back to article Does tech suffer blurred vision on 3D future?

With the advent (again) of 3D, the movie industry has over the past couple of years turned big-time to IT for support. Over the same period the TV manufacturers have been looking to 3D to boost sales that started flagging once the first craze for HD has passed. So how are the effects of the current 3D phase showing up on the IT …

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Silver badge

Mainstream - but without much extra revenue

<--- That would be my prediction.

There is no reason why the 3D technology should vanish again, all the technology to make it work is available and will be come more and more affordable. But I don't see why 3D should generate lots of extra revenue. People won't magically increase the time they spend on movies because there is 3D technology. And movies have always been about telling stories -- something that won't magically improve with technology. The wow effect works exactly once and then it's an old hat.

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Meh

Eggs and baskets

3D isn't dead but I don't think it's going to see mainstream uptake in TV or cinema; watching those is something one does to relax and it's hard to relax when your wearing 3D glasses, more so when it's used as a substitute for good film-making.

Hollywood have bet the farm and may have lost because they tried to use 3D to supplant the gap in substance resulting from the writer's strike, they're paying them more but they're working less (8 episode seasons anyone?) and I've been pretty underwhelmed by the vast majority of films and TV lately, it's all just bland, lowest common denominator stuff.

Gaming is the future home of 3D, another step toward the total immersion games developers strive to achieve already with high-end casts and budgets. I've yet to upgrade my rig to utilise the 3D features already cropping up in big titles but I'd bet my farm on that.

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Anonymous Coward

Totally agree on 3D games... and good stories.

... they are already truly 3D, ever since DOOM. The games are *designed* and *computed* in 3D environments, even if in order to display them in 2D displays - all monitors ever - the developers had to dumb their exhibition down.

IIRC, Doom was a hit because it was fast, and if was fast because it sorted what portions of the scenery would be visible to the player at any given time, and then only work on how to display just that, leaving the rest of the scenery on memory. This technique is used until today, for obvious reasons.

Now, the added complication goes on how to deliver the image twice, one for each eye. I heard about a display that was basically a rotating mirror (or white canvas), with projectors delivering the image to be reflected from it. It could be connected straight to CAD sources and display real, actual 3D images, not to mention the fact that you could walk around it and see the 'back' of the object. No displays today could ever do that little trick, while hanging from a wall.

PS. I watched the Senna documentary, even being in Brasil. Loved it. Now that was 3D worthy. It is pointless to have a 3D cinema when you have no stories worthy to tell.

Real good films, with great stories, don't even need color or sound. They can be delivered in black and white, mute, and people will still watch it, 50 years on.

Charles Chaplin has left the building.

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Gaming is the future of 3D

Agree completely, Mr. Cheese. We're already moving from standard button controllers to motion-activated ones. 3d will get more and more popular in screens and eventually headsets so the game can be physically played in 3d space with the player roaming around, rather than staring at a screen- more likely in a dedicated arcade, might be dangerous in the living room.

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FAIL

Anyone with an ounce of sense

knew from the outset that the only possible successful niches are gaming and CGI kids movies. Outside of that, nobody gives a shite about paper-cutout 3D. Especially not when it was such a transparent ploy to extract more money from people who'd just shelled out for HD.

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Ru

You're doing it wrong

Avatar is by far the best 3D film I'm aware of, *in terms of its use of 3d*. Almost everyone has done it very, very badly indeed. They shot their own golden goose by churning out awful films with awful effects and hoping for the best; I've no sympathy for the failure of this industry segment, for either the film publishers or the equipment manufacturers.

Not sure what your last bit about film was all about though. Recording on film is still a reasonable idea... digital demands an awful lot in terms of lighting control, and there's no reason to expect it to look any better. But why should the medium upon which a film is shot have any bearing at all on the medium in which is is distributed?

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medium???

cost!

RTFA

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Sir

It took me a while before deciding to take the 3d plunge, but I haven't regretted it.

Now, if they could only release some decent material (just waiting on the TT-3D release)

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Look! Moving decopage...

...bored now.

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FAIL

hmm

Went to watch my first 3D film last night as it wasn't being shown in 2D. Totally underwhelmed, ignoring the fact I had to hold the glasses up over my specs for the entire film, the D wasn't very 3.

Example being any scene with a group of people in, instead of seeing a sea of heads, it was more like looking at bunch of 2D cardboard cut outs moving round.

On the whole, didn't add anything to the film apart from sore arms and took from me extra cash.

