Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Big Surprise: I Disagree with Jeffrey Katzenberg

In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Jeffrey Katzenberg discusses the new 3-D "enhancement" that he is now adding to all future DreamWorks releases. He talks about how 3-D is "going to create a whole new immersive feel to (every film's) world".

I completely disagree.

It seems to me that Katzenberg, in addition to many people at Disney and other animation studios, believes that 3-D will be as big an advancement as color was to movies. In the interview, Katzenberg elaborates: "When color came along, Technicolor, in the 1930s, 10 years later, people stopped making movies and going to movies in black and white. Why? Because we see in color. We also see in 3-D. I do think it's more natural for us."

When did animation suddenly have to be realistic!? If I want to see something naturalistic, I will go to a live action feature. If I want to see stylized artwork and quirky cartoon characters which shouldn't be realistic, I will go to a two-dimensional animated film. If animated films continue going down the same path, they will evetually fail to transport us to different worlds since they are trying so hard to make what's on the screen match the real world around us.

And another thing, I think that it is completely outrageous to say that 3-D is equal to Technicolor in technological advancement. 3-D is a cheap device that doesn't enhance the film in anyway. Color allowed for more diversity, beauty, and realistic feeling to be displayed on the screen. All 3-D does is bump up ticket prices and make it so you get a headache if you take the annoying little glasses off.

I think that 3-D was brought back a few years ago by some marketers from who-knows-where who had a sudden epiphany while watching that member of Bif's posse from Back to the Future who wears the 3-D glasses, and realized they could charge moviegoers more money for something they could easily dish out: 3-D.

I'll concede that when 3-D technology is drastically improved to the point where the audience actually feels immersed in whatever it is they're watching, studios should (maybe) start making their films in 3-D. And even then, they should use the 3-D story-enhancing techniques that Pixar has already discussed for Up. This is the only way that I can see 3-D being a positive device used in films: if it helps to tell the story.

But even then, it is obvious that 3-D remains a marketing ploy which simply bumps up ticket prices and gives people false illusions that what they are watching is more realistic.

And do you want to know what the best part about all of this is? Jeffrey Katzenberg, in one point of the interview, inadvertently agrees with me! He said: "But (in) the vast majority of films, it is used just as a trick, a gimmick, a theme-park attraction, and it is meant to take something that is fundamentally not particularly good and put this sort of gimmick overlay on it as a marketing push." (Such as Monsters vs. Aliens, Mr. Katzenberg?)

See? Even Walt Disney used 3-D as a gimmick at one point, but quickly realized its many faults.

I think that the past attempts at 3-D speak for this: the Golden Era of 3-D was from 1952-1955, after that it was revived in 1960 but didn't last for just over a decade, it was then revived again in 1980 but lasted only 4 years then was quickly forgotten about once more. After 1984, it was revived once more a few years ago and will, I believe be forgotten about as quickly as it re-emerged.

Bottom-line: 3-D will not be around in 5 years. I believe that people will realize (especially if it costs extra money to get into a 3-D theater) what a hassle 3-D is and what a cheap and empty gimmick it provides to an audience that can get just as good a story and visual out of a good old-fashioned 2-D feature.

In the words of Roger Ebert: "To those that compare 3D to sound: the jury is still out on whether 3D can expand the artistic field like sound or color. Can 3D be used in a unique way that brings the author closer to the subject instead of merely a showy gimmick?. . . What can 3D do that 2D can't?"

1 comment:

Diane said...

Hello! I'm sorry to be leaving a comment on such an old entry, but I just wanted to say that I couldn't agree with you more.

I suffer from severe amblyopia and do not see in 3D ever. When I try to watch 3D movies everything is painfully blurry and there are large blind spots in my vision. It's not simply a matter of "not seeing in 3D", I literally cannot see the movie.

It's comforting to know I'm not the only person who is so frustrated by this trend.