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Old 06-27-2016, 12:59 PM   #1
Rickyrockard Rickyrockard is offline
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Thumbs down How the film industry blew it with 3D (article)

http://www.denofgeek.com/uk/movies/3...lew-it-with-3d

by Brendon Connelly

3D was supposed to be the next big thing for cinema. It accounts for just 20% of ticket sales. What went wrong?
In early 2010, James Cameron's Avatar became the USA's 24th most successful cinema release of all time, and it still holds that position today.

I'm measuring that success by the actual number of tickets sold, but perhaps you prefer the way the Hollywood hype machine processes these things. Their version of how this works, in which records can be broken over and over again for a continual stream of back-slaps and headlines, makes Avatar into The Biggest Film of All Time. Don't adjust for inflation but just sum up the numbers on the tickets, and it's true, Avatar is certainly the highest grossing film to ever see the inside of a cinema.

Either way, whether it's top of the pops or holding on strong at number 24, Cameron's film was a huge hit, and I think it's no controversy to say that being produced and released in 3D played a significant part in this success. Obviously, the 3D surcharge – linked arm-in-arm with a parallel IMAX surcharge for the film's large-format screenings – helped Avatar sell a lot of especially expensive tickets, but it's also true that audiences were made curious by the promise of cutting-edge 3D, and everything they were told it would bring to the experience.

Over half a decade later and, if you'll pardon the expression, 3D is looking a lot more flat. These days, you'll find it that bit harder to track down somebody excited, or even just optimistic, about the potential of the format. One easy way to get a clear view on this change in sentiment is to compare ticket sales between 2D and 3D versions of the same film (accomodating, of course, for different availability of these options), using data from 2010 as well as today's marketplace.

It looks like a genuine minority will either make the effort or spend the extra to see a film in 3D these days. Stereo pictures are still being made and still being released, which all but proves that the studios think there's meaningful money to be mined from the format, but its clear that there's much less commercial benefit to releasing a film in 3D today, as compared to the height of the hype, back in 2010.

According to IHS Technology, cited by Variety, worldwide box-office from 3D films is 20% of the global total. I had intuited it would be much less, if I'm being honest – I've spent enough hours being the only one in a 3D screening to think there had been a total crash. Nonetheless, the success of Avatar and, so quickly afterwards, Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland, seemed to be setting us up for a future where 3D became – in blockbuster terms at least – embraced as the norm, taken for granted the way that colour and surround sound are already accepted without consideration, let alone challenge.

That never happened, and if it ever does, I don't think it's going to be in the next few years.

Jeffrey Katzenberg - outgoing chief of DreamWorks Animation - summed it up very clearly during his CineEurope address this week. “Unfortunately, we blew it on 3D,” he said. “It was a game-changing opportunity for the industry.”

Before the 3D boom that blew up around Avatar, Katzenberg was a passionate advocate for the format. Under his instruction, all of Dreamworks Animations features were officially announced as 3D releases. Katzenberg, it must be said, is a film businessman more than a film artist, and so his concerns should be understood in that context, but he did see 3D as a whole new way, not just a passing new wave.

And he mentally tied 3D to quality storytelling too. At CineEurope Katzenberg noted that Avatar, Life Of Pi and Monsters Vs. Aliens were examples of “exceptional films” that “artistically, creatively embraced and celebrated the uniqueness of that experience” and thus “people were happy to pay the premium.”

Monsters Vs. Aliens was one of Katzenberg's own, being the first film finished and released after his blanket commitment to 3D at Dreamworks Animation. It also happens to be a film with some well-considered, ambitious and intelligent 3D, thanks in no small part to sterescoptic supervisior, Phil McNally.

Broadly speaking, I couldn't agree with Katzenberg more. The studios did blow it, and 3D should have become more than a novelty or optional add-on. The details, however, I think he has all wrong.

For example, Katzenberg does not question the notion of premium prices for 3D screenings. To his way of thinking, the failure here is in studios not being able to convice audiences to abandon normally priced 2D for more profitable, surcharge-laden 3D.

