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Avatar opened a new era in 3D technology

“The film Avatar was absolutely fascinating, interesting, entertaining and touching.  The Pandora jungle and the scenery could easily be the best in film history.  I strongly believe that the Navis are the best digitally created characters since Gollum from The Lord of the Rings.  The special effects are so amazing that Pandora looks like a real life location and one can easily mistake the Navis for real beings.  Avatar is nearly 3 hours in length but it really doesn’t seem that long.”  This is a comment about the famous movie ‘Avatar’ on the US’s famous movie website, IMDB (Internet movie database).  

Many of you might have had similar impression with the comment and also heard about this statement. “If you want to see ‘Avatar’, it will be a good choice to see it in a 3D theater.”  Actually, according to Box Office Mojo, 45.5 million of the movie’s tickets have been sold for 3D and IMAX.  On the basis of this remarkable result, 3D technology is now booming in the film industry.  3D technology is being proved useful for games, television, and even for artistic pieces as well.  So, now the Post ferret out of the fact of the 3D’s boom from what 3D is to why the technology becomes so popular. 

First of all, according to Wikipedia (an encyclopedia that anyone can edit), 3D computer graphics (in contrast to 2D computer graphics) are ones that use a three-dimensional representation of geometric data (often Cartesian) stored in the computer for the purpose of performing calculations and rendering 2D images. Such images may be used for displaying later or for real-time viewing.  Though people begin to get attracted currently to 3D technology, it has been developed for a long time.

The 3D version of Arrival of a Train is usually regarded as the first 3D movie.  Since this movie, many 3D movies have popped up worldwide. Hollywood films have utilized the technology and have continually had good results.  Following so many trials and errors, the movie Avatar has become one of the most successful 3D movies because of the vibrant screen and architectonic beauty in plot.  Park Jong-ho, a professor in the Department of Film & Digital Media said, “It is true that Avatar is a good movie, but it is also a good movie even if it is not in 3D.”  It is clear that movies can have many qualities that can attract viewers, among which the 3D technology can be another reason.  However, there are still remaining problems.  A moviegoer said “I saw the movie Avatar on a 3D screen and thought it was great fun because the contents were well-organized. Just recently, I also saw Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland also on the same 3D screen but I just appreciated the 3D viewing experience not the story.  The statement shows that success factors of 3D movies are both high-technology and stories.  Currently in Korea there are not enough theaters to serve 3D screens, however, as more and more 3D movies are becoming popular, multiplex theaters such as CJ CGV, Mega Box, and Cinus have begun to equip more of their screens with the 3D system.

As in movies, 3D graphic technology is broadly being used in computer game programming.   At the moment in Korea, 3D based games like Aion and Lineage 2 are becoming more and more popular.  According to Gametrics, an online game ranking site, top 7 out of 10 games are 3D-based games.  Generally, a 3D game is a 3D browse game based on 3D Game Engine.  A 3D game user said “It is quite realistic, which is the best characteristic of 3D games.  I usually play the game Sudden Attack, a multiplayer first-person shooting game.  I think this game makes the best use of 3D graphic technology.”  First-person shooter (FPS) games are a video game genre which centers the game play on both gun and projectile weapon-based combat through the first person perspective so the player experiences the action through the eyes of the protagonist.  Also, from February 19th 2010, well-known online game company Blizzard also released Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty in a beta version.  Many online game players have expected to enjoy the 3D version of the Starcraft. With advanced 3D graphics, the game would increase its excitement.

Following the recent 3D trend evoked by the movie Avatar, Savina Museum of Contemporary Art is presenting 24 sculptures, videos, photographs and paintings also in 3D.  The name of this exhibition is Neo Sense: From illusion to 3D.  The participating artists, a total of 11 including Kim June, Lee Lee-nam, Kang Young-min and Choi Jong-un, sometimes make realistic three-dimensional artwork, but often used techniques that only induce visual illusions.  The chief curator, Kang Jae-hyun said, “3D technology enables artists to realize an imaginary world and it is better to use computer graphics that can save money and time. Many visitors are favorable in reviewing this exhibition so I’m really happy.”  One impressive art work is The Mismatch Answer produced by Ho-bul-ho, a group of four members.  By wearing 3D stereoscopic glasses, visitors can see 3D stereoscopic animations.  The exhibition runs to May 23 at Savina Museum of Contemporary Art in Anguk-dong, Seoul.

As many cultural fields are interested in 3D, electronic companies such as Samsung and LG compete each other to push into the new 3D TV market.  The Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism has also issued a new plan for a ‘progressive strategy for 3D industry’.  According to this plan, the 3D industry will develop 3D equipment and technology and make 3D contents of more than 500 billion won in total.  This is very good news for Korean industries, however, if the contents are not fully developed, then the technology may be useless. Professor, Park Jong-ho, also gave a warning that people should not lose sight of ordinary art. At least for a while though, it is true that 3D will fulfill peoples’ desire to see more fantastic things. 

Kim Tae-hyang  kimtaehyang@dongguk.edu

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