BBC - Mark Kermode's film blog

« Previous | Main | Next »

The 3D Guy Writes back

Post categories:

Mark Kermode | 10:42 UK time, Wednesday, 28 July 2010

About a month ago I saw Toy Story 3D: Did Somebody Actually Make a Good Case for 3D and I used this blog to say a few things about the film's 3D effects. Imagineer my surprise when a Disney representative, none other than Pixar's stereoscopic supervisor got in touch to put me right on their position...

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.


  • Comment number 1.

    I can't stand the suspense. Come on team, get us the video!

  • Comment number 2.

    Other films had better learn this lesson fast if the audiences are to be believed (see the graph on):

    (aplogies I pasted this link on another irrelevant thread last week)

    And unfortunately a flaw in your control experiment: By the time you're watching a film for a 3rd time, surely you're already less immersed...

  • Comment number 3.

    Pixar can do no wrong - even in their responses to Kermode Uncut.

    Working in the videogames industry, 3D is being introduced in a variety of titles. Where it seems to work and genuinely ADD to an experience is when depth perception is critical. The oft-cited example is in driving games, where 3D helps the player to judge how to make a turn as the 3d helps you to read it much better. This seems to me like a good USE of 3D technology.

    However, like any tech, it can also be ABused, and 3D retrofitting onto 2D movies seems to be a clear case of this, as well as 3D for 3D's sake movies that festoon the multiplexes these days. So I hope it's simply a matter of time before the fad phase in movies is over, and the technology is used to enhance the experience - just as "3d guy" says.

    Having seen Avatar in 3D, the experience of flying was better emotionally for me for having been in 3D (I'm sure there's something here to do with flying being popular in dreams and people dreaming in 3D), and a part of me wonders how Vertigo might have taken the audience even further into the character had it been shot in 3D.

    Lighting, music, editing have all been part of movie-making for decades and as such a) the technology is sufficiently mature and b) the way film-makers use that tech is equally mature (Michael Bay notwithstanding). I'm certain that 3D will be exactly the same.

  • Comment number 4.

    There it is, finally! The latest Kermode blog post! It was there, then it was gone again. Even after it was posted, the video was still not working. When it was revealed that the Pixar 3D guy actually wrote in, the anticipation reached ridiculous levels among fanboys.

    There have been many rumors. Some critics, who had already seen it, called it "A true revelation. A masterpiece of videoblogging. Simply stunning!" (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone).

    So what's all the fuss about? Is it as great as we all hope it is? To be perfectly honest: It can't quite live up to the hype. But it's a very well rounded blog-post. Yes, it has it's flaws. But then: doesn't every post? All I can say is: I was genuinely entertained from start to end.

    However, you'll ask, is it a masterpiece? Only time will tell.

  • Comment number 5.

    I watched it in 2D, and it's the best movie I've seen this year. I doubt that 3D adds any more to the experience over 2D, than 5.1 surround sound adds over classic stereo. Sure, it can be a cool gimick (if not overdone, as usually is), but in the end, the film either works on its own or fails on its own.

  • Comment number 6.


    Agreed. And I don't think the risk/reward equation works out. At best it becomes unnoticeable. At worst it's a very unpleasant, eye-straining distraction - possibly from what is already a good film. So still no 3D film and telly for me - although I'm all for the innovation being pushed into gaming, which is an authentically participatory medium for storytelling.

  • Comment number 7.

    Saw it in 2D. Never once did I stop and think it would be better in 3D. The Pixar guy makes some good points but John Williams score doesn't increase ticket prices and neither does it cause a 30% colour reduction. The sooner 3D goes away the better.

  • Comment number 8.

    I aggree that the lighting, sound and costumes combine to help form an engaging story BUT as soon as I put on those glasses and see the colour and definition loss in the picture I am imediatley aware that I am watching a film in 3D and it annoys me because it ends up being at the foremost of my thoughts.

    What it can add to a film takes away so much more in the process.

    I have had this same problem with the Nightmare before christmas, Coraline, Bolt, Avatar, Alice in Wonderland (awful 3D) and Toy Story 3 and I for one am not going to give 3D anymore of my time until the problems it has are overcome.

    The clips played in the above video look so much better than what I saw at the cinema in 3D. 3D belongs with horror films (some, not all) or theme park rides and in my opinion it doesn't have the impact that surround sound can make to a film or what blu-ray can offer for home viewing.

    Give me a clean, crisp, bright, 2D Toy Story any day.

  • Comment number 9.

    [cough] exactly what i said re sound design/surround sound augmenting the experience:p The real problem with 3D is the general lack of taste in execution combined with distorted expectations from overblown marketing spin. Looking forward to seeing Toy Story this week.

  • Comment number 10.

    Upon seeing "Inception" on Monday, it reminded me how great movies don't need 3-D. I was immersed in the story, intrigued by the characters and the special effects blew me away. Halfway through the movie, I overheard a couple sitting behind me, saying "this would be incredible in 3-D". I wanted to slap them across the face and yell: "No! The movie is perfectly fine without it! Shut up!".

