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Trying to get my mind around 3d and its place

477 Views 9 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  armystud0911
I will state upfront right now that I want 3d to succeed, wholeheartedly, I wouldn't mind wearing glasses or buying them if it meant I could enjoy 3d at home. However, I am still struggling with 3d from a technology stand point. I went to see avatar in 3d when it came out at my local IMAX and I wound up nearly throwing up and had severe headaches, my friends thought this was because the experience was "too real" for me but I have been to Omnimax presentations before and never felt motion sickness and in those presentations, I actually felt like I was moving.

I think my brain had a very hard time with the 3d film, it didn't know what to make of it and it caused a great deal of eye strain which likely caused my symptoms. In the old days, I had seen a couple movies in the red-blue 3d format and never enjoyed the presentation one bit, since then, I have tried out every type of 3d delivery out there and the one that I found most enjoyable was that IMAX theater with Avatar. Is there a better type of 3d coming out someday? Maybe I just can't do stereoscopic 3d at all, I don't know, I like the idea of it, I even enjoy the bits and pieces I have gotten to see from the cinema, the whole eye thing just destroys it though. My wife has had the same reaction as has my brother and sister in law when they saw the hobbit on 3d. If all these people are having such severe issues with it, how is it so popular? In talking with my friends, I would say that over half of them have experience discomfort from 3d and about 1 in 4 experience things about as bad as myself, clearly there are some pretty big issues.

Are people here experiencing the same issues as myself?

Is there a way to alleviate the symptoms? Are we "watching it" wrong? (I know that sounds dumb)

Has there been any development in another form of 3d delivery such as holographic? (I know thats a long way off most likely but we are doing some pretty amazing stuff these days)
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Many people experience the same reaction to 3D that you've described. Some of the symptoms can be directly attributed to the difficulty the brain has with reconciling what the eyes are perceiving while watching a 3D film. People have reported becoming physically ill while viewing scenes involving extremely rapid movement and/or depictions of great height. Less-than-perfect vision also plays a part, though not everyone who needs vision correction may have a problem with 3D. Headaches are one of the best documented symptoms, and have been linked to the eye strain most people experience when watching 3D for extended periods of time. Some believe that is why most TV manufacturers include warnings with their sets that you limit viewing to no more than a couple of hours or so. Poorly made 3D presentations can exacerbate any ill effects a person might experience, as will the inability to not "concentrate" on the 3D effect itself and immerse oneself in the story.

But even glasses-free 3D technologies are not without problems, especially as it relates to how convincing the 3D effect is with these new systems and how wide of a viewing angle each system allows for. And no one can say at this point if the glasses-free systems will not cause some viewers to experience headaches or eye strain.

In the end, all of the current glasses-reliant & glasses-free systems rely on optical illusions to create the desired 3D effect. And for this to work smoothly, the brain has to believe what the eyes "think" they are seeing even though none of it is real: you cannot look behind the actors on the screen or actually touch an object that appears to come flying towards you. Holography has made some advances, but it is still far too "primitive" to be considered a viable candidate for use in movies. And of course there's a big push these days to perfect the virtual reality technologies being used in the various head-mounted displays, but that is still in its infancy. Perhaps some day 3D will reach a point where it is completely indistinguishable from reality, like the Holodeck on the Starship Enterprise. Until then, I guess we will just have to put up with the occasional headache and nausea.
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My guess is you watched from too close. Try sitting away from the screen as possible, and then gradually getting closer, for both finding your best view distance and training your brain.

My preference is having the screen fill up but still stay mostly within the glasses. In that way, you can also see the stationary "exit" signs on the sides of the screen (or other "real life" objects) that give the brain an "anchor" to cope with disorientation.
I was wondering about the too close thing myself. The only time I've had any discomfort, not to the point of headache though, at a 3D theater was up close.
Your complaints are certainly not uncommon, but the majority of people do not experience significant negative side effects watching active shutter or polarized 3D (Anaglyph works best with black and white images for shorter durations--i.e. comic book reading.). Your experience is abnormal. If you haven't had a comprehensive eye exam by an ophthalmologist or optometrist in some time, you might consider doing so.


Your headaches and other side effects are possibly due to your eye anatomy. If the problem is weakness with your intrinsic eye muscles, those can be exercised and strengthened to relieve the symptoms. There are actual physical eye exercises that eye care specialists sometimes give out to patients with binocular vision issues. If there is another mechanical problem with your binocular vision, that may need to be evaluated by an ophthalmologist.

The "vergence-accommodation conflict" of virtual 3D is a big cause of eye strain. In real life binocular vision, humans simultaneously converge, using their extraocular muscles, and focus, using their intrinsic eye muscles, to bring an object of attention into clear view. Of course, in real life, these actions occur cooperatively because you always converge and focus in the same depth plane. In virtual 3D, this reflex is disturbed because we always focus on the display screen, while our eyes may be required to converge at different depth levels. For many individuals, this is not a problem. For others with weak muscles or undiagnosed vision problems, this is more of a challenge and can lead to symptoms.


Other food for thought about causes of eyestrain:

If you haven't watched any 3D since the release of Avatar, you might give it a go on a 3DTV at an electronics store or at a friend's house in a shorter duration to reassess what you think about 3D, your binocular vision, and the severity of your symptoms.

