Five Ways in which 3D Will Change the Face of Cinema

1. September 2010

I’m an advocate of 3D, always have been, and I firmly believe it will take over the way colour once did. But especially after speaking to Ludger Pfanz for my last article about 3D-TV, I have thought a lot more about how I believe 3D might actually change the way moving pictures will look in the future.

It basically comes down to this: You will get to see less shots and they will be more beautiful – until, that is, 3D has become so accepted that visionaries come along and turn it on its head again in maybe ten to 15 years. Here is how I would break it up:

1. Editing: Less and more Deliberate Cuts

I’m sure David Bordwell has numbers instead of a gut feeling about how fast films have become. Intensified continuity has taken over almost every genre now and action scenes in particular have become muddled and confusing (I just watched The Expendables and man was that anti-climactic and devoid of any money shots). 3D, which wants our minds to sink into the picture, will return to longer shots and more of an overview of what is happening on the scene, maybe souped up with slow-mos and time compression the way Zack Snyder tried in 300 and Watchmen.

2. Cinematography: Goodbye, Shaky-Cam

What was still pretty radical when it was boosted by the Dogme film makers in the nineties has now become a staple of every film that wants to look in any way „gritty“: hand-held, shaky cameras that appear to be right in the thick of it, thereby (like the fast cutting) often hiding what is actually going on. I expect more swooping, elegant camera moves in the future, especially because digital compositing allows the marriage of many shorter shots into one impressive one so well nowadays.

3. Mise-en-scène: The Return of Staging

3D means z-axis information, cultivated for our viewing pleasure. How better to make use of this than by going back to arranging actors on screen – their position sometimes telling us a lot more about their relationships than the words they say. In the last twenty years, talkative situations were solved mostly either by cutting or by static shots that made an artistic statement through their very immobility. The future might bring back moving actors again – a more theatrical way of movie-making, certainly, but not for the worse.

4. Composition: Artistry triumphs

Since its Grand Return, 3D has mostly been associated with fantasy, horror, dance and animated films. For good reason. These paradigms of cinema offer the broadest canvas on which to paint that otherworldy, uncanny feeling that stereoscopy (rather than holography) spreads throughout the cinema, where the viewer can experience space without being able to move within it as he pleases. Designed, precisely choreographed images allow for a much greater control of this feeling than captured, „realistic“ images do. This applies even to documentaries, who, while photographing „real life“ might just take more time to set up their images in the future than they did in the past.

5. And Finally: The Power of the Close-Up

This will be the big selling point of bringing 3D to genres that few can imagine in 3D at the moment: romantic comedies, melodramas, movies about people rather than images. The close-up, carefully and glamourously lit, was what put the stars right in our grasp. 3D can rely heavily on that idea. Watching the latest star-studded love film with your favourite poster boys and girls larger-than-life in 3D will make you want to sink into their baby blue eyes, their weather-lined faces, their luscious lips more than ever before. Better get the smelling salt ready for the faint of heart.

Do you agree? Let me know in the comments.

4 Antworten to “Five Ways in which 3D Will Change the Face of Cinema”


  1. I just noticed your latest entry and, without getting further into it for now, I have a feeling you’re kinda too optimistic about the impacts of 3D-cinema. This list reads like a utopian the-way-it-should-be-ragbag.

  2. Alex Says:

    Utopia is what I’m getting at here. Call it thought-provoking if you want to.

  3. Gomeck Says:

    Do you know how many people can’t see colours? One of 100.000, about 3000 people in Germany. But how many people can’t see stereoscopic? A lot more, I fear. 3D is a nice effect and definitely an enrichment of cinema, but if they would ask me I would be satisfied with 3D as special effect for special movies (all the more since the movies a way to expensive). I am definitely not for making everything in 3D and banish 2D movies in future. It’s so anoying when some good movies are only shown in 3D sometimes. And much more when older 2D movies are ‚transformed‘ so something like 3D. AND I don’t want to were strange glasses all the time in cinema and, when I believe the advertisment, soon at home.

    Well, the complains were similar when b/w changes to colour I guess ;) But nevertheless I don’t agree with your optimism. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, after all the money reigns.

    @pt5 ( (Close-Ups) … just thinking … is there a 3D porn already? ;D sure…


  4. […] news to me, especially since I have heard a lot of people tell their stories about how 3D demands a different style of filmmaking. Come to think of it, though, producer Mark Gläser, just two days earlier, had said that while he […]


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