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The Science of 3d Explained

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Mark Kermode | 14:39 UK time, Thursday, 25 March 2010

While you may think I have said my last on the subject of 3D in cinema be sure there is lots more to come, but as a final word on Avatar allow me to explain using only scientific methodology, precisely how those amazing effects were achieved.

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  • Comment number 1.

    I have just spat my coffee all over my monitor. :-) Dr Kermode.. Couldn't have put it better myself!

  • Comment number 2.

    Hello Mark,

    I didn't spit my coffee on my screen, but that's only because i wans't drinking any. Quite a lovely, er, scientific demonstration.
    The whole point of 3D, to me, seems to make people pay their ticket an outrageous price. Sure, it's a novelty, and the first or second time a big lizard comes floating in front of your face, it's impressive. But the novelty, as they all and always do, wears off fast. Then you're left with uncomfortable glasses almost impossible to wipe clean with the provided-when-lucky towelette (which would -almost- be pronounced « toilette » in French, says a lot;-) Honestly they get in the way of enjoying the movie. And if you're prone to headaches, pack a couple of grams of paracetamol before you leave for the theatre.

    Nowadays, if you want to see one of those movies in 2D, it's becoming increasingly difficult. The time can't be far off where 2D movies will be relegated to second class cinemas - for second class citizens.

    Oh wait, there IS one good thing to be said about 3D movies: so far, i haven't heard of any that is, roll of drums, "based on a true story"!

  • Comment number 3.

    Thank you, once more that just made my day. Still, it is time to move on, Doctor. The fantastic compilation “Brazilian Guitars, Fuzz Bananas / Tropicalia Psychedelic Masterpieces, 1967-1976” could help. The vinyl comes with, yep, 3D glasses for a more entertaining look at the loony artwork. That's were 3D started, that's where it should end.

  • Comment number 4.

    Ha ha ha - loving the way the Na'vi speak in Dr K's version. And their dialogue is better than in Cameron's version too.

  • Comment number 5.

    Pure genius, thank you Dr K for once again brightening up my day and adding for ammo to my anti-3D guns. I haven't seen Avatar and therefore am criticised everytime I try to criticise 3D, but as a poor student I quite frankly have better things to spend my money on!! One other thing, what if Mr Cameron decided to remake Tod Brownings masterpiece 'Freaks' in 3D? Surely the marriage celebration ceremony would benefit hugely from the glorious 3rd dimension! Yes... of course.

  • Comment number 6.

    @ MrBogle

    I don't have much to add to the good doctors argument except to say that I agree and 3D is absolute rubbish. You may as well throw your money down the drain, the experience is just as disheartening.

    Anyway, I just want to say that I saw 'Freaks' for the first time this week. And I loved it. And I agree it's a masterpiece, and I wish more people knew about it today. So thank you for bringing it up here!

  • Comment number 7.

    The real problem with 3D is that it is a lie. When you watch a 2d film the image exists in 2 dimensions but we don't say the action that happens on the screen is purely 2 dimensional, because of the very complicated laws of optics and the processing power of your brain you perceive depth due to a number of factors: light and shading, texture gradient, perspective, motion parallax... etc. When you watch a 3d film the image on screen still only has 2 dimensions but the glasses create a holographic image that doesn't really exist, so if you move your head to the side you don't see around the image, there IS no 3rd dimension, they should be called holographic films.

    The moment film makers create true 3D films, in that the image is modelled in 3 physical dimensions and you can turn your head to look round the characters and scenery, then I'll be really impressed.

  • Comment number 8.

    I will have a bet with you Mark that by 2025 the VAST majority of films will be made in 3D. I'll say 90% plus. £1000.

    If 3D is as pointless as you'd like everyone to believe, then it would be inconceivable that it would become the norm wouldn't it?

    You'll therefore have no trouble taking this bet.

    This is definitely the stupidest thing you've ever tried to argue.

    I'll also wager that more 3D TVs will be made in 2025 than non-3D TVs and that sports viewing figures on Sky will be higher on their 3D channels than on their 2D channels.

  • Comment number 9.

    also wanted to give a nod to the 'honey, I shrunk the audience' experience at Disney Epcot, in which, a giant on screen dog sneezes on you and a sharp blast of liquid is sprayed in your face from the seat in front. That's what I call a 3d experience.

  • Comment number 10.

    The reason Avatar got such stellar reviews and people - most clearly a disgustingly OTT Total Film review - thought it was 'game-changing' is because it is the ultimate in Emperor's-New-Clothes-filmmaking. You tell an audience how fantastic it is for years before it's released, and they will believe it....but ONLY for a short time. I'm not saying that all those who like Avatar have turned against it, but all those who hailed it as a revolution, went nuts for how insanely brilliant it is and how it, to quote Total Film, "is much more than a film. It's an audacious, awe-inspiring work of modern art that reinvents and redesigns the whole process of sitting in a darkened room staring up at a screen. Sure, it's taken him ten years, but Cameron has achieved no less than a rebirth of cinema"...have since not said a word in regards to this taking effect (other than to say, for example, Ridley Scott is making his Alien prequel in 3D because he was impressed by Avatar). More importantly, AT THE TIME, nobody discussed quite WHY the film was such a revolution. Yes, the effects are impressive, but to discuss the machinery which makes them isn't what I would say makes the film revolutionary for anybody but techies or film pedants (not to criticise them, I'm more than interested in all that). It has done nothing new with cinema as a mass medium, short of getting EVERYBODY to see it.

    (I recommend reading the whole TF review, it's brilliant, makes me think they're on Cameron's payroll.)

