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david van brink // Tue 2011.01.25 08:57 // {Uncategorized}

Walter Murch: Wrong About 3d

Oh, Walter, Walter, Walter!

If you have not yet read Walter Murch’s book “In the Blink of an Eye”, get thee to a one-clickery and remedy that.

The book is about film editing… I guess. It’s an insightful meander about human perception, dreams, storytelling, and the question: “Why can we understand film-cuts?” He’s intelligent and articulate, and of course he’s a behind-the-scenes guy who worked on Great Movies so he’s got cred too. Really thought-provoking and inspiring.

Alas, I fear he is on weak footing with his recent dismissal of stereoscopic movie-making.

Roger Ebert includes a letter from Walter Murch in a recent column.

His central thesis: 3d movies don’t work, because focus and convergence are misaligned, and 600 million years of evolution don’t support that, so 3d movies give you a headache. That is to say, when the hero-prop thrusts out of the screen til its a foot from your eyes, you need to cross your eyes (convergence) but the actual image is still 50 feet away on the screen (focus). Never happens in nature.

Walter, Walter, Walter! You of all people, who have exploited and shared your deep understanding of just how malleable our percept-system is, should know better! We are more flexible even than evolution requires! By your reasoning a movie closeup shouldn’t work, because it’s 50 feet away, but as big as if it was next to you! It makes no sense. And neither do photographs or cave paintings.

Don’t get me started defending my beloved collection of vintage ViewMaster discs. And why does written language work? Why, why, why.

But it all does. Somehow. And stereoscopic movies are Known To Be Fun.

Every art form has a learning curve. Some art can’t be enjoyed unless you’ve built up to it, learned its language.

Every technology has its artifacts, but its the artists who work with them that determine their ultimate value and efficacy.

And, kids these days, they’ll just keep coming up with new combinations of them. We’ll never keep up.

Still. I’m… sorry that 3d glasses give you a headache. :(

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