    Now I feel like saying the same thing to Pixar.

    I saw Toy Story 3 both in 3-D and 2-D and I thouroughly enjoyed both movies - but only one of them had a 30 percent colour loss and gave me a headache. Because movies that are genuinley good, or even great, don't require gimmicks like 3-D to "immerse the audience". Although, that being said, if 3-D was to stay it HAS to stay within the kids/fantasy genre. It cannot expand. It would kill cinema.

    Tell me Mark, can you honestly imagine "The Exorcist" in 3-D? And if you can, what would it gain for having a third dimension?

  • Comment number 11.

    Dear Dr K.

    I believe that the reason that you forgot the 3D when watching Toy Story 3 was precisely the fact that you were swept up in the story on the characters and tear jerking moments. Everything in that film combined so well that no single element drew attnetion to itself and allowed the viewer to be swept up in the story which is what all films should do.

    A great film should never draw attention to how it was made, a great film makes the audience forget all the technical aspects such as cinematography and lighting and in this case the 3D and simply lets the audience enjoy the experiance of filmmaking whether it be an arthouse film or the latest blockbuster.

    This is why 3D is still a gimmick in my eyes. Films should immerse you in 2D rather than needing 3D to mask and draw your attention from all the errors in storytelling and character design.

    Toy Story 3's 3D works because you forget its there.

    But it would still immerse you even if you simply saw it in 2D.

    Thank You

  • Comment number 12.

    I did a pre-emptive reply to this thread in "Did someone actually make a good case for 3D" at #107
    I went to see Toy Story 3D the other day and found it to be a wonderful, moving and funny piece of cinema. I think that the script and direction were both so amazingly good that the 3D aspects became futile. Both myself and my daughters were completely swept up in the great storytelling. I have said before that 3D tends to work best in movies like this, that are totally CG, however it is no way important or essential when a movie is this good.
    In Toy Story 3 I felt that the 3D aspects were fairly mild and made very little impact, they really needn't have been there. When you complete your experiment Mark, and see it in 2D you will realise this. I kept lifting my glasses in the screening I went to and was amazed to see just how much loss of colour and brightness there is when wearing the glasses. I so wish that I hadn't wasted the extra money and just seen it in 2D. I will learn from this mistake.

  • Comment number 13.

    As implied by other contributers the main problem with watching 3D movies at present is it's still all so relatively new audiences are just too concious of looking out for noticeable differences.

    We'll only get to really enjoy the movie again when 3D becomes second nature, but then we'll probably be on to the next thing - holographs or such. I would compare it to the first cinema audiences rushing to the exits on seeing a 2D black and white steam train rushing towards them even in 2D - something a modern day more familiar viewer would find ridiculous.

  • Comment number 14.

    Got to agree with what's been said: it does appear that Pixar can do wrong. Long may that continue.

    As a side issue - and I'm sure this point has been covered in previous discussions of 3D - I'd like to point out that for some of us the debate is rather academic. I have poor eyesight. Specifically, I have one eye more dominant than the other, and this means that I can't actually 3D films (I have tried, and believe me when I say that it does more harm than good, particularly with regard to headaches). Therefore, whether 3D succeeds or fails is largely irrelevant to me. Except...

    Except there have now been two occasions when my local cinema have taken the decision to show movies in 3D format only. Now, I understand that my position is not that of the majority, but I do find it annoying that on these two occasions I have essentially been disenfranchised - put in a position where I can't watch the film at all. So I would say this to film makers and cinema chains alike: if 3D becomes the norm, please don't forget that there are some of us who can't join your glorious revolution and would appreciate it if we were left with something we can watch.

    /threadjack :-P

  • Comment number 15.

    This wonderful response brings up the first negative in the trilogy. We're being charged, not so subtle, extra to watch a 3-subtle-D film.
    Great movie but I don't get how 3D'ing up an already 3D animation works on any level.

  • Comment number 16.

    I'm not won over at all, but Whitehill and Pixar's intentions seem to be for the best and his response and attitude towards the technology at least deserves a round of applause.

    Also I've been trying to figure out what's on that shirt you're wearing under your jacket for like a week now and it's officially began to drive me insane. In fact, I think I might literally be dying.

  • Comment number 17.


    Marks wearıng hıs Comsat Angels tee shırt. A band he thınks were better than New Order. Agreed.

  • Comment number 18.

    Ha ha, well that's a debatable point.

    Thanks for the tip.

  • Comment number 19.

    Having watched Toy Story 3 I have to say I'm amazed that Mark forgot about the 3D. Perhaps it's because it's so much better than other 3D films (I've only seen Up in 3D to compare, which didn't have a lot of 3d in it).
    So when watching Toy Story 3, two things completely detracted from the viewing experience
    1) The brightness/colour loss issue - which was chronic during the climatic scenes in the movie.
    2) Ghosting - this is probably worse, in all action scenes there is a real motion blur. The one scene that springs to mind is where Buzz 'death slides' along the string when escaping from the room. This is in the trailers, and has been heavily used in promoting the film, and it's clear that it looks better on TV than in the cinema.
    Sorry - I liked the film, but the 3D stopped me loving it.

