Why am I always having problems with 3D movies?

If you project, say, a line of text on a screen and throw the image out of focus so that the words are now an unreadable blur of gray, there’s no way (AFAIK) to apply optics to the image reflected off the screen and restore the lost information. But I don’t claim to be an expert in this area.

I don’t know if it’s worth responding to this so late (sorry,) but regardless of the filters used, tilting your head will break the parallax and cause doubling.

That is to say, the two images are projected in horizontal parallel - the parallax on the screen will always be horizontal. If the orientation of your head changes, your brain will not be able to resolve the two disparate images into a coherant 3D image, and you will perceive both images.

This may be correct in theory, but being as the human neck can’t comfortably tilt much more than about 30 degrees, in practice the eyes can usually adjust and it doesn’t pose a serious problem. Many times while watching circularly polarized 3D films, I have noticed how nice it was to be able to tilt my head a little without getting ghosting. I didn’t lose the 3D effect.

If you were to lean over in your seat so that your head was angled at 45 degrees or more, you would probably have a hard time fusing the images and lose the 3D effect.

But this still isn’t the same as ghosting, in which each eye sees part of the image intended for the other eye. Ghosting begins to be visible with just a degree or two of tilt, far less than is needed to create fusing problems with the other systems.

And how many “Magic Eye” images do you see these days? It, too, was a fad that came and went. And for the same reason why 3-D will eventually fail: it’s a cute novelty, but no more than a parlor trick. There are a handful of books that use it, but it’s pretty much passe.

Just like they adapted in the 1950s and we all have 3D movies now. Oh, wait . . .

That’s what they said in 1954. That’s what they said when Jaws 3-D came out.

Studios spent millions on 3D in the 50s. Made no difference. The movies were big hits, and often were pretty good movies overall. But it made no difference. People grew tired of the fad, and I see absolutely no evidence that it will be any different this time-- it’s essentially the same technique.

The handful of people who can adapt are going to be similar to the handful of people who adapted in the 1950s – and not enough to support the films. It’s new now, and people are rushing out to the films, but next year it won’t be new, and then it’ll start dying out. And the adaptation forces the eyes to do things that contradicts millions of years of evolution. Good luck with that.

RealityChuck: As someone has said, you’re entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts. You can keep insisting that everyone has problems with 3D and only a minority can enjoy it, but the popularity of the recent 3D movies proves that the opposite is true. **You **may get headaches from 3D, or you may just not like it, but that won’t change the facts on the ground, no matter how many times you say 3D won’t last.

I’ll agree with you that the Magic Eye technique is a fad, largely because of its limited expressive potential: it can only show simple silhouettes. But that has nothing to do with 3D movies.

There are many reasons why 3D didn’t become more widespread in the 1950s or its subsequent pre-digital incarnations, but the least of them is the headaches they are supposed to have caused viewers.

The analog 3D technology of 1950s was inferior in every way to today’s digital technologies. Just to give one example, mechanically synchronizing two film projectors was a serious pain in the butt, and required expert skills on the part of the projectionists. If one projector started out of synch, or went out of synch during the show, by even one frame, it created major problems that no viewer could adapt to. So any damage to a print had to be repaired very carefully, and the exact same number of frames removed from the other eye’s print.

In the digital age, this problem is virtually non-existent, as are many others that plagued 3D on film.

But the real differences are financial. In the film era, every aspect of making and showing 3D more than doubled costs: new and more expensive cameras, twice as much film stock at every step of the process, and double the numbers of projectors (plus new ancillary equipment) in theaters. Theaters had to pay to train their staffs on the new systems, which were not as reliable as plain old 2D projection. In short, 3D on film was a nightmare for exhibitors.

The same is not true in the digital age. Studios estimate that 3D production adds about 15% - 20% to the budget, and a single digital projector can be modified to show 3D for an even smaller incremental cost. Digital 3D film “prints” on hard disk generally cost no more than 2D files. For any projectionist already familiar with digital projectors, showing 3D involves little more than pushing a button that says “3D.”

So today, every aspect of 3D is far, far less expensive than it was in the old days, and yet theaters can charge a 30% premium, or more, on every ticket. Furthermore, all the experience of the digital 3D era shows that customers always prefer 3D to 2D screenings of the same films. So per-screen numbers are higher for 3D.

The studios and chains may have spent millions back then, but they’re spending billions now, and costs have not increased a thousand-fold in 50 years. I don’t happen to have any numbers for how many screens were 3D-capable in the previous incarnations, but I’d be surprised if there were ever more than a few hundred: a couple each in major markets, and one each in smaller towns.

