#3d

Zach Epstein with more on Amazon’s forthcoming smartphone and its “3D” technology:

Amazon’s motion sensing and head tracking technology also changes the way users access menus and other features in apps. In fact, we’re told that Amazon’s smartphone apps don’t even have traditional menu buttons. Instead, menus and other functions are accessed by tilting the phone to the right or left. These tilts cause new panels to slide in over the current screen.

So for example, if the user tilts the phone to one side while reading a book in the Kindle app, the phone will open the X-Ray menu, which is a reference tool that provides contextual information relevant to whatever the user might be reading at the time.

A tilt in the messaging app while composing a new message will open up a panel with the phone’s camera roll, allowing users to quickly and easily insert a photo. Tilting the phone to one side while using the weather app reveals the extended forecast.

Again, this reeks of functionality that stems from novelty and differentiation rather than usefulness. But we’ll see. If they can nail this, maybe it will be a new interaction paradigm. My guess is that it will be nearly impossible to nail such interactions, though.

Zach Epstein apparently has some details (and images) of the forthcoming Amazon smartphone:

The device houses an additional four front-facing cameras that work with other sensors to facilitate the software’s 3D effects. One source tells us these four cameras, which are situated in each of the four corners on the face of the phone, are low-power infrared cameras.

The device’s extra cameras are used to track the position of the user’s face and eyes in relation to the phone’s display. This allows Amazon’s software to make constant adjustments to the positioning of on-screen elements, altering the perspective of visuals on the screen.

The result is a 3D experience without the need for 3D glasses or a parallax barrier in front the LCD panel like the solutions used by the Nintendo 3DS portable video game console and HTC’s EVO 3D smartphone from 2011.

While I’m hesitant to say so definitely before seeing it, this reeks of pure novelty. Just as it was with every other “3D” phone before it

The question you have to ask is: at the end of the day, does such a feature make for a truly better user experience? Or is it just a novelty trying to mask itself as a differentiating feature? Or worse, does it actually make the device harder to use?

Yes, the iPhone has a “parallax” effect with iOS 7. But Apple doesn’t shy away from it being purely ornamental. And, by the way, a lot of people hate that feature.

The Amazon Phone need only be an Amazon Prime Phone, not some weird, novelty-laden thing.

Jordan Kushins:

I was asked to sit down, and was given a pair of Oculus HD goggles that were hanging from a cord suspended from the ceiling. I was handed a pair of headphones. At this point, everything was black and completely silent. I was only slightly anxious. And then they pressed play.

Immediately I was standing directly in the middle of a skate park. The sun was shining. There was a guy going back and forth over the shallow peaks and valleys directly to my right. There was no break in the scene as I looked left, and up, and all the way around behind me, and the sound remained true to the direction of his wheels along the concrete. This was a very real—like, shockingly real—3D transportation. It was a mouth agape, I-can’t-stop-giggling-out-of-pure-incredulity kind of leap.

Seems like a pretty great way to describe the first-time experience using Oculus. It’s the kind of description that makes $2 billion sound cheap.

As is this:

Can you imagine seeing a version of Gravity where the action wasn’t just taking place on a screen in front of you, but in every single direction? Where you could view the same footage an infinite number of times and still catch details you’d never seen before, simply because you turned your head ever-so-slightly—or all the way around, or up, or down—and shifted your perspective? No one will ever view the exact same cut of the exact same footage; it is completely personalized based on where you look at any given moment. That and it’s totally immersive. It’s a revolutionary idea, but not without its challenges.

Such technology, if nailed, would fundamentally alter the experience of watching a movie. 3D is a shitty coat of paint, this is the real deal. 

Alexandra Cheney on Christopher Nolan:

A huge proponent of IMAX, Nolan says he shot more of “Interstellar” on IMAX cameras than ever before but that he used spatial interiors and “real environments,” in effect shooting the film and the actor’s responses to action “like a documentary.”

Although he’s all in favor of new technologies, he’s hesitant to adapt or use anything before it’s time tested – in a theater for certain and ideally in front of audiences.

New technology “has to cede what comes before that, and it hasn’t done that yet,” he said.

I cannot wait for Interstellar even though I know basically nothing about it. But in Nolan I trust, given this:

On the subject of 3D, Nolan praised Baz Luhrmann for “The Great Gatsby” but said that as far as the technology, “Just as stadium seating isn’t the best thing for a comedy, 3D isn’t the best for a shared audience.”

Well aware of his audience – a packed house of exhibitors – Nolan defended seeing films on the big screen and lobbied for more re-releases of films. He cited “Citizen Kane” and “The Odyssey” for their non-linear structure and advocated for shooting on 35 mm.

We’ve entered what, year five of 3D (post-Avatar). And for the vast majority of films, it’s still incredibly stupid and gimmicky.

Brooks Barnes for Media Decoder:

Despite a continued hard sell by Hollywood, audiences have been increasingly reluctant about paying a $2 to $5 surcharge to see movies in 3-D.

But Warner is not giving up. To advertise the 3-D effects of “Jack the Giant Slayer,” set for release March 1, the studio has decided to buy space on Travel Plaza TV, which is distributed in about 300 gas stations and Pilot Flying J truck stops in 42 states.

Keep trying something — anything — until something sticks, I guess. Unless it doesn’t.

I hope 2013 is the last year we have to put up with this 3D nonsense. But I doubt it. If the studios really just care about charging more (which sure seems to be the case), they should really just focus on IMAX. That’s an awesome cinematic experience. 3D is crap.

Vlad Savov of The Verge:

The 3D TV won its tortured, protracted war — you can buy a 3D TV anywhere and at any time — and nobody could care less.

I happen to think 3D in movie theaters is still a gimmicky distraction from storytelling that will (once again) die out over time. I happen to think 3D on your TV in the home is fucking ridiculous and was dead on arrival. Good riddance.