I still hate 3D

I still hate 3DI got my first taste of autostereoscopic (glasses-free) 3D back at Mobile World Congress in February. It did not taste good.

It’s been fairly quiet on the 3D front since then, but the announcement of the HTC Evo 3D this week got me thinking about the third dimension again. Initially I thought: ‘Sweet, the HTC Evo 3D is coming out over here after all. That’s good.’ But is it? Is it really?

3D is inherently rubbish. Would you want to see the Godfather in 3D? Or Citizen Kane? No you would not. Fair enough those specific examples are slow-paced classics, but even action films like, say, Die Hard or Star Wars or Temple of Doom – I’d much rather watch them in glorious 2D.

The problem is that 3D is gimmicky. It’s tacky. It’s cheap. It lacks class. It doesn’t add anything (er, other than the third dimension). A crap film is no better in 3D.

Again, hats off to Avatar, somewhat of an anomaly in the world of 3D cinema, but that’s because it was specifically developed as a unique viewing experience. Oddly, I wouldn’t care to watch it on DVD in plain old 2D (let’s face it, the story is crap). But it’s the only exception in my mind.

Outside the cinema, on phones and portable games consoles, 3D looks awful. Remember those little hologram thingies you used to get free with cereal?

I’ve been in two minds about getting a Nintendo 3DS. One of my mates picked one up recently and I played Zelda: Ocarina of Time on his couch for aaaages. Yes, it’s still one of the best games ever.

However, interestingly, I had the slider set firmly to 2D the whole time. Fast-paced action + 3D = melted eyes. Also, you have to hold the console in a very precise position relative to your eyes for the optical illusion to work.

Worryingly, at one point, my brain simply refused to compute the 3D-ness, instead perceiving the two independent displays that are used to create the illusion of depth. Sort of like Magic Eye in reverse, I guess.

The 3D element actually puts me off buying a Nintendo 3DS. And that seems to be the case worldwide, as the Nintendo 3DS is still being outsold by the humble DSi.

Incidentally, it’s interesting that portable 3D devices invariably have a 2D/3D slider. If 3D is so good, why the heck would you want to turn it off? Answer: battery consumption.

Battery life is the bane of the modern, always-connected smartphone user. Apps, browsing, email, good old calls and texting, a big 4.3in display if you’re so inclined… they all gnaw away at your battery. The last thing we need is another battery guzzler, not least one that is utterly pointless.

I sampled the LG Optimus 3D at Mobile World Congress and was not impressed to say the least. I had a quick fiddle around in the menus, took some pictures, and played Asphalt 6: Adrenaline Rush for a bit. Ten minutes later I walked away with a sore head. That seems to be a common symptom with portable 3D-ness.

Going back to the HTC Evo 3D; it’s essentially the same as the tasty HTC Sensation, but adds 3D, and the question I have to ask is: why? Why on earth would you choose to view any content – be it photos, video, games, menus – in 3D?

Given the increased weight, cost and battery consumption, I reckon 3D’s days are numbered. And the sooner the better. Not that it effects me, but, y'know, I'm a moany git.

Read more about: HTC Evo 3DLG Optimus 3DAndroid

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Hussainmo  Jul. 1, 2011 at 13:32

Great post, have to agree with you here. Almost a fad, but they will get the early adopters. I played with the LG Optimus 3D at MWC also, very poor, however they have improved it significantly. Managed to get a quick go on the HTC EVO 3D - 3D performance was good, they have switch to quickly go back to 2D. Overall, good to showcase tech, but definately not the next big thing.

Guan  Jul. 1, 2011 at 13:36

odd then that all 3d showings of any given film (Green Lantern, Transformers 3 etc) are always packed where as the 2D screenings of the same film almost empty.

Guan  Jul. 1, 2011 at 13:40

Have a look here for LG's response to HTC's Evo 3D implementation of 3D compared to their own:


shadders139  Jul. 1, 2011 at 14:56

I really don't understand all this negativity towards 3d, it seems to me that people are too stubborn to accept change and just mindlessly call it a 'gimmick'. I'm sure it was this way with new technologies way back in the past From radio to television- "why do I need to see the person telling the news when I can just hear them?- Gimmick." Same with black and white to colour. Same with going from mono sound to stereo- "why is it necessary? Gimmick". Once new technology is accepted- it leads to innovation and improvements in that technology. 3d content is going to get better and better- and in the future every film will have 3d implemented as well as it was in avatar and also much better. 3d is here to stay, it's not a fad. It may have come before- but the tech was not good enough in the past. Now it is, and does anyone actually think hollywood are going to just abandon 3D - given how much money they are making for it?

cicobuff  Jul. 1, 2011 at 18:38

I agree, not only is 3D a gimmick (you get depth perception just fine in standard movies) it also alienates those with vision problems.

