I’ve noticed an alarming trend lately in the general discourse, as our world seems to be more divided in opinion than ever. Politics, media, family - everything is so polarizing these days, and our 3-D community is not immune. I witnessed it last summer at the NSA convention in Colorado while riding in a hotel elevator. I struck up a conversation with some fellow conventioneers that I had not yet met, and asked them how they were enjoying the convention. They agreed that they were having a good time, and I followed up by asking if they were planning to attend the 3-D Theater (where my work would be screening later that day). They unexpectedly responded quite firmly that they would NEVER go the the theater, as they were only interested in 3-D photography, and that videos and movies shouldn’t even be a part of the NSA gathering. The elevator doors opened, and I went to my room, wondering how someone could love 3-D images, but only if they didn’t move. In the months since that encounter, I have seen very vocal, opinionated debates occur, both in person and on the internet, on topics ranging from all 3-D photography should be shot ortho, to the need to get rid of glasses and go all autostereoscopic, that only professionals should be allowed to make 3-D, and even whether 3-D should actually exist as a medium. Active vs. passive; photos vs. movies; capture vs. conversion - why is there so much arguing?
Every time a new 3-D camera solution is introduced, it seems there is a legion that comes forward to complain that the stereobase is too small to create good 3-D, while another complains that the interaxial is too wide for most shooting conditions. There was recently a heated discussion on one email list, with one faction declaring that good 3-D was dependent only on mathematical formulas, while another argued that it required artistic design. And on another internet group, industry professionals working in stereo find themselves periodically attacked by flame-baiting individuals who feel that everyone should share their dislike for 3-D.
I’ve even found myself in the middle of a debate over whether it should be written 3-D or 3D (personally, I prefer the dash to delineate stereoscopic 3-D from CGI 3D, but I digress). If we truly are a 3-D community, and we share the common desire to view GOOD 3-D, then we need to find ways to work together, to compromise, to learn from each other, and ultimately to find what methods, equipment, and terms work for each one of us individually, in order to help the medium as a whole. 3-D is very subjective, just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and as with everything, personal tastes will differ. But in this era, when magazine headlines ask us to “Honk If You’re Sick of 3D”, stereoscopic image makers need to stand united in community, or we will surely fall divided.