Why am I always having problems with 3D movies?

I’ve seen a couple 3D movies this year and am always noticing a ghosting effect. Tonight I saw Aliens vs Monsters at the IMAX and I saw about four different “ghosts” on all the characters. Is this normal? My gf said she didnt see any ghosting. I wear glasses if that makes any difference, but so does she. My glasses correct a slight astigmatism too.

I find this ghosting to be incredibly distracting and am pretty put off by 3D. Is there something I can do to help this? I tried adjusting the glasses so they are a different distance from my eyes and tried adjusting the tilt, but nothing helped.

In all cases its the same standard amusement park grade polarized glasses.

Im guessing maybe I just got a bum pair and the quality on these things vary from pair to pair, but I never seem to have a good experience with this stuff.

Do you have strabismus (eyes pointing in different directions), amblyopia (one weak or ‘lazy’ eye) or anisometropia (eyes with different prescriptions)? Any of these (I have all three) will interfere with 3D movies.

My eyes do have different prescriptions, but isnt that common?

Are they grossly different? (In my case, my right eye is nearsighted and my left eye is farsighted.)

Nope, I dont think so. Nothing like your situation.

I have always had problems with 3D movies, too. It is clearly related to my vision issues. I don’t have much depth perception anyway, and between my nearsightedness and astigmatism just getting my presciption glasses correct can be a pain, much less 3D viewing.

At one point our home computer had 3D glasses for the video game set up - these glasses could be adjusted to compensate for the distances between your eyes and various other factors. THAT system actually worked for me.

So I’m guessing that the 3D glasses issued for mass-market movies are geared towards people with average eyesight and/or relatively minor problems, but won’t work for those outside the majority. Like me. And apparently also like you.

Maybe a stupid question, but how’s your posture?

I have found that many of the folks who find 3D movies annoying are folks who habitually rest their head on one fist while watching a movie, or have some other movie-watching position that feels most comfortable for them which results in their head being held at an angle.

Apologies if this is beyond obvious, but if you’re not sitting straight (with neither eye higher than the other,) you will run into problems.

What Larry Mudd says is true for IMAX theaters, but not most conventional digital 3D formats (RealD or Dolby 3D). IMAX theaters use linear polarizers, meaning that if you tilt your head from the vertical, you’ll be out of alignment with the projector’s polarizers, and will see ghosting, as each eye’s filter is allowing a little of the light from the other eye’s image to pass through.

RealD (aka Disney Digital 3D) uses circular polarizers, which don’t have this problem. And Dolby 3D uses narrow-band color filters that have nothing to do with polarization and are also not affected by head angle.

However, almost any of these systems can occasionally have ghosting in very high contrast, low-light scenes. But if it was there constantly, and it was an IMAX theater, it was probably because you weren’t keeping your head straight.

Which theater was it, BTW?

(FYI, I’m a journalist specializing in IMAX films and theaters, so I have a little background in this area.)

Because everyone has problems with 3D movies. The reason they never caught in the past on had nothing to do with the technology or quality of the film. It’s because of basic human physiology: 3D gives you headaches.

The basic issue is that when you view something coming at you, your eyes tend to turn inward toward the nose, while your lenses “zoom in” on the object. If a flat screen become 3D, your eyes still turn inward, but the normal focusing of your lenses would put the objects out of focus, because they’re not actually approaching you. The difference between this and normal behavior leads to all sorts of uncomfortable effects.

In addition, 5-8% of the population is “stereoblind” and cannot see 3D even with the best glasses. An additional 20-30% have less intense troubles, but still can’t really focus well. That may be your issue.

Or it may just be binocular rivalry.

Like all other attempts at 3D movies, this one won’t last five years.

To be fair, it’s noobs who have these problems.

That is to say-- you need some time to get used to it (eg a dozen hours).

Correction: Gives **some people **headaches. Although it’s a common refrain, and is undoubtedly true for an unfortunate minority, clearly the millions of people going to all the new 3D movies coming out these days wouldn’t keep going back if it made them sick.

This is the theory of the writer you cite, but as he admits himself, no one really knows exactly why some people have these problems. I’m rather skeptical that this is really the cause, because most moviegoers sit at least 30 feet from the screen, and 50 feet is generally considered to be the “infinity” point for accommodation. There’s only a slight difference between focusing at 30 feet and at infinity, and IMHO that small disparity is unlikely to cause serious discomfort for most people. Also, most conventional (i.e., non-IMAX) 3D films put most of the image depth behind the screen. Very little comes out between the screen and the viewer, reducing this problem even more.

