Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Empire's New Tom Cruise Cover
The Jameson Empire Awards 2014
Vote: The Greatest 301 Movies Of All Time!
Rebecca Hall:
My Movie Life

The actress picks the movies that shaped her
Mountain Dew Green Screen
Register Now to see X-MEN First Class!
Empire Blogs
Empire States

Back to all blogs Comment Now

Take Your Brain To Another Dimension

Posted on Thursday November 4, 2010, 12:18 by James Dyer in Empire States
Take Your Brain To Another Dimension

Since Avatar crashed onto screens last year, 3D has been the buzzword of choice for filmmakers and cinemagoers alike. Like it or loathe it, the entertainment landscape has changed and titles now come to us, more often than not, in three eye-popping dimensions. Whether you buy into it largely boils down to whether increased immersion in a movie justifies the extra hit to your wallet – that and looking like an Elvis Costello caricature for ninety-odd minutes – but while a lot has been said for and against the rise of 3D in cinemas, the more pressing question, from my point of view, is whether this technology has a place in the home. So, in the interests of science, I set out to embrace this new wave of home entertainment technology and see if it's really worth turning your living room into a budget IMAX.

Surprisingly, the physical upgrade to 3D home cinema nirvana is a relatively painless one. On the one hand, you do need an array of 3D-capable kit, but on the other you probably already have half of it already. First on my 3D checklist was a compatible blu-ray player, which is the only option if you want to watch movies in three dimensions – if you’re still watching DVDs then I don’t want to talk to you anymore. There are an assortment of reasonably-priced players on the market but if you also happen to be a gamer then you might as well save your cash because last month’s firmware update for the PS3 means that Sony’s shiny black box is already 3D-friendly.

The next step in Operation Hardware Acquisition was to bag a 3D-capable screen. Again, there’s no shortage of offerings available but my advice is definitely to pick the biggest you can afford. There are all kinds of scientific formulae for choosing the optimum screen size relative to your viewing distance and the quality or your source material. Don't believe a word of it! There is only one thing you need to know about TV size: it is IMPOSSIBLE to have a screen that is too big. That's doubly true for 3D, where immersion is king. It’s no coincidence that IMAX screens take up the entirety of your peripheral vision and if you can come close to the same effect at home then you’re one step closer to home cinema heaven (and quite possibly optometric hell, but that’s something we won’t get into). With this in mind I settled on a hulking 55” behemoth from Samsung’s 8000 series, an LED set with pleasingly shiny chrome bezel and a screen roughly the thickness of my little finger.

Depending on your choice of set, you may or may not need to fork out for extra 3D glasses (assuming you mean to share at all), the Samsung came with one pair (in a fetching velvet pouch) while some other models come with a second pair or even none at all! A new set of specs will set you back something in the region of £100 - Hardly cheap but the current benchmark for home 3D is a technology called Alternate Frame Sequencing, which requires powered, rechargeable frames that sync wirelessly to the framerate on your display. Polarised 3D (like that used in IMAX), Autostereoscopic 3D (no glasses) and Anaglyph 3D (like that used in the Beano) are, for the sake of this blog, something you should put out of your mind.

But enough with the foreplay, let’s get on to the main event. How did it look? Well, sadly there’s not yet a 3D version of Avatar to put through its paces but to kick things off Monster House was happy to stand in. In many ways CG animations are the perfect titles to view in 3D and Monster House did not disappoint. The depth of field was consistently clear and blur-free, likewise fast moving pans and action sequences were free of ghosting or afterimages. Whether a little Z axis love adds to the overally enjoyment of a film is ultimately down to personal taste but having watched the first half in 3D, a step back to 2D for the grand finale left the film feeling flat in every conceivable way.

The only live action 3D title I had to hand was, for some reason, Resident Evil: Afterlife. Paul W.S. Anderson definitely made the most of the 3D camera once he’s got his hands on it and the showy use of depth survives the transition to blu-ray intact, axe blades and gore flying from the screen. It’s no closer to masterpiece status than it was in theatres but the extra dimension in visuals goes some way towards covering up for the lack of one in story or character.

3D films are what will prompt most of you to take the plunge, but the tipping point for home 3D seems increasingly likely to be games. As with movies, there aren’t a huge variety at the moment but one of those that has received a dimensional makeover is Wipeout HD on the PS3. If you haven’t played it first hand, it’s hard to understand how thrilling it is to hurtle around the anti-grav tracks with your 3D specs on. Already and intense racing experience, Wipeout is taken to an entirely new level with the introduction of 3D. Beyond the glorious aesthetic improvement, being able to gauge distances made for tighter cornering and better lap times. ‘Defocusing’ to read the HUD – which floats in the foreground – was oddly laborious but hardly a major inconvenience.

The only real downside to playing in 3D was a noticeable downgrade from 1080 to 720p and a chop from 60 to 30fps. That’s quite a big sacrifice to make for 3D sled racing but it seems to have been enforced to expedite Wipeout’s 3D update, rather than something we can expect from future titles. Next week’s Call of Duty: Black Ops boasts 3D with no loss in either framerate or resolution and is just as awesome an experience as it sounds. COD alone is sure to shift more 3D setups than any number of Final Destination discs could hope to.

So what did I learn from my 3D experiment? Mainly that I’m a convert. After almost eight hours straight I felt no discernible ill-effects (no headache, no dizziness, no brush with schizophrenia) and while I won’t be reaching for my 3D specs next time Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals comes on (“just look at the depth on that asparagus!”), it will change the way I watch movies. In the same way that I’d never willingly purchase a DVD over a blu-ray, I’d now be loathe to pick up a ‘flat’ edition when a 3D one was available. Similarly, now that I’ve gazed down the sights of an AK-47 in team deathmatch and seen my victims cut down in three dimensional space, I’d feel positively gimped having to go online and duke it out with the depth of field removed.