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Money Money Money

I've given up going to the piccies, 2 or 3D. Too expensive when you have two children in tow who fall asleep after 10 minutes leaving £10 of drinks to fall on the floor.

If 3D was the same cost as 2D, then it might make an impact, otherwise, why pay more?

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Anonymous Coward

The problem is that 3D is the answer to a question no one asked. It's being pushed by the manufacturers rather than being pulled by consumer demand.

Plus it give people migraines and you need special equipment for it to work.

And another thing, I looked at that first image and would like to know why a Starfury would be landing on a pad on Coruscant? I would also like to know where my coat is.

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Anonymous Coward

I've got little time for 3D movies, but for gaming it's absolutely phenomenal - enough so that I'd be truly gutted if it bit the dust (granted, I'm in the gaming hardware business so it has some real effect too).

I was a huge 3D skeptic before I got a good display and *set it up well, which is essential*. And I immediately felt like a huge, utter idiot for spending all those years looking at a stupid flat thing in front of me.

And the only reason I checked it out in the first place is because a customer asked me to... so... yeah, there you go.

I wouldn't even -try- it with movies; white shifts from 4500 to 7000k if you tilt your head 10 degrees either way. Acceptable in games, but in movies where you might want to lean against something, and you've calibrated to within 10k from 0 to 100IRE? To hell with that!

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Facepalm

"But ultimately the movie industry isn't about the price you can gouge for the seats, but the number of bums that fill them."

It's both. I wouldn't have minded watching PotC4, but there was no way that I was going to fork out £10 for a 2D ticket or £14 for a 3D one. The *quality* of the movie is what determines it's worth, not what the cinema charges for it. Avatar was, rightly or wrongly, touted as an excellent cinema experience, which was why it was popular and sold lots of 3D tickets. PotC4 was certainly an also-ran and obviously not worth (to the punter) the mark-up that Vue, Cineworld et al. wanted to charge for 3D.

When it's only a 6 month wait, and especially when money's tight, people are far more willing to wait for Amazon (cheap), Lovefilm (cheaper) or TPB (free!) to have it available instead of spending ~£50 on a family night at the cinema. Even for a couple, it's cheaper to buy the BD than take the missus out for the evening.

Hollywood, like the music biz, need to focus on product to shore up their dwindling sales. The public want *decent* stories played out with *good* actors, rather than bad vehicles (Your Highness) or shoddy remakes (Arthur). 3D should only be used when there's a real case for it, otherwise it's just a distraction from the story.

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Anonymous Coward

If they're wondering why 3D is failing, they could take a look at my experience: My wife and I finally decided to see what all the fuss was about and go see someing in 3D, and picked Conan at the Greenwich Odeon, a huge cinema multiplex. We thought the film was great, despite the reviews, lots of hack and slash, exactly what we were looking for. But the 3D? Didn't work. At all. The whole film was blurred and we spent the first half taken our glasses off and putting them on again to see if it made a difference. It didn't. Presumably something in the projection setup was wonky.

Obviously we (and everyone else seeing it) complained, and got given vounchers for another film of our choice, but we couldn't be bothered to use them. Its a big enough investment of time and money to go see a film in the first place, and there's usually a 50:50 chance it'll shit (and reviews are useless). If we've got to worry about whether the damn thing'll even be in focus...fuck it. We'll stay home and watch a DVD, thanks.

I'm told that cinemas have been cutting costs by having their projectionist start the film and then bugger off to get the next one going. Lets them cut their staffing costs by 3/4. But it means this sort of crap happens (we had no sound for the first 20 minutes of film a while back - so a total of 2 of the last 5 films we watched that had technical screwups). There's no point in having shiny new tech in the films if the cinemas screw it up on a regular basis.

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"if 3D fails we're in some pretty serious trouble"

You're in trouble.

3D, honestly cannot be arsed. Pay extra for a fuzzier picture and a headache? No thanks.

And at home? The need to sit bolt-upright head perfectly level and directly in front of the screen for the entire film? No thanks. I want to relax at home.

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FAIL

Have you actually used it at home?

"And at home? The need to sit bolt-upright head perfectly level and directly in front of the screen for the entire film? No thanks. I want to relax at home."

As Granny would say ... "What a load of old bollocks". You can sit and watch 3D content at any angle you'd care to watch 2D. No need to sit bolt upright either. You can slouch on the recliner, stand on your head if you like (the effect would be the same in 2D).