    Mark - for someone who urges people to complain to the projectionist/management when focus is out, whom would you suggest we complain to about 3D?

    (So glad Christopher Nolan is unconvinced by 3D)

  • Comment number 20.

    I've seen it in 2D and 3D and found that the only point I was aware of 3D was a scene in which (no spoilers) a pen lid was kicked toward the exit of the cinema. The 2D version looks a lot more vibrant, surely because it isn't as dim as 3D usually looks. The worldbeater in dimness though is reputed to be The Last Airbender, in terms of both 3D and content. A storm approaches...

  • Comment number 21.

    I first saw Toy Story 3 in 2D at my local indie cinema for $6 AUD and loved it. After Dr K's review on Five Live where he saw it in 3D I was determined to see it in this format so I did at my local multiplex for $20AUD. Apart from the huge price difference, there was little difference in both formats.

    Like the good Dr said, the movie was so immersive and impressively made that you did indeed forget it was made in 3D. It just added more depth to what I was seeing. Completely subtle which is what I expect from a movie. I didn't even mind the colour loss as the movie was made with such a superb depth of colour. It was just as emotional and uplifting and even with the resulting headache I was glad to have viewed this movie in both formats.

    Two thumbs up for Pixar for their understanding of what the technology can do for movies as well as enhancing the cinema experience.

    Loved Inception in 2D and have no intention of seeing it in 3D. It was superb as is.

  • Comment number 22.

    I went to see Toy Story 3 the other day in 3d and, like many who have posted here already, I really enjoyed the film because the story was fantastically paced, the characters had lost none of their charm, the jokes were spot on and it was probably the most emotionally mature of all the Toy Story movies. The 3D worked well because, like Dr K said, it was never jarringly obvious and you forgot you were watching a 3D film.
    Bob Whitehill says that 3D in Toy Story 3 the 3D was used subtly and cleverly just like good lighting and focal length can be used in a movie, which is definitely true. However my problem with 3D is this; if I see a film that employs a great use of deep focus photography or doesn't mean I have to pay an extra fiver for that privilege.

  • Comment number 23.

    Totally agree with the big honcho's position. I watched it in 3D last night and also forgot I was watching it in 3D, and I believe I enjoyed it more so because of this.
    In Avatar and Alice in Wonderland I found the 3D too distracting. Took me away from being completely immersed in the film. If I'm thinking "wow that 3D effect was good" then I'm focusing on the technology and not on the story or the characters.
    Full marks to Toy Story 3. wonderful film and the 3D made it an even-more enjoyable experience.

  • Comment number 24.

    Of course if the story sucks you in you forget that its a film or how it's made, is that something we still have to debate?

    You don't watch a good black and white film and think about it's black and whiteness. You just watch. I don't know anyone who huffs and puffs if a film doesn't have surround sound – but I don't hang around with obsessive geeks.

    In my mind 3D is no different to widescreen, in that it's a bit extra and the director needs to rethink how he frames things – but if you have a good story to tell (rather than particular shots you want to show) it'll work on a flat, small screen too.

    That does add a problem for a lot of you though. Complaining about colour loss is as silly as saying 3D adds so much. If the story is good you won't notice, or should care, about either. Complain about the extra you're paying for nothing, full stop.

    Just had a thought, should cinemas charge more for films which actually have a good tale to tell? That are actually quite good? A Kermode review surcharge?

  • Comment number 25.

    Looking forward to 'The 3D Amigos'.

  • Comment number 26.

    Fact of the matter is that Pixar are the masters in this field. I'm not surprised at all that Dr K was finally moved (slightly) by Toy story 3.

    The problem lies with all the bullspit, mug the audience 3D rip offs out there.

  • Comment number 27.

    3D is great, however the question that no one ever asks is. How bad is watching, or playing games in 3D is it for your eyes?

  • Comment number 28.

    Well now we have that sorted out I can't wait until the latest black & white, scratched and silent movie comes out.....

    There seems to be a number of comments above (inc Mr Kermode) that forget about the advancements in technology. In fact an example of a film that 'without 3D' is un bearable is the most successful of all time...

  • Comment number 29.

    #27 - Tango

    There is some research to say that it is potentially quite detremental to one's eyesight, especially amongst younger children and over prolonged periods of watching. With 3D films they eye is forced to change the way it perceives depth, with the lens actually flexing differently to the way in which it would normally. This potentially poses some real long term problems, especially if 3D TV takes off and people are consuming tens of hours of 3D programming per week.

  • Comment number 30.

    All new media technologies are initially overused and gimicky. Then there's a consumer backlash and then the industry focuses on total consumer experience again.