That's not to say taht I think every film should be made in 3D - I’m all for the flogging of filmmakers who take traditionally shot features and run them through some half-arsed 3D conversions. But as more films are shot in 3D with proper 3D cameras, it’s increasingly clear to me that the way to enjoy titles as they were meant to be seen is to pony up for the gear and embrace the third dimension. Who’s with me?

Login or register to comment.

Comments

Log in below, or register to post comments
Username:
Password:
Remember Me:

CATEGORIES

Empire States (432)

Under The Radar (317)

Infinite Lives (92)

Small Screen (56)

Words From The Wise (33)

Cannes 2011 (28)

Off The Wire (24)

Comic-Con 2010 (21)

Casting Couch (2)

Oscars 2011 (1)


RECENT POSTS

Why Do People Think Captain America Is Boring?
By Helen O'Hara

Are iPads And Smartphones Changing The Face Of Filmmaking?
By Ben Kirby

Screen To Stage: Let The Right One In
By Helen O'Hara

My Encounter With Shia LaBeouf
By James White

Empire Meets Chris Hemsworth’s ‘Rush’ Alter Ego
By Ally Wybrew

The Case For The Wolf Of Wall Street, Surprisingly Feminist Film
By Helen O'Hara

The Movie Drinking Games Too Dangerous To Attempt
By Helen O'Hara

Screen To Stage: From Here To Eternity
By Helen O'Hara

There's No Pixar Film In 2014. Here Are 7 Steps To Help You Survive The Wait
By Helen O'Hara

‘Is Jackie Chan Dead?’ And Other Amazing Film Questions From Google’s Auto-Suggest Function
By Ali Plumb


RECENT COMMENTS

Why Do People Think Captain America Is Boring?
"Chris Evans and the entire fucking film is boring, and THAT's the problem, not the character."  Jonny24
Read comment

Why Do People Think Captain America Is Boring?
"Because people are idiots? ;) Earnestness, honesty and a hopeful attitude are jus"  spideed2
Read comment

Why Do People Think Captain America Is Boring?
"Captain America is not boring. Steve Rogers is boring. It's nearly impossible to "  doug64
Read comment

Screen To Stage: Let The Right One In
"Nice to see this review pop up - I was wondering if you'd been to see it, Helen... I agree with most"  gumphd
Read comment

Why Do People Think Captain America Is Boring?
"It's not that the film version of Captain America is uncool, it's the comic book character as resurr"  dansator
Read comment

Why Do People Think Captain America Is Boring?
"I meant to say "I don't have a problem with Cap being old fashioned, which some folks think is "  coyoteone
Read comment

Why Do People Think Captain America Is Boring?
"I don't have a problem with Cap being old fashioned and boring, and frankly, I'm sick of this trend "  coyoteone
Read comment

Screen To Stage: Let The Right One In
"Thanks for writing about this - I was thinking about going to see it but maybe not now. I remember t"  Mpyrereader
Read comment

Why Do People Think Captain America Is Boring?
"Just back from seeing The Winter Solider and for me it's the best of the Marvel films so far. The se"  LustForLeith
Read comment

Why Do People Think Captain America Is Boring?
"The reason people think he is boring is because in Avengers, he pretty much is. Especially compared "  djdjk
Read comment


POPULAR POSTS

Movies’ Most Quotable Lines
566 comments

'It's Just A Bit Of Fun': Why Defensive Fans Are Bad News For Movies
361 comments

Competitive Geek Baiting: Or, How To Start A Fanboy Fight
338 comments

The Avatar Backlash: Evaluatin' The Hater-atin'
303 comments

The Complete List Of Tired Movie Cliches
286 comments

Your Favourite Animated Film
217 comments

Note To Hollywood: How To Get People To Switch To Blu-Ray
192 comments

Food For Thought
132 comments

The Ten Moviegoing Commandments
127 comments

Just The Facts, Ma’am
127 comments


BLOGGERS
Damon Wise (295)
Helen O'Hara (166)
James Dyer (85)
Amar Vijay (71)
Ali Plumb (54)
James White (28)
Phil de Semlyen (19)
Owen Williams (15)
Ally Wybrew (2)
Ben Kirby (1)
David Parkinson (1)


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
The Making Of Locke: A Filmmaker's Journey
Steven Knight takes us through six pitstops (via Heston Services)

The 10 Most Exciting Movies At Cannes 2014
Empire's pick of the Croisette's finest

Tom Hardy: A Viewer's Guide
The essential, the recommended, the one for the fans... and the one to avoid

Ten Things To Know About The Spooks Movie
Under the hood of The Greater Good

Who’s In Spider-Man’s Sinister Six?
A bluffer’s guide to the planned spin-off from the Amazing Spider-films

14 YouTube Videos Every Game Of Thrones Fan Should Have Watched By Now
From goats singing the theme tune to every death in under three minutes

Hollywood's Biggest Names On Their Favourite Films
Stars and directors like Nolan, Whedon, Wright and Ford on the films that inspire them

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save money on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get Limited Edition Collectable X-Men Art Cards

Subscribe today and get 6 issues of Empire plus a set of collectable X-Men Art Cards for only £20!

Subscribe today

Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Just £25
Receive limited edition subscribers-only covers every month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)