Will “Avatar” be to 3D what “The Jazz Singer” was to sound?
NEW YORK, NY — In a recent article in the New York Times, writer Dave Kehr looks at the history of 3D and discounts the notion that “Avatar” in and of itself will establish 3D as the common mode of theatrical film presentation. He believes that if Hollywood can convince audiences that viewing just about any film in 3D should be the norm, then this time 3D might take its place alongside sound, widescreen, and color photography. He sees potential for 3D if it is used to connect moviegoers to the characters and immerse them in the world of the film rather than simply creating the illusion that things are being thrown at them.
If 3-D takes hold, it won’t be the exclusive doing of “Avatar,” but the result of a long series of small technological steps and tiny adjustments in audience expectations. The process is far from over, and its outcome is by no means clear.
The dream of producing 3-D movies goes back to the very beginnings of the cinema. Pioneers like Thomas Edison and the Lumière brothers aspired from the first to make movies with sound, color and depth, and the basic technology (the separation of a scene into left-eye and right-eye images, brought back together when the spectator looks through filtered glasses) had been around since the magic-lantern days. Experimentation with 3-D films continued through the ‘20s, and at least one feature-length film — the now lost “Power of Love” (1922) — was produced but not released.
The whole article is here.