Today there are already 2,000 3D-capable screens in North America, and plans are moving forward, despite the economic conditions, to install thousands more in the next few years. Each installation costs about $50,000 - $100,000.

On the production side, since Chicken Little in 2005, 15 digital 3D films have been released, with budgets totaling nearly $1 billion, and at least 40 more are in production for release in the next three or four years, costing billions more. We’ve seen new 3D films every year since 2005 and dozens more are set for release through 2013, at least.

Compare that to the first wave of 3D, which started in 1953. According to this site, in 1953, 28 3D features were released. In 1954 there were 15. In 1955, two. For the rest of the 1950s: zero. Today the studios have already committed to more features in this phase than were released in all of the 1950s, and the number of new films is steadily increasing each year.

I don’t think you’re on firm ground here. I’ll admit that of all the 3D features of the 1950s, I’ve seen exactly one – Dial M for Murder – and that only in 2D. But as I look down the list in the link above, I see only a handful of titles I even recognize, and some of them (e.g. Robot Monster) are famous for how bad they are. Assuming that most of those unknown films are deservedly so (probably because they were rushed into production to capitalize on the sudden popularity of the first few 3D titles) I’d wager that another real problem for 3D in the 1950s was that most of the films were crap.

In contrast, most of today’s top filmmakers have made, or are making, 3D films, including Jim Cameron, Robert Zemeckis, Tim Burton, and Steven Spielberg. Disney, Pixar, and DreamWorks have said that all of their animated films from now on will be 3D.

The best analogy I can offer for the spread of 3D is color in movies. Many color film stocks were invented in the first three decades of the 20th century, but it wasn’t until the 1930s that 3-strip Technicolor became the first color format to gain widespread acceptance in Hollywood. Even so, it wasn’t until single-strip emulsions like Eastmancolor were developed in the 1950s that color became economically feasible for anything other than the biggest of high-budget films. And it wasn’t until the mid-sixties that black and white became a rarity. (I’m sure that at every step of the way, someone was saying that color was just a fad, and would never catch on.)

We are now in the 3D equivalent of the time just after the invention of Eastmancolor. Almost any filmmaker who wants to make a 3D film can do so, and the number of 3D theaters is nearly sufficient to support a wide opening of even the biggest films. The costs of 3D production will only go down, and the number of 3D screens will only go up.

I don’t expect 2D films to become as rare as B&W films anytime soon, but I am willing to wager a serious amount of money that 3D is not going to dry up and fade away in the next decade.

In short, in the 1950s, 1970s, and 1980s, 3D was a fad. Not this time. This time it’s here to stay.
P.S. The next thing coming down the pike: 3D TV. Samsung has already released a series of 3D-capable sets, and producers and networks are working on ways to transmit 3D to homes. The Internet and digital broadcasting will soon make this economically feasible, whereas it probably never could have happened in the analog broadcasting era.

So you’re essentially saying, “If I can’t have it–no one can!”

Just because you don’t like it, why should the rest of us do without?

I have no problems when I watch modern 3D movies. I always disliked the old color-filter method, but the polarizing filters work quite nicely for me. Of course, 3D won’t make a bad movie good, but it can increase my enjoyment of a well-made movie. I watched Coraline in 3D recently, and I found that the 3D was not intrusive and it enhanced the visual experience.

Those who hate 3D appear to be a vocal minority, and their complaints and dismissals of it as a fad sound like cries of “sour grapes.”

I don’t think so. It seems a fad because 3-D is particular was already tried twice, and turned out to be a fad, twice. Maybe it won’t be this time, but the evidence is on our side here.

But by all means, enjoy your 3-D films as long as they’re made. But in this economy, with movie audiences no longer as reliable as in prior years, making something 10% of your audience can’t process and then charging two bucks more for it is a recipe for people staying home.


What evidence?!? Did you read my last post? All the evidence – the technical and financial differences, the millions of people going to every 3D film that comes out, the billions of dollars being poured into films and theaters – indicates that this wave of 3D is completely unlike the previous ones, and is not going to fade out any time in the foreseeable future.

Give me **one cite **that demonstrates your point, other than a few people complaining that 3D hurts their eyes.

Sorry, all experience is to the contrary. The movie business is famously recession-proof. I was just at ShoWest, the annual conference of movie theaters, and all the conferees were congratulating themselves for continuing to make money in the midst of the downturn. Jim Gianopoulos, CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment, gave a keynote address in which he showed a chart that showed that during the last seven recessions, movie ticket sales went up.