    I never had that "wow" moment which even Kermode mentioned having during the film, and I think that comes from how disinterested I was in every other part of the film. The script - which so many have mentioned in an "oh yeah, the script's not good, but who cares with all the great CGI" needs more than this lacklustre effort at criticism. I can say the script is forgivable in other films; those with less money, those less earnest and self-obsessed...but if Cameron wants to spend 14 years and hundreds of millions of dollars 'revolutionising' cinema, it is SUCH laziness that he can't go back and do some work on the script. It's that, more than anything else, which makes me think there's no real passion in the whole of Avatar, and it's a dead-behind-the-eyes experiment in just BLOWING THE MINDS of a captive, ignorant audience.

    And speaking of the effects which I'm not so blown away by - for one thing, they aren't consistently amazing, oftentime they're actually a bit...naff - I remember equating it to the Spiderman Playstation games. On PSone, there was no horizon, just a fade into clouds. On PS2, there were buildings far into the background. That's it.

    The reason critics were so blown away is because a lot of them saw the film at an IMAX venue, the screen taking up one's entire field of vision. To fill this entire area with CGI, and have the camera see as far into the background as it would realistically clearly took away their rational, 'critical' minds and they just danced around in the glory-shots of Pandora, (which, while we're on the topic, is not an 'entirely new ecosystem' Cameron made people think he'd designed. It's a rainforest. With disco lights). The fact that the environment reached from their eyes (in 3D) deep into the background was clearly too much to handle. They lost their minds. It's revolutionary.

    Duncan Jones got it right when he said he was "concerned" after seeing the film. The problem isn't that it's bad, the problem is trying to figure out what other people see - or THINK they see - in it. Same thing with Pixar's Up, but I won't start on that.

    I don't like Avatar.

  • Comment number 11.

    Fantastic. Just fantastic :)

  • Comment number 12.

    Comparing the the Na'vi to Smurfs is as lazy, old hat and intellectually void as sniggering about the iPad being named like a feminine hygiene product.

  • Comment number 13.

    Avatar wasn't the greatest film in terms of story but unlike what a gentleman has said earlier, I do think it has a brilliant depiction of an alien world. The 3D gave the viewer more immersion in that world and was used to good effect and not over the top either.

    I applaud Cameron for trying to push the technology to it's fullest. He's using it correctly, Disney wasn't with Alice.

  • Comment number 14.

    I saw Kick-Ass last week. Way more immersive and action packed with stuff just firing at you. Everything 3D says it will give you but fails, stick with low-budget UK fun and come out with a smile on your face.

  • Comment number 15.

    Oh my God! I think we have a first disagreement between myself and Dr K. This is a major moment I just have to take a sec to gather my thoughts...
    However hilarious that clip was (and it was pretty good, particularly the peculiar 'Terry Jones dressed as woman' type voices on the Naavi)you are wrong Dr K.
    Yes we can live without 3D and frankly I would prefer to. It would be a joy not to come out of a cinema with a red mark across my nose and painful ears ever again. But...I have to say that Avatar's 3D effects were in a different league to any other 3D movie that has been released recently. I loathe the current trend to add the 3D as an afterthought so the entrance prices can be raised, but it does nothing whatsoever for the movie.
    Yes Cameron could have made Avatar without it but it was oh such a wonderful thing to see 3D in a full 3D way rather than appearing like you are watching through a 70's viewmaster! I really enjoyed the experience, but it has it's place and should not be applied to every movie that comes out.

  • Comment number 16.

    Well, we now have the review for the upcoming Smurf movie in 3D.

  • Comment number 17.

    Dr. You have just proved your versatility ( a little higher than Nic Cage off course) at the same time showing us the Signs of critiobtanium.

    Vell Done.

  • Comment number 18.

    I only saw this in 2D but apparently 3D made the Na'vi look smaller than the humans. Are your lectures at Southampton Uni as entertaining?

    @Granyadam. 3D is a lie, but then so is 2D. If you think about it, 3D is less of a lie than 2D (unless you only have sight through one eye); it's just that what we are currently being given is pants.

  • Comment number 19.

    ...and my licence fee goes on this? Oh Dear. It is like an amateur tech review forum on an insignificant website. Not really BBC standard.

  • Comment number 20.

    I laughed a lot more than I should have done at this. Still laughing about it now as I type. It was the voice more than anything else!

  • Comment number 21.

    Sheer genius doctor, and apt on the day that James Cameron is whinging about retrofitting 2D films to 3D & telling directors to make true 3D films or it won't take off. Just a thought but maybe Mr Cameron should focus his energy on making films that match the quality of Aliens or Terminator, rather than making 3 hour long "immersive" rip-offs of Ferngully. If anyone hasn't done it yet watch Ferngully with Avatar fresh in your mind, they are so similar it's surprising Mr Cameron & the Avatar team haven't been sued!

  • Comment number 22.

    I watched The Dark Crystal for the first time t'other day, as a friend of mine loved it as a child.

    And it has no plot similarities to Avatar specifically, but much of the film is glory-shots of Jim Henson's puppetwork and the designs of the puppet and set designs...and they're great. Much more original than Avatar, and far more honest (and incredibly camp) fun. (Fun sometimes, some of the film's a bit dull...but overall more rewarding than Avatar).

  • Comment number 23.

    3D. It's like real life but with glasses on. Hold on to that thought as I put on my special socks to listen to music better. Or maybe I don my funny hat to taste my food better.

    There it is. That unsaid word. 'Better'. Better than what? Better than the lenses and the brain in my head which together can perceive depth in a 2D image? Er no.

