Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Roger Ebert Responds To My Comment On 3D

Jim here. Well I didn't think he would respond to my comment as better people have commented earlier on the same post (Phil McNally of Dreamworks Animation for example), but Mr. Ebert did respond. Heck I didn't think he would approve the whole comment to begin with, but he did. I respect the man a great deal for his integrity, I will give him that.

I don't believe I was too hard on him as clearly he is way off base with his opinion on 3D. In fact, at times it seemed like he had some sort of personal vendetta against anything 3D, like some sort of anti-stereoscopic Charles Bronson.

Instead of being a stereoscopic advocate, he is now being stereotyped as being obsolete. It is a shame really. I will say this again, I am a fan of Roger Ebert. I will drop you a line after AVATAR and see if you have changed your mind!

Here is my response to his post as well as his followup:

Jim Dorey of on September 2, 2008 2:43 PM

Dear Mr. Ebert,

I have been holding off on posting on your blog as I really didn't see the point in attempting to set you straight as you clearly are very involved with the industry for a very long time and certainly entitled to your learned opinion.

However, I now find myself needing to reply to your post as there are many readers of my 3D focused website that are either confused by what you have said - or they want my opinion of your comments.

So, at the behest of my readers, here is my retort.

Your opinion is basking in the glow of nostalgia Mr. Ebert. Yes I have a vested interest in 3D, but I can base my opinions on fact and not fiction.

You stated: "There seems to be a belief that 3-D films are not getting their money's worth unless they hurtle objects or body parts at the audience. Every time that happens, it creates a fatal break in the illusion of the film. The idea of a movie, even an animated one, is to convince us, halfway at least, that that we're seeing on the screen is sort of really happening. Images leaping off the screen destroy that illusion."

NOT if used correctly and for that purpose! JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH is a family thrill ride and nothing more - it was MADE to have things coming at you - including the gravity influenced saliva of Brendan Fraser. James Cameron's AVATAR will be using 3D correctly and actually bringing the audience INTO the movie. Do not lump all 3D films into the category Mr. Ebert - you are sadly mistaken.

You stated: "There is a mistaken belief that 3-D is "realistic." Not at all. In real life we perceive in three dimensions, yes, but we do not perceive parts of our vision dislodging themselves from the rest and leaping at us. Nor do such things, such as arrows, cannonballs or fists, move so slowly that we can perceive them actually in motion. If a cannonball approached that slowly, it would be rolling on the ground."

I find this paragraph to be far beneath you. In real life we do see in 3D OBVIOUSLY because we have 2 eyes. And yes we DO see things leaping at us: How on earth did you play catch with a baseball? It is called depth perception or Stereopsis ( - it is that little thing that pilots must have in order to be licensed. And in a well made movie you will not have objects slowing down to augment a 3D effect unless it was intended to be part of the movie (like for example the bullet time effect in THE MATRIX). 3D is not realistic? This is an ignorant statement - we are obviously seeing in three dimensions as we have two eyes. It is as realistic as when I shut off my alarm clock in the morning without having to slap around my nightstand trying to find it in space.

You followed that nugget with "But what about rapid movement toward the viewer? Yes, we see a car aiming for us. But it advances by growing larger against its background, not by detaching from it. Nor did we evolve to stand still and regard its advance. To survive, we learned instinctively to turn around, leap aside, run away. We didn't just stand there evolving the ability to enjoy a 3-D movie."

Huh? I mean... WHAT? Yes, of course objects get larger and then when it gets close enough we detect depth. Why are you constantly referencing fast moving cars and cannonballs? Think about what really can be captured in a movie like catching a baseball as a kid from your father for example. I really dislike arguments from people that insist on either black or white. There is plenty of gray area in life! The baseball leaves your dad's hand and starts to get larger - you see the movement and the growth in size means it is coming towards you. Great, you position yourself. It is not until the ball gets close enough that your two eyes register two different images of the ball (depends on the distance of your eyes from each other). Your brain is then able to use your god given depth perception from TWO eyes to very accurately pinpoint where to catch the ball. It takes practice too. Not practice watching a ball get larger. Come on. HAND-EYE COORDINATION that is trained through depth perception. Honestly, are we back in school here?

You stated: "In my review of the 3-D "Journey to the Center of the Earth," I wrote that I wished I had seen it in 2-D: "Since there's that part of me with a certain weakness for movies like this, it's possible I would have liked it more. It would have looked brighter and clearer, and the photography wouldn't have been cluttered up with all the leaping and gnashing of teeth." "Journey" will be released on 2-D on DVD, and I am actually planning to watch it that way, to see the movie inside the distracting technique. I expect to feel considerably more affection for it."

That T-Rex sequence was one of the most entertaining and spell-binding bits of cinema I have seen in a long time. My opinion of course. So if you rather enjoy watching a T-Rex in 2D I would suggest Jurassic Park more so than JOURNEY. I have said it before, JOURNEY was meant to be a 3D thrill ride, nothing more. I won't waste your time trying desperately to dissect the "movie inside", whatever the heck that means. There is nothing else. It is a 3D family thrill ride! I can't believe I am saying this to the preeminent movie critic of our time, but you DO PREPARE yourself before a movie right? I mean, you don't walk into a horror movie expecting anything else but right? More than anything else I have commented on here - that is what I am most curious about from you Mr. Ebert.

You stated: "Ask yourself this question: Have you ever watched a 2-D movie and wished it were in 3-D? Remember that boulder rolling behind Indiana Jones in "Raiders of the Lost Ark?" Better in 3-D? No, it would have been worse. Would have been a tragedy. The 3-D process is like a zombie, a vampire, or a 17-year cicada: seemingly dead, but crawling out alive after a lapse of years. We need a wooden stake."

Absolutely 100% yes - and in fact RAIDERS would have been better yes. Especially the boulder scene. You have an uncanny knack for picking the exact right cinematic sequences that SHOULD be in 3D! And you comparison of 3D to the undead creatures of lore is unremarkable. A childish attempt to wrap up your butchery with something akin to a grin. Sorry. Didn't work. Modern 3D is a completely different beast compared to 20th century 3D and YOU KNOW IT. It amazes me that an educated man in your position would froth forth such bile.

Here is MY OPINION Mr. Ebert. It is you that is obsolete. Ewww, I can hear the gasps of the readers now! Jim Dorey dares to insult Roger Ebert! Whatever. I think you have had your day and your relevance is slowly eroding. I appreciate all you have done to date, really I have and I have watched many episodes of your work.

Yes, maybe I am miffed at having to post on your site. But really Mr. Ebert, open your EYES. Both of them. THE WORLD IS NO LONGER FLAT my good man and your opinion is growing obsolete. It is time to listen to the Galileo's of the world. Like Jim Cameron or Jeff Katzenberg. You said it yourself - Cameron wouldn't be trying to make AVATAR if he didn't think he could do it. My money is on Cameron, not you Mr. Ebert.

For your readers information, I am the creator and editor of which is dedicated to 3D movies and technology.

-Jim Dorey

Ebert: Thanks! I would like to believe I have an open mind, as I did when praising "Polar Express" and "Beowulf." I can very much see the effectiveness of using 3-D to provide depth instead attacking the foreground, and I am anticipating "Avatar" as much as any movie coming out--except for a few, of course.

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