    When videogames first became available on CD, and developers all of a sudden had huge amounts of storage to play with, they started inserting huge lengths of video into the gameplay. This of course soon became pretty irritating and there was a customer backlash to which the games companies reacted. It will be the same with 3D films.

    I prefer watching animated films in 3D, though there is irritating blurring on fast moving scenes, and it will be animated films that ensure 3D doesn't go away completely.

    P.S. Very interesting comment Craig-Disko.

  • Comment number 31.

    having seen toy story 3 first in 2d and second in 3d, the biggest difference was actually not in the main feature, but rather in the short film 'night and day'. first time round i and the screen full of kids were a little bit unimpressed by this short and wanted the movie to start asap. In 3D it was totally breathtaking as the 3D images were seen through the largely black cloth and added weight and depth to the montages on offer. It looked really cool and helped immerse me the experience much more than in 2D which was very flat in comparison. IN saying that, the main feature was just as good in both versions, but at least my son (nearly 3) wasn't having to watch a blurred vision in 2d- he can't really help taking the glasses off in 3d films.

  • Comment number 32.

    We seem to be moving towards a position that 3D (if used well) is not essential, but could add to a movie. In the Pixar guy's words make it "richer and more impactful".

    The flurry of quick cash-in conversion of 2D to 3D flicks has done 3D no good at all (and in 2D Clash of the Titans is still pants - garbled Greek myths for 5-yr-olds complete with a panto villain); used well 3D could 'enhance'.

    Some genres are clearly more suited to 3D than others; but as always any 3D movie still has to work story and character wise in 2D (as Avatar does) for the DVD/BluRay and TV releases - in order to engage the audience.

    Rumour has it that Chris Nolan might be doing his third Batman in either 3D - or entirely in IMAX; Tron Legacy could be quite eye-popping in 3D. Time will tell.

    #21. Inception is only in 2D and IMAX. Pity, as Inception looks as though 3D could make it 'richer and more impactful'. (I'm hoping to catch it next week.)

  • Comment number 33.

    #27 - Tango

    I'd just like to second what Craig said about 3D being bad for you, especially for children under the age of 7.

    It's all explained rather comprehensively here:

  • Comment number 34.

    Maybe the problem is that we see boring ordinary life in 3D all the time. The only way film makers can make us aware of the virtues of 3d is by having objects thrusting straight between our eyes. If they really want to take the next step lets have Periphal Vision films with a 360 wrap around screen. So we're standing in the middle of the action with stuff we can't see going on behind us. Now that's the future of cinema for the next 5 mintues.

  • Comment number 35.

    Toy Story is charming, beautiful, hilarious, heartfelt, intelligent and engaging. When has 3D ever added any of those things to a film ?. Forgetting you're watching something in 3D is the best way to enjoy 3D... says quite a lot about it, does it not ?.

  • Comment number 36.

    Saw TS3 in 2D 'bright-o-vision' today. Perfectly fine. I really can't imagine what 3D would bring to it.

  • Comment number 37.

    As a previous comment stated, the main issue I have with 3D is that I can't watch the films. Being blind in my left eye precludes me from taking my kids to the cinema nowadays as 3D films are being pushed by the studios to the detriment of the 2D version.

    Surely cinemas need to be keeping this in mind and at least making some of the showings 2D. They all have to provide disabled access, so why not 2D versions for those of us with a visual impairment?

  • Comment number 38.

    #37 - Paul Fletcher

    I am a bit confused as to why you feel you can't go and watch a 3D film with your kids. You may be blind in one eye, but as long as you wear the glasses anyway you will see the film in 2D, while your kids will be seeing 3D.

    The point of the glasses is that they are polarised in such a way that only every other frame of the film reaches each eye alternately. Without the glasses on you will see the same fuzzy mess as anyone else not wearing them. With the glasses on your good eye will be seeing only every second frame and therefore an "unfuzzified" 2D, flat as a pancake version of the same film.

  • Comment number 39.

    I’m afraid this is going to be rather long-winded, and I shall repeat myself several times, but I want to make sure I cover this thoroughly. I’m a student of painting and drawing, and my opinion comes from my inside-out knowledge of art.

