An off-topic post

I promised I would keep off-topic posts to a minimum, but I have to make an exception for this. I just found out that Roger Ebert died today, at age 70, after a long battle with cancer. This is very sad, and a great loss. There are three primary reasons why I have always stayed aware of Mr. Ebert’s output: I love movies, video games, and 3D, and he had strong opinions on all three of those areas.

When hearing about a movie, my first step is always the Internet Movie Database, and the second step is a click-through to Mr. Ebert’s review. While I didn’t always agree with his opinions, his reviews were always very useful in forming an opinion; and anyway, after having listened to his full-length commentary track on Dark City — something that everybody with even a remote interest in movies or science fiction should check out — he could do no wrong in my book.

I do not want to weigh in on the “video games as art” discussion, because that’s neither here nor there.

However, I do want to address Mr. Ebert’s opinions on stereoscopic movies (I’m not going to say 3D movies!), because that’s close to my heart (and this blog… hey, we’re on topic again!). In a nutshell, he did not like them. At all. And the thing is, I don’t really think they work either. Where I strongly disagreed with him is the reason why they don’t work. For Mr. Ebert, 3D itself was a fundamentally flawed idea in principle. For me, the current implementation of stereoscopy as seen in most movies is deeply flawed (am I going to see “Jurassic Park 3D?” Hell no!). What I’m saying is, 3D can be great; it’s just not done right in most stereoscopic movies, and maybe properly applying it will require a change in the entire idea of what a movie is. I always felt that the end goal of 3D movies should not be to watch the proceedings on a stereoscopic screen from far away, but to be in the middle the action, as in viewing a theater performance by being on stage amidst the actors.

I had always hoped that Mr. Ebert would at some point see how 3D is supposed to be, and then nudge movie makers towards that ideal. Alas, it was not to be.

Slow approval of / replies to comments


I’d like to apologize in advance to everyone who posts a comment here. While I very much appreciate them, and will approve them and reply to them as quickly as I can, my blog has recently been discovered by link farmers, and I am getting a HUGE amount of comment spam. So please be patient as I’m trying to remedy the situation. Thanks!

Poll: Potential VR Open House at UC Davis

One of the big problems with advocating for virtual reality is that it can really only be experienced first-hand; I can make all the movies I want, and still won’t get the main point across.

So I figured it might be a good idea to host a “VR Open House” at UC Davis, and invite readers of my blog, or the redditors of the virtualreality subreddit where I sometimes hang out, to come and see what I mean by immersive 3D graphics (or “VR”) in person.

But before I do any planning, I need to find out if there’s any interest in the first place; after all, I don’t know how many people live around northern California, or how far people would be willing to travel for something like this (we’re an hour north-east of San Francisco, right off I-80).

So here’s my idea: if you read this post, and would attend such an open house, please leave a reply. If enough people show interest, I’ll schedule something, and then do another poll for people to sign up on a first-come first-serve basis, as I can’t handle a group larger than, say, a dozen. If you do leave a reply, maybe indicate what date ranges won’t work for you.

Some details on what we could look at / play with:

I’m thinking this could be a half-day affair; that won’t be enough to look at everything, but at least at a good cross-section.

So, please, leave a comment if you’re interested; maybe indicate how far you’d be traveling and what dates are no-no for you. I’ll take it from there.