As the buzz over 3D TV heightens, so does the debate about whether or not it will truly revolutionize the way we watch TV and movies. Tipping the scales against 3D TV is famed movie critic, Roger Ebert.
In a post, Ebert gripes about the elevated price of 3D movie tickets and goes as far to cause the films “inferior and inherently brain-confusing.” His dislike is fueled by a letter written by Walter Murch, one of Hollywood’s most respected film editor and sound designers who won an Academy Award for his work on “Apocalypse Now” as well as two Oscars for the “English Patient.”
To further cement his credentials, Ebert cites Wikipedia’s description of Murch, who 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.”
Murch begins his letter by agreeing with Ebert’s accessement of the Green Hornet in 3D, focusing on the issue that 3D images appear small even on a huge screen.
He says, “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.”
Murch says issues like smallness and others like darkened picture could theorhetically be solved in the future.
Unlike the solvable problems, Murch states, “The biggest problem with 3D, though, is the ‘convergence/focus’ issue.” He says, “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.”
“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 focused and converged at the same point.”
Murch describes that humans can indeed understand 3D images, but it’s hard, which is why certain people get nauseous or simply do not enjoy 3D films.
He says, “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.”
The bottom line comes down to whether paying extra for a 3D movie that may or may not make you nauseous even worth it? Will there be a time where 3D TVs are standard fixtures in the home?
Are we even ready for this?