    All art is fundamentally about realising intentions through manipulation of a medium. By definition, each medium, 3D included, interacts with our brains in a unique way. Therefore, there are some things that 3D film is better suited to expressing than 2D film, just as there are things that 2D will always be better at expressing. The trick to making a great 3D film is to find what 3D does best and exploit it. This will require a new field of cinematography which has not yet been explored except, I would argue, by Pixar. However, I only think they’ve taken the first couple of steps. Unlike in James Cameron’s Avatar, there wasn’t a single shot in Toy Story 3 that did not work in 3D. It was very carefully designed so that the medium wasn’t working against their intentions. They even took a small step further than that, and started to use 3D as a positive thing- taking advantage of capabilities that it has that 2D doesn’t. Both of these observations reflect the sentiments of the Pixar representative who contacted you, and I believe the first one (that every shot worked in 3D) is why you forgot you were watching a 3D film. I’ll also add that usually, the medium itself is not the point of a piece; what the artists are trying to express is. The medium is just a language with which to express that, so it usually shouldn’t be obvious (so yes, it’s a good thing). When the medium is made obvious purely for its own sake, it’s a gimmick. Nothing wrong with that, but it does get tired after a while.
    However, where I think most people, including the representative who contacted you, get it wrong is in saying that 3D enhances the experience. To an artist like myself, this is blasphemy of the highest order. No medium is superior- they are only better at expressing certain things. There are things that oils can do that inks cannot. There are things that inks can do that oils cannot. There are things that 3D can do that 2D cannot. There are things that 2D can do that 3D cannot. Some stories should be written as comic books, some as prose novels. Some stories should be told in 2D, and some in 3D.
    The representative (I can’t be bothered to look up his name, alright?) compares it to a musical score, but it’s entirely possible to create a film that is best made without a score. It doesn’t always enhance. In art, there is no good or bad. There is only ‘A leads to B’. Do you want B? If so, do A. If not, do not do A. Some ‘A’s are very often used across more than one medium, such as a musical score in films, games and plays, or brushstroke variation in painting. Some ‘A’s, like the choice of medium, are not like that and decide so much about the way the piece will go that they aren’t even close to universally used.
    I also disagree with the idea that 3D is more immersive. Is there anyone who watched an engrossing 2D film, but could never get into it all the way because they couldn't get over the fact that it was flat? An immersive film is simply a GOOD film. It doesn’t matter if it’s “closer to reality”. Video games are closer to reality in the same way (reality is interactive), but they’re only equally as immersive (depending on the specific game/film and audience member) and won’t replace film. Even an entirely unrealistic game like Tetris can be as immersive as James Cameron’s Avatar. It’s art. We don’t need it to be realistic to fool our brains into being immersed.

    I will know when the first of the truly breakthrough 3D films has arrived, the film that first really grabs 3D and owns it, because it will be as absurd to watch that film in 2D as it would be to watch The Fall in black and white. The Fall is a film for which colour is an integral part of the director’s artistic expression.
    3D is not, and cannot be, The Future (TM). It may well be that it takes over the film world- perhaps the video game world too- and 2D films and games become few and far between, but one medium cannot replace another. Perhaps this is an obscure reference, but there are painters who still work in egg tempera- an old, notoriously difficult and little-used medium, because they find it to be the best language to communicate their intentions. It also may be that, when directors start to figure out how to really exploit 3D, that audiences tend to prefer 2D, and 3D only get used sometimes.

    I am excited for the first film to truly embrace 3D and lead the way into a new craft, and, as a lover of film, you should be too. Eventually, the gimmicks will dry up and the directors and cinematographers of the world will gradually realise what an opportunity they have. We will have beautiful 3D films. I just hope that day comes soon, and that 2D film can still pack a theatre in 50 years. Apart from corporate scheming, there is no reason why one should have to be more popular.

  • Comment number 40.

    For me the choice isn't 2D vs 3D, but "unassisted brain-rendered 3D" vs "assisted brain rendered 3D".

    Every film I've ever watched has been in 3D. My brain interprets the 2D image on the screen into a 3D picture ("unassisted brain-rendered 3D"). I never feel like I'm watching a flat image.

    So do I need to wear special glasses to acheive this effect when my brain can do it on its own.

    A "3D movie" which requires you to wear 3D glasses isn't 3D. Again, it's a 2D image which your brain interprets into 3D with the aid of glasses which provide additional data to help the brain do calculations.

    But do you need this assistance? Does that make it better? That's where it boils down to a matter of opinion (you know, where yours is right and everyone elses is sadly misled).

    I suppose you could argue the 3D looks better, but once I'm into a movie it doesn't matter to me. I certainly don't think any difference adds to the storytelling. And many argue that the distraction can take away from the storytelling.

    I guess a selling point for 3D would be "Gives you something extra to look at during mediocre movies".

  • Comment number 41.

    I know it's been out for years, but recently I saw Tim Burton's 'The Corpse Bride' on TV and I absolutely loved it. While watching your blog post about 3D and the experience of forgetting you're watching a 3D movie, it got me thinking about whether or not I forgot I was watching a stop-motion, animated film. And you know what? It did. The characters, the songs, the originality of the story, the dark humour all made me forget I was watching an animated tale, and that surely is the point. Just as a good book will make you forget you're reading print on paper pages bound by some leather.

    So yes Mark, you were right the first time: you forgot you were watching a 3D film, because you were ENGROSSED, ABSORBED by the plot and character development; by the script, the jokes, the pathos. Or to put it another way, your mind actually IGNORED the 3D entirely and instead chose to focus on those things.

