Why 3D (in movies) doesn't work and never will

Original URL: http://www.rogerebert.com/rogers-journal/why-3d-doesnt-work-and-never-will-case-closed

The biggest problem with 3D, though, is the “convergence/focus” issue. A couple of the other issues – darkness and “smallness” – are at least theoretically solvable. But the deeper problem is that the audience must focus their eyes at the plane of the screen – say it is 80 feet away. This is constant no matter what.

But their eyes must converge at perhaps 10 feet away, then 60 feet, then 120 feet, and so on, depending on what the illusion is. So 3D films require us to focus at one distance and converge at another. And 600 million years of evolution has never presented this problem before. All living things with eyes have always focussed and converged at the same point.

If we look at the salt shaker on the table, close to us, we focus at six feet and our eyeballs converge (tilt in) at six feet. Imagine the base of a triangle between your eyes and the apex of the triangle resting on the thing you are looking at. But then look out the window and you focus at sixty feet and converge also at sixty feet. That imaginary triangle has now “opened up” so that your lines of sight are almost – almost – parallel to each other.

We can do this. 3D films would not work if we couldn’t. But it is like tapping your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time, difficult. So the “CPU” of our perceptual brain has to work extra hard, which is why after 20 minutes or so many people get headaches. They are doing something that 600 million years of evolution never prepared them for. This is a deep problem, which no amount of technical tweaking can fix. Nothing will fix it short of producing true “holographic” images.

Consequently, the editing of 3D films cannot be as rapid as for 2D films, because of this shifting of convergence: it takes a number of milliseconds for the brain/eye to “get” what the space of each shot is and adjust.

And lastly, the question of immersion. 3D films remind the audience that they are in a certain “perspective” relationship to the image. It is almost a Brechtian trick. Whereas if the film story has really gripped an audience they are “in” the picture in a kind of dreamlike “spaceless” space. So a good story will give you more dimensionality than you can ever cope with.

So: dark, small, stroby, headache inducing, alienating. And expensive. The question is: how long will it take people to realize and get fed up?

[QUOTE=Mr. Belvedere;2716876]
So: dark, small, stroby, headache inducing, alienating. And expensive. The question is: how long will it take people to realize and get fed up?[/QUOTE]

I was born with irreversable amblyopia on my left eye…my depth perception is almost non-existant,so nothing of that applies to me… :bigsmile:

I was going to post and say someone is way behind the curve until I noticed the date on the article. It’s only 3 years old… 3D is already on the way out. Now, 4k is the new 3D. Heck, a lot of new high end TVs shown/announced at CES 2014 don’t even have 3D.

I saw my first 3D movie (Gravity) last summer. The 3D effect was interesting but there is one fatal flaw in it for me. In the real world we have the option to focus on nearly anything in our field of view. In 3D films we can only focus on what the director allows. IRL, when a piece of debris is flying at me I would fix my eyes on it and bring it into focus too. Watching Gravity I can fix my eyes on it but can not bring it into focus. I am forced to watch, in focus, a certain area of the screen. While the effect was interesting, I see no real enhancement of the movie watching experience. Also, watching the fast action scenes in The Hobbit trailer was not a pleasant experience for me. I had a hard time trying to identify what was in focus and the area of the screen that was in focus shifted too quickly for me to keep up with it. Had Gravity been a fast paced action movie I might not have been able to sit through it.

I haven’t went to a movie theater in a long time & I sure have no plans to go to a 3D movie.
That being said . Unfortunately I understand these no longer exist due to remodeling. The Luxor casino in LV,Nevada had three theaters when it firsat opened. One was a form of IMAX , One had a motion platform the seats were mounted to & the screen was large & close so this gave the sensation of being in the action .
The third one had the only “real” 3D effect I have seen . They used a mist & projection . with the 3D glasses this looked like the image was 3D . It was in the mist.
Still the best IMAX I’ve seen is the one in Fort Worth ,Texas . It is designed with the correct seat angle & dome curve. This gives a very real motion sense . This makes some people nauseas but not me.

IMO, the best experience I have with a modified screen was at Walt Disney World. They had a 360 degree screen where it allowed you to see in front, to the sides and behind you. One scene was a trolly car going down a street and I could see everything in 360 degrees. It was almost like I was really living the experience. They also had a curved screen with seats that could be articulated. They filmed a sequence from the perspective of a mining cart running out of control aka Indiana Jones. It was quite the rush. I experienced those two things decades ago and 3D can’t come close to providing such an effect.