People are constantly on the run searching for the latest trend or craze that they feel is going to be “the future”. Lately there has been a trend spreading rapidly throughout the entertainment world, hopping barriers like wildfire. I’m sure you have been pulled in by this trend, even if you don’t like or believe in it you are still somehow entranced by it. This trend is 3D entertainment, the concept that your favourite films should no longer be simply watched and enjoyed but should rather pop out to cause you to interact.

What is it that has reignited this in-your-face entertainment trend? That’s right, you heard me, reignite! 3D movies have been around for years, directors have been dabbling on and off with the effect, often with the final result of lackluster reviews. In fact, the first commercially released 3-dimensional film using two-toned lens glasses appeared in 1922 film The Power of Love. From 1922 on, filmmakers attempted their hand at the format but it did not really catch on until 1952 with the release of the first 3D colour film Bwana Devil. The 1950’s are recognized as the golden age of 3D filmmaking, as I am sure you are all familiar with the two-coloured lens paper glasses, or as they are technically called anaglyph glasses. The 1950’s saw the release of a number of 3D films, especially focusing on the genre films such as House of Wax, even Alfred Hitchcock played around with the format. However, the format fell out of popularity later in the decade due to technical issues and cost. 3D had brief revisits in the 1960’s and 70’s, with a brief trend of 3rd installments being released in 3D in the 1980’s such as Jaws 3D. After its brief stint 3D disappeared from the public eye except for it’s on taking by IMAX that worked in depth with the format. Finally, 2004 marked a resurgence of the format with the 3D release of The Polar Express and other films, which began transforming their 2D films to 3D.

Most recently, we can thank James Cameron for his transformation of 3D technology and the assurance that 3D is here to stay. With the enormous success of the latest films Avatar and Alice in Wonderland not only are these films extremely popular but also the 3D effect itself is drawing viewers in for the experience. Say goodbye to the old-fashioned paper glasses and post-production 3D effects and hello to modernized, stylish glasses and effects. Previously 3D films had been released to lukewarm and often negative responses, but with the latest developments and large number of films hopping on the trend it appears it is not going anywhere, at least for a while; especially now with the latest advancements and production of 3D television. However, along with all the hype and excitement the nagging question comes to mind, is the 3D trend actually effective and is it truly here to stay as a success? Personally I do feel that it can be a very effective film entertainment trend if used properly. If the technique is used in the course of production of the film and is used as a tool of expression with a sense of purpose it is very effective. A great example of this is James Cameron’s film Avatar that uses 3D animation to make the viewer feel as though they are a part of the world of the film. In this film, 3D is actually used to compliment the films storyline and theme and the production of the film was developed with the 3D effect in mind. A current issue with the 3D trend is that every director wants to hop on simply for the sake of riding the popularity wave and drawing in crowds. With a number of films lately the 3D technique is being added as an afterthought or simply for shock value rather than truly being incorporated into the production and script. Unfortunately this use of the format cheapens the image and feel of 3D entertainment, which if continued could possibly lead to its demise yet again.

Taking a look at this trend brings to consider whether this trend has legs, and how could it be utilized in relation to advertising? This all blends perfectly into the latest development and release by Sony, Phillips and LG of 3D televisions so that now the interactive experience can be had in your own living room. This technological advancement is very new but may very likely be adopted the majority of households in the near future. This is a very exciting and promising concept for advertising and design! Imagine a world where the consumer could not only see your product and commercial but also connect and interact personally with it. This could completely change the way commercial ads and product placements are conceived and created. These could be built around the ability to invited consumers to interact with the product and to more realistically present the qualities of the product. Imagine feeling as though you are surrounded by and brought into the world of the advertisement. 3D entertainment may just be a rising fad now but I have a feeling that it could transform the way we think about advertising and interaction for good.

– Janine Lubey

Bwana Devil (1952)

House of wax (1953) trailer

House of Wax 3D clip

Samsung 3D TV commercial