    3D was a gimmick. This new 3D is a gimmick. Why? Because if it was the immersive experience we're all led to believe then we'd be feeling the difference without any glasses or gizmos. It would just be a feeling. An experience. Not a visit to spec savers :o)

  • Comment number 24.

    As much as I am bored by the idea of 3D films, they can't succeed in the long run as they are, and will always be, MORE EXPENSIVE to make.

    Surely end of argument?

  • Comment number 25.

    I take it your not interested in taking over Film 2010 when Ross goes then?

    CBBC’s might be interested mind.

  • Comment number 26.

    ... And the good Doctor digresses yet again to a topic I thought had long passed.

    I thought you were actually going to make a real scientific case as with the zany Richard Gere equation. Doctor K are you going to accept the the bleeding obvious?

    3D does not = an immersive experience or make the Navi look less akin to Smurfs.

    3D = Money. Money money money!

    You can boost a popcorn movie to make even more money if you baste it nicely in lashings of 3D. Lord Cameron has proved it nicely with Avatar and so Hollywood has encouraged cinemas to place huge orders for those Elton John style plastic glasses.

    3D = the best case ever for bringing the cost of movie tickets up since all those on/off-peak excuses we get in Leicester Square.

    The Navi are the feral love-children of Smurfs and Kaminoans (those lanky guys from Attack of the Clones).

  • Comment number 27.

    I haven't seen Avatar yet, i'm allergic to massive doses of hype. to be honest, the word "unobtainium" is really putting me off.

    But, then again, I still have seen Titanic yet. I did save on my Sky+ planner a while back, but alas, I never got around to watching it.

    I accidentally never got around to watching the original Star Wars trilogy until The Phantom Menace was released. but that was fate - and my fathers' continued inability to work a video timer - not my fault.

  • Comment number 28.


    Looks like the good Doctor has been back in his bedroom re-living his Magic Roundabout days. (see the previous blog)

    By the way Laboratories have changed since I was at school. All I seem to remember were gas points and weird shaped taps. Dr K's lab looks more like the local Wetherspoons. Although that would explain the surreal experience we have all just witnessed.

    As far as Avatar is concerned I'm in the 'Hate It' camp. Not necessarily for the 3-D hype and over charging for glasses etc, but the fact that it was just rubbish. As a previous poster said it was only seen by so many because of the over the top advertising campaign that 'brain-washed' everyone - including me - into believing it was the best thing since sliced bread (and there's nothing good about that). This same hype was made about The Blair Witch Project and that was so awful it made me want to find those responsible and make them watch re-runs of Howard's Way.

    Unfortunately 3-D is probably here to stay (although I doubt if it will make up 90% of movies by 2025 as one poster imagines) and the only way it will fail is if the movie public finally wakes up and smells the napalm and stops buying tickets for them.

  • Comment number 29.

    "I don't like Avatar therefore all 3D is rubbish". Not the most persuasive arguement I've ever heard.
    Most 3D films are gimmicky cash-cows. Normally, the 3D doesn't add much and you are left wondering why you paid extra for this. Avatar on the other hand was apparently film in Imax 3D and dumbed down to normal 3D and then 2D so they could distribute it further than the handful of Imax cinemas we have over here. I saw it in Imax 3D and it does add to the experience. See it at one of them and then comment.
    To those making the gimmicky type of 3D films I would say "Do it properly or don't bother"
    By the way, the arguement that "Na'vi are smurfs because they are blue" is akin to saying "Fire engines are postboxes because they are red". It didn't make sense when the first blogger said it. It still doesn't. Repeating stupid drivel like that is just lazy journalism.
    You can do better than that, Mark. Shape up!

  • Comment number 30.

    Well Mark you've managed to make me laugh that was a wonderful impression of Miss Amelia Fritton( AKA Alastair Sim) 'doing a number' on Papa Smurf. I've seen Avatar the 3D version it didn't blow me away but what did was after paying almost £22.00 for two tickets they actually asked for my glasses back at then end of it'for recyling' said the spotty teenage usher ......What so that some other mug can come along and get fleeced for the entrance fee in the foyer not likely mate.
    However happy memories of being taken to a special showing of The House of Wax as a young teen years after it's original release and starring the great late Vincent Price...I was transfixed that bouncing bat and ball!!.....Which in a long winded way brings me to my point.............It's for Kids!!

  • Comment number 31.

    Now seems an appropriate time to share a little discovery I made the other day. I was looking at the listings for my local cinema (Cineworld), and happened to notice something a bit odd about the Alice in Wonderland screenings:
    The cinema had put Audio Description on only the 3D screenings and none of the 2D ones. If it's AD, that usually implies that the patrons are blind or partially sighted, and therefore unlikely to care about 3D. What a harsh way for the cinema to get more money!

    Oh, and Dr K, as right as I think you are, please don't do that voice again.

  • Comment number 32.

    This is what we in Sweden would call "En sågning i världsklass" which translates to "A worldclass dismissal".

    A good movie, with a story and cast that can perform the parts in the story AND maybe effects that are tasteful and not all "George Lucas CGI on Acid" all packaged in a belivable way is enough for me AND it should be for everyone.

    Sure, bells and whistles are good but this is a big what if. Would a 3D make a Steven Segal movie better or worse ?

    Exactly :)

  • Comment number 33.

    Mark that was the best review of Avatar anyone has done....legend. Could you pease make my day again by doing something like that on the bbc news channel when you next get to review a so called 3d immersive movie.
    Cheers :-)

  • Comment number 34.