In truth, the real failure of 3D is partly dependent on studios and cinemas not relaxing the premiums on ticket prices. Had 3D films been allowed to generate income by simply attracting more people to more screenings, they may have played a massive part in driving up cinema attendance with vast and lasting effect.

Go back to my earlier comments on Avatar. Obviously, the 3D surcharge – linked arm-in-arm with a parallel IMAX surcharge for the film's large-format screenings – helped Avatar sell a lot of especially expensive tickets, but it's also true that audiences were made curious by the promise of cutting-edge 3D, and everything they were told it would bring to the experience.

In the long term, the curiousity went away. 3D remained marginalised by pricing premiums, supposedly well-meaning marketing rhetoric and a general sense of 'newness,' even while audiences were being convinced it wasn't 'special' at all.

Where did the initial interest go, and what caused it to evaporate? Well, as ever, we should acknowledge that novelties do hold some appeal for people, and anything new will soon become old. That alone explains some reduction in the public's enthusiasm, though I'd find it hard to quantify this natural winnowing other than to say it won't have been the majority reason.

Then there's the self-thwarting, short-sighted laziness with which cinemas actually exhibited 3D. Chances are, your local cinemas still show 3D films with an appaling lack of care – I know that mine do, no matter how much I say about it.

As you will most probably have been told, there's a polarising lens needed to project 3D images, and this lens will cut down on the quantity of light coming from the projector. As you're less likely to be told, it's not at all too difficult to offset this loss of light. Modern projectors are capable of far more illumination than is necessary to counteract loss through a 3D filter, but modern projectionists - if we can even give them that job title in the vast majority of cases – will tend to not take the necessary action.

The 3D format doesn't inherently result in darker, dimmer, less focused images, but the typical multiplex has a terrible track record in taking the few, neither difficult nor expensive steps to make sure 3D is being presented properly. Sadly, many films are projected pretty badly, 2D or 3D, but the nature of 3D is that the errors – double images when the filter isn't running at all, for example, or an image so dark that you can't actually make out details you were supposed to see – are usually more obvious.

While Michael Bay tried to help out, making sure his 3D Transformers films were colour-corrected to be brighter than normal, the better to work in cinemas with careless pseudo-projectionists, the majority of producers and distributors of 3D releases seemed to be asleep on the job, letting exhibitors bungle screenings until it was far too late. The damage was done rather quickly, and “3D films are too dark” became a widely held sort-of-half-truism that's still used liberally to damn the format.

I'm not sure I agree with Katzenberg's notions of what make a good 3D film either. While Life Of Pi is regularly cited as a high point in 3D filmmaking, I'm personally not convinced. I think it's more that Life Of Pi carries prestige in both its overall design and, through its marketing, PR, and worship of the auterial canon, its context in modern cinema. Life Of Pi, almost everything but the film itself tells us, is 'a cut above.'

There's a scene in Life Of Pi where Flying Fish come tearing across the screen. 3D is used to make it seem like they're zipping along the Z-axis, towards the viewer. There's even an aspect ratio shift, in which the main image becomes less tall, with black matting at the top and bottom that the flying fish cross into, allegedly better conveying their 'escape' from the screen.

It would certainly have worked better if the aspect ratio change wasn't so obvious, but as it stands, the noticeable shift of frame highlights the 'filmness' of what is being shown, thereby undermining the supposed 'immersion' of the scene.

Then it would be more convincingly “innovative” filmmaking if it wasn't, in fact an old idea – see G-Force, the CG hamster movie with the voice of Nicolas Cage, for a widely-seen, totally ignored application of the same trick. I'd even argue that, given it went almost totally unnoticed in G-Force, there's a case that Hoyt Yeatman and team pulled it off better than Ang Lee and his gang; you really aren't supposed to see the strings that make the puppet dance, after all.

And it would be more persuasive as 'quality storytelling' if the whole point wasn't just 'fish are jumping out of the screen,' which is only as valid here as many other examples of other things jumping out of the screen in other films – i.e. just fine, totally valid, but not somehow exemplary.



