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By Miriam Ross

3D Cinema: Optical Illusions and Tactile stories questions the typical frameworks used for discussing 3D cinema, realism and spectacle, in an effort to totally comprehend the embodied and sensory dimensions of 3D cinema's specific visuality.

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Extra resources for 3D Cinema: Optical Illusions and Tactile Experiences

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Similar shots occur throughout the film, either of Sam Worthington, who plays Sully, or of the blue face of his character’s avatar when he inhabits the alien Na’vi body. The head’s curves and contours in each instance are enhanced by its three-dimensional grandeur, and the absence of a determined spatial plane on which it rests lends it an alluring quality that suggests the feeling, if not the physical action, of touch. The ability to use negative parallax space in order to present objects within the auditorium is most forcibly seen in a sequence which occurs when Sully (in his avatar body) and Neytiri (one of Pandora’s tribal princesses) come across one of the planet’s sacred sites.

While the production of Avatar coincided with advances in digital 3D cinema technology, it was also sold to distributors and exhibitors as the antidote to piracy, which, in an era of cheap digital reproduction, was seemingly the cause of reduced box office returns. Stereoscopic versions of Avatar offered hyperaesthetic experiences that could not be obtained outside studio-sanctioned screenings and were also unique in comparison with the multitude of ‘flat’ audio-visual content freely available on the internet.

Mauro Fiore cited in Holben, 2010: 45) His comments suggest a tension between the potential stereoscopy has for expanding depth perception in the viewing process and a commercial industry’s focus on carefully controlling the storytelling process. This tension is also established in the earlier, 1953, film Dial M for Murder. Rather than focusing solely on lighting and set dressing in order to direct the audience’s attention, Dial M for Murder constantly shifts between scenes that maintain a type of deep focus throughout individual shots and scenes that place background action out of focus in order to highlight specific character action.

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