29 Jan 2011

My head hurts and my body’s tired. I bed most of the day. Watched the first half of Zeitgeist 3, making the argument that behaviour is learnt rather than genetic; need and want; and then going into the mess the financial system is causing. Its in cinemas and you can also see it online:

The richest 1% own 40% of the world’s wealth and it’s increasing by the minute as trading software scoops wealth from the stock market system.

No doubt the second half will go into how we can change this dire situation.

A visualisation of Egypt’s recent internet traffic shows the extent of the blackout:

I really enjoyed this history of hip-hop in beatbox. I recognise most of them. He’s got mad skills!

I’ve seen a few 3D movies now and I am not impressed. I come away with the feeling of an enclosed rather than expansive screen and a tired head, like it was really hard work. Moreover, I just don’t see the point of it – a screen already shows a 3D scenario, with actors moving towards or away from the camera. I don’t need images to seem even closer. The critic Roger Ebert is also not a fan, and he has posted a letter from Walter Murch on his blog, explaining why it doesn’t ‘work’ and never will:

Hello Roger,

I read your review of “Green Hornet” and though I haven’t seen the film, I agree with your comments about 3D.

The 3D image is dark, as you mentioned (about a camera stop darker) and small. Somehow the glasses “gather in” the image — even on a huge Imax screen — and make it seem half the scope of the same image when looked at without the glasses. …

The biggest problem with 3D, though, is the “convergence/focus” issue. A couple of the other issues — darkness and “smallness” — are at least theoretically solvable. But the deeper problem is that the audience must focus their eyes at the plane of the screen — say it is 80 feet away. This is constant no matter what.

But their eyes must converge at perhaps 10 feet away, then 60 feet, then 120 feet, and so on, depending on what the illusion is. So 3D films require us to focus at one distance and converge at another. And 600 million years of evolution has never presented this problem before. All living things with eyes have always focussed and converged at the same point. …

But it is like tapping your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time, difficult. So the “CPU” of our perceptual brain has to work extra hard, which is why after 20 minutes or so many people get headaches. They are doing something that 600 million years of evolution never prepared them for. This is a deep problem, which no amount of technical tweaking can fix. Nothing will fix it short of producing true “holographic” images.

Consequently, the editing of 3D films cannot be as rapid as for 2D films, because of this shifting of convergence: it takes a number of milliseconds for the brain/eye to “get” what the space of each shot is and adjust.

And lastly, the question of immersion. 3D films remind the audience that they are in a certain “perspective” relationship to the image. It is almost a Brechtian trick. Whereas if the film story has really gripped an audience they are “in” the picture in a kind of dreamlike “spaceless” space. So a good story will give you more dimensionality than you can ever cope with.

So: dark, small, stroby, headache inducing, alienating. And expensive. The question is: how long will it take people to realize and get fed up?

All best wishes,

Walter Murch

I always watch the 2D version and can’t see that I’d ever want a 3D TV. Good story > gimmicky presentation please.


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