Has 3D Film-Making Had Its Day?
ground-breaking fad distraction encounter resemblance mimic
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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 film-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 films 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.”
Nic Knowland’s opinion of 3D is backed by another British cinematographer Oliver Stapleton, who has shot Hollywood films such as The Cider House Rules and The Proposal.
“3D is antithetical to storytelling, where immersion in character is the goal. It constantly reminds you you’re watching a screen – and it completely prevents emotional involvement. Natural human vision bears no resemblance to 3D in the cinema.”
“2D doesn’t reveal the smoke and mirrors of film-making in the same way. Of course, that’s partly because we’re used to it, but also – it’s not trying to mimic our vision.
“My goal as a cinematographer is to make the stitches in the cloth invisible. 3D says ‘Look at me, I’m a picture!’, 2-D simply says, ‘Once upon a time…'”