    Now, I know Pixar would like you to believe that the reason you "forgot" you were watching a 3D film is because, ahem, their 3D was so good it was designed that way, but come on! Of course he's going to say that! You are right and the Pixar guy is wrong!

    PS: As a recent study in another blog has shown (mentioned elsewhere on your blog in fact) there are clear trends that 3D is already dying! So let's all hail the Doctor!

    PPS: On another subject entirely, I just bought The Evil Dead (Uncut) on DVD, and will watch it tonight. I've seen both Evil Dead and Evil Dead II before, and it occurrs to me that if only those silly censors in the 80's had seen the 'Making of' Evil Dead II documentary, watching Sam Raimi and chums mess about on set (no doubt it was the same on the set of The Evil Dead), they would have fallen about laughing and saw it for what it was, instead of getting all riled up into a phoney moral panic.

  • Comment number 42.

    I must admit that I forgot I was watching it in 3D too, though the whole thing still left me annoyingly slightly underwhelmed - and I hate myself for it. Probably seeing Inception the day before didn't help and perhaps my expectations were too high, but I found Toy Story 3 to be, well, predictable and not that funny. Which is a shame as I adore the first two.

  • Comment number 43.

    The comparison between Avatar and Toy Story 3 when it comes to 3D is, for me, difficult to reconcile. Not liking Avatar as a film whilst loving Toy Story 3 to bits aside, I found Avatar to be actually very difficult to be fully immersed in. Whilst I had no problem with the scenes set in the human environment surrounded by technology grounded in reality and sci-fi design conventions that, as a film goer, I am already familiar with, once you introduce completely CG 10ft blue people, you get a cartoon. No matter how much detail is lavished on the CG characters, we are a very long way from confusing an audience as to who is real and who is not, and the quality of the surrounding movie was not able to compensate in the same way as even ...Roger Rabbit?. With Toy Story, it being entirely in CG, there is not the work demanded of the audience to treat CG and real scenes and characters with the same emotional investment, and so immersion became much simpler.

    My point is, like many of the other comments, that I find forgetting you're watching a 3D movie to be less of a commendation that forgetting you're watching an animated movie. In fact, whilst watching Toy Story (in 2D), I forgot I was watching a MOVIE. I forgot my seat, I forgot the 'exit' sign above the cinema door, I forgot the other people in the cinema, even forgetting my betrothed sat beside me.

    I suppose my final point is that Toy Story 3 cannot be the film that moves the goal posts for, or vindicates 3D in any way. The traditional elements of the filmmaking involved came together so perfectly that whatever contraption you have sitting on your face is just as much of an irrelevance as the people watching it with you.

  • Comment number 44.

    #40 scoggy, I salute you for pedantry far in advance of my own. I would further add, however, that all movies are in at least 3D, usually consisting of a 2D image, with the added 3rd dimension of time. A truly 2D movie would be a slide show, with a single slide.

    Now with the so called "3D" movies we are not actually given any further dimensions, but an extra 2D image for each moment in time. By this standard, it would be hard to call them 4D as we are not being given a 3D picture in any interpretation, with the added 4th dimension of time. In fact we are being given essentially the same film twice, shot from an almost imperceptibly different angle, and shown simultaneously to each of our eyes. Maybe we could be charitable and call it 3D plus. On the other hand, perhaps we should keep this discussion on the downlow, before the industry realizes we're seeing the same film twice and decide to charge us double instead of the comparatively slight surcharge for sharing the dirt behind our ears with past and future patrons.

    As a very fine New Yorker cartoon once posited: "The illusion of motion created by 24 still frames per second is worth the price of admission alone."

    Now I will regretfully do a fairly pretentious thing, that is quote from my own blog review of Toy Story 3 (please forgive me):

    "A short side bar on the 3D, which I saw in IMAX projection. It is probably the best 3D ever achieved. It is smooth and continuous in its vistas, there are few moments when you see a "gap" between a layer of foreground and background, by this I mean the jump that shows you that only a certain number of flat planes are being employed as in old or cheap or retrofitted 3D. However, this means you don't notice the 3D so much, which makes it sadly superfluous, despite it being a crowning achievement of the form."

    "To add to this there are cinematic moments, when there is a shift of focus in the depth of field, what this means, is that certain things, closer or farther are in better focus, whilst the rest goes soft or fuzzy. The focus may shift within the same shot, and it is an editorial or directorial device to direct the audiences attention. This is antithetical to the whole notion of 3D naturalism. Those of us with 20/20 vision, or not looking through binoculars or a viewfinder, do not perceive reality in an out of focus haze for objects near or far. Of course our eyes do employ focus, but our brains put it together as one in-focus picture."

    Sorry about that. I guess "scoggy" above has made that point better than I.