Fuzzier picture? One a 2011 plasma? You've got to be joking. Right?

You're not a Sun journalist are you?

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Mushroom

Its you that is talking bollocks.

First of all, yes, I have, actually, experienced 3D. Both on a friends domestic 3D TV ( A Samsung), and in the cinema. In both cases I was seriously underwhelmed.

Secondly, if you could be arsed to read properly, you would note that the fuzzy image was referring to the cinema experience.

Finally, unless you keep your eyes level and parallel to the screen, one of two things will happen. If you are sufficiently far away from the optimum viewing angle, either in terms of head tilt or angle to the screen, then you will lose the 3D effect. At less extreme angles I experience eye strain / headache. This has absolutely nothing to do with your vaunted 2011 plasma, but is a basic fact regarding how 3D TV / cinema works.

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Anonymous Coward

Content is king

Games in 3D will be an addition to the experience. A way to spot enemies quicker and more accurately as well making the game more absorbing. But I'm a cheapskate and will only pay for a proven, cheap and relyable bit of kit.

Until 3D can be made to add to the narrative of a film it will only ever be an expensive gimick.

I'd only shell out for the cinema if it's likely to be a good film... Maybe that's why the industry is making such a large loss?

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A story of greed and optimism?

Most 3d movies are shot in 2d and post processed into 3d, which gives the cardboard cut-out effect that people either assume to be a limitation of the technology or figure must mean that they're in whatever percentage it is that the 3d effect doesn't work on. When the benefits of the technology are so underwhelming there's no point making a special effort for it — such as paying more to sit through a darker film while wearing oversize cheap plastic glasses or extending an effort to get it into their own home.

In addition, the majority of television watching is people putting it on in the background while they do something more interesting. About a third of most programme time is advertisements and television programmes are competently aimed at the lowest common denominator, and nowadays there's usually a laptop or a tablet nearby. So even if you have the TV on for several hours, showing programmes you enjoy, it's probably still not the main thing you're doing with your eyes.

The idea that if they all told us we really wanted 3d then obviously we'd buy it was ridiculously optimistic.

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FAIL

Post-processed 3D killed the goose

Avatar was conceived in 3D, and made in 3D, with 3D cameras, and was a huge success. Studios rushed to release more 3D films and cash-in, but, finding they didn't have any yet, decided to convert their existing 2D films before release.

The technology doesn't really work, though, and why would it? It's like computer-colouring old black-and-white movies: at best it's guesswork, at worst it's an affront to the director's original vision.

So a flood of poor post-converted quasi-3D movies hit the cinemas, and turned everyone off 3D. If the studios had waited until they had some more Avatar-quality 3D-by-design films ready, they could have kept spinning money out of 3D indefinitely, but instead they went for the fast buck and killed the whole thing. They've only themselves to blame.

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FAIL

Really not worth it...

I really can't see how they banked on something as gimmicky as 3D, and, apparently, banked on it so hard. Many moons ago, I was less than impressed with 3D on my computer (back in Elsa GLadiac 3D, complete with glasses. Thing cost and arm back then). The effect was not worth the boggling of my eyes and dull-looking display. But, I will concede that when it worked, it was pretty. But certainly not worth the extra hassle or expense (I seem to remember that the card with glasses was at a $200-$300 premium over the same card, sans 3D).

Saw a couple movies in 3D in the theater (Avatar and Captain America) and, while Avatar was pretty decent, Captain America was a mess. But, Avatar, I think, would have been good 3D or no. Captain America, on the other hand, was done disservice by the ham-fisted attempt at 3D. It was so dark most of the time, I had to take the dreadful "one-size-fits-none" glasses off to see any detail at times.

My current TV is 3D, but, I must admit, that I did not choose it for that ability. I chose it because it offered a very good picture with good old-fashioned 2D material. The couple of times I've tired it with 3D BRD's, I've ended up taking off the glasses and switching back to 2D. Just not that impressive.

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It's not 3D

It's stereoscopic. Like 1960's ViewMaster toys.

Maybe when 3D actually gets here, holographic, where you don't need glasses and can get real parallax effects when you move, it might stay. This current round is just an attempt to cash in on a single special efect that's too easy to do (badly) with a computer.