There are countless assumptions, myths and misconceptions about 3D filmmaking, but the crux of it is simple: the typical movie viewer knows no more about how 3D works, what a good 3D shot is, and what constitutes good storyelling in 3D than they do about about the storytelling, visual and creative aspects of, say, choosing to shoot a scene with a Cooke SK4 16mm or Canon CN-E18-80mm T4.4.

And neither should they.

Personally, I love 3D films. There are things that 3D does that are genuinely exciting to me, and there are countless little bits of 3D storytelling that have impressed me hugely. Plenty of them happened under Jeffrey Katzenberg's watch, and I wonder how much he knew about the 3D artists he was sponsoring, or the imaginative, beautiful, elegant 3D filmmaking they were creating.

A favourite example of mine comes from Dreamworks' Puss In Boots. There's a scene where Puss sees and reacts to Kitty Softpaws, struck by her beauty. In a 2D film, there's a standard bit of language that might have been used here: a slow zoom on Kitty, a simulation of 'leaning forward with increased attention.' The basic idea behind that 2D shot isn't bad (I think a dolly-in would be a better choice than a zoom, but that's a discussion for another time) but the 3D version in Puss In Boots is better.

What happens in the 3D film is that the whole world comes closer. You, the viewer don't move, but the stimulus that comes in through your eyes simulates what would happen if you did. It's a convincing, albeit almost subliminal, approximation of actually leaning forward.

Do you notice this while you're watching the film? Some people will, but not many, and again, it would be better if nobody did at all. But the effect it has is real. You'll almost certainly have forgotten it later, but in the moment, the emotional push-and-pull is happening, and Puss In Boots is doing something uniquely 3D-powered to your personal point of view, your emotions, your sympathies and your investment in the story.

I like that example because it's an improvement on a good-but-flawed 2D idea. It's just a moment, though, and the films with the best 3D – Coraline, Avatar, Pacific Rim, Oz The Great And Powerful – are packed with moments that convert this kind of care, cinematic skill and storytelling determination into audience reaction, tiny soft-touches of steering that help the ship chart its most effective course. 3D really is just like every other part of the filmmaker's toolkit, and it honestly can be used with the same powerful effect.

I'm sure that Avatar 2 will draw people back to 3D screenings in very big numbers again, and that Ang Lee's film of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk will generate a lot of positive critical commentary, but I almost wish that neither of these things were true. There's a side effect of just a few 3D films being made 'exceptional' in this way – especially when their actual qualities are not really so rare - and this is the continued marginalisation of the format.

After the third Hobbit film was completed, I asked Peter Jackson if he was going to keep shooting at High Frame Rates – another significant advance in the storytelling possibilities of cinema that was badly positioned by the press and PR – and he said, very plainly that 3D and HFR will inevitably one day be the norm.

I hope he's right. I think he might be. Personally, I just wish that day was already here.
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Old 06-27-2016, 04:45 PM   #2
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I also feel some people dont like change. When black and white was the norm and films went to color, people didnt like it. When sound came in , people thought it was just a gimmick. I myself used to and still do , a lot of '50s music. But most of it was mono and when you hear surround sound applied to films its so much better. same when we got a widescreen tv . Our friends and family thought we were nuts ! But we see in color and hear in surround sound and view in widescreen and in 3d ! So eventually i think it will come back even stronger. specially as now their is quite a variety of 3d films to choose from. As for a premium of paying extra for 3d , they should drop that straight away . you dont pay extra to see Star wars and less for a small budget independent film .
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Old 06-28-2016, 02:39 AM   #3
Zivouhr Zivouhr is offline
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One word. Avatar.
By not offering that to the mainstream on blu ray 3D as a standalone blu ray 3D disc, and selectively offering it bundled only with the Panasonic Plasma 3DTV, they immediately stifled the potential of the 3D market. Prospective fans who were interested at first, quickly lost interest when they had to buy one TV brand to get it instead of having options.
Years later, it finally broke from that contract thankfully.

Thankfully the 3D blu ray market continues to endure since 2010, now mid 2016 and no lag of blu ray 3Ds or 3D in cinema in sight. Keep buying 3D and seeing 3D movies, and it can continue, provided the industry offers stronger 3D experiences instead of watered down, mild 3D.

