Beyond their use, not all media are alike, of course. I think the biggest division within the world of theme park media is the question that we address today — Which is better: 2D or 3D?
Three-D long has stood as an attraction by itself. Filmmakers create movies that appear to throw all sorts of stuff at the audience, using the visual trick of 3D projection to make fans scream as they push back in their seats... then laugh at themselves and their friends for falling once again for the gag.
Eventually, 3D begat 4D, where designers added practical in-theater effects to a 3D film, including wind and water effects all the way up to those evil little filaments under the seat that made it feel like critters are walking over your legs. Some 4D theaters include moving seats, creating a lower-budget version of the motion base theater.
On dark rides, 3D can create an even more immersive experience, allowing show scenes to "break" the invisible wall of the ride-vehicle envelope. Done right, 3D is the element that makes media not feel like media but instead like fantastic scenes made real, in three dimensions.
But when not done right? Oh boy.
So much of what might once have been exciting in 3D movies has become cliche, a gimmick to compensate for lazy or nonexistent storytelling. And 4D attractions make the temptation to write to serve the effects over the story even worse. Many fans have become wary of 3D attractions because they now fear that "3D" on the marquee means a show that's going to emphasize tired visual gimmicks over creative storytelling.
Many fans also complain that 3D media are not as bright as 2D, creating a dingy image that, ironically, does not seems as real or alive as a traditional, 2D image. Projectors typically do not project 3D media at the same level of brightness that they can a 2D image, and the use of the special glasses further restricts the amount of light that gets through to each eye. A cinematographer can crank up the brightness of a 3D image in an attempt to compensate, but even then you're dependent upon the theater keeping up on the projection side.
For guests who wear eyeglasses, having to place a pair of 3D glasses over them to experience an attraction can annoy or frustrate what ought to be a carefree experience. And some people have vision issues that make seeing 3D imagery impossible, rendering the hard work of a production team into a visually incoherent mess for those guests.
Parks' 3D glasses also create logistical issues, as they require cleaning between each use, as well as staff time to collect, deliver and distribute those glasses. All that costs money that 2D media do not.
(To this end, the current crisis might be the one that finally does in 3D at theme parks, at least for the time being, as parks look to minimize physical contact points between guests. Ditching 3D and projecting all media in glasses-free 2D means one less thing that has to be washed for and hand-delivered to each guest throughout the day.)
And yet... you can watch a 2D show at home or even on your phone as you wait in the queue. At least 3D remains something novel for most theme park visitors - a literal extra dimension that you cannot get at home or through your other media devices. Yes, creating an engaging and rewarding 3D production requires some different techniques than filming a 2D production. But when that extra work pays off with that extra "pop" off the screen, more deeply immersing the viewer into the story the production team is telling, then 3D can be worth the hassle.
So, it's up to you. Based on the attractions you've experienced, please tell us which form of media you prefer in theme parks.Tweet
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