2-D or Not 2-D

3D and IMAX 3D has made its widespread and (some would say) obnoxious presence well known in cinema over the past few years.

I mean, when you're getting outdone in a technological field of cinema by some guys who get launched into the air inside a porta-potty's filled with . . .

This sub-medium of film has been both celebrated and scorned by movie-goers nationwide: cynics scoff at the idea of any film with the large “IN 3D!” text bundled with advertisements, while others (scarcer to find, in my experience) look forward to what they believe is a more immersive theatrical experience.

I sit smack in the middle of these two points of view. No, I don’t jump in line for my pair of giant black glasses for every single flick claiming to be a true 3D experience, nor do I instantly disregard a film that uses some form of the technology.

Because, yes, for those unaware, there are different types of 3D used in the movie industry. Or rather there is one real, pure type of 3D tainted by a poor and pathetic excuse to rake as much profit as possible from your truthfully 2D film.

Here’s how it works. Some films, such as Avatar (2009), Sanctum (2011), and yes, even Jackass 3D (2010) were filmed using specific cameras built for 3D. Then, you have a slew of a sadly much greater number of films that utilize what is known as post-conversion. Can’t be that much different . . . right?

Let’s take a closer look at two films. One (Avatar) filmed with 3D cameras and with 3D technology and the other (Clash of the Titans) post-converted.

In 2009, James Cameron decided he would release another film essentially as big as planet Earth itself (760.5 million domestically, guys). I refer, of course, to Avatar. I will not go into my opinion on the contents of the film, nor the man behind it, but instead the actual 3D IMAX experience.

Sitting in front of the looming forty-foot screen, I waited patiently with my pair of 3D glasses.  Having never seen a film in IMAX, let alone IMAX 3D, I had no idea what to expect.

Real 3D

Retrospectively, if I could sum the

experience up in a single word, it would have to be “immersive.” The world of Avatar truly looked three-dimensional, grabbing the viewer and surrounding them with its sweeping alien landscapes and creatures.  At times, it felt more like a rollercoaster than a film, giving me a visceral experience and allowing me to forget I was a safe spectator.

IMAX adds that much-needed extra touch to the 3D, allowing for breathtaking sound and scope. During a sequence in the film where a gigantic tree falls to the ground below, my pant legs literally shook from the power of the stereo.

Clash of the Titans, another large action film starring Sam Worthington, gave me a slightly different experience. Before my knowledge of post-conversion, I wandered happily into the theater for a viewing of Clash in what I expected to be full-blown 3D. Oh, to be young and naïve.

Fake 3D

What word comes to mind this time? “Bloated,” “nauseating,” “disorienting,” any of those shall do. Instead of bringing me closer to the world portrayed on screen, the glasses just felt like they brought me closer to the screen itself.

The post-converted 3D gave me a massive headache, completely disorienting me the second any type of sudden movement was made on screen; I could barely navigate a scene without squinting.

Far from looking three-dimensional, both landscape and character in every frame looked smudgy and otherwise completely 2D throughout the film. Therefore, it not only fails on all promises of 3D fare, but detracts from even a standard viewing experience (not to mention the four extra dollars you paid).

In conclusion, 3D merits your time and money when the technology and film is in the right hands. Do I think 3D should be the future of all films when tackled correctly? Certainly not. Though offering a different type of absorption into a movie (when done right), I believe any good film has enough power on its own to capture and spellbind an audience. That being said, it’s a great way to spend an evening with a popcorn, soda, and group of friends at your side.

So, before throwing on those glasses and shelling out four extra dollars, do a little research. Because, hey, knowledge never gave anybody a fifteen dollar headache.

Welcome at the OC

When I mention the letters “OC” to most people (generally meaning non-homeschoolers), I am usually greeted with responses such as, “When were you in Ocean City?” or “Oh, that show on MTV?” Regretfully, I am referring to neither. I am, in fact, speaking of a place which has had a much greater impact on my life than a beach getaway or (poor) excuse to sit on the couch for a few hours (seriously, the “OC”? The Housewives of New Jersey is much better!)

Open Connections(OC) is a homeschooling resource center located in Newtown Square, PA. The beautiful property hosts two buildings (which have been outfitted for all OC needs) called the Farm House and the Barn atop running hills and green grass.  And thus, within this wonderful space, OC thrives.

The Open Connection grounds

OC consists of multiple programs throughout each day of the week, encompassing a range of ages. Since 2008, I have been attending a Thursday program deemed “Shaping Your Life.”

Shaping Your Life is made up of about twenty teen programmers and two facilitators. The morning starts off at 9:15 with “check-in,” in which everyone goes around and shares some highlights of their week (a thirty-second time limit has actually been placed on this, due to the length of check-in often running much longer than it should, something that is frequently joked about).

After check-in, we usually do a mental warm-up exercise to stimulate ourselves before the full day ahead of us. These usually consist of brain-teasers and/or games that test and sharpen our minds.

Then it’s on to group activities for the rest of the morning that range from working on the garden we planted last year on the grounds to studying poverty or foreign newspaper headlines to group discussions or challenges. For example, a few weeks ago, we examined and discussed the many types of rhetoric and fallacies used in media, writing, etc. Then, we broke into two groups and went about two different ways of studying excerpts from books, politics, news, and fictional scenarios, trying to deduce which type was being used.

The morning portion culminates with a brief physical activity, ranging from games such as Wink or Knockout to attempting to find equal balance on an off-kilter platform holding all twenty of us or trying to squeeze fellow teens through a spider web of rope without ringing the bell attached to said rope. Needless to say, that bell went off. Multiple times.

The stroke of noon signals lunch followed by free time, during which we teens essentially have two unstructured hours to schedule as we please. Within OC guidelines, of course.

Then finally, from two to four, we split up into three or four groups and go about our afternoon sessions. These vary greatly in subject matter and last for five consecutive weeks. I am currently three weeks into a “Geography Challenge” session, where we study different aspects of geography while also learning about the function of our brains in relation to memory. Before that? The Assassination of JKF and the conspiracies surrounding the event. Like I said, varied.

What I love the most about OC is actually quite simple: the environment and the vibe which that environment gives off. When I arrive at OC, I instantly feel comfortable and happy. It feels like nothing can touch me.  It’s like being at a close friend’s house, except that friend’s house happens to be a giant community. I’m always up for challenges when I’m there and know that I will be both supported and helped develop in areas if and when I experience roadblocks. OC is like a second home, and the level of comfort I feel within the realm of OC is bested only by that of my own humble abode.