It's nice that article mentioned the 3D of Pacific Rim. One of my favorite strong 3D examples in movies for modern cinema.
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Old 06-28-2016, 05:09 AM   #4
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Where the article nails it is with the lack of care in the theatres. I use to be a projectionist and when we got our first 3D projector we had to keep immense care of that machine. It was our first and only digital projector for almost a full year before we added 2 more 3D screens 10 months later, and went fully digital another year later. When we got the machine we had to change our bulbs between 1250-1500 hours. The 35mm went almost a full 1000+ hours while producing a good picture. Disney would send us the movie with instructions on what to measure for FL output (which is 4 or higher required by Disney) We were encourage by them and even our head office to make sure we were made the bulbs extra bright for our 3D presentations. Then when they got close to going all digital, they kicked me out and train the managers. Plus we were told to run the bulbs that extra 1000 hours like the 35mm projectors. No one is up there anymore to look in on the hours or clean the lenses/glass in the booth. Well at least for my area Cineplex cheaters in Canada. Although the article seems to say that it is happening everywhere, and it doesn't surprise me at all. Reason why i prefer to watch my 3D movies on my projector at home.
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Old 06-28-2016, 08:22 AM   #5
Rickyrockard Rickyrockard is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zivouhr View Post
It's nice that article mentioned the 3D of Pacific Rim. One of my favorite strong 3D examples in movies for modern cinema.
Yes.

I came across the article because it mentioned Phil McNally and I've recently seen Madagascar 3 so looked into who the stenographer was. I've not seen Monsters vs Aliens but I probably will now.
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Old 06-28-2016, 02:31 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zivouhr View Post
One word. Avatar.
By not offering that to the mainstream on blu ray 3D as a standalone blu ray 3D disc, and selectively offering it bundled only with the Panasonic Plasma 3DTV, they immediately stifled the potential of the 3D market. Prospective fans who were interested at first, quickly lost interest when they had to buy one TV brand to get it instead of having options.
Years later, it finally broke from that contract thankfully.
That was a dumb move. Nobody will buy a specific TV just to get one movie.

Rather than doing fewer films in 3D and doing them well, Hollywood rushed to convert a ton of movies, with poor quality conversions onto films where 3D wasn't a particular consideration during shooting. It seems like something that studio executives, rather than filmmakers, want for their films.

Even a lot of movies shot in 3D seem to treat it as "2D plus," with no consideration for how the format is different.

As for the 3D premiums, I think there's a catch-22 here. The premiums turn a lot of people off, but without them, would the studios make extra money off 3D, justifying it's existence? If 3D ticket prices and 2D ticket prices were the same, would there be an increase in ticket sales because of the attraction of 3D? I wonder if 3D is there not to increase the number of tickets sold, but to convert a certain number of tickets that would have been sold anyways to more expensive tickets. Maybe initially 3D was an attraction, regardless of ticket prices, but now we are well past the point where it's a novelty that is attractive in and of itself. Artistically I certainly don't that it has broadly invigorated cinema the way color, sound, and widescreen have.
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Old 06-28-2016, 06:19 PM   #7
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There's been some cases where 2D showings sell more tickets than the 3D showings- that clearly cancels out any extra "revenue" from higher-priced tickets, and likely most of those people are choosing 2D in order to not pay more. They should drop the upcharges, but they should also drop the 2D showings! Yes, there's some people who "don't like 3D", but let them go see a movie that was already MADE in 2D. There's people who don't like sound either (when I projected Jurassic Park there were MANY complaints about how loud it was!) but you don't run separate showings in mono!
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Old 06-28-2016, 11:41 PM   #8
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Quote:
They should drop the upcharges, but they should also drop the 2D showings! Yes, there's some people who "don't like 3D", but let them go see a movie that was already MADE in 2D. There's people who don't like sound either (when I projected Jurassic Park there were MANY complaints about how loud it was!) but you don't run separate showings in mono!
A studio should try releasing a few major movies only in 3D, and with no upcharges at the theaters, and see what happens. I'm not sure what the upside for the studio would be, if they're not charging more for 3D, but it would be an interesting experiment.