From my fortunate and limited personal experience, 3D movies have never once caused discomfort for me, in theaters or at home. The first week that I purchased my 3DTV a couple of years ago, I got a mild headache after about 3 hours of playing a 3D PS3 game. It also had stronger depth and lower resolution and frame-rate than movies, adding additional strain. In watching/playing more content ("exercising" my eye muscles), I no longer get 3D-related headaches with video games.
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I appreciate the input, I will have to re-examine this and see if I can come up with a solution.

At my last vision exam, I tested fine - 20/20 but I realize there is a lot more ocular health than just that number, my wife has significantly better than 20/20 vision, I can't remember what the number was, but the examiner said he couldn't remember someone doing that well, her problems were even worse than mine.

It is possible that we were sitting too close to the screen, at the cinema, I prefer to set at about .75 screen width away from the screen for a more immersive experience. However, it seems that the most popular 3d venue is at IMAX and I know that most people there are even closer than I prefer to sit (.35x screen width in the front rows to less than 1x screen width in the back).

I think the only glasses that I can use are polarized, I did try the active shutter type my magnolia room with the Hobbit (sitting way farther away than I prefer) and I felt very fatigued in about 20 minutes, I couldn't see the flicker but it felt like my brain was aware of it. It is also possible that my brain is programmed to get sick from 3d and that is simply doing it on its own now, I had some pretty bad experiences with it as a kid. This is all very strange to me since I normally don't get sick or motion sickness or things like that, I am usually the last one in a group to feel something like that, I own a DLP projector with the slowest color wheel on earth and can't see rainbow unless I try.
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In my experience with Active shutter glasses its important that there is no ambient light other than what is coming off of the screen when watching 3D. Any fixed light from other sources such as lamps or windows will cause an annoying flicker in your peripheral vision which can cause eye strain.

Also, you need to train your eye muscles. Watch 3D until your eyes begin to feel tired then stop. Do this every day and gradually your eye muscles will hopefully learn to adapt and you may be able to extend your viewing time until a 3-4 hour feature can be viewed without issue. Many of us had a bit of difficulty at first but as Bleedorange11 said, the focus on screen based 3D is different (fixed) to the real world (variable) and your eyes need to learn how to adapt to this just like mine did and I suspect many other peoples too.
I think you have an awesome attitude about this. The few people I've met in real life who get 3D headaches throw a little hissy fit every time the subject of 3D movies is approached. From a visual art perspective, 3D has changed the way I enjoy movies and created a new hobby for me, so I definitely wish you and your wife well and encourage you to sort out your 3D symptoms.

You are right about visual acuity. It can be independent of stereopsis and binocular vision health (i.e. Someone can have just one eye with still better than 20/20 vision). Your symptoms may be at least worth mentioning at your next eye appointment to make sure your depth perception is optimal. However, it could be that you will see improvements by watching 3D in short increments and gradually increasing, like cbcdesign suggested. Sort of like being out of shape and slowly training to run a marathon. I've read about others doing this before with success on 3D forums. The ciliary muscle is kind of an interesting smooth muscle with some structural components of skeletal muscle. It can be trained to a limited extent.


Another small part may also be a mental expectation component, as like you said, you've had bad past experiences with 3D. Make it into something fun and positive, and stop before you start feeling negative symptoms.

Anyway, good luck to you and your home entertainment endeavors. I hope you are able to enjoy 3D the same as the rest of us very soon.
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Originally Posted by armystud0911  /t/1518905/trying-to-get-my-mind-around-3d-and-its-place#post_24400918

I prefer to set at about .75 screen width away from the screen for a more immersive experience. However, it seems that the most popular 3d venue is at IMAX and I know that most people there are even closer than I prefer to sit (.35x screen width in the front rows to less than 1x screen width in the back).

The THX recommended standard is about 1.2 times the diagonal, which is longer than the width. Several other recommendations fall in the 1.5 times the diagonal and up. Lot's of people I've read posting on the board go a lot closer to 1 times the diagonal or less. You are sitting well inside all of those distances if it's only .75 times the width. I've got a screen with a 12 foot width, about a 166 diagonal, and found it a little close at 12 feet away, my wife found it too close. We're back at about 15 feet, which is closer to 1.1 times the diagonal and 1.25 times the width and that seems to work for everyone so far for both 2D and 3D. I haven't had that many people over yet, but my wife has complained of headaches at IMAX and not here. We both made it through Gravity at the IMAX a few months back from way too close, theater was full and we got in late-ish. We both were uncomfortable, no headaches on that one though, I'm wondering if my wife is getting more used to 3D, I just didn't like feeling I had to scan side to side to see everything.

My recommendation is to catch a 3D flick from the back third of a theater and see if it's the same if you haven't tried it from that distance before. Early on, some of the TVs I looked at when at Best Buy and such flat out bugged me on wild sequences... tried watching a section of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and did not care for it at all, nearly turned me off 3D. I'm not sure if they have improved things over time. I was all set out to go passive until I ended up with a projector when it seemed the 65+ inch TVs I was looking at cost more than a very nice projector. You may want to try a few more things before deciding for or against on the 3D thing.
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I appreciate the input here, I think my next step is to work my way up time wise and see if that improves things.

I could quote everyone all of the recommended viewing specs all day, but in the end, I still prefer sitting closer, after looking at my setup, I am closer to .9 screen width right now with my eyes. I would be closer if the image were sharper and pixels smaller though. I think it's just an expectation I got used to from all the omnimax films I used to see.

I think I may have to pursue a stacked polarized projector.system when I am ready to upgrade, I need a bigger screen than.most.
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