Note that these are not rules punishable by death. You can "cross the line" using a moving transition shot; or the sense of disorientation caused by breaking this rule may actually be of dramatic use or might suit a more edgy style of direction.
Which brings me to Avatar which is a huge experiment in 3D cinema: a feature-length film combining live action and CGI, with characters, a (simple) narrative, and a great deal of action. For me it succeeded in it's own right as a film: not just impressive but enjoyable.
However, whether Avatar succeeds or fails for other viewers, it is also a huge seam of material to be studied. 3D is not just a better version of 2D. Some initial thoughts on the new language of 3D:
- Speed is important. Get it right and the viewer is twisted or thrown around with the action; move the camera too fast or too jerkily and she becomes detached from the action.
- 3D can be used to flesh out foreground or background but rarely both - if there's a lot of foreground depth then the panoramic background will still look like a painted scene.
- Focus pulls are just plain wrong in 3D. So, predictably, are any other shots that make use of a forced depth of field effect. The viewer can switch their own focus from background to foreground in a 3D projection - if you artificially defocus part of the field then what exactly are you doing? Damn.
- The 180 degree rule stands. If anything 3D is less forgiving of this.
I can imagine that one day the majority of films might be made in 3D, from high concept sci-fi to low-budget gritty-reality indie drama. When this happens, we will need a new version of continuity editing and we will learn our new rules about what works by going through Avatar frame by frame.
Sigourney Weaver - still cool in any number of dimensions.