    Loved your hilarious reenactment. Especially the blur effect. Better than the original, and cheaper too.

    Lest anyone wonder what 3D is really about, Variety has just reported that ticket prices for 3D films are rising by as much as 26%.

    Next week will see the 3D release of the aptly named Cash of the Titans.

    GrannyAdam wrote:

    "The real problem with 3D is that it is a lie."

    If you put it that way, all motion pictures are a lie. They're a series of still images shown in rapid succession, tricking our eyes into thinking it's real motion.

  • Comment number 35.

    The gag worked slightly better live on the book tour. Still a cheap and obvious shot though.

  • Comment number 36.

    How can 3d be an immersive experience? When I turn around I dont see things shoot past me do I? No, I see people sat inside a cinema looking like they are going scuba diving. I have been to see Avatar in 3D and am glad I did. It was a 3d film. I wouldn't go and see it in Black and white so I wouldn't see it in 2d - I think 3d is a fad, but its in danger of not being, beause we are told to like it. People are stupid and like what they are told to.

  • Comment number 37.

    I couldn't pay attention to the argument because I was laughing so hard. I think 3D is going to be treated the exact same way as CGI people are going to love it but it won't last long. Although I don't think Avatar fulfils the potential of 3D technology.

  • Comment number 38.

    3D isn't actually 3D.
    It's just staggered 2D.
    If I move my head around I see the same image. Back of the screen, front of the screen, it doesnt matter. We see the same. With Avatar, I saw a 2D image of a Navi, a 2D image of the trees and bushes, and a 2D image of the sky.

    If it was 3D, I could get up run from the left hand side of the screen to the right and see both sides of the Navi's face. I can't therefore im not immersed.

  • Comment number 39.

    Everyone should read Rob Birmingham's post above, it's far more rational and reasonable!

  • Comment number 40.

    Roger Ebert had the best critique of 3D on his twitter:

    "3-D is a distracting, annoying, anti-realistic, juvenile abomination to use as an excuse for higher prices."

    This on the day that the US announced that 3D ticket prices were going up by 25%. There is no coincidence between this and the fact that every big film is in 3D.

  • Comment number 41.

    3D is poo poo, there i'm already funnier than 'leapy ear' or as funny as the new nanny McPhee.

    I saw Avatar and Alice in Wonderland in 3D and i am right behind you Dr K. 3D just doesn't do that much at all for films and after a friend suggested we go see 'Clash of the Titans' in 3D, i convinced him that its not worth it and having showed him your arguements against 3D he is fully behind you on the matter, and i am now in the process of informing my other friends too, so you will have a group of supporters to add to your argument. The only place 3D should stay is in theme parks/aquariums (where i saw my first 3D presentation of a short documentary on sea creatures in imax 3D format and was alot better, the 3D whales were right in your face when they swam 'upto' you). And where 3D should take off more is in the computer gaming world where the interactiveness of gaming will favour upon the depth and imersiveness especially with first person shooters like the call of duty francise (other games are availible).

    One last comment on avatar, i think like alot of other people that it clearly had its ups and downs. Ups being the effects themselves and the technology (now i understand being reffered to as 'Avatech') to create them is quite a feat and a good bit of action at the end, and the obvious downs being the 3D and the plannet not being that much to wow about having seen quite alot even on the teaser trailer. And story blah blah blah. But did anyone else notice the other ripoffs becides the smurfness/ferngully/dances with wolves stuff? Like the robot veichles that the army use? an elabouration on an exsisting idea from a certain alien sequel? or how about one of the big set pieces? the destruction of 'home tree' a big thing capsizing unlike a particular ship? It seems jane campion was very much out ideas for that movie.

    But anyway HD not 3D, 30% colour loss defeats the whole object of sharpness and brightness that normal 2D in high definition brings us which is a much better thing that cinemas should adopt rather than the pointy spears of pointy pointy.

    Oh and very funny video by the way!
    Love the show and the podcasts.

  • Comment number 42.

    Nicklas Ingels wrote:

    This is what we in Sweden would call "En sågning i världsklass"

    In Britain we say "Vorsprung durch Technik"

    p.s. Props to the props department

  • Comment number 43.

    Right on Dr K. 3-D seems to me to be a flawed gimmick. Films I have seen at the BFI Imax, and 3D TV demos have both suffered from the same annoying flicker on fast moving foreground images. And any part of the 3D image that is screaming out to be looked at is not necessarily in focus - it's like saying "look at me, but if you do I'll slap you in your eyes".

    But, is 3D pulling in more people to the cinema rather than watching a cam'd film on an iPhone? 3D films are most likely to be bums on seats multiplex fodder, and in the majority of cases just an extension from the no-brainer CGI films of the last 15 years.
    I think there is room for both types of film, and I know what I'll be spending my barely earned cash on.

  • Comment number 44.

    After watching a few of the 'comedy' clips it seems Dr K's humour skates towards 'frivolous' at times.

    In the words of the Avatar trailer-
    "This is great!"

  • Comment number 45.

    The doctors argument, completely correct. Scientific? Possibly not. Either way his impersonations are becoming more obscure (hilarious even) and I'm afraid he is having a severe meltdown.

    And "I Love You Philip Morris" is terrible

  • Comment number 46.

    wow I fully understand 3d now, by the way who is in the picture behiond you, can I see it please? I watched live this Friday as I was off work but normally podcast so back to podding I guess all that news and traffic reports, although the girl who did the traffic report has a nice bum. byeee


  • Comment number 47.

