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March 2010 Archives

March 2, 2010

"Third Way: The Rise of 3-D" by Anthony Lane in The New Yorker — "3D won't make us happy"

Thanks to NYSS member Dimitis Athos for flagging this one: cultural critic-at-large, Englishman and movie reviewer Anthony Lane takes an over view of stereo imaging from the stereoscope to Avatar. Sounds great, right?

There's a wealth of 3D and 3D film history in the article and it's worth reading for that alone, even though Mr. Lane gets the occasional detail wrong. Stereopsis, Galen, Charles Wheatstone, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Edison, Plastigrams, R.M. Hayes, Audioscopiks, Arch Oboler, Bwana Devil, Ray Zone, Robert Zemeckis and James Cameron are all covered, briefly. It's a shame, though, that his tone is so negative through out.

That Mr. Lane's take on the subject is conservative, almost reactionary, is an unmistakable conclusion. Considering Bernard Mendiburu's technical manual, 3D Movie-Making: Stereoscopic Digital Cinema from Script to Screen Mr. Lane says, "will scare the pixellated daylights out of anyone over forty."

Looking over a bad review of Inferno, a 1953 3D film starring Robert Ryan that's called "handicapped by 3D" he wonders if this reviewer is "revealing an unjust prejudice or a bitter truth of the time?"

Sadly, he concludes that, "3-D will ravish our senses and take us on rides that no drug can match, but my guess is that, like so many blessings, it won't make us happy. It will make us want more." And here I always thought it was "Talkies" that had ruined the motion picture business.

Mr. Lane is too young to have experienced that marvelous Owlsey acid of the mid-1960s so we'll respectfully disagree with his comparison of the relative intensities of drug trips and stereoscopic cinema.

But I think this is sloppy journalism, in any event, akin to writing that "Pee Wee's Playhouse is like Captain Kangaroo on acid." 3D cinema is not like any drug experience we know of and it seems part and parcel of Mr. Lane's negativity towards the format that he uses such language.

And is it really fair to judge a film format because of the bad movies that been made with it? There are lots of terrible color films — sleazy, exploitative, derivative, pornographic, boring — and we understand that it would be ridiculous to condemn the use of color film stock because of them.

Lane at one point discusses a scene from Sergei Eisenstein's Ivan the Terrible, Part I and states "the scene works fine as it is" and the "posthumous application of 3-D would not sharpen—and might even vulgarize—its moral thrust."

Let me re-work his contention: the shower murder scene in Alfred Hitchcock's Pyscho
works fine as it is. The posthumous application of color would not sharpen—and might even vulgarize—its moral thrust. Color film will not make us happy. It will only make us want more.

Mr. Lane employs ridiculous straw-men arguments against 3D cinema, like claiming that deranged 3D fans hunt for screenings of Coming at Ya! and The Disco Dolls in Hot Skin the way normal cinephiles hunger for a copy of the original 10 hour version of von Stroheim's Greed.

His idea of a joke is to comment that Dean Martin "was presumably the only man in history that could watch a 3-D movie without needing the special glasses." Ooh, snap! The man's got a wit like a butter knife.

Of course, the comedic drunk character that Mr. Martin developed was a decade in the future when he and Mr. Lewis filmed Money from Home in 3D in 1953. But we get the drift, Mr. Lane. 3D, it's a gimmick only fit for drunks and drug addicts.

Disdain for 3-D seems to ooze from nearly every paragraph. Wonderful. We finally get a respectable amount of ink in a major cultural journal and the writer simply hates 3D. Sigh. We long for the day when 3D will simply be considered another format for presentation; a choice, not a gimmick.

Let us know what you think of Mr. Lane's piece in the comments section.

"Third Way: The Rise of 3-D" by Anthony Lane in The New Yorker

PS: Anthony Lane has not, to my knowledge, directed a single film. But Martin Scorcese has.

"We see in depth, for the most part. We go to the theater — it's in depth. Why couldn't a film like `Precious' be in 3-D? It should be," Martin Scorsese told the AP. "I'd love to do one," he explained, "It just seems natural that we'd be going in that direction. It's going to be something to look forward to, but to be used interestingly."

Once again, thanks to NYSS member Dimitri Athos for this link.

March 3, 2010

3D Lenticular prints at Artexpo New York 2010

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New York Stereoscopic Society member Paul Aaron Johnson will be exhibiting 3D lenticular prints at Art Expo with Softmotion from Thursday March 25 - Sunday March 28 at Pier 94, 711 12th Avenue at W 55th St.

LIMITED – FREE GENERAL ADMISSION PASSES FOR (Sat, March 27 – Sun, 28)
5,000 free General Admission tickets are reserved so register now before they are gone. Enter Promo Code AENY2010 at the top of the page for 2 FREE tickets. Otherwise, General Admission prices at the door are as follows: Adult/$15 Senior/$10 Student/$10 Children 12 & under/FREE

OR FREE VIP PASSES (Thu, March 25 – Sun, 28)
For friends, galleries and industry professionals, VIP passes, register here.

