BBC - Has 3D Film-Making had its Day?


The BBC has a piece that questions whether the “3D Trend” in filmmaking started by James Cameron’s Avatar was just a temporary “fad”, and whether interest in 3D movies is now declining both on the side of the film producers, and on the side of cinemagoers:

It’s three years since audiences around the world swarmed into cinemas to see James Cameron’s Avatar. It rapidly became the biggest grossing film of all time, in part because of its ground-breaking digital 3D technology. But, in retrospect, Avatar now seems the high-point of 3D movie-making, with little since 2009 to challenge its achievement. Three years on, has the appeal of 3D gone flat?

     Nic Knowland has been a respected director of photography in  Britain for 30 years. He's seen cinema trends and fads come and go, but  never one for which he's had so little enthusiasm as 3D.
     "From the cinematographer's perspective it may offer  production value and scale to certain kinds of film. But for many movies  it offers only distraction and some fairly uncomfortable viewing  experiences for the audience.  I haven't yet encountered a director of  photography who's genuinely enthusiastic about it."



and the reason is simple.

The people with the money (the studios) like it.

And the companies behind of movie chain houses like it.
This reminds me a a lot of the backlash agianst filming in digital from a decade ago.

Now even cinmematography God Roger Deakins has jumped into the digital bandwagon.

3D adoption will take time, but new technology will allow soon to do 3D projection without

Besides backlash against 3D is so 2 years ago.
I am sure that when color became a viable option back in the late 40’s a big number of cinematographers complained about it.

The new thing to complain about will be High Frame Rate Filming.

And in two years it will be
High Dynamic Range color (Filming & Projection)


Yep, I think the novelty has worn off. This was just another fad that hardware manufacturers attempted to push on consumers to make more money, but in the end, the consumers never really warmed to it. 3D ticket sales have long been demonstrated as in decline, and I don’t think 3D TVs ever sold anywhere near the numbers hoped for.

Unless the technology significantly improves and, perhaps most crucially, removes the need for wearing special glasses, it’ll never replace 2D.


Hopefully it’s dying. So far I never - ever enjoyed a movie in 3d and I always try to go to a 2d projection when available.

In a few hours I’ll see The Hobbit in 3d@48fps. While it is available in 2d@24fps as well I am curious to see how it looks running at 48. Unless I’ll be extremely impressed (and from what I’ve heard it looks exactly the opposite as it should) I won’t do it again, but I am curious, I admit :slight_smile:


It will not die, it will evolve.
HFR was the first step for a better and the future will be something like HDR lightfields.


I like 2d for the same reasons I like 2d photographs…

I can understand and appreciate the composition and framing of the shot better in 2d. I can view the frame as a whole in 2d, in 3d I feel the need to focus on whatever is in focus…it’s a hard thing to explain.

In addition to this, crappy colours, and darkness, and mild headache means 3D is totally waisted on me, it’s nothing more than a distraction.

Life of Pi I would be willing to give a go in 3D, but other than that I don’t care for seeing any film in 3d over 2d. And I certainty have no interest in paying a premium for it.

3d tv…ha! Tv is pretty mundane as it is. Having the whole family sitting around waring glasses for little to no effect is laughable at best.


3D isn’t going anywhere.

I really don’t think everything has to be in 3D, just for the sake of it. It shouldn’t be an expectation or the norm.

I enjoy it for what it is.


How’s that for a double-edged sword? :stuck_out_tongue:


personally, i find the 3D experience over-rated. The polarised lenses dim the screen to much and even while watching the movie i feel like i am missing too much. Really, the screen looks so bright and colorful when i remove the glasses.

The 3D trend fading out is something i would welcome.


This might be interest:

WIRED: Technique Could Lead to Glasses-Free 3-D in Theaters


Watching 3-D movies generally means suffering through two things: crappy plotlines that favor spectacle over substance and the need to wear some annoying, dorky glasses. Scientists may have solved one of these frustrations. (You might be able to guess which.)