    Nice demonstration!
    Please have a look at my friend's equally lo-fi Avatar rant/swede. I think you will enjoy it as it encapsulates the whole Avatar experience!


  • Comment number 48.

    Hoorah! Your comedy skills are getting better Doctor!!

  • Comment number 49.

    Colour was introduced to film because the human eye sees in colour. Widescreen ratios were introduced to better approximate the field of view of the human eye, so it seems slightly weird that people are complaining about another property of the human eye being added to film.

    Surely the only objection to 3D can be that it actually detracts from films, and I've not read any comments saying that.

    So I don't really see a problem - the 3D movies I've seen I've enjoyed. I'm not sure it's adds as much as the film studios would like us to believe, but it certainly hasn't made anything worse.

    If they start trying to charge more then that might be a deciding factor for me, but that's not happened in any cinema I've been in yet......

  • Comment number 50.

    OMG Mark!
    What have you done??

    No seriously that was proper good with the smurfs and stuff.

    You should do a post on the way people talk in kidulthood/adulthood.
    It would be like wel good bruv.

  • Comment number 51.

    This excellent "demonstration" aside, there is another, simpler reason why 3D is a con: The human brain adapts to it, and renders it unnoticeable, in much the same way that it has adapted to the REAL 3D space in which we live. The "novelty" wears off, not only because of boredom, but also because of hard-wired biology. Sub-consciously you are taking in hundreds of visual cues from the environment around you at any point in time, to allow you to navigate, judge distances, etc. This complex process renders 2D 3D a temporary effect, because it cannot be fooled for long. Just as your brain knows that dinosaurs have been extinct for 65 million years and so Jurassic Park can't be real no matter how good the effects are, the brain also knows that you are watching a 2D projected image and so therefore it cannot be real 3D, and so the illusion - for however long it lasted - is shattered. Your brain brings you back into reality.

    So if you actually want to waste money on an effect that will quickly wear off, be my guess. It's the cinematic equivalent of taking E, and just as pointless.

  • Comment number 52.

    As a pedantic physics type person, I'd just like to point out that all films are already in 3D: they go up, they go along, and they go through time. Photos are 2D, they just go up and along.

    If there was a real 3D picture moving in time that would actually be 4D. And that I'd like to see.

  • Comment number 53.

    Ill admit, this was gorgeously funny... NOW i forgive you for your Guy Ritchie video Dr K.

  • Comment number 54.

    Its so true.
    Its all very clever, for sure, but after about 20mins you forget you are watching in 3D and you are back to the film.

    Which is pretty dire stuff.

  • Comment number 55.

    I like 3d but I'm confused with all this talk of it being "more expensive". Pre-pay for a book of cinema tickets, get them at a discount on the normal price and oh, look, the cinema also accepts them for 3d films.

    Avatard 3d for £4? Yes please.

  • Comment number 56.

    My problem with 3D is that however you slice it, film is still a 2D medium. The grammar of shots and edits is still down to the director or cinematographer's point of view, unlike video games you don't get to second guess the composition or the edits, and as other posters have mentioned if you want to see what's behind the Navi or behind the camera, that's just tough.
    Some think this is limiting, but I respect creatives who understand the medium and don't attempt to dress it up as something it isn't.
    Videogames remain relatively understructured sandpits by comparison because the person making these creative choices 9 times out of ten wouldn't understand what makes an aesthetically pleasing narrative composition/ edit if you wrapped a picture frame round their bonce.
    Stripped to it's bare essentials the only thing 3D adds is more pokey objects, 30% colour loss, £5 to the ticket price and distracting strobing at the corners of the screen. If I want to spend £5 extra to get poked at through a screen I could get better value at the doctor's!

  • Comment number 57.

    I doubt your acting could be any better, even if it was in 3D.

    Am I the only person who's never seen a 3D movie, even one of the old 50s ones?

    I also haven't read a 3D book since I was about 4 years old.

    But when R2D2 runs a 3D version of something which happened in the past, the education implications are clear.

  • Comment number 58.

    have you ever considered stand-up comedy? but no, on second thoughts (& seriously) please don't give up your day job.

  • Comment number 59.

    A tedious cheap shot Mr Kermode. I don't recall smurfs being ten feet tall. And didn't they wear white hats?. Most film critics like yourself hate escapist SF which is why they rarely get oscars. But they do push the technical bubble which benefits they industry in the long run.

    Personally, I enjoyed being immersed in the 3D world of Pandora for a few hours. I think they've got it right this time. I'll be getting the 2D version on DVD when it comes out and expect it'll look pretty good on my telly (no, I haven't got a stupid sized flat screen) and I'll probably enjoy it again. So cut it some slack will you?. You have a pretty cushy job you know, sitting on your bum all day watching films, swanning around Cannes etc.

  • Comment number 60.

    This is entirely about money and nothing about cinema. As it stands the only way to get to see these movies in 3d is to either buy all the (horrendously expensive) kit to do it at home, or watch at the cinema. It allows the studios to have a premium over home replication again(i.e. VHS piracy was usually terrible quality, but now we have DVD every copy is perfect), so it makes sense that they are pushing this for all it is worth, even though it isn't very good.

    I wiped a little tear from my eye when I saw the smurf thing above.

  • Comment number 61.

    Facetious? Yes. Persuasive advancement of a subjective criticism? No.
    I commend #49 for a better reasoned point of view.

  • Comment number 62.

    The problems with 3D can be summed up in but 3 words: 30% COLOUR LOSS!! How can ANYONE possibly hope to enjoy and apreciate a film as it is meant to be seen when it's 30% darker than it should be?? To be honest Mark, I'm surprised you havn't made a bigger point of this, it should be one of the firmest supports for your argument really!

