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A sticky problem with the third dimension

A sticky problem with the third dimension

Last weekend I went a bit movie mad. First it was Avatar, then Cloverfield. Both birthday pressie DVDs and thoroughly enjoyable. I do have one question about Cloverfield, though. Can anyone tell me what video camera has that sort of battery life?

Then it was Terminator Salvation. I like the whole cyborg thing going on here, from Arnie to Sarah, but for the life of me I couldn’t fathom the point of this particular rendition.

Finally, I took my six-year-old son to see Toy Story 3. And not just any old one, the 3D offering. It was great – the 3D effects, not the story which left a little to be desired. I guess I’m not the target viewing audience but the first one definitely had way more humour for the grown-ups.

Nevertheless, the little guy had been looking forward to it for a while and we had a laugh. It was fun wearing the glasses and, as he put it, “having the story jump out at us”. An afternoon of father-son bonding; all good healthy stuff.

Well, maybe.

It seems that everywhere I look it’s ‘3D this’ and ‘3D that’. It’s like the whole world’s talking 3D. However, as exciting as it is to see the action coming out of the screen, it would also appear that it may not be healthy.

You see, when viewing 3D visuals you’re actually tricking you’re your mind into a feeling that there’s depth where there isn’t. And this presents some problems.

When we focus on a nearby object and then look on a distant one, our eye knows to perform some transformation in eye muscles and in the lens to change focus. But when we see an object in a movie, our eye quickly tries to adjust to that object’s distance by deforming the lenses but this doesn’t actually happen. Your brain thinks the object should be coming into focus, but it doesn’t. And every time the focus changes, or the shot changes, or the camera moves, or the characters move, the eye is attempting to refocus to change its shape. This creates fatigue in the muscles and confusion in the brain.

Or so I’m told.

As strange as this sounds, there have been reports of people having trouble with depth perception after watching a 3D movie. For most of us, thankfully, things return to normal pretty quickly. Of course, excessive exposure to 3D may be a different story, especially for kids, but the same can be said for excessive anything.

The advice I’ve heard is don’t watch too much 3D – which in the case of Toy Story 3 shouldn’t be much of a hardship. Or simply wait until 3D technology gets better for our brains.

Frankly, I’m not that bothered. In fact, the biggest danger for me was sticky fingers. Half way through the movie, I felt a tug on my sleeve and had my son saying he couldn’t see through his glasses. Apparently they didn’t mix well with fingers liberally laced with popcorn and ice cream residue. Funny that!

So, he got mine and I ended up watching 3D through smudged lenses, which greatly impacts on the mind I can tell you.


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