Features and Columns · Movies

4 (Technical) Reasons 3D Movies Aren’t Immersive

If you’re not feeling especially “sucked in” to 3D movies, don’t worry you’re not alone.
Lethal Weapon D
By  · Published on April 26th, 2023

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that explores why 3D movies aren’t always immersive

Before we jump in, it’s worth remembering that movie theaters have always been in jeopardy.

The would-be assassins are legion: radio, television, home video, and now, online streaming. Over the years, the threat has largely remained the same: why should audiences spend their hard-earned money on an experience that’s worse than what they can enjoy in the comfort of their own home?

One solution has been novelty; technical flourishes that require a visit to your local movie house. You can’t fully appreciate the full extent of IMAX on your phone. And if you want to see a 35mm or (if you’re lucky) 75mm print, you’ll need to see it on the big screen. The same argument, ostensibly, applies to 3D: you have to go to a movie theater to experience the novel immersion the technology offers.

Only, as the following video essay argues, 3D’s ability to immerse audiences isn’t a guarantee. If you’re skeptical — or exhausted by discourse about 3D — I don’t blame you. But I think the essay brings something neat to the table, namely, a technical explanation of why 3D doesn’t do what it advertises. The essay focuses on four reasons why 3D’s immersive selling point falls flat: (1) the focus/convergence issue; (2) dimness; (3) the “gathering-in” effect, and (4) forced focus.

Whether or not you agree, disagree, or plain ole don’t care, I highly recommend giving the following a watch. Especially if you do care about the survival of movie theaters.

Watch “Why 3D Movies Are Not Immersive”

Who made this?

This video essay on why 3D movies aren’t always immersive was created by The Nerdwriter, a.k.a. Evan Puschak. The Nerdwriter covers everything from art to culture, to philosophy and politics. Which is to say, uh, just about anything. You can check out The Nerdwriter’s eclectic back catalog and subscribe to their YouTube channel here. And you can follow Puschak on Twitter here.

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Meg has been writing professionally about all things film-related since 2016. She is a Senior Contributor at Film School Rejects as well as a Curator for One Perfect Shot. She has attended international film festivals such as TIFF, Hot Docs, and the Nitrate Picture Show as a member of the press. In her day job as an archivist and records manager, she regularly works with physical media and is committed to ensuring ongoing physical media accessibility in the digital age. You can find more of Meg's work at Cinema Scope, Dead Central, and Nonfics. She has also appeared on a number of film-related podcasts, including All the President's Minutes, Zodiac: Chronicle, Cannes I Kick It?, and Junk Filter. Her work has been shared on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, Business Insider, and CherryPicks. Meg has a B.A. from the University of King's College and a Master of Information degree from the University of Toronto.