In search of depth

This blog has often been criticised for its relentless focus on the trivial and superficial (OK, given the current emphasis on transparency, I will admit that this is not the case at all, it is merely a rhetorical device to introduce this latest twaddle – but bear with me, it might get better) and so I have felt it incumbent on me to go in search of a little depth.

In the course of this hunt, I have now seen three films projected in 3D (which I think makes 9D) – two of these within the last week.  This projection uses the miracle of plane-polarised light and so, to obtain the 3D-effect, one has to wear a pair of glasses with orthogonally-polarised lenses over one’s normal ‘seeing’ glasses.  At the cinema, one is seated amid the encircling gloom (to quote from my old headmaster’s favourite hymn, which we always used to perform appallingly badly to his great distress.  For some reason, this particular hymn, “Lead kindly light,” has always brought the Wild West and cowboys sitting around a campfire to my mind – though it was apparently written whilst becalmed in the Straits of Bonifacio, which lie between France and Italy, by an Englishman) and so my six-eyed shame is thankfully shrouded from all, bar any cats, owls or snipers (though only the first two are mentioned by Lear as having eloped in a pea green boat) who happen to be in the auditorium.

Ah, I seem to have mistaken excessive use of parentheses for depth – if only WordPress offered footnotes and a bibliography life would be so much easier.

6D of these films were animated while the remaining 3D used real people and props moving around in at least partially real sets (the animations obviously relied on wholly imaginary sets – very much sets found on the y-axis of an Argand diagram).  The depth effect seems to work much better, or at least be less confusing and/or irritating in the animated features than when applied to the “real” world.  I’m not sure if this is because the 3D effect is in some way subtly wrong, and this is more apparent when viewing a simulacrum of the real world or, if the relative simplicity of the images from animation are easier for the brain to interpret.

Mostly, I find that I am unaware of the 3D-effect, though in rapid real-life action sections I find it very hard to process the visual information and everything becomes very confused (well, I say everything – but really I mean me).  Occasionally it works really well, but at other times it reminds me of the black and white, stereoscopic photos my grandparents took many, many years ago with the image broken into a series of vertical planes at various apparent distances into the screen.

On the whole, I fear 3D offers little more than novelty in its current form.  For a start, it is pretty rare event that I find myself unable to decide which objects are nearer or farther from the viewer, even when watching a merely two-dimensional moving image.  The human brain is remarkably cunning at deriving depth from a host of little clues – indeed, in a number of famous optical illusions it over-rides the depth information provided by stereoscopic vision.

Still (or should that be Movie), the studios seem to love 3D, despite disapproval from far better critics than I, and hugely over-use it.  In the early days of wordprocessing and printing, people would use as many fonts as possible on a single page.  When colour screens first became common, web pages would be a confused riot of colour and movement.  Now with 3D, there is an obsession with using depth – if a screen has three lines of text then they must all lie in a different vertical plane.  If 3D is here to stay, one can only hope they can move beyond this foolishness and calm down a little.

The three films (Toy Story 3, Hugo and Arthur Christmas) are all well worth a watch: in any D, though I think they may be quite hard to follow in 1D (certainly, you would see a decidedly linear narrative).  Joyously, Arthur Christmas seemed to have product placement from The Co-operative Food – the only film in which I have seen this and it was the only plug I spotted (other than a brief glimpse of Shaun the Sheep).  Good old Aardman!   I presume the film was partially funded from their divi – and rather hope the premiere was held in Rochdale in honour of the Pioneers!

I may not have found much depth, but just feel those allusions!

Feel free to continue the lunacy...

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