    I do find "3D Guy"'s suggestion that a John Williams score isn't noticeable and merely enhances a film (as though it were simply a subliminal communication) in a way that is on a par with the way 3D "enhances" the film experience, as oversimplistic and a bit insulting. Try watching the last few nearly wordless minutes of E.T. without the Williams score as buoyant counterpoint to the images, and I predict you'll find it flat as a pancake. It's not just a bad analogy, saying that 3D enhances a movie is like saying the work of the production accountant adds touches to the movie that the audience may not consciously appreciate, but that their delicate handling of numbers gives us a fuller more realistic experience. Yes, I meant that analogy to be worse.

    So my verdict, for the little it's worth: the better the 3D, the more superfluous it becomes. When standard cinematic techniques are employed that interrupt the naturalism of 3D, then what is the point of it anyway. The only thing 3D adds to the vocabulary of cinema are pointy in your face moments, is live theater any better when you sit in the front row and catch the spit of lisping thespians? When 3D avoids the vulgar pointyness, it may be immersive, but unnecessary.

    (I was going to say pointless)

  • Comment number 45.

    I'm never going to a 3D movie again.

    I'm just back from Toy Story 3 in 3D and found the experience little short of horrendous. I've tried to avoid 3D up to now, mainly because I just don't see the point. My brain already works in 3-dimensions, and I've enjoyed cinema perfectly well in 2 dimensions up until now! I'm also not interested in big special effects or action movies, but I do like to give Pixar the benefit of the doubt, especially when i'm taking my kids.

    First point, discomfort. I wear large frame glasse all the time.can't see without them. Jamming a heavy wraparound style rubber pair on top of them is not comfortable.

    Second point. Maybe it's my prescription (my eyes are quite different and my lenses are varifocals) but I basically couldn't see much of the film. Imagine painting the bottom of two milk bottles dark grey and sticking them over your eyes, that's pretty much the effect.

    Third point: The special effects were amazing - instant migraine!

    I feel angry about this technology. It clearly doesn't work for everybody and i think it's an intrusion that I will now avoid, like dubbed movies. Yuck!

  • Comment number 46.

  • Comment number 47.

    This is for cinema only and what happens on TV is still debatable. About 1 in every 10 people cannot see pop-out 3d although this is an estimate and a large scale study may find this figure is higher. Eyesight is important so older viewers will proportionately not be able to view '3d' because as people age, eye conditions become more common. This percentage is in addition to people who can see the pop-out 3d but suffer severe headaches, eye pain and sickness caused by the effect of the movement. This may be another 1 in 10 people. Add it together and maybe 20% of the total viewing public can't see pop-out 3d. That's lots of seats. At this point I haven't seen reports of ANY problems with Depth 3d.

    It is important to understand there are TWO forms of 3d, 'pop-out' and 'depth'. The pop-out and depth techniques are very different in terms of viewing and the implications for creating a film but they are commonly lumped together under the term 3D without any clarity. At present they both require glasses. Pop-out 3d will probably always need glasses but depth 3d can already be seen without them, if you have the correct screen.

    So why is there a problem? Pop-out 3d places a moving focal point in front of the screen. This is the buzz. BUT, you must be at the correct distance from the screen to match the pop out focal point. What this means is that when you are watching a scene in a movie that is pop-out 3d, you must be first in the center of the screen. Any angle off the center and you can start to lose image quality - floating hands but no body etc. AND you must be at the focal distance the camera team have decided for the shot. Say 70ft. You must sit here to get the correct focus. If you've been in the cinema with a half full screening, everyone bunches together in the centre section. Now you know why. If you sit closer than the focal point (say less than 70 ft) your eyes have to move outwards e.g. move each eye towards each ear. Try it, it's disturbing.

    Back to the focal point. When you cut the shot or change scenes, your focal point changes. Now it may be 60 ft not 70ft. Your eye must refocus. If you have fast cutting or fast scene changes you start getting problems because your eyes are refocusing with each change. Equally you should remove the background complexity to reduce stresses on the eye. This means it affects how you make films. Long tracking one shots, low contrast tones, static cams, low interest or no backgrounds, longer screen times to eye compensate and/or reduced complexity of story telling or very selective use of the 3d. But the bits without 3d are compromised due to colour dulling from the glasses you've watched the - effectively - 2d bits in.

    Technique Number 2 - Depth 3d is called autosterioscopic 3d. It also requires two cameras to film it but what it achieves is a static focal point e.g. the screen you are watching is the focal point for your eye - just like in 2d movies. It gives full depth of field (to infinity) so everything in the screen is in full sharpness e.g. no blurring. You can have amazing backgrounds without problems. You can also have fast cuts and changes because of the static focal point. It is possible to create a screen viewable from any angle, at any distance, without glasses by placing a 'lens' for want of a better term over the screen. This effect, more common in video games produces depth and has been sought after for decades by cinema's best photographers e.g. Gregg Toland. The depth effect makes it look like you are looking into something that has no limit. Colour clarity is also excellent.

    So remember there are TWO techniques which can be used alone or together e.g. pop-out 3d and depth 3d often referred to (wrongly) as one system of '3d'. I hope this helps answer some of the very astute points raised here. Pop-out 3d is the buzz of the moment but it has a much better brother in depth 3d which is not getting the notice it deserves.