  • Comment number 63.

    @ antimode and colonel vincent kane....when was the last time you saw a movie title with the suffix 2D?

  • Comment number 64.

    I watched Avatar in 3D and not at an IMAX cinema. Now maybe the 3D would be better had I watched it at an IMAX cinema. But does watching it at an IMAX cinema mean that the film would be better? Well possibly the 3D would improve but does IMAX make the script any better?

    The point is this film took 12 years in the making and I came out of the cinema going, "So what?" Yes, some of the 3D CGI was superb. But for me that's irrelevant. I could have watched this film in 2D, 3D or 3D IMAX and it still won't change the fact that I thought the script was rubbish, and for that reason I didn't find the film entertaining.

    It's such a shame that a talented, visionary like James Cameron will invest masses of time and money into the visual experience and yet produce such a lame script. If he spent time and money on the script as well, then maybe, just maybe, Avatar would be a cinema changing moment for me. But it isn't. In fact, I think Toy Story was a more cinema changing moment for me than Avatar.

    Avatar is just a wasted opportunity. But who cares when it grossed millions.

  • Comment number 65.

    ...what I would like to see are the Doctor's flapping hands in 3D!

  • Comment number 66.

    That was so cringeworthy..I felt embarrassed for you Mark, and frankly expect better. I've always appreciated your critique but this was just silly; if you want to convince us that 3D is pointless can you actually provide a coherent argument instead of just taking a cheap shot?

  • Comment number 67.

    I don't care much if it is 2D or 3D. I think there is a place for 3D. The market drives the industry. If people don't watch 3D films films then they won't be made. Yes there is a lot of hype in the films but I think with action and kids films if the technology can be made to work well then I don't see a problem with it. I suggest you get off your high horse on 3D and start campagning on something more important like the lack of quality in Holywood blockbuster scripts.

  • Comment number 68.

    you are such a grumpy boring old man.... and you're probably not that old....
    lighten up, it was a really entertaining film, amongst my friends we agree it s one of the greatest films about, beautiful and gentle.

    Thank goodness you didn't get film 2010 job, or we'd all be grumpy moaning daily mail wannabes like you...
    Life is so depressing.... YAWN

  • Comment number 69.

    No good if you are a Cyclops!

  • Comment number 70.

    I'm not quite sure what was worse; the purile clip or the sycophantic comments that followed :O

    Avatar wasn't the best film ever made but it was entertaining. The 3-D aspect was secondary to me but it worked. The backlash is just typical of anything that is massively successful. People consider it "cool" to knock it. In context, Moon was one of my films of the year in 2009, as was Star Trek and The Hurt Locker.

    Sadly, Mr Kermode has gone far from the intelligent movie reviewer that had such good views on The Exorcist. (oh, yeah, sorry Dr Kermode. How silly of me)

  • Comment number 71.

    Forget 3D Mark I cannot believe you did not take on Film 2010. It needs YOU not someone who is going to 'dumb it down'. We do not need another 'Strictly It Takes Film 2010 Come Dancing Giggles Two' in 3D. The apology for an arts forum headed up by the 'the you know who family' on a Friday night Radio 2 is no basis to award someone the only credible film programme on TV.
    This is worse than 3D 'Avatar' this is dimensionless banality of the worst kind.

  • Comment number 72.

    Hi Dr Mark,

    I want 5D film now - with smells and moving seats - or 6D with some of the acting taking place in the cinema.

    Oh! Hold on we already have, it's called theatre.

  • Comment number 73.

    Well, let's be honest - it was Dr K who said that if we were going to see Meet The Robinsons, we should try and see it in 3D. (From the podcast for March 30, 2007. I've been listening to some old podcasts recently - very interesting and enjoyable; if you want a fast primer on the cinema releases of the last five years or so they're ideal.)

  • Comment number 74.

    Anyone else think the good doctor turns into Mrs Doubtfire during this blog??? I can see it now Mrs. Doubtfire (Part Deux) The Search For Unobtainium (in 3D of course) starring Mark Kermode & Gerard Butler, directed by McG, & produced by Michael Bay!!!
    Come on Dr. K you know it makes sense.........

  • Comment number 75.

    Top that Claudia!

  • Comment number 76.

    A Smurfs-Avatar gag!? a bit old hat, wouldnt you say Mr K?

  • Comment number 77.

    Hello Mark

    3D!!! Rubbish! A manipulation of offset images not to mention a manipulation of the eyes, brain, and most importantly - at least for the film companies - our pockets!!! Really annoyed at myself for being beguiled by this celluloid "faerie glamour" it simply served to cover up weak narratives, or in the case of Tim Burton's jaw droppingly bad adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, to coat distracting eye candy over a real howler of a film. Having seen Coraline, Avatar, and the already mentioned "Alice" I won't be seeing anymore 3D. All of these fims were pretty forgetable the only memorable thing about them were the intense migraines induced by the 3D glasses, or was that simply migraines brought on by my self reflective angst? Note to self, "if you ever get the urge to watch another 3D movie punch yourself in the face, it's quicker, cheaper and gives the same effect".

    Gutted about Winkleman hosting Film 2010. But glad that they haven't offered you it Mark, at least you won't be compromised and have to grin inanely at ego centred celebs whose only interest is often self promotion and not the actual art of acting, film making, etc. Soul destroying stuff I imagine!

  • Comment number 78.