Futhermore, although Mr. Engber and you seem to think these problems are just an immutable fact of human physiology, I beg to differ. Although it can be difficult and even unsettling at first to try to make your eyes do these “unnatural” things, in my experience you can master the techniques to the point that they are simple, natural, and not at all painful or uncomfortable. For instance, seeing the “hidden” 3D pictures in Magic Eye images requires decoupling the accommodation and convergence reflexes, but once you figure out how to do it, it’s no problem. (Some people never can make it work.) Similarly, cross-eyed 3D viewingis even harder to master, but I’ve been doing it so long that it’s practically second nature.

I see no reason to think that the same thing isn’t happening with people who go to 3D movies on a regular basis. They adapt.

I agree and 3D will probably never work for these folks.

Want to put some money on that? Between making dozens of 3D movies and upgrading thousands of theaters, the studios and theater chains are investing billions of dollars in 3D. This is not just another abortive 3D fad cycle. This time it’s here to stay.

I’m always upset at how little attention cross-eyed viewing gets. It doesn’t need any imperfect or expensive hardware and is the highest image quality. Yet NVIDIA’s 3D drivers don’t have it as an option :frowning:

I’ve wondered, is it possible to render a fuzzy picture on a screen that can be refocused by the eye into a sharp one?

This was at Chicago’s IMAX Navy Pier theater.

I remember changing up my posture several times, so I dont think this was posture related. Frankly, all my 3D experiences have been lackluster and I keep hoping that newer technology solves some of these issues. This last movie was probably the worst of the bunch. Everything had four ghosts around it.

I also dont like how much more dim the movies are with the glasses on.

The previous movie was Coraline 3D at a different theater and that gave me some problems, but no ghosting. I didnt like the dimness nor did I like all the exaggerated 3D effects. As the image got “closer” my eyes just interpreted that as seeing two different images instead of an ultra-close single image. This happened several times.

Oh well, perhaps I am just one of those unlucky people who will always have issues with 3D. Although, I dont seem to have as many issues with 3D shutter glasses.

Since you report ghosting at the IMAX but not at the RealD screening of Coraline, the ghosting was almost certainly caused by the linear polarizers of the IMAX system. The other issues you describe may be related to your personal vision problems, or it may just be that you aren’t used to 3D yet. As Alex_Dubinsky and I have pointed out, it can take some people a while to learn how to fuse artificial 3D images.

Also, I should point out that filmmakers bear a certain amount of responsibility. They can, either while trying to achieve a certain effect, or out of sheer inexperience and ignorance, sometimes include shots that require the eyes to do things so far out of the ordinary that most people can’t fuse the image. Even though 3D has been around for more than 50 years, filmmakers are still learning and relearning the basics.

So keep trying: you may be able to see 3D, but are just not used to it yet.

This is definitely a problem with nearly all 3D systems, along with the fact that RealD, in order to present images to two eyes at 24 fps, lowers the resolution of each image from the full 2K of the originals. 3D is not perfect yet, but it is definitely getting better.

No, because the fuzzy image has lost information that a simple optical system can’t restore.

Shouldn’t there always be at least 2 very faint ghosts? That’s because polarizers aren’t perfect and don’t eliminate 100 percent of the other eye’s image.

I’m sure you know this, but for everyone else’s benefit, if you try cross-eyed, you’ll see an image as a cavity scooped out from the flat foreground. Also, in some Magic Eye books, you can see some patterns designed for cross-eyed.

Really? I found the reverse at first, although I’ve since become almost as good with diverged. I think cross-eyed is also easier to instruct: just tell someone to try looking at the tip of his nose.

When I find a 3D image on the web and the views are too large for the diverging technique, I copy the image into a graphics program, reverse the views, and use cross-eyed. It does have some disadvantages, though. For instance, the more you have to cross your eyes, the smaller you’ll perceive the 3D image.

Which information is that? Would a sufficiently high-resolution display allow it?

For years I attended SIGGRAPH conferences, and seemingly every year, there was a presentation in 3D. And every year I’d try, and every year, I couldn’t resolve it.

I hate 3D!

Here’s the thing - I can see 2D films just fine. I didn’t have to “learn” how to see 2D movies. I don’t have to put stupid, cheesy glasses on over my regular glasses. I don’t have to to pay extra over the ticket price.

This nonsense can’t flop soon enough for me.

I wonder: is that really true? A 2D movie (or picture) is pretty unnatural, showing a 3D scene with all the parallax and focus information removed. Does it really not take learning to comfortably watch a flat image?