I’ve been wanting to write something for a while now on the increasing number of 3D movies hitting our cinema screens, but found that I really needed to get my head around the 3D process and it’s advantages first. Unless you were living under a rock very far away, you could not have escaped the Avatar buzz that dominated cinema for a large part of last year. Yes it was ten years in the making and an epic fantasy film, but it was also a 3D movie, and probably the moment when we really sat up and started taking the concept seriously. Perhaps I had not been alone in cataloguing 3D effects alongside theme park attractions and IMAX screens; things that you may enjoy once in a while but would not consider a usual aspect of your cinema going experience. Since Avatar, however, 3D is suddenly an accepted addition to the mainstream.
It has been creeping up on us for a while now, notably in animated movies, such as Pixar’s Up, A Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey, and even in the re-release of A Nightmare Before Christmas. Yet it is only since Avatar cemented the 3D option into our consciousness that I have ceased to be surprised everytime a trailer advertises a 3D flick.
This fascination with 3D is actually just another revival of the craze which swept America back in the early ‘50s, when films such as ‘House of Wax’ and ‘It Came from Outer Space’ thrilled audiences. This is seen as the Golden Era of 3D, with later forays into 3D usually being associated with horror or adult movies. The fact that it only ever seems to entertain for a brief period before being dismissed again (people have been toying with the idea as far back as 1890, believe it or not) would allow for some apathy toward the re-introduction of 3D now. Needless to say, advances in technology means that today’s 3D films are of much higher quality and less likely to leave you with a headache! Conversion is much simpler now too hence we are able to view classic favourites in 3D, such as The Nightmare Before Christmas.
A couple of years ago, my own experience of 3D had led me to believe that this new wave of 3D movies would always involve objects hurtling toward the audience or birds flying over our heads. Of course this is not always the case, and viewing 3D re-releases of 2D films presents us with fantastically clear visuals minus the gimmicks (which are fun, mind you) reminding us that 3D has much to offer. It is a whole new way of looking at films, and we might as well embrace it. It is, of course, also a great marketing tool for an industry forever at risk of losing audiences to movie downloads and DVD rentals. Now we can go to the cinema to view films in a way that is not possible at home. Avatar proved this by allowing us to become completely absorbed in a fantasy story, and not even notice that the best part of three hours had passed.
Further examples of 3D filmmaking that break the previous 3D mould can be viewed on Youtube. David Arquette’s short film The Butler’s in Love is a delightful short, rich in colour and with a nice little story to boot: With 3D encompassing more and more genres of film, and ceasing to be simply trickery for kids, cinema has the ability to re-ignite our imaginations all over again.
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