Some time ago I wrote a – well I wouldn’t say truly harsh – blog post dealing with the ongoing “hype” that seems to be waging on regarding 3D cinema. Although I kept my fingers off my keyboard since then I nevertheless continued to think about this topic. And after a long time I think I finally found a valid argument to add to the discussion.

To me 3D Cinema was (and still is) a technical bluff, a fun toy for technicians, I you want to call it that way. Despite the seemingly awesomeness of such technology I never really warmed up with it. I didn’t know why. I simply had no real argument here. The supporters on the other hand have one: we are living in a colorful three-dimensional world full of sounds, so what could be better than get closer to it in cinema?

This argument is true and valid. The movies in the beginning were silent and without colors. Yet they worked, so why didn’t we stop here but instead tried everything to come closer to reality (by which 3D cinema would be the last step of the process)?


It is true, that the first movies up to 1927 were silent. But this doesn’t mean that there was no sound.

While the film itself had no audio track, it was usually accompanied by an orchestra or other musical live performance, resulting in an audio-visual experience we know and love. The only major drawback was, of course, the lack of a true synchronous soundtrack. Although many screenwriting books state that the best order to tell a story is to show first then tell, the audio track is often the only way to tell an important piece of information to the audience. The early producers solved this problem by inserting title cards containing such information, be it dialogue or other explanatory stuff.

These title cards show that the lack of audio was a severe problem to storytelling. Hence, the introduction of sound to movies was a necessary step to improve the possibilities.


The next factor is color. If you compare color to audio you can see a rather big decline of importance. It is not truly necessary to tell a story. Yet, it can be vital to enhance the mood of the movie or show a state of a character, setting or scene.

Color theories don’t exist without reason and MATRIX can be seen as a rather good example in which the greenish scenes inside the Matrix enhance the feeling of danger and hostility, while the real world aboard the Nostromo is hued in blue hence a technical and cold color-mood. The same can go for a red rose, or a character dressed in black. Although we often do it unconsciously, we associate a color with a certain meaning (and I would not be surprised, if you did that while reading the last sentences).

Now, there’s 3D

While some might argue 3D cinema is the last big step in the process to the best experience and movie telling, I say it’s not. The reason for this is the fact that 3D doesn’t add anything new, or necessary, to tell a story. And it doesn’t add any new codes for it (as color codes for example). The only differences are the then seemingly three-dimensional objects. It seems to me like an attempt to add the third dimension to the flat screen at any cost, just because the screen is flat (and 3D something only cinema can offer?).

Would for example an object in front of another be a code for 3D cinema only? Or small depth of field to enhance the scene? I would say no because those methods already exist and work. A rotating camera to add the impression of depth? Also already exists albeit being flat on the screen.

At the moment I can think of nothing in 3D cinema which would in any way enhance or improve a movie. 3D might to look like the last step to true “reality”, but it doesn’t add anything reliable beyond action movies and a short spectacle for the eyes.

What do you think?


  • 790

    I totally agree. Great resource material,,, nice job!!

    3-D, is nothing more than a marketing enhancement. A way to sublimanally make it easier to embed advertising.

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