  • Comment number 48.

    I am quite surprised more people haven’t complained about 3D. As a person who has poor eyesight in one eye I am unable to view 3D at all. The advocate companies pushing 3D into the home and the cinemas also showing 3D don’t seem to think some people can’t view programming in 3D and its really starting to grate. A recent example is my local Cinema is showing Toy Story 3 in both formats, but the showings for the 2D version as on 3 times at the beginning of the day, but the 3D variant is shown thought the day into late evening. As I’m at work and can’t get to a showing till 7:30 at the earliest I’m unable to see this film.

    I personally don’t care for 3D and I hope it goes the way of Betamax but I can’t see it going too quickly but it’s more a gimmick rather than a format.

  • Comment number 49.

    Mark, don't bother seeing it again. I can categorically state (after seeing it in 2D and 3D), that the 3D achieves none of what Pixar are hoping it does, but then I'm also of the opinion HD does none of that either. They're a nice evolution in film quality and presentation, but they do not make me enjoy a film more in any emotional way or help make me more invested in the movie.

  • Comment number 50.

    I should also add that this is the first movie I've seen in both formats and I was amazed by the loss of vibrance in the 3D version. I'd heard people refer to it, but wow, it was really noticeable and not in a good way.

  • Comment number 51.

    Hey Mark, I don't know if you'll get around to seeing this post but it appears you're not the only one with a desire to make retrofitting 3D shades. 3D Vision has released a blog post outlining ways to take a single side image from a 3D projection on NVIDIA (popular computer graphics chip manufacturer) 3D system. It's only a matter of time before we have proper hacks for theater projection!

    Hope you're enjoying your vacation. A vacation that leaves me rantless for 5 WHOLE WEEKS! *Very sad face*

  • Comment number 52.

    Having now seen TS3 in both 3D and non 3D, I can grudgingly see the gentleman from Pixar's point. The depth of field is lovely to see, and does draw you further in to some scenes. The argument is much like watching on a normal cathode ray screen, or a fancy 50 inch jumbo tron with surround sound - the story wins out, and is captivating, but the way in which the film is digested can be changed. In this instance, I'm loathe to admit that the 3D was a benefit.

    The good news of course is that this is a huge minority. 3D is our (the viewing public)'s punishment for piracy. It will never take off as a home entertainment medium, and with any luck in a few years, the storm will blow over, or the tech will improve. I've no objection to Toy Story, but the exception should not in this case define the rule.

  • Comment number 53.

    The concept of 3D cinema reminds me of the Father Ted episode "Hell";

    "This is small, but those, are far away..."

  • Comment number 54.

    I may be too late for this but will give it a plug anyway!

    Dr K – you may have already got your hands on this but here are the cold hard facts for all and sundry and you will be happy to know:

  • Comment number 55.

    At the cinema this weekend I saw a trailer for Pirahna 3D. It occured to me that THAT was the sort of film that suits 3D: ridiculous (and, you would hope, fun) movies in which the story, characters etc are secondary and the action/gore/effects etc are at the fore. Bubblegum for the eyes.

    I'm not trying to be snobbish. As a teenager I'd have loved to go to see Piranha 3D with my mates.

    Dare I say Transformers 3 would benefit from 3D disctracting the viewer from the lack of effort put in to other aspects of the film?

  • Comment number 56.

    I have a friend who has 0% vision in one eye, so his everyday life is a flat 2D plane. The saddest thing he's ever told me, was how he decided to go with his wife to a 3D movie in the hopes he would experience a 3rd dimensional awakening. He did not. Reality was he ended up sitting through Avatar behind 2 pairs of glasses, experiencing the reduced brightness of 3D, while only being able to view the film in 2D... wishing he'd had a 3rd cheaper option of seeing the film in 1D.

  • Comment number 57.

    I have been shouting this at my computer whenever I listen to you, and finally need to write it down:

    When I watch a really good black and white movie, I get so immersed in the story, I forget it is monochrome. When I read a great book, I get "sucked into" the plot, and forget that I am reading printed text on the page.

    This is not because the black and white lighting has been carefully managed, or because I particularly subtle type-font has been used, it is because a GREAT story will always capture the imagination, and you will forget the format in your eagerness to engage with the tale.

    That is why paying extra for 3D is a waste of money, unless the film is rubbish, in which case the "pointyness" can serve as a pleasant distraction from the poor acting / ludicrous dialogue / stupid plot / unrealistic accents.

    Thank you. I feel better now.

  • Comment number 58.

    I think 3D does have a place, if these Avatar sequels appear then you can expect a 3D "experience" in a specially constructed world built for the format, & hopefully Cameron will add some depth to the story as well this time.
    But 3D retrofits or films just for the sake of it is pointless & a waste of time, I cant imagine Alice in Wonderland been any less boring for being in 3D.


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.