Amherst Bytes: 3 1/2 Reasons to Hate 3D
By Dylan Herts ’13, Staff Writer
I’m an early adopter. As a techie, it’s rare that I dislike a new feature or technology that comes to market. SSDs? Love ’em. New processors? Gotta have ’em. NVidia’s Fermi-based GPUs with significantly higher performance per watt ratios? Hanukkah, here we come.

3D movie tech, however, is a different story. 3D movies and their effect on movie studios hurt consumers instead of helping them. So, here you have (don’t open e-mails with that phrase as the subject line, by the way) three and a half reasons to hate 3D:

1. 3D means 3 x Dollars

Movie prices have been increasing for years, and that’s normal. 3D costs, however, have us paying 150 percent, sometimes 200 percent of the ticket price. There’s a premium for the film itself, and then they charge you four or five dollars just for the glasses. Plus, that $5 tab goes to the box office at the theater and shows up in the box office totals, inflating earnings. Movie executives would rather sell a $400 million film than a $200 million film, and everyone gets excited because the latest 3D film seems so popular. The studios make more money off 3D films, the theaters keep robbing you for glasses and we all get told that the latest 3D flick is a huge hit. Everybody wins, except the consumer.

2. 3D means bad movies

“But ‘Avatar’ was so good,” you say; “It was like no other movie I’ve ever seen.” That’s because it was 25 years in the making. James Cameron wrote “Pocahontas” redux, and then waited around for the technology he wanted to film it. Compare that to the 3D and RealD-enhanced films that have come after: almost everything except “Toy Story 3” has a RottenTomatoes score under 30 percent. There’s no way getting around it, 3D movies often trade less depth for more dimensions. People go to them because they or their kids fall for the gimmick, and so the studios (given the inflated price of 3D) can justify making these films because they make so much money.

3. 3D is often done badly

Even if 3D is added to a movie after it’s been financed and filmed, the process is awful. The post-production 3D conversion dims the brightness of the movie, and the converted product ends up looking like some child’s demented pop-up storybook. The 2010 “Alice in Wonderland” would putter along in live action, and then you’d be assaulted by a mushroom in your face. Reviews of “The Last Airbender” describe not being able to discern what was happening in the film because the 3D conversion had left the movie so dark it was literally unwatchable (though many who saw the normal version gave a similar review of the story). Now try imagining your favorite movie converted into 3D. How much would it really benefit?

3.5. 3DTVs are a scam

Technology is supposed to improve each year while older models and features decrease in price. With televisions that means we should be getting more features (like integrated web access, apps or GoogleTV) while larger units with higher resolutions go down in price. Instead Panasonic, LG, Sony, Toshiba and Phillips are all selling 40-inch 3DTVs for around $2500 and pushing 3D Blu-Ray players. They’re telling us that our old HDTVs are already outdated, and we need to overhaul the whole home theatre setup. Plus, there’s only like two 3D channels and you know those 3D Blu-Rays are going to be $50 each.

So there you have it. 3D means higher prices, lower quality products and a whole bunch of money for Hollywood studios and TV manufacturers. In the end, the only people who lose are consumers who want inexpensive, quality movies in theatres and affordable, innovative TVs in our homes. Basically, just about everyone.

Issue 06, Submitted 2010-10-20 01:10:31