Give me a good movie in 2D over a tech demo in 3D any day.

I recently tried a 3DS and I was less than impressed, I did not have any pang of "wow" over it at all, and found I was constantly thinking more of keeping the angle of it just so to be able to see the 3D than actually enjoying immersing myself in the gameplay.

As for mobile phones in 3D, is there much point? Seeing some of your "friends" on Facebook in 2D can be bad enough.

cicobuff  Jul. 1, 2011 at 18:42

@Guan, The reason cinemas are packed for 3D movies is because they work so much better on the big screen, and that is why in the home it is not taking off so well.

This article pretty much sums up my opinions of 3D Movies http://www.newsweek.com/2010/04/30/why-i-hate-3-d-and-you-should-too.html

Kirinnokoshin  Jul. 1, 2011 at 22:01

Mixed views on this article. I agree that 3d is not something that should be
Applied on mass, but with intelligence it can be alluring and hey,
Why not give it a chance. I won't comment in film buffs opinions of 3d,
But as a very experienced and avid gamer, 3d fits comfortably
Within video games' development sphere as the medium can
Genuinely benefit functionally from the technology what
With depth perception and a genuine feeling of
Tech 'wow' which us a big part of gaming. Please allow the genuinely
Talented firms out there a fair chance to exploit
The technology in useful ways before damning it to hades.
If you have s problem with stereoscopic images period then
That's unfortunate but please don't spread uneceassary propaganda.

lellie  Jul. 1, 2011 at 23:11

The idea of 3D mobile phones seems ludicrous to me. I agree that smartphone batteries need less things to eat them, not more. Also agree that 3D is tacky - you only have to listen to Mark Kermode to realise that 2D is better!

J4534534t  Jul. 2, 2011 at 08:17

I wouldn't be so close minded. Have you seen Transformers 3 in 3D yet? Just because Hollywood got greedy and tried to make every crappy movie in 3D in 2010 doesn't mean 3D doesn't have it's place. The reason 3DTVs didn't take of in 2010 primarily had to do with cost as well as the awful active shutter technology used by all first generation 3DTVs. Do yourself a favor and check out one of the new Vizio or LG passive 3DTVs. You won't be disappointed! Plus the premium for a 3DTV over a similar 2D only TV is now only about $100-200 in most cases.

comingback  Jul. 2, 2011 at 14:56

I'd definitely agree with your article in almost every aspect, but would have to side with J4534534t about Transformers 3. I saw it on Tuesday night in 3D, and it was absolutely fantastic! Admittedly, I walked into the film expecting to love it, so my opinion may be a little biased, but nonetheless, it looked incredible in 3D. It would have been a brilliant movie had I watched it in 2D too, but the 3D aspect of it certainly added something to it.
Having said that, I do think that a lot of that addition is only really because I saw it in a cinema; the larger the screen, the better, when it comes to 3D for me. I can't see it working nearly as well on a home cinema system.

But beyond the two examples of Avatar and Transformers 3, I would certainly agree that 3D is a gimmick, and I personally can't picture a future where 3D is the standard whatsoever. The induction of television from radio, colour from black and white, stereo from mono, I would argue, are completely different and would be like comparing apples and oranges, as they say. With television, you get the added bonus of seeing as well as hearing, like you do in real life, and exactly like you do in the cinema but in your home instead. With colour, we see in colour and not black and white in real life, so colour is of course better in many respects. And we also hear in stereo, so all the more reason to have stereo over mono.
You could say that my argument falls down because we see in 3 dimensions, but we don't see in 3 dimensions at all in the same way as 3D is represented in the cinema.
Like a lot of people, I find 3D gives me a bit of a headache nine times out of ten, and it doesn't help that I have to put the 3D glasses over my regular glasses, relegating me to a look of complete idiocy. But looks aside, I think - really, I hope - that 3D for the most part is not going to stay for long. When it works well, it works very well, and there's every argument to use the technology for those instances. But when it doesn't work well, it's utterly pointless, and is often done at the detriment of an otherwise excellent film, and in those cases, I think we'll see a decline in 3D films in the future. When more than 90% of 3D films are being shot in 2D and then transformed into 3D in post-production, I think little more evidence is needed to prove that it's a gimmick that won't be here for that much longer.

(By the way, I loved the equation, "Fast-paced action + 3D = melted eyes".)

russthewomble  Jul. 3, 2011 at 11:00

would i want to watch 3D movies on my phone? no. What I would quite like however is to take 3D camera stills as I can imagine they would look much more interesting than a normal photo and will help set your phone apart from a normal compact digicamera.


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