“3D is antithetical to storytelling, where immersion in character is the goal. It constantly reminds you you’re watching a screen.” —Oliver Stapleton

I keep seeing this quote come across my dashboard, and I couldn’t disagree more. It sounds like something traditional theater people probably said when movies themselves were brand new. How can anyone single out any particular visual technique as “antithetical to storytelling”?

I believe him when he says he’s constantly reminded about watching a screen, though. I had a similar experience watching The Hobbit at 48 fps, but then my reason for being there was to evaluate the technology. I have a feeling a veteran cinematographer’s perception of 3D and high frame rate is going to be much different than for the younger kids I saw at the theater, kids who will never know a world without Nintendo 3DS and 4K digital projection.

I’m glad the world’s filmmakers (present and future) have uncharted waters to explore. I also wonder if it’s possible for any new storytelling technology to become transparent before it starts to be taken for granted. Let’s remember to ask those kids in a few years.

Predicted sidebar quote, 2052: “Holograms are antithetical to storytelling, it constantly reminds you you’re on a holodeck.”

Storytelling has and will continue to change. I think 3D film as it currently exists attempts to move cinema into a more encompassing, virtual world. I think that’s the goal, to make the viewer feel more a part of that world.

While I appreciate that goal, right now, it sucks. When I’m watching a movie in 3D with glasses, I don’t feel any more a part of that world. It’s a first step in that direction. I think the quote is accurate: right now, it detracts. But someday it won’t.

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