1. Thank you to Imogen Tyler, Leon Gurevitch and the editors at Jump Cut for advice and feedback during the development of this article. [return to text]

2. A sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Cameron, 1991), costing $60m this was, shot-for-shot, the most expensive film to date.

3. Cameron has directed two 3D IMAX documentaries, Ghosts of the Abyss and Aliens of the Deep (Cameron, Quale, 2005), the 3D epic Avatar, and also produced the 3D adventure film, Sanctum (Grierson, 2011). He also has a financial interest in the widespread adoption of 3D media. In addition to investing in the commercial development of equipment through his Cameron / Pace Group, such as the Fusion 3D camera system with which Avatar was shot, Cameron has also signed a deal with Samsung to produce 3D material for Samsung 3D TVs in South Korea (Yoo-chui, 2010).

4. See, for example, film editor Walter Murch’s scientistic insistence that the human brain has evolved in a way that makes watching 3D images physically uncomfortable (Ebert, 2011).

5. Two notable exceptions, which make extensive use of static camera set-ups, are Pina (Wenders, 2011) and Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai (Miike, 2011) [return to page 2]

6. As David Bordwell has observed,

“Camera movement became a mainstay of popular cinema with the coming of sound, seen not only in the flamboyant tracking or crane shot which often opened the movie but also in those subtle reframing left and right which kept the characters centered. Today’s camera movements are ostentatious extensions of the camera mobility generalized during the 1930s” (Bordwell, 2002, p. 20).

7. In this respect it articulates a fundamental spectatorial and technological fantasy of unimpeded, transgressive mobility, launching us backwards towards Christian Metz’s “primal scene” of cinema, the apocryphal 1896 screenings of the Lumière actualité showing a train pulling into La Ciotat station.

8. As Lorrie Palmer notes, Dziga Vertov’s “kino-glaz” aesthetic celebrated the mobile camera as a prosthetic augmentation of vision:

“I am a mechanical eye [...] I am in constant motion, I draw near, then away from objects, I crawl under, I climb onto them. I plunge and soar together with lunging and soaring bodies” (Palmer, 2012, p. 2).

9. Although Pina can be classified as an “art film" in its concentration upon contemporary dance, it nevertheless reproduces many of the emergent tropes of 3D cinema, including several “phantom ride” sequences on a cable car. Moreover, in its preoccupation with the choreographed movement of bodies through space and the correlative “choreography” of the mobile camera, it explores a central formal element of 3D film.

10. The poem is a motif in the film, its imagery of the opening stanza resonating in the film’s scenography of vast underground caves:

“In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.”

11. The gendering of the cave draws our attention to the gendering of the 3D gaze both through the motif of the penetrative movement of the camera through narrative space, as well as its alignment with the perspective of the heroic male adventurer.

12. The technician is rather embarrassed when a wizard appears in one of the passages, as if we are being shown an adventure game.

13. Or, as Miriam Ross has it, the “hyper-haptic” qualities of the stereoscopic film image (Ross, 2012). [return to page 3]

14. See Brown, 2012, for further reflections upon the significance of darkness in relation to 3D cinema.

15. The film is consistent in its concern with laying bare the mechanism so that later in the film we are shown the radio-controlled “Skybot” camera platform with which these aerial shots are achieved. 

16. Indeed, Prometheus opens with archaeologists discovering a cave in Skye containing paintings based on those seen in Herzog’s film. 

17. Other examples include the audio recording of the death of Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend in Grizzly Man (Herzog, 2005), which Herzog refuses to reproduce (although he includes film of himself and Treadwell’s former girlfriend listening to it), and footage of the inaccessible cave behind a waterfall in the rainforests of Guyana in The White Diamond (Herzog, 2004) (although the film includes footage of a camera operator lowered on a rope to shoot behind the curtain of water).

18. While there is speculation that Ultra-HD 4K TVs will displace HD 3D TVs, in Britain 3D TV sales constitute a growing area of the market:

“In terms of technology, more than a third of the TV market value in 2012 was from sales of 3D TVs, and sales of large screens of 43 inches or more increased 10% in the past 12 months"(Dowell, 2013).
[return to page 4]

19. It is important to note that the article refers to “native” 3D films—that is, films shot in 3D, rather than 2D films converted to 3D such as Titanic (Cameron, 1997), released in 2012 in 3D.

20. The first 3D film in a projected trilogy adapted from JRR Tolkein’s The Hobbit is entitled The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Jackson, 2012).


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