March 9, 2010

Samsung selling 3D TVs in US this month, Sony to follow in June

Early adopters and gaming enthusiasts, prepare to open your wallets.

Samsung, the world's leading manufacturer of flat-screen TVs will begin selling 3D TVs this month, starting with 46 and 55 inch models. Sony Corp. will begin their US sales of 3D TVs in June. The maker of the enormously popular PlayStation 3 game console also plans on releasing 3D gaming software at the same time.

Read the entire article at Reuters, here.


March 12, 2010

USA Today reviews the Fuji W1, decides it's "too complicated for the average consumer"

In what may be the first detailed review by a major mainstream media outlet, USA Today's Personal Tech columnist, Edward C. Baig praises Fuji for pushing the technological envelope and concedes that 3D enthusiasts may be thrilled with the Fuji W1.

But he cautions this is not a camera for the masses and notes how little promotion Fuji has done to market their breakthrough. Officially released in September 2009 in the US, Fuji is only now sending out review units to the tech press.

I found it amusing and perhaps a little condescending that a tech "writer" like Baig puts "quotation" marks around words like "stereo" and "stereoscopic" in his "review."

On the whole this is a well-balanced take on the Fuji W1. The menus are complicated and not nearly as intuitive as they could be, post-processing of the images is certainly an issue and if you consider 3D a novelty the initial enthusiasm can wear thin quickly.

However, I would also note that the similarly priced Canon Rebel XSi digital SLR (retail $649) is not a camera for the masses, has a bewildering array of menu options and is likely to appeal only to high end photography enthusiasts. In the same way that Baig concludes about the W1, I can't recommend the Canon Rebel for most users either.

The reflects, I believe, a subtle bias against the tech here. No one dings the Canon Rebel because it's capabilities are beyond the needs or abilities of the average point and shoot user.

Still the "review" ends on a "hopeful" note: "I can't recommend the W1 for most users in its current iteration. But given the promise of 3D and Fuji's head start, I'm hoping they give it another shot."

I just wish Baig had given Fuji more credit for bringing the first twin-lensed digital camera with an autostereoscopic rear display to market.

Like my grandfather said "I can't recommend the horseless carriage for most users in its current iteration. But given the promise of automobiles and Henry Ford's head start, I'm hoping he gives it another shot."

Read the entire review here.

March 19, 2010

Tim Burton to direct 3D film of 'Addams Family' in Stop-Motion Animation; March Madness in April in 3D in Brooklyn

Deadline New York reports that Tim Burton's next 3D project is set: an adaptation of Charles Addams's cartoon creations from The New Yorker to be done using the stop-motion animation technique he employed so successfully in The Nightmare Before Christmas. That film's director Henry Selick had great success with stop-motion 3D animation in last year's release Coraline.

Of course, the road from announced project to completed and released film is often a bumpy one and is completely without guarantees. But this sounds like the perfect marriage of a darkly comic sensibility teamed with source material that seems tailor made for Mr. Burton's talents.

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March basketball madness is coming at ya' in 3D in Brooklyn next month courtesy of the NCAA, CBS Sports and LG Electronics. The NCAA Final Four men's basketball games will be captured in 3D and transmitted live to around 100 movie theaters across the country. Locally, they'll be shown at Pavilion Digital Showcase Theatre in Park Slope. Tickets are $25 per game and go on sale today.

March 26, 2010

Roger Ebert tweets that 3D is a 'Juvenile Abomination;' Books go 3D in S. Korea; Nintendo DS goes 3DS in 2011

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Twitter is such a great thing. It provides another digital distraction so that Americans can at all costs avoid the pain of actually thinking about anything. It's also the perfect platform for deep, meaningful and nuanced conversations on important topics. You want proof? Roger Ebert weighs in on 3D with the following tweet:

3-D is a distracting, annoying, anti-realistic, juvenile abomination to use as an excuse for higher prices.

How does this square with Ebert's December 2009 review of Avatar where he wrote:

Cameron promised he'd unveil the next generation of 3-D in "Avatar." I'm a notorious skeptic about this process, a needless distraction from the perfect realism of movies in 2-D. Cameron's iteration is the best I've seen — and more importantly, one of the most carefully-employed. The film never uses 3-D simply because it has it, and doesn't promiscuously violate the fourth wall. He also seems quite aware of 3-D's weakness for dimming the picture, and even with a film set largely in interiors and a rain forest, there's sufficient light. I saw the film in 3-D on a good screen at the AMC River East and was impressed. It might be awesome in True IMAX.

So which is it, Roger? Abomination or awesome, if done well?

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Reuters reports that researchers have developed a proof-of-concept 3D book:

At South Korea's Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology, researchers used 3D technology to animate two children's books of Korean folk tales, complete with writhing dragons and heroes bounding over mountains.

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Nintendo will release a portable game console in 2011, the Nintendo 3DS that will allow gamers to experience 3D effects without the need for special glasses.

An autosteroscopic screen like the one on the Fuji W1 would make a nice gaming platform. Wait, why not a iPad with an autostereoscopic screen? Then you've really got immersion.

About March 2010

This page contains all entries posted to New York Stereoscopic Society in March 2010. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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