This has been a hard post to write! You know how little kids sometimes get so excited when describing something amazing that they stammer and ramble—unable to just spit it out? That’s what I felt like after attending the excellent keynote session “Your World in 3D: Separating the Facts from the Hype” at 3D World in New York City last month.
There’s so much to say, so much to share, it’s hard to boil it down to a digestible blog post so I will summarize and probably be quoting this in the weeks and months to come.
The session kicked off with an introduction by Jim Chabit, CEO of the International 3D Society—an organization doing important work in bringing together a community around 3D. (Full disclosure, I’m a card-carrying member). This group is putting together events, awards, and information to build some momentum for 3D. Using facts and figures he asserted that 3D continues to do strong box office—especially internationally. He also focused on some upcoming major releases in 3D—Scorsese’s Hugo Cabret (which got rave reviews for an unfinished cut screened at NY Film Festival a couple of days earlier), Spielberg’s Adventures of TinTin, and the James Cameron’s 3D conversion of Titanic.
Buzz Hays, Senior VP 3D Production at Sony is an incredibly knowledgeable and dynamic speaker. He focused on some of the important technical issues and gave an overview of the stereoscopy training Sony has developed for film professionals. These in-depth (forgive the pun) materials are aimed at fine-tuning 3D cinema skills. Sony has been offering this course to help raise the overall technical level in the industry. He walked us through some of the key variables—tools that can be used for subtle (and no-so-subtle) effects. We also saw examples of common pitfalls (misalignment, mismatchs, and distortions) that helped explain and quantify when/why 3D becomes more uncomfortable to watch.
This presentation clearly and eloquently articulates the flexibility of 3D as a tool. When waved about recklessly it can be annoying and even uncomfortable. When it’s wielded with finesse it adds depth on many levels to story telling.
John Cassy from Sky3D in the UK stressed the importance quality and variety in content. “If you think 3D can paper over the cracks, you will fail”. He insists that quality 3D content relies on combining stories, people, and partnerships. We saw gorgeous footage from upcoming releases: “Meerkats” (cute animals in awe-inspiring scenery) and “Kew Gardens” (luscious, HD/3D time-lapse shots from one of the world’s great botanical treasures). He hailed Sir David Attenboroughfor being an early leader in 3D, the way he was an early pioneer of color TV 45 years ago.
Michael Duenas, DO, from the American Optometric Association (AOA) was the final speaker. The AOA recently released a fascinating report on 3D in education and in that context Dr. Duenas gave a passionate and wide-ranging presentation on the role of 3D in vision health and the far-reaching repercussions of not having adequate screening at an early age. It’s a bold assertion—that traditional eye examinations, in focusing on only one aspect of vision health, overlook the critical capability of stereoscopic vision. The resulting misdiagnoses and lack of treatment impact student engagement, learning, and broader issues such as crime and recidivism.
The AOA is going beyond debunking fears about 3D and championing it. This is a fascinating area that I’m sure will be getting a lot more attention.
The session wrapped up with a clip of silent film legend Harold Lloyd, an early enthusiast of 3D, converted to 3D. It looked pretty darned good.