    3D again!
    A little like playing to the gallery for easy laughs, but then again when did it hurt to please the audience. There are some more incisive criticisms in the comments above than your playing with dolls and doing funny voices to go over old ground. (Sorry, but your dealing with an audience of critics here.)

    But that's also the point of Hollywood though isn't it? Pleasing the gallery.

    It doesn't matter if it's 3D, hyping something as the 'Feel-good movie of the year', cashing in on whatever genre or actor is successful atthat time or whatever. The Hollywood 'raison detre' is to make money, if 3D is what this year's audience want then they'll give it to them.

    My guess is that what they really see as the cash-cow that'll keep them going is 3D PC games with movie tie-ins (preferably based on graphic novels), made either in 2D or 3D.

    It's the insistence of basing films on graphic novels that is, I think, the more worrying trend.

    God help a modern day Chandler, Doyle or Dickens if they insisted on producing books with just words, but no pictures.

    Even Hollywood has enough sense to realise that Gran Torino or 12 Angry Men in 3D wouldn't add to the experience.
    But as long as the audience want (and will pay for) big blockbusters in 3D they'll make them. It's basic market forces.

    And Avatar - way too easy a target. (I still enjoyed it though; much better than T4 and many other recent si-fi movies - those M. Bay robot movies - for example. I bet Transformers 3 will be in 3D.)

    You should have taken on Alice in Wonderland 3D. There are plenty of 2D versions to compare it with.

    As for film 2010. Not sure Mark is right for that; better to stay the opinionated outsider - you get more freedom.

    Mind you cinema criticism on TV has been downhill since Film Night in the 70's with Tony Bilbow & Philip Jenkinson.
    That was class. I imagine a formative experience for Mark too?

    Less knockabout please Mark. More about cinema and about what's current.

  • Comment number 79.

    #63 GrannyAdam wrote:

    "@ antimode and colonel vincent kane....when was the last time you saw a movie title with the suffix 2D?"

    ...when I went to see Avatar at my local fleapit which isn't set up for 3D. It was advertised as being in 2D so that people wouldn't expect to be getting the 3D experience.

    BTW, I was agreeing with you i.e. 2D > 3D

  • Comment number 80.

    I dont like 3D - things dangling in front of my nose are a novelty but detract from the movie experience.

    Hopefully, this will be a passing fad, just as previous 3D experience with the red/green glasses was, though I fear we will be subjected to it for a couple of years before it passes.

  • Comment number 81.

    What I think we are trying to say here is just because its 3D doesn't make it good. The concept of immersion however is meant to give a richer experience to the watcher.

    The best implementations of 3D will be interactive, 3D coupled with motion sensing technology.

    I must admit having seen Avatar in 3D and in 2D the 3D added imensly to the film experience. But doesn't that mean that without the 3D element the film would struggle to stand up?? Well actually it does.

    Avatar used some pretty amasing technology that will find its way into moves in the comming years, but is Avatar a good movie? Well IMHO it is an average movie with good effects. I rate it a 6.5/10.

  • Comment number 82.

    Brilliant! The coolest man in the world, bar none.

  • Comment number 83.

    As a film buff ...I will watch Aliens in 25 years but not Avatar (Aliens is 25 years old or thereabouts)...reason... in 25 years, visual technology will have moved on and we will have to rely on the script again... Aliens has a strong script... Avatar doesn't and that seems to be the general summary of most reviews I have read... I will also point out that although the new King Kong movie wasn't great... the sequence at the end had me feeling slightly queezie (at the cinema at least) as although the aerial sequences were in 2D... the depth perception etc. was impressive and had me thinking...'I wouldn't like to be up there!!!!!'... on the Empire State....why did I not feel this once in Avatar in 3D?....I thought Avatar was 'OK' but that's all....

  • Comment number 84.

    Another vote for Rob Birmingham's comment.

  • Comment number 85.

    I agree with every single thing Stephen Glass says. Every single thing, well (that he's said so far). STEPHEN! I might as well not bother typing anything again, save meself the bother! You can be my Avater if you like?

    Jim Henson, not to mention Ray Harryhausen are cinemtaic Gods as far as I'm concerned. Be nice to see a celebration of the latters work on the big screen instead of a poxy, CGI rammed remake.

  • Comment number 86.

    I saw AVATAR twice: in 2D and 3D and I can tell you that in 3D the special effects, the flying scenes, the beauty of Pandora, all work a lot better. Of course it's not a masterpiece, we all know that but it did what the tin said: it created spectacle (might have been too long, too obvious, too "dance-with-smurfes-like", but it was quite impressive, at least on a techical level.

    There will be directors in the future who will be able to take the 3D technology and make it work properly, actually adding something to the cinematic experience, in the same way the advent of sound changed cinema back in the old days, or the advent of color from old B&W films.

    In the same way (some) people today use CGI in a way that we can't even detect anymore, making things possible that were not possible 10 years ago (Benjamine Button for example, a flawed film, of course, but with amazing SFX), 3D technology will become integral part of film-making.

    Mark, you're wrong about 3D. In the same way you were wrong about AVATAR winning the Oscar for best film.

  • Comment number 87.

    Today AVATAR has made $2,690,916,066 (yes, that's 2.6 Billions!!!) more than twice as much as the third most succesful film in history more than Star Wars, ET, Titanic!!

    I didn't think the film was a masterpiece, but you have to grant me that it's a pretty BIG figure!!

    It's easy to dismiss such film... It's easy to criticize the script, the unobtanium, the big Smurfs...
    But I think we should all take our hats off to Jim for creating such an EVENT MOVIE that pretty much everyone has seen (except a few people on this blog).

