Will “Avatar” be to 3D what “The Jazz Singer” was to sound?

posted by CSWalczak on January 14, 2010 at 9:40 am

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.

Comments (6)

moviebuff82 on January 14, 2010 at 1:28 pm

3-D films were MIA from the late ‘90s until the mid-00’s, when digital 3D was first shown in theaters with Disney’s Chicken Little. Avatar is the peak of digital 3D, and most of its worldwide gross is from 3D showings (both digital and IMAX). Sometime soon, a 3D bluray version of Avatar will come out for those who have 3D-capable TVs. Watching it in HD 1080p 2D won’t make justice.

NicoleHeimel on January 15, 2010 at 4:55 am

Its just making me sick actually.Now they telling me simply, if i want to enjoy avatar i gotta buy 3D capable TVs…So what happened to my 30.000$ cost bluray hometeather system ? Seriously its really good to see technology keep going beyond but customers, us , having serious problems here…

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Jon Lidolt
Jon Lidolt on January 16, 2010 at 5:18 pm

SURPRISE… nobody is being forced to buy expensive new home video gear to watch Avatar in 3-D. That’s why we have movie theatres. It doesn’t cost thousands of dollars to see, provides a night out and most digital 3-D cinemas (especially IMAX) have massive screens that dwarf the little flat LCD panels that are rapidly replacing that old tube TV in the living room.

moviebuff82 on January 19, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Most of the box office for “Avatar” worldwide is from combined 3-D and IMAX 3-D showings.

scorpio1949 on February 4, 2010 at 8:42 pm

I think that 3-D will always be limited. The fact that you have to wear glasses is an obstacle. The old 3 D glasses gave people headaches. The new ones do that to some people too. I think it happens less but it does. I think Avatar will expand the use of 3 D but I would think it will always be better suited to these types of films and have less impact with regular films. CinemaScope really had a great appeal to the masses as it was well accepted by all and really didn’t have the limitations I mentioned above. Anything that draws people in to the theaters is a great thing however.

ceasar on March 2, 2010 at 8:40 am

Already several films coming out this month are going to be 3d which leaves some small theatre startups like Wilcox Theatres which has digital projectors but not 3d technology. This means some of the locals will journey to Malco Cinemas in Madison to experince the 3d experince. Question why are some cinema operators afraid to embrace new technology like 3d? Now Avatar when it was released here didn’t come in 3d which shows how far behind some cinemas are.

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