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Anonymous Coward

It's a good thing you're Phil O'Sophical, 'cos you certainly aren't Si N. Tific. '3D' and 'stereoscopic' are, for all intents and purposes, the same. You give each eye a different image; your eyes see them and perceive objects / aliens / battle axes / whatever. Your brain cares not a whit whether it's looking at a physical or holographic in your room, or at two displays.

Parallax is determined by head tracking, which you can do. But, in general, you sit fairly still while playing games or watching movies - if you're in a movie theater moving around enough to generate any serious parallax between on-sceen objects, you're going to get tossed out on your ass.

It's not a 'single special effect' any more than color is; it can, as color can, be done badly or well, be added clumsily or done correctly, be implemented and shown well or poorly. The real-world performance of any of those things has no bearing on the technology itself.

And it's not 'easy to do with a computer' - I'm pretty sure about that even though I'm not sure what you mean. If you mean post-converting, it's incredibly difficult. You get crap results, but it's still a herculean effort for the tech guys to achieve them.

As I've written above, I'm not sure that 3D adds anything or CAN add anything to film. It seems to me that it would break too many odd side-effects of film to be worthwhile. But I'm sure that plenty of people thought that way about color - which was indeed pretty bad in many cases. Hell, when they shot The Wizard Of Oz in color back in the '30s, the film used for color was so slow that the lights alone heated the sets to 105f+. If you did it wrong, you got really bad results.

The industry's tragedy-of-the-commons response to Avatar's success has undoubtedly hurt 3D, but I don't think it reflects on the intrinsic values (or deficiencies) of the idea.

I *can* say that TV-level implementations vary in their success. Some of them make everything look like sparkly snow; some of them darken things a lot; some have incredibly sensitive glasses that lose sync if you bobble your head a bit. The Sony I've used extensively looks wonderful, with shockingly low light loss - nearly too good to be true. With gaming, however, that experience comes at the cost of setting up the *software viewpoints, FOV, and convergence* correctly. Do it wrong and you get brain-inverting psychedelics that a first-timer will think, "3D, but it's terrible!" about. Do it carefully and you think, "Jesus Christ on a pogo stick, I'm *there*!"

The reality is far more complex than "The industry sucks and this is bad like a toy."

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Silver badge

3D versus Stereoscopic

They most certainly are not the same thing. When you are looking at a true 3D scene, some objects are close, some are distant. As your gaze moves between them your eyes have to move & refocus. A stereoscopic view is flat, your focus point is in one place, the screeen. That is why some people (not me, it seems) get nauseous or have headaches, their brain expects to have to change focus, but their eyes don't need to. It's a similar sensory disconnect to that which generates seasickness.

Creating parallax via head tracking is fine with individual goggles, as used in expensive VR simulations, but with a single source projected onto one screen, there's not much you can do when there are multiple viewers. I also disagree that it's not important, even quite small movements of your head generate noticeable parallax in the real world, especially if the image is supposed to be something like 200+ degree immersive.

As to generating it with a computer, it's easy for animated stuff, just takes lots of power. Post-processing flat real-life stuff is likely to give crap results, agreed, just like "colorizing" old moves did. That's probably why the animated stuff like Avatar gets the rave reviews. Of course, just because you *can* do something doesn't mean you *should*, especially if you don't take the time & money to do it really well.

Overall I still believe that it's as much of a gimmick today as it has been every other time it's been tried, and is only being pushed by the TV companies because they need a new way to get people to replace their TVs, since they're running out of steam after widescreen, flatscreen, and HD.

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Anonymous Coward

I don't have much time to type at playbook speeds here, but to address one point - again, your brain sees a different image in each eye. Absent the successfullness of achieving that, the method doesn't matter. After all, how could it?

And I can say for sure, from dozens of hours working specifically on depth, convergence, fov, screen distance, and other issues, that you most certainly must refocus your eyes -if the setup is correct-. In fact, I calibrate convergence points by choosing points equidistant in real life and the game (in this case, say, a dashboard gauge and its equivalent point vs. the steering controller), and doing the double-vision thing. I alter the convergence of the image until the separation of the double matches that of the real object (pen, screw, finger, fragment of competitor's skull) and wham, the depth and apparent size matches.

Aaaaand, you get precisely the same depth of field side effects you do in real life. Look from the road to your oil temp indicator and you have to adjust your eyes. put your hand up in front of your face and your eyes will defocus off anything at a different distance.

There are other wrinkles - have the wrong strength of separation and you can set the convergence perfectly at one point but have it get 'wronger and wronger' with distance. Or if your fov is wrong, it's confusing.

