3D, it’s just a gimmick!

Hollywood believes that 3D is one way in which it can overcome piracy and get us back into the cinema. Personally I think it is a bit of a gimmick and puts pressure on film makers to focus on 3D effects rather than good film making, story and plot. I did go to the cinema to see Toy Story 3 in 3D and I didn’t think the 3D effects added anything special to the film, when we recently re-watched the film on DVD on our 2D TV, the film was still just as good and I didn’t miss the 3D whatsoever. I remember going to the cinema to see Jaws 3-D and that was a film which was made purely to use 3D as a gimmick to get people to go and watch what was a terrible film. It must have done okay in the cinema though, as they did make a Jaws 4 (though that was not in 3D).

However despite my personal objections to 3D films I was interested to read that you  can already purchase the Panasonic SDT750 3D Camcorder for taking 3D video and Sony will be releasing an expensive Sony 3D Camcorder in April as well as the Bloggie HD Pocket Camcorder which will be much cheaper.

This has some potential for learning activities allowing learners to take images in three dimensions for reviewing later at a time and place to suit the learner, but only if that learner has access to a 3D TV. Now it has to be said that you can buy 3D TVs, but I doubt they are mainstream enough so that most learners in a cohort have access to one. Would you put a 3D TV into college? Well if you were taking a lot of 3D footage then maybe?

However I come back to the question, what is the point of 3D, what does it add to the value of the learning experience that standard 2D video footage doesn’t?

Video in itself has so much to offer learning compared to still images or diagrams. To see the video of a technique of filleting fish for example.

This is so much better than the line diagrams you use to have to use.

Now I do wonder what 3D would add to the experience? Would the experience be better? It might be, but really would it be that much better?

Now as I write this, I do wonder if I am one of those sceptics and luddites about new technologies? Is 3D just a gimmick as I think it is, or is it that I have a blinkered approach to new technologies? What pedagogical or learning problems does 3D solve?

So is 3D the next big thing? Or is it just a gimmick? Are you using 3D already?

2 thoughts on “3D, it’s just a gimmick!”

  1. Still images can be 3D, not just video. I chatted to Dr Colin Berry in our School of Bioscience (http://learning.cf.ac.uk/teaching-in-3d/) who is using both 3D still images and 3D video to demonstrate how molecules interlock. He’s using anaglyphs generated directly from the modelling software which make the whole production and viewing process much cheaper than the SDT750 plus a 3D TV screen would be. He’s also been involved in the use of 3D in the School of Dentistry, and he picked up the idea from Dr Peter Brabham in our School of Earth and Ocean Sciences; these applications involved a twin camera setup. Still much cheaper than the technology that’s emerging in the wake of the latest 3D cinema revival.

    I think that 3D can be useful, and there is a pedagogical benefit, but my question would be what pedagogical problems does specifically the new technology solve that you can’t address with a cheap twin camera rig and the cheap red/cyan glasses of the kind they’ve given away with Radio Times over the years?

  2. A few years ago I listened to a talk about new media which began with the story of moving pictures (it’s been a while since I heard it, so my apologies if the details are slightly off). Apparently when originally invented, it was intended for use in the same way that still photography was and still is: think photos that can wave back at you, like in Harry Potter. Obviously a few rich people thought it was interesting but no-one was very excited by it.

    Some time later someone figured out how to make the first special effects, like people appearing and disappearing, before having the bright idea of stringing several scenes-worth of effects together. Only then did it become apparent that film was a totally different medium to still photography, because it could tell stories.

    I agree that right now 3D is pretty uninspiring because film-makers aren’t really doing anything different with it yet. I think it will take a similarly long time before we properly figure out what 3D gives us that wasn’t possible before.

    PS. If anyone knows any of the details of that story (e.g. names, dates) I could do with writing it all down because I’ve found it useful several times since I first heard it.

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