3D or Not 3D
Bayntons Briefs

3D or not 3D

I'm struggling with the 3D debate. Most new TV sets come with 3D capability built in and there is a concerted push from various sectors for producers to plan for 3D or get left behind. Fair enough, we want to future proof our shows so they have a long shelf life. We did it for 16 X 9 screen format and for hi-def. Where possible we will make the underlying assets for our shows in a way that allows us to render them for 3D later, if and when the metrics make sense. But for me that's not the main discussion, or am I just an ill-informed Luddite?
September 6, 2012

I’m struggling with the 3D debate. Most new TV sets come with 3D capability built in and there is a concerted push from various sectors for producers to plan for 3D or get left behind. Fair enough, we want to future proof our shows so they have a long shelf life. We did it for 16 X 9 screen format and for hi-def. Where possible we will make the underlying assets for our shows in a way that allows us to render them for 3D later if and when the metrics make sense.

But for me that’s not the main discussion, or am I just an ill-informed Luddite? Our focus is on making amazing, compelling, life enriching entertainment for our audience. We are doing this in a cash-strapped environment where lower broadcast fees have made raising the production budgets ever more challenging.

So what do we spend our budgets on? If making a show in 3D costs another 15% I don’t want to shift that spend away from scripts and design, from top acting and directing talent. Those are the key elements that make a great property, one that respects and enriches our young audience.

Leaving aside for the moment the debates on kids wearing glasses, the discussions around parallax and all things technical – I need to believe that 3D is more than just a pretty sales dress. I need to believe that producing in 3D is a creative tool that enhances storytelling.

At the moment I have my doubts. 3D brings a compulsory immersive experience and sometimes this feels counter to the narrative’s intention, it firmly places the viewer into the world. It is a shooting convention that in some part defines our POV, a convention in the way that the hand held camera is a convention.

The hand held tells us we are lurking in the environment, inhabiting a specific character’s POV. But the director chooses the hand held device shot by shot; it is one tool in their toolkit. If it is used for an entire production it has been chosen specifically to deliver a documentary style of “in the field” engagement.

But the 3D experience is not sequence specific – it’s all or nothing for the whole show. Embracing a creative revolution is great. I enjoy live events shot in 3D; sport and live music are perfect for the medium since the whole experience is to be as immersed in the crowd as possible. And some dramas will certainly lend themselves to this, but not all of them, and not all the time. I don’t want to adopt what could be a creative straight jacket especially when it costs an extra 15% for the privilege. For now I am going to keep focusing our budgets where it matters most – on great storytelling.

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