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The Future Is Bright, The Future Is 3D

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Stereo 3D, the type of media you need glasses to see, is enigmatic and much maligned. Firstly there is a running misunderstanding as to what a 3D movie actually is, writes Bruce Fitter, Stereo 3D Film Production Course Leader, SSR Manchester.

Is it a movie that relies on computer generated imagery (CGI) or is it a stereoscopic movie where a different image is create for the left and the right eye? Next, most people think stereo means two; as in stereoscopy means viewed with two eyes, a stereo audio system has two speakers etc. But 'stereo' comes from the Greek word 'stereos', meaning 'solid', so stereo scopic means that something looks solid.
Confusion aside, stereoscopic media has been derided from many directions. It has been called a passing fad, a visual effect not much different than colour grading, and a gimmick to make more money for the Hollywood oligarchy. Unluckily, in some cases S3D (stereo 3D) critics have had a case; especially when you consider the many 2D movies that have been dimentionalised (converted to 3D) for the sole intention of pulling more revenue in the quickest and dirtiest way possible.
So, what is Stereo 3D? Well firstly it is not a derivation of 2D, or at least it should not be. Stereoscopy predates 2D film and cinema going back to Charles Wheatstone in 1838, when he invented the stereoscope. There is even research that aims to show that Leonardo De Vinci painted a stereo partner to the Mona Lisa (see Tech Times). In other words, De Vinci may have meant for the Mona Lisa to be seen in stereo. There is even evidence that he had some strange coloured glasses. So stereo 3D is not derived from 2D film, nor is it what 2D is evolving to using the same logic.
It cannot be a passing fad, or at least if it is, 2D film has more to worry about as it is a newer art form. When confronted with all the facts, stereoscopic 3D media in all its forms must be considered a different art form to 2D film and as such needs to be approached with this in mind.
If we take a look at one of the latest and possibly greatest examples of S3D, 'Gravity', we see how it is different to 2D. What 2D film could convincingly handle Alfonso Cuaron's opening scene, which amounts to a 17 minute take? In S3D, this shot was subliminal, while in 2D it is just boring. The rest of the 'Gravity' film was similar in nature, but in S3D this lead to a greater empathy with the lead character.
Another area of contention comes from those who deride 3D television, saying it is dead or at best will amount to nothing as long people have to use glasses to view it. There is an element of truth in this, but not because of the glasses, which in a year or three will not be needed anyway. The problem with 3D TV is the content, which amounts to little more than movies, football and David Attenborough specials. I have nothing against David Attenborough and love his nature documentaries, but 3D TV will never be TV until people can tune into serialised shows such as crime shows, light entertainment and the like. At present it is more event and specials driven. The argument that S3D is too expensive to make these 'normal' TV shows has been circumvented through a white paper produced by Sony Pictures called '3D at 2D Economics'. The bottom line is that for S3D TV to flourish it needs far more content.
International media school SSR has recognised this opportunity for potential graduate work, as well as the present and past problems with the development of S3D. They recognise S3D as an art form in its own right and as such students on their new BSc in Stereo 3D Film Production will be prepared like no other to enter the S3D industry. They have stereoscopy practitioners from all round the world, both independents and from major production companies, guest speaking on this course either in person or via Skype. The experience brought to this course is amazing. SSR has a long history in audio (which it is known for) and with this will bring new areas of study around Dolby 'Atmos'.
Combine this with research-driven teaching; SSR, in conjunction with the validating university, University of Central Lancashire, are not only delivering the first undergraduate degree in S3D in the world, but what is shaping up to be the best of its kind for the future...

The article is also available in BFV online.


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