| When we developed stereo for the ears, we found that it was indeed at least twice as good as mono. We assumed therefore that quadro would be, in turn, at least twice as good as stereo. It was not. Organic systems optimize whereas our mechanical systems aspire to maximize. The reason that stereo is optimal is because we have two ears. Two speakers simulating our two ears can thus pick up sound which feels real. As we turn from stereo for the ear to stereo for the eye, we can learn much from our previous experience by analogy. The two cameras of course simulate the function of two spaced-apart eyes. |
In benefiting from the analogy between stereo for the ears and stereo for the eyes, we should be sensitive to the ways in which the analogy breaks down. Whereas, as Colin Low points out, our ears are specialized for threat from behind, our eyes are specialized for threat from the front.1 Our nervous systems are designed to detect change, since it is change which is threatening. Change along the z-axis is particularly threatening, since it represents something coming towards us.2 3-D in the fifties using the third dimension to throw things out at the audience. Nature would suggest that we use the third dimension to invite the audience into the medium.
Whereas the large IMAX screen increases reality by filling the visual field, it simultaneously reduces reality by creating huge figures which can not be identified with. However, the 3-D version restores intimacy by projected figures into the audience, where they are not only closer but closer in size to real-life. Anyone who was tempted to reach for those Teddy Bears in Transitions, the 3-D IMAX film shown at Expo 86 in Vancouver, knows what we mean. This film uses the strategy of removing the border plus the strategy of adding the third dimension to produce remarkable effects. If seeing is believing, then seeing in 3-D is really believing.
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