This was done with Godard's 3D film, but that was an odd case, where the arthouse theaters that would have shown it aren't 3D-equipped, and the mainstream theaters wouldn't have shown an arthouse film. So it was barely shown anywhere in the US.

It's not that they "don't like sound." Those people haven't existed since maybe the 1920s. You yourself said that the problem was that it was too loud for them. They just wanted to turn the volume down a bit
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Old 06-29-2016, 11:01 AM   #9
Rickyrockard Rickyrockard is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dragun View Post
A studio should try releasing a few major movies only in 3D, and with no upcharges at the theaters, and see what happens
See what happens compared to what though?

The should just do some releases in both 2D and 3D but without a 3D surcharge so we can see what happens....but there's no benefit to the studios in doing that as they'll make less money.
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Old 06-29-2016, 04:56 PM   #10
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They're ALREADY making less money by having fewer people show up for the 3D showings, mainly BECAUSE of the upcharges! What sense does THAT make? It's really sad too that their first reaction was to add more 2D showings rather than lower the price!
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Old 06-29-2016, 05:47 PM   #11
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Any suggestions on excellent 3D tests on YouTube to test for crosstalk? thanks!
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Old 07-01-2016, 02:32 PM   #12
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The bar was set high with Avatar, and far to often studio's cheaply used 3D as an attempt to cash in. I have seen many more movies with bad 3D than good 3D at this point. I know conversions have come a long way, but nothing beats a film filmed in 3D, but it's very expensive for the studios.

The extra cost obviously has turned people away, but the cost in general is tough to begin with for 2D. I have a family of 5, and it costs me $50+ to take them all to see a movie, so I rarely do, cheaper to just by the Blu-Ray. So you can bet we never go see the 3D showing unless I have at least a few free tickets.

Look at all the failed "tent pole" movies this year so far. Cinema is general is bad, if a movie is not good to being with, no amount of "flash" will make us go.
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Old 07-01-2016, 04:10 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SixSpeedSamurai View Post
The bar was set high with Avatar, and far to often studio's cheaply used 3D as an attempt to cash in. I have seen many more movies with bad 3D than good 3D at this point. I know conversions have come a long way, but nothing beats a film filmed in 3D, but it's very expensive for the studios.

The extra cost obviously has turned people away, but the cost in general is tough to begin with for 2D. I have a family of 5, and it costs me $50+ to take them all to see a movie, so I rarely do, cheaper to just by the Blu-Ray. So you can bet we never go see the 3D showing unless I have at least a few free tickets.

Look at all the failed "tent pole" movies this year so far. Cinema is general is bad, if a movie is not good to being with, no amount of "flash" will make us go.

