversion on it gives me cramps. That said, considering Kubrick was fascinated with technology, I wonder if he would have used 3D if he had the same tools James Cameron has today. I have a feeling the result – because Kubrick was a true master – would have been mind-shredding. A friend of mine was very close to him so I'm gonna ask if he thinks that would have been the case.
But that's Kubrick and Cameron, what about the creative genius behind 'Giant Panda vs. Colossal Clam'? Would that director give a SH%& about convergence or focus or even the fact that 3D needs to be edited with longer cuts? I have a suspicion those guys are more interested in handing out "director" cards at the 'Viva La Bush' strip club down the street than giving an enormous clam (pun intended) depth. The point is that in a perfect world, 2D and 3D movies should be approached from different creative *ahem* perspectives. In my opinion, when a talented director, possessing an exceptional sense of composition, shoots 3D with the proper knowledge of the way the brain "sees", the effect can be pretty spectacular.
Obviously there are some genres that are better suited to 3D than others and I think the right talent melded with the right material will always help the format shine. Action and animation are the obvious winners here but I believe that if handled with deft hands, any genre could work. 'Jackass 3D' for example was even more repulsive/funny with three-dimensional turds flying around the theater so slapstick comedy seems a natural (I believe that's one of the reasons animated movies work so well in the format. The elastic physical humor is a good fit). Sweeping epics could benefit as well. And of course the only way the porn industry is going to save itself is by somehow adopting the um..."in your fac-ial" realism of 3D (and you don't need your hands to hold the glasses so...eh...never mind).
Then there's the generational thing. Do baby boomers care about 3D? Traditionally, older folk aren't as fascinated by flashy visuals like anyone born after the era of the Atari 2600 would be. I also don't think the art house crowd (who tend to be purists and insist on things like the popcorn being a certain temperature as to not be beneath their consumption) gives a crap for the whole 3D of it all. (Who can blame them though. I mean really, do any of us want to see Paul Giamatti in "reach out and touch me" 3D? Didn't think so.) But, from what I'm seeing, 3D is doing what Jeff Katzenberg always said it would and is catching a foothold in the movie-going zeitgeist. And it's become almost expected from the audience (plus no one I know is really that bothered by the glasses – unless they’re looking to get laid).
Unlike talkies or color however, 3D is at the same time both freeing and, depending on content, limiting. It's freeing in that talented artists will use it as a new tool to entertain us like never before but limiting in where and when to use it properly. Remember, good 3D has to be shot and cut differently than traditional 2D. Throw IMAX into the mix and now you're in danger of throwing too many carrots into the stew (I hate carrots). Using IMAX as an example, even in 2D, the difference between watching something short and wide vs. something (very) tall and narrow affects the way we view the same film. Some obviously will translate better than others. An odd blowback to this is that films may once again go back to being edited with longer shots like the old days (the brain just can't handle 3 or 4 second cuts in 3D). It'll be interesting to see how the "quick cut" guys adapt to the format. The tougher sell though – for a while anyway – may be in the home
Like I said way up there somewhere, I gots maself one-o-them thar new-fangled threee-die-mentionable TeeVee sets. (It was the deal I made with the lovely Bridget. If she got Barbie's Dream Bedroom (which she did) I get the Man-screen!). I got it because one day while I was sitting at Best Buy and looking at so many flat screens that I thought I was in a war room, I kept looking over at the 3D TV (which of course looked awful because I was too lazy to get up from my command post and go put on the glasses). Curiosity (and the fact Best Buy very shrewdly was broadcasting women's beach volley ball in 3D) got the best of me so I got up, sat down, and put on the sexy specs. Now I’m gonna paraphrase here but essentially the first thought that came to my head was: "Holy SH%&! That chicks A$$ is like RIGHT THERE!" Sold.
As the old saying goes, "Content is King" but at the moment, 3D content ain't even in the castle. I mean how many times can a person watch Despicable Me? I for one am hoping that there will be lots of 3D content for the home because quite frankly, it works and I would hate to see people lose interest before it even starts. Heck, it took long enough for HD to snatch enough channels so you didn't have to look at squashed people on your fancy new flat screen. Sports are a no-brainer for home 3D and if rumors hold true there's a bunch of it coming down the pike (I might even watch a soccer game broadcast in 3D…nah). I imagine that pay-per-view sporting events both at home and in theaters will benefit from the format quite nicely.
Time will tell of course if we'll move into 3D and beyond as the norm. But like with the automobile, with which we needed to build gas stations and highways to satiate our lust for sitting in traffic, we'll need more 3D content to see if future generations will eventually mutate and be born with polarized eyes. I hope so for their sake because unless we, as humans, evolve away from needing those glasses, our children's, children's, children, will never get laid. So until next time--
Dogs are great to watch TV with. Maybe you should go adopt a couch buddy.
Marc Silvestri was born in 1959 on Easter Sunday, coincidentally on the same day his mother gave birth to him. He’s been in the comic business his entire adult life and in 1993 started his own company, Top Cow Productions. Marc spends his days making crap up for comics, movies, TV, and video games. And is proud to now add professional blogger to his resume. He also likes you just the way you are.