Posted in electronic imaging and displays, Optics

Going 3D

In the last post I mentioned going from real life to a 2D character in a virtual world, but now let’s go back (or forward, depending how you look at it) in 3D. James Cameron’s success with Avatar has got him thinking about other films that might work in 3D. From NPR:

Imagine watching Casablanca, Lawrence of Arabia or Lord of the Rings in 3D. The day that fantasy actually makes its way to a theater near you may not be too far off. If the upcoming 3D science fiction epic Avatar becomes the massive blockbuster that many have predicted, it could be a game-changer for the entire movie business by opening a floodgate of new 3D movies.

Industry analysts say the new wave of films to take advantage of the technology won’t be limited to action, animated or science fiction, either. Avatar director James Cameron promised fans last summer on a Comic-Con panel that he’d convert his biggest hit into 3D.

“We’re going to dimensionalize Titanic,” he proclaimed, to cheers. “Turn it into high-quality 3D.”

Cameron has already started to retrofit the 1997 movie, and he says it could hit theaters within two years.

A small handful of companies have developed technology that converts existing live-action movies into 3D, using highly specialized software to double the image and add depth. (It’s vastly improved from the 3D of the 1950s or even the 1980s — which brought us the better-off-forgotten Jaws 3-D.)

Proponents describe this 3D technology as an immersive new way to tell and experience stories.

But some critics, like film scholar Kristin Thompson, say it’s still a gimmick. Once the novelty wears off, she wonders if millions of people will stand in line for tickets to 3D versions of movies they’ve already seen repeatedly.

Read the full story, or listen to the audio.

Coincidentally, Wired just put out a blog post discussing which movies they’d like to see in 3D.



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.

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