Friday, 18 September 2009
Why economics dictates 3D will survive
In Tuesday's Guardian, Cory Doctorow wrote a widely circulated piece about how 3D won't work in the long run. His main argument is that 3D is a cinema-only experience; as he says:
Movies, after all, rely on the aftermarket of satellite, broadcast and cable licenses, of home DVD releases and releases to airline entertainment systems and hotel room video-on-demand services – none of which are in 3D. If the movie couldn't be properly enjoyed in boring old 2D, the economics of filmmaking would collapse. So no filmmaker can afford to make a big-budget movie that is intended as a 3D-only experience, except as a vanity project.
This might be true in 2009, but in the next years a few things are going to happen that will make 3D more than a kids' movies feature: 3D Television, reduced costs of 3D filmaking and finally, respectable filmmakers using 3D for non-mainstream films. Sony have put their muscle behind it. Moore's law dictates that the costs of 3D will diminish.
He also argues that cinema-owners who've shelled out big money to retrofit their auditoriums for 3D projection don't want to tie up their small supply of 3D screens with art-house movies. They especially don't want to do this when there's plenty of competition from giant-budget 3D movies that add in the 3D as an optional adjunct, a marketing gimmick that can be used to draw in a few more punters during the cinematic exhibition window
This is completely untrue - once you have a digital projector, adding 3D capabilities is only an extra £10,000. This is a small investment when you consider the extra cash you can make with 3D product. The real challenge that cinemas face is converting to digital in the first place, but that debate is completely separate from the 3D argument.
Once more, Doctorow:
In 10 years, we'll look back on the current round of 3D films and say, "Remember that 3D gimmick? Whatever happened to that, anyway?
I think it'll be the opposite - when Martin Scorsese wins an Oscar for a 3D film, or the new MAN ON WIRE is in 3D, or the glasses fall out of the equation and we just expect to see things on screen the way we do in real life - in three dimensions - then we'll look back and see 2D the way we see silent cinema or black and white cinematograpy - a relic (a beautiful relic) of the past.