Here’s a story about how movie attendance, and theater stock prices, are going up.

Here’s one about Imax, in which the reporter says the movie business is recession-proof.

Where’s *your *evidence?

This is GQ, so I’m remaining civil, but I’m getting pretty sick of people arguing that 3D is going to go away because it failed before, or because it gives them headaches, or I don’t know what.

I cover this business for my living. I have a pretty good idea of the history of the movies and what’s going on now. I don’t say I’m infallible, but everything I’ve said is accurate and well-supported, and no one on the other side has provided any factual information other than the article that described why some people have trouble seeing 3D movies.

If you have any cites or evidence, please bring them forward. Otherwise, I don’t think the claim that digital 3D is going to go away soon is worth discussing any further.

BTW, I’m not a big fan of 3D. IMHO, very few of the 3D films made so far have needed 3D or used it well. I wouldn’t particularly mind if it went away. But it’s perfectly obvious to me that, despite my personal preferences, as I keep saying, this time it’s here to stay.

The studios and chains are pushing it so hard because it is a way to get the average ticket price above $10. I want it to fail because, should it succeed, there will be films opening only in 3D, with no 2D option.

Yes, the studios want to make more money. What a surprise!

As for 3D-only releases, it’s already happened. U2 3D (distributed by National Geographic, not a major studio) has only been booked in 3D theaters (digital and IMAX), and I believe Disney’s recent Jonas Brothers concert film was only 3D. There have been a few others, including some in IMAX.

In my opinion, if a film really uses 3D well, it *should *only be released in 3D. Think of it analogously with color: If a director makes a film that uses color well, he probably wouldn’t want it to be seen in B&W. Think of the transition from B&W to color in The Wizard of Oz. If you watch it entirely in B&W, something very important is lost.

The same is true of a film that uses 3D effectively.

If you can’t see 3D or just don’t like it, that’s too bad for you, but how would you have felt about a colorblind person saying that they shouldn’t make movies in color?

FWIW I have a little bit of astigmatism and serious near-sightedness. Old fashion 3D, the one used with blue and red spectacles, never worked for me.

The new systems that use the polarized 3D glasses work for me. :slight_smile:

This is a very stupid comparison, and I’m appalled that you would even attempt to make it.

A colorblind person can easily see a color film every bit as well as they can see anything else in life. They don’t have to wear special glasses to fail to see it. Color films originally cost more to make than monochrome, but the studios didn’t charge more money to see them.

But a 3D film requires a stereoblind person to go through considerably more effort to fail to see this effect and they have to spend more money to fail to see it. If I had wished to see the U2 3D film, I would have had to put on the stupid 3D glasses over my regular glasses over an eye patch to avoid a skull-splitting headache. And pay two to three dollars more for the privilege!

This is in contrast to every other area in film, where considerable effort has been made to be inclusive, rather than exclusive. Theaters have headsets with “Descriptive Audio Service” for the blind and “Rear Window” closed subtitle services for the deaf and plenty of films are available in this format.

But you, because you apparently either lack empathy or just think this gimmick is so cool that I - a person who saw over 160 films in the theater last year - should just suck it up because you like it.

I wonder if it would work for stereoblind people to wear “2D glasses” where both lenses are polarized in the same direction, so that they don’t have to cover one eye to eliminate the ghost effects. Maybe you could make your own by reversing one lens in the currently-produced 3D glasses? I’m sure you’d rather not, but it could be a compromise for any films releases only in 3D. (And they really should make clip-on versions for people who wear glasses)

I enjoy 3D and find it more immersive, when not used in a distracting manner. I’ve found it more appealing in digitally animated movies as opposed to live action ones. I’m looking forward to upcoming 3D releases like Pixar’s Up and the release of the original Toy Story in 3D, and James Cameron’s Avatar.

I can understand you being upset if 2D movies completely disappeared, but I don’t see that happening. Again, it just sounds like sour grapes when people who can’t appreciate 3D badmouth it and call it a gimmick and wish for its demise. It’s like the people whose eyesight or home video equipment isn’t good enough for them to enjoy the difference between HD and SD, so they bitch and moan and call it a scam or a fad.

2D movies arent disappearing but in my market, Chicago, there was no non-3D showing of Coraline and no non-3D showing of Aliens vs Monsters at the IMAX. Im just one data point, but I would have prefered the 2D version of either.

>It’s like the people whose eyesight or home video equipment isn’t good enough for them to enjoy the difference between HD and SD, so they bitch and moan and call it a scam or a fad.