Another problem is that there are a lot of people who just don't like 3D. I watched Avatar in 3D and was not impressed at all (watched it twice at different theaters). I've watched 4-5 movies in 3D over the past 10 years and I can say that I have no interest in the medium. It is not a theater or calibration issue to me and I know there are many others like me out there.
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Old 07-02-2016, 09:38 AM   #14
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One of the other big problems as far as 3D releases go is the fact that certain companies are not releasing the 3D Blu-ray movies in certain markets.
I am a big fan of 3D movies and I am certain that there are lots more people like myself who really enjoy the format and want to purchase as many 3D titles as possible for our collections.
Disney basically stopped releasing 3D movies on Blu-ray in USA so those people had to look at other options such as UK where titles such as Frozen, Maleficent have been released on Blu-ray in 3D.
Then you have to look at The Finest Hours which wasn't released in USA or UK but has been released in Japan and Czech Republic (there are probably others but these were 2 I could think of at the time)
Then there lots of movies which are shown at movie theatres in 3D but the companies hold off releasing for numerous months after the 2D releases have been on Blu-ray in the hopes that customers will double dip. I myself refuse to buy any titles on Blu-ray if said title has been shown in movie theatres in 3D until they come out on 3D Blu-ray.
There are still plenty of titles I can buy and enjoy while I wait.
I think that there are lots of customers who want to buy 3D Blu-ray titles if given the opportunity. I don't think 3D has failed but the companies who release titles aren't helping the format to succeed either.
If they are going to have their movies in 3D at movie theatres then at least have the decency to release those titles on 3D for the customer day one with the standard 2D versions.
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Old 07-05-2016, 07:37 AM   #15
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The biggest problem is that 99% of 3D costs a premium (both in theaters and on disc) but doesn't always provide a premium experience over 2D for a variety of reasons. It's hard to get excited about something that frequently does not deliver what it should. As 3D enthusiasts, we are better able to discern what content will look good and what will look bad. However, that task is much more difficult for general consumers and leads to frustrating and underwhelming experiences. Personally, I'd be happy if studios dropped all the needless conversions, reduced the number of 3D movies per year, and just let filmmakers who want to use the medium as part of the story-telling release in 3D.
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Old 07-05-2016, 12:10 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zorbonaut View Post
Another problem is that there are a lot of people who just don't like 3D. I watched Avatar in 3D and was not impressed at all (watched it twice at different theaters). I've watched 4-5 movies in 3D over the past 10 years and I can say that I have no interest in the medium. It is not a theater or calibration issue to me and I know there are many others like me out there.
Do you actively dislike the medium (put the requirement for the glasses aside), as it stands; or are you just not bothered?

If you actively dislike it why is that?

If you're just not bothered then that's fine, I guess you'd fall into the camp of 'if it was the same price for 3D showings, you'd be more likely to see a movie in 3D', right?
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Old 07-05-2016, 05:17 PM   #17
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It's really sad that 'The Industry' is trying to kill 3D in favor of UHD.

UHD is a format searching for purpose (few movies are 4K or even have 4K effects).

A quote from the latest UHD review of yet another 2K movie with the 3D stripped out:

"It's curious that Warner's initial wave of UHDs contains so many films released to both theaters and Blu-ray in 3D, because the 3D presentations routinely offer more visual stimulation, even with a film like HotS, which doesn't exploit the additional dimension as aggressively as, e.g., Point Break. The studio keeps forcing viewers to choose between the obvious "pop" of 3D and the subtler enhancements offered by UHD, and the trend continues with Warner's upcoming third wave of 4K titles, which includes Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, both of which offer a 3D alternative. The studio should broaden its UHD offerings with more 2D-only titles, and it needs some titles sourced from 4K masters, if it wants to demonstrate the benefits of the format. As for ItHotS, while the UHD improves on the Blu-ray presentation, the difference isn't sufficient to justify a double-dip."
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Old 07-05-2016, 09:23 PM   #18
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At least that's an honest criticism, instead of the usual butt-kissing most reviews give like "The picture gives incredible definition and detail and will never look better than this," never mind that it's in crappy 2D!
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Old 07-06-2016, 07:18 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rickyrockard View Post
Do you actively dislike the medium (put the requirement for the glasses aside), as it stands; or are you just not bothered?

If you actively dislike it why is that?

If you're just not bothered then that's fine, I guess you'd fall into the camp of 'if it was the same price for 3D showings, you'd be more likely to see a movie in 3D', right?
It has nothing to do with the glasses. I understand that 3D is suppose to be more realistic and immersive but to me it's just the opposite. It constantly reminds me that what I'm seeing is not real and takes me out of the film completely.
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Blu-Dog (07-09-2016), Rickyrockard (07-07-2016)
Old 07-07-2016, 12:56 AM   #20
wolfpackTri wolfpackTri is offline
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Originally Posted by zorbonaut View Post
It has nothing to do with the glasses. I understand that 3D is suppose to be more realistic and immersive but to me it's just the opposite. It constantly reminds me that what I'm seeing is not real and takes me out of the film completely.
This is one of the reasons I sold all of my 3D movie collection. I felt like I watched 3D to try and see the effects rather than being drawn into the story.
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Blu-Dog (07-09-2016), Rickyrockard (07-07-2016), zorbonaut (07-09-2016)
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