Wow, my last blog post attracted over 500 reads in one weekend, and a chain of comments. It seems anything with “Film vs Digital” in the title is still provocative… the war I believe is over, the debate is seems is as hot as ever.

The main thing, is to keep the main thing, the main thing and in our business the main thing is Story. Story is why we have an industry, jobs, and value in our specific skill sets. It is why people really want to spend two hours of their lives immersed in a world that is not their own.

Story is why we return to the video store to hire the same movie over and over again, and why we add it to our own personal libraries. It is what motivates an audience to consider a movie a cult classic, a timeless work of cinematic art. It is also why we walk out half way through a screening never to touch a particular movie again.

Without story we have technological masturbation, cheap thrills that leave an audience feeling well and truly taken advantage of. Technology for the sake of technology may hold up a weak story once, as some argue is the case with Avatar, but as soon as people have experienced the new, it’s no longer new, in fact, it’s very quickly old.
However, Avatar is still selling out, and the pressure is on theater owners to bring in Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland, the next 3D spectacle waiting in line to come under audience, box office and technologist scrutiny.

Will Burton’s trademark style and flair, in glorious 3D conjure up the kind of box office magic we have seen from Avatar?

According to the New York Times, many theater owners are not so sure:

Every single day we hear of yet another movie that is planning to be released in 3D. Now it turns out that all these films are creating a traffic jam in 3D theaters.

Cinema owners agreed to show “Avatar” on their 3D screens until March 5th, when Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” is supposed to take over. But since “Avatar” is still selling out most showings, exhibitors are unsure that they want to get rid of a winner for an uncertain new prospect.

A similar battle is going on between Paramount Pictures’ “How to Train Your Dragon” and Warner Bros’ “Clash of the Titans,” which was recently converted to 3D. Looking at the release dates, “Dragon” will only have one week before making way for “Titans.” And Paramount is not happy about that, since 3D ticket prices are usually $3 to $5 more than for a 2D ticket.

What’s worse is that this 3D bottleneck is likely to grow, since about sixty films are now set for 3D release over the next three years.

The problem is that some theaters don’t have 3D screens at all. And the ones that do, only have one or two screens equipped with the new technology. The plan right now is to add about 5,100 3D screens by the end of 2010, but even that will not be enough to handle all the 3D films.

Source: NY Times

If this news doesn’t strengthen my case for the technological and market outlook I lay out for you all in my previous article, I don’t know what does.

The key question for me is how is this technology affecting Story. Is it positive, is it negative, what kinds of stories are suited to a stereoscopic vision, which are not. Is it about building an ever more convincing illusion of reality or taking a step further from it.

How can we use it to tell better stories rather than temporarily prop up an ailing, tired, used up Hollywood?

This is the question I most want to discover the answer to, without that answer, this latest technological crutch will quickly crumble and the cracks in Hollywood’s foundation will continue to spread under the immense weight and load of a grossly obese, proud, exclusive and ironically, doomed industry.

To me, it seems clear that it’s easier to fill the coffers while they still can, than to revisit story and address the root issues.

Thankfully for myself, and innumerable aspiring film makers around the world, we are the ones left to tackle Story, and good storytelling will come from the ground up. We have the tools, we have the ingenuity, persistence, passion and the never give up attitude. To a great extent we don’t worry about budget, or medium or format, because we can’t. In many cases I believe that many don’t realize what a advantage this is.

The answer to the question of how the latest 3D technological shockwave will be used to tell stories more effectively and progress the cinematic arts is far more likely to come from ingenius young film makers strapping two Canon 5D MkII’s into a makeshift stereoscopic rig, than from Hollywood’s giants with all the best toys at thier disposal.

Time will tell and just as the world turns, the revolution continues!

2 Comments

  1. Definitely Hollywood’s chance to justify remaking or releasing some unoriginal content.
    I would love to try my hand at putting together a short short 3D film – just to try. With such a new yet viral form; being slightly informed could mean huge opportunities.
    Bring on the 3D short film competitions – or is that unrealistic?

  2. IMO, The true calling of Stereoscopic tv and movies will be to help the viewer “suspend disbelief” and make the experience more immersive. HD does that, by making the image more detailed and real. Great screenwriting , acting , and directing does that too. It is whatever TOOL that a filmmaker uses to make you laugh, cry, jump, or keep you interested. Flying knives out of the screen get boring and cliched very fast.

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