Theres a difference between calling something a scam and calling something a fad or just a bad idea/implementation. I can see HD very clearly but always have problems with 3D. The point is that eventually people will vote with their dollars here and perhaps 3D isnt the winner some think it is. Frankly, considering how tolerant kids are of gimmicks, it probably has a long life at the kiddie matinee, but not so much for adult movies. Adults like me who like the occasional kid movie but have problems with 3D just have to suck it up I guess.

Because every 3D system has different glasses. How much do I have to put up with so you can have your gimmick?

If they have 2D versions of these, I’ll be OK. But if a theater has a choice between two ways to show a film and one way nets them two to three dollars more? They’re going to do the one that makes them more money. We’ll have this crap forced on us.

Again, a false equivalence. There is nobody who can get an HD set who can’t see the increased resolution of HD. And HD has improved the quality of SD video as well. But I can’t see in 3D. And I’m not going to be given a choice. In all likelyhood, if I want to see Avatar, I’ll have to watch the thing with the stupid plastic glasses over my glasses over an eyepatch. Try it.

I think I can categorically say that any cinematic experience that requires a special anything - glasses or scratch’n’sniff card - is a gimmick.

No thanks, I’ll revel in all its 3D glory. :cool:

Well, call it what you want. But you must at least acknowledge that it’s a gimmick that can enhance the visual experience for a majority of the audience. I usually think of a gimmick as something that is hyped up but adds little or no value to a product. That is not the case for me with 3D movies. Your mileage obviously varies, but you appear to be in the minority. Should the majority be denied the 3D experience because of the problems it creates for relatively few people? Should the rest of us just suck it up and do without because you don’t like it?

However much of a pain in the ass it is for you, your argument still boils down to “It sucks for me, so I don’t want anyone else to be able to enjoy it.” You are dismissive of it because you are unable to gain from it. I don’t blame you for being frustrated by that, but you haven’ t made any good arguments to show that 3D isn’t an added benefit for most viewers.

Hopefully, theaters will find a way to keep everyone happy. As you wrote, theaters have made an effort to be inclusive with regard to the blind and the hearing impaired. It is likely that they will want to keep stereoblind people like you coming to their showings, too. It’s good business, and it shouldn’t be difficult to accomplish. Like I said earlier, a 2D version of the glasses as well as clip-on versions should be easy to produce. The implementation of modern 3D as a service is still in its early stages–I’m sure we’ll see changes as its popularity increases, to keep the movies accessible to as many people as possible.

On the contrary, the comparison is perfectly apt. I apologize if I have appeared unsympathetic to people who are stereoblind, but frankly, what is stupid is your argument that just because you have difficulty seeing 3D, no one else should have it. I was previously ADA coordinator at a major museum, and no deaf or blind person I have met ever suggested that movies not have sound tracks or be reduced to sound only, with no picture. Yet this is analogous to what you propose.

Everyone who wears glasses has to wear the 3D glasses over them. In general, the 3D glasses are designed for this contingency. I’m sorry if you get headaches, but I fail to see how wearing glasses is “considerably more effort.” In any case, I expect that the vast majority of 3D films will also be shown in 2D.

Being inclusive does not mean denying service to people without disabilities! AFAIK, stereoblindness is not recognized as an ADA-covered disability, but if I were still in the business, I think my accommodation would be a pair of 3D glasses with one eye blacked out. You could very easily do the same yourself, instead of the eye patch, if you wished. (I’m assuming you don’t wear the eyepatch all the time.)

No, I think that you should recognize that, like 100% of humanity, there are certain things in life that are not easy for you, and you shouldn’t condemn them and expect the world to deny itself anything you personally can’t enjoy. (And perhaps you missed my previous post in which I said I don’t particularly like 3D. I agree with you that, in many cases, it’s just a gimmick.)

FYI, since you mentioned it, while I was ADA coordinator, I was responsible for the largest of the early tests of the Rear Window system and other closed captioning systems for movie theaters. I was only part of a large team that worked in the project, but is in no small part because of those tests that Rear Window is available in theaters today.

Moreover, he knows he’ll probably get used to it given enough practice, but hates the thought of having to learn anything.

To the OP: did you happen to suffer from Strabismus as a child?

Nope. No Strabismus.

FWIW, I just saw Dinosaurs 3D at the IMAX at the Smithsonian. I had some ghosting, but nothing like I had with Monsters vs Aliens. I wonder if the Chicago IMAX has some issues. Do these things need to be tuned in any way prior to being projected?