Tools of the Trade: Is “3D” Novelty or Norm?

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Glasses remain a part of the 3D moviegoing experience.3D film technology goes back to the 1890s, with the first 3D feature film being shown to a paying audience in 1922.  The Golden Age of 3D was the ’50’s. We all have seen the photos of the 50’s-era movie audience wearing the white cardboard 3D glasses.  Today, 3D computer animation combines with live action to fool the eye and thrill moviegoers with amazing effects.

Filmmaker James Cameron has co-invented a new stereoscopic camera system, which is employed in the making of his highly anticipated 3D movie Avatar, in theaters this month. Avatar is described as the most ground-breaking 3D film ever created.  3D promoters claim the pic will revolutionize filmmaking — potentially offering as big a leap in our viewing experience as the change from silent movies to sound or from black-and-white television to color.  Whether this is just good Hollywood marketing or a statement of fact, only time will tell.

There are roughly 39,000 movie screens in the U.S. but only around 2,500 are capable of showing digital 3D movies.  But, the imminence of Avatar has forced cinemas to gear up for 3D advancements.  At around $100,000 per screen conversion, theater chains are adding only 90-100 a month.

Studios would like to see more screens converted, as ticket prices are slightly higher and revenue per screen is three times higher than what the same movie’s 2D version generates.

 The signs indicate that 3D technology is moving from novelty to norm — enhancing the movie-going experience while not becoming the focus or a distraction from a good film’s other elements.  For now, however, the 3D glasses still remain a part of that experience.

(Graphic: Glasses remain a part of the 3d theater experience)

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