But set it up right, and by god, it's wonderful. Your description strikes me as one that confuses implementation with potential, and condemns the latter rather than the former. It's a bit like, never having been in a vehicle, you ride in a busted-ass, half-beat Ford Escort with a cylinder off, suspension misaligned, and no shocks, and say, "Jesus, these car things are shit, they can't even go straight!"

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FAIL

Depth of Field is the problem.

When I got bored by the plot of Avatar - I decide to glance around the scene and observe

the background in all it's 3D - but most of it was blurred and out of focus - so the only thing I could do was go back to the centre of the action that had kept in focus by the tech.

In some 2D animation they even add a depth of field blur to give a "more photo-realistic effect"!

Doubtless they'll do the same for 3D animations.

What is the point?

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Anonymous Coward

The point is that you can easily ignore the convergence shifts 'of out-of-focus' objects in real life, but it's more difficult to do with a 3D image. Having a frame around the image doesn't help; there are probably some other mechanics involved, but I haven't sussed them out yet.

Most likely the blur is a way of softening the 'image split' where your eyes are misconverged. Cameras blur in that case; your eyes just shift the image side-to-side, kinda. Well, hold your finger up in front of your face. Two fingers! (Don't use the middle one only in case other people are around.)

If people saw that in a movie, they'd jump up and down. I suspect that blurring is a way to make it less noticeable, not to mention a way to direct the viewer's attention - "Hey, dipshit! The action's over HEEERE!"

These people aren't *complete* idiots, you know.

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Silver badge

I told 'em so, but they wouldn't listen...

It's come around every twenty years since eighteen sixty[*] or so. Indeed, stereoscopic displays were designed *before* photography was developed.

And it lasts a few years, while people say 'wow, gosh' and then promptly forget about it.

It's a non-starter anywhere except mainstream cinema and video games; it will never work in the house because people just don't watch TV like that, and haven't since the fifties. It's just something that's on in the corner...

[*]http://stereo.nailed-barnacle.co.uk/#0.69 for some scanned photos from 1870-1890 or so; they're available in cyan-red anaglyphs elsewhere on the site if you have the glasses.

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Stop

Stereoscopy

OK. First off 3D looks awful when adding depth of field. The 2D version of Tangled has artifical depth of field whilst the 3D version does not, this is great because your eye can wander to the backgrounds and it's still in focus.

This becomes a problem for real life footage because low light generally means a shallow depth of field due to the way lenses work (lens apertures and such) in order to allow more light to hit the film/sensor.

But also most director/cinematographers are used to the 'oldskool' method of film making and keep using shallow depth of field on 3D movies when it is totally unneeded. Stop that right now! It's stupid using it for 3D and is totally unnatural for the wandering human eye and brain. I don't care if you want to create some mood in a shot. It just don't work so dump that idea right now!

Also the number of retrofitted 3D movies is annoying! Especially given the fact that you have to pick and choose your local cinema in order to find one that is showing the 2D only screening (Costs less to get in though). Captain America was horrible in fake 3D. Tommy Lee Jones nose looked like a squashed pumpkin most of the time.

BTW if you want to know what is in real 3D or fake 3D check this site out before you go. It could save you from wasting your time and money and getting a headache for no good reason.

http://www.realorfake3d.com

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FAIL

Headache

I can't sit through more than an hour of '3D' before I have a splitting headache and I'm not alone. I actively look for the 2D showings and it has got quite difficult so I go to the cinema far less and wait for the Blu-ray release and rent it which is far cheaper and with a 100" HD projection system, the home experience is better.

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WTF?

Wow... SELL YOUR STOCKS!!

Is that why they're pushing 3D (I should say we, I make 3D broadcast equipment)? Do they actually think that the rush was for HD? Is that why they've been selling ALL THOSE BLU-RAY players... umm... sorry... forgot.. their not.

Let's be 100% perfectly realistic... it wasn't a rush for HD. It was a rush for big screen TVs that don't take up the whole room. They look sexier and the furniture which holds them (if you don't hang it on a wall) is MUCH smaller.

The only reason HD was actually a big thing at all was for us broadcaster equipment guys. Everyone bought these fantastic 32-70" LCD screens which made each pixel an independent entity on the screen. Big screen CRT looked a lot better due to the variable pixel size. Big screen rear projection also looked better... well not better, but the screen matched the signal better. HS signals were important because upscaling PAL or NTSC looks terrible.

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