    Your argument is pretty weak Mark.
    You can do better than that.

  • Comment number 88.

    Enough with this 3D stuff, Mark.

    You've already lost our battle

    3D TVs are coming out, more and more movies are coming out on 3D, all future animation films are on 3D, all the latest Hollywood blockbusters are on 3D and Iìm sure sooner or later we'll see some proper drama made by some proper director coming out on 3D too.

  • Comment number 89.

    You do know you're preaching to the converted, don't you? You are reverting to your hectoring raging-trot roots if you think bellowing the same message to a small band of fellow depressives in the corner of a coffee shop is going to change the world.

  • Comment number 90.

    Think about this for a second. How do you see the world... in 3D?

    Why on earth wouldn't the ultimate movie experience be the one which matches our normal vision, in three dimensions?

    I would certainly agree that the technology is not quite there yet, but it is improving all of the time. I'd be amazed if we don't all have 3D TV sets in 20 years, and the majority of films are made as such.

  • Comment number 91.

    Whilst I agree that the actual storyline of Avatar was very simplistic, I thought the 3D effects where actually pretty cool. It could well be a 'fad' that wears thin, but with 3D boxes coming out now it seem's the tech compaines don't think so.
    I'd definately say the ticket price for Avatar 3D, was extortionate though!
    Mark have you been moonlighting on cbeebies?! My 14 month old Son thought your puppetry was fantastic. He was glued to the screen, and now he's ran off to find my old smurf figures.

  • Comment number 92.

    Totally agree on the fact 3d won't turn a bad content into a good one: no media (newspaper, tv, radio, internet etc.) has this sort of power.
    I haven't seen the Avatar in particular but I once have seen a theatrical experiment in south bank where a recorder play was shown in 3d (a short piece to demonstrate the technique).
    It was shocking good experience! The sense of depth and the perception of a life-like action was definitively there.

  • Comment number 93.

    What an absolute joke of license payers money!
    3D is meant to be pushing technology further to enhance the viewer quality and enjoyment. If you don't like the effects or the price, the answer is simple...DON'T GO AND SEE THE FILM IN 3D!
    It's not difficult now is it?
    Having looked through some of the other posters comments I find the arguements on view laughable. How can you actually think that this farce of a commentary is funny or even mildly entertaining? YOU PAY MONEY TO WATCH THIS MAN MAKE A JOKE OF HIMSELF.
    As for the comments on the film 'not actually being 3D'...thank you for the fantastic insight (if you didn't catch that I was being sarcastic). Yes it's not actually 3D, if you want that then go and play in virtual reality, but I'll bet it costs a hell of a lot more than going to the cinemas.
    When I saw 'The Science of...' I actually thought that this would be interesting and explain how the effect is actually done. If you want to slate the scientific background behind a film please introduce some scientific fact.
    Thank you for wasting my time, please review your life.

  • Comment number 94.

    I don't get all the fuss about 3D.

    When TV grew in the 1950s and attendences fell they tried 3D films, they failed.

    In the 1970s when home movies meant cinema attendances collapsed why trid... 3D!

    People aren't not watching 2D movies, the demand for them hasn't collapsed, they are just watching them on lap tops or massive plasma TVs.

    What film-makers are trying to do is create something you have to pay £10 to go and see. Cinema as "spectacle" you can't have in your living room. Exactly like they did in the 50s and 70s.

    I think what Kermode is saying is that 3D is on a hiding to nothing because after the "wow" factor has been done once it just goes back to plot. And the problem with the 3D films I have seen is that they forgo plot and compromise the film to get "pick-up" shots soley for 3D. In the end, and why 3D has failed and will fail again, is that it is a dead end, costs more to produce and is artistically moribund. However ultimatley it actually offers nothing in the long term that can't be acheived in cheaper 2D. A good film is good 2D or 3D, a bad one still bad in 3D.

    Oh and 3D films give me a massive headache the day after.

  • Comment number 95.

    Saw your video, Mark, and it reminded me of this. Not the politics so much as the description:

    3D Glasses: Watch the General Election in 3D. Gasp in horror as red and blue merge into one. Experience total disappointment as nothing changes.

    Without belittling the work of the tech people involved, Avatar was a terrible film.

  • Comment number 96.

    Mark, I fully agree with you on the 3D but I for one enjoyed avatar. People claiming it was terrible didnt hate the film, they hated the idea of it, the 'game changer' the fact that so much money just made it good. Break it down as a whole for a film before you slam it for the fact you dont like 3D. Characters: the characters were well acted, convincing and (to an extent) realistic. Plot: not original but still not bad, the last samurai was critically acclaimed and it wasnt the first to do that plot, some consistency people! Visually and audibly: it was completely believable as a world through the sounds and sights.

    Any other film made by any other director without the 3D and insane amounts of money would have been considered brilliant (again I refer you to the last samurai).

    Hate Cameron, hate the amounts of money and hate the 3D.

    I still preferred the hurt locker though.

  • Comment number 97.

    Quality!!! :)

  • Comment number 98.


  • Comment number 99.

    hurt locker was boring . it flopped at cinema. and all these people jumping on the band wagon now saying its my best film of the year. go away and give yourself a good shake

  • Comment number 100.

    you lot are so up your own arse, Avatar is a fun action film and if you slate it you are either trying to be a pretentious intelect or dont have a single fun bone in your body, and 3D adds to the experience because the image is closer and feels more real. The gimick will wear off and it will be the norm, just like HD was not really necessary but soon it will be that and nothing else.

    And the smurf joke is so old, wow you have found 2 characters that share the same colour skin, great one.


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