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I See, You See, We All See in 3D

11 Mar, 2010 By: Thomas K. Arnold

I was disappointed, but I went anyway.

Last Sunday night was date night for my youngest son, Hunter, and me. We went out to sushi--hey, I know he's only 7 but he's already got a refined palate--and then headed over to the Carlsbad movie theater to see Alice in Wonderland. I had been looking forward to seeing the film, and even brought along a Tramadol for the occasion (no, not to get high--to ease the pain from my fractured arm injured in a skiing misshap a month ago). Much to my chagrin, there was a sign at the ticket window that informed me that "regrettably, this picture will be shown in 2D because the theater is not currently equipped for 3D performances."

It was late, Hunter was driving me nuts and I didn't feel like driving somewhere else, so I paid for the little fellow and me and we went inside. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie--it's this vibrant, moving collage of colors and cool shapes and characters (and, no, that's not the Tramadol talking!)--but the entire time I thought to myself, "Man, this must look so much better in 3D."

And as I left it dawned on me just how quickly I have been sucked in by this whole 3D experience. I have seen exactly two movies in 3D in theaters, The Final Destination and Scrooge.  And that was all it took to get me hooked. I want to see more movies in 3D, especially ones known for their artsy look, like Alice. Now, if you're wondering why, if I'm such a 3D fan, I haven't seen more than two movies in 3D--heck, I haven't even seen Avatar!--then let me clue you in to my character: As much as I like the movie theater, I am partial to watching movies in my own home, on my 65-inch Panasonic plasma, in the comfort of my own family room, preferably after the kids have gone to bed and the wife is upstairs reading or doing whatever it is wives do at night. I'm one of those consumers who won't think twice about buying a new TV just so I can watch 3D at home, regardless of the price. It's something I want--and it's something I think will catch on pretty quick to the point where it becomes the new standard for home entertainment, just like color TV in the 1980s, cable in the 1970s and home video in the 1990s.

I'm not saying I am going to want to watch everything in 3D. No need to see the news or Leno in three dimensions. I don't even want to watch every movie in 3D. But I sure would like the option, the choice, to watch certain films in 3D, and to me that's the whole beauty of the home 3D juggernaut: It broadens our entertainment choices. I can watch a documentary just to sharpen up on a certain subject, I can watch an old film noir to escape back into the mystical 1940s of Raymond Chandler and Philip Marlowe, or I can watch Shrek or Alice or Monsters vs. Aliens in 3D and have a completely different entertainment experience.

I know there are naysayers out there who think we've seen it all before, that 3D is a passing fancy, having originated with the monster movies of the 1950s and periodically come and gone in the years since. But the new 3D is nothing like the old. Instead of putting on red and blue glasses and getting a headache, you are thrust into the action, into the center of things, and you feel almost physically transported into the movie, if that makes any sense. That's what appeals to me-it's not an enhancement of the viewing experience, like the old 3D, but, rather, it's a completely new experience--and one that I first experienced about two years ago in Panasonic's 3D lab in Universal City, watching a clip of a canoe ride.

That canoe ride forever altered my perception of 3D and left me wanting more. Whenever I watch a 3D movie nowadays, I leave the theater with the same feeling--I want more. But it's more than that--I want more 3D at the time and the place of my choosing, which happens to be my family room. That's why I think 3D for the home will catch on, and catch on big. In this era of personal control and home theaters, I can't imagine I'm alone.

There must be thousands of 3D junkies like me out there, just craving for a fix--on our own terms.

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