Researchers in South Korea have created a new method that would allow moviegoers to simply sit down and start watching a 3-D movie with no extra gear necessary. The research was published today in Optics Express.

“This is essentially the next step that was required for 3-D display technology without glasses,” said physicist John Koshel, who studies optical science at the University of Arizona and was not associated with the new work."

“The new method would allow movie theaters to keep their projectors where they’ve always been, behind the audience, and uses fairly simple optical technology. A special array sits in front of the projector and polarizes its light. A filter covering the screen then obscures different vertical regions of the screen, like the slats of venetian blinds. Each of your eyes, sitting at a slightly different angle, has some of the screen blocked and some of the screen visible. The movie has the right-eye and left-eye images interleaved in vertical columns with one another. The trick then is to have the light visible to your left eye contain the left-eye pixels and vice versa for the right eye.”


The technology has matured and proliferated. Anyone who wants to take it to new places can do so.

It’s still possible to make a silent film or black and white. I think one of the reasons b&w is still used for artistic purposes, is because sometimes you don’t want to show everything. There’s mystery in the shadows. 3d is for when you do. 3d is for when you want to give the viewer the closest experience to actually being there.

I don’t really see how it benefits something like the Queen’s speech, but there’s a time and place.

That’s because they project them brighter to compensate.


sounds like a variation on the technology used in lenticular postercards and Nintendo’s 3ds.

In some ways I think I prefer the glasses, because it’s too easy to mess up the eyeline with the other method. The viewing angles are too restrictive.


@Papa Lazarou: I meant how the phrase “3D isn’t going anywhere” can be used to express either dissatisfaction that 3D did not lead to any real ground breaking improvement in cinema, or as a defiant comment that 3D will not be phased out anytime soon.


I personally think we’re heading too a mor fractured film-scape. This makes sense to me with audience education at an all tim high I expect we’ll see a broad range of frame rates, stocks, styles and technologies being employed. Projectors are capable of doing this so why shouldn’t directors and studios choose the medium that best suits (and sells) their stories?

In a way it’s kind of exciting, if not a bit scary.


This isnt true 3d.
You aint seen anything yet.

Race you all to the holodeck, last one in is a paranoid android.


So it died a slow death up until now? Was this before or after consoles died? I am confused by the fact that they continue exist in reality. I think people should wait until something is dead to declare it dead. It seems to work well for humans.

It is funny watching people claim 3D is dead or dying over and over again, and then saying how much they hate it in the same post.


You didn’t actually bother to read the article, did you? Or even this thread, for that matter? No, as usual, you’re just wading into a thread with your assumptions.

Not a single person in the article or this thread so far has said that “3D is dead”. Keep up.


Sorry for using the word “dead”, and for you taking it so literally. Notice the thread I posted with death in the title? And the other thread I commented on about consoles dying?

Am I “wading in” with assumptions similar to your assumption that I didn’t read the thread?
I definitely didn’t read the article as it pointless. There will be another in a year or two. I’ll catch that one.

Next time this thread is posted, including every single time after that I will stay out of it.


I’m just taking my cue from your literal use of it in your own post.

Notice the thread I posted with death in the title? And the other thread I commented on about consoles dying?

Which are irrelevant here. Which you’d know if you’d bothered to read the article and thread properly.

Am I “wading in” with assumptions similar to your assumption that I didn’t read the thread?

The difference between your assumptions and mine is that mine are correct. As you’ve proven with your post.

I definitely didn’t read the article as it pointless…

Yet you felt the need to chime in with a post anyway. Okay.


I know exactly what you mean and I feel the same. We already have the suggestion of 3D with dof. Stereoscopy in film is akin to those half assed 3D animal cards we found in Cracker Jack boxes years ago. It cheaply feels like separate image planes pasted one on top of each other with gaps between them. I also find in more distracting than engaging. And 20 minutes into the movie, the brain becomes accustomed to the effect and doesnt react to it anymore, but you still have to suffer the glasses till the end.