News? “Science Proves 3-D Movies Hurt Your Brain”

I came across this link:
3D Hurts Your Brain
 to a “news” article titled “Science Proves 3-D Movies Hurt Your Brain” and am compelled to comment.  How they go from the UC Berkeley study that says 3D movies CAN cause eyestrain along with headaches, to a headline that shouts: 3D MOVIES HURT YOUR BRAIN —  is nutty journalism. It is as if “3D movies” are all one thing.  That just isn’t the case at all.

If I told you to hold a pencil six inches away from your nose and stare at the eraser for an hour — guess what? That could cause eyestrain. And if a 3D movie has copious amounts of negative parallax (stuff coming out of the screen) and your eyes are trying to focus on the screen plane but converge much closer, then YES it causes many people to experience eyestrain.  If the scene has a lot of camera shake for those crash and burn scenes your brain will sense motion with your binocular vision but your inner ear will tell the brain you are sitting still. Conflicts of this nature create motion sickness. It is no different than spinning on a merry-go-round where your inner ear has conflicting information to other perceptions as you spin around.

It would have been more productive for the article to state that “poorly implemented 3D camera work can cause eyestrain and motion sickness in the cinema – especially if you sit close to the screen”. Of course, that wouldn’t be a sensational headline. Accurate perhaps, but not sensational.

I think if any alarm bells should be going off, it shouldn’t be about movies. It should be about video games where kids spend hours and hours in front of a computer monitor – soon to be 3D monitor, where perception learning and development can be effected. Again, use the stare at the pencil eraser example. Any atypical eye focus and direction for prolonged periods can’t be good. It is a type of vision therapy which is different from normal “view the world” seeing. Stare at a pencil eraser for hours at a time, day after day and it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that you might create problems looking at things in the distance. You are “teaching” your eye/brain to constantly focus on a pencil eraser 6″ from your nose, creating a preference for that type of viewing. The eye/brain connection in this case would merely be trying to adapt to a vision requirement. 

In my opinion, 3D content will continue to improve and people will come to understand there is a difference between quality 3D and poor 3D.  Avatar was certainly much better technically than any other 3D movie to date. Can it be better? Yes! Could it be worse? Yes! There are many new technologies for 3D currently in the lab that will be amazing when they eventually come to market in the next five to ten years. Unfortunately, right now there is a bum’s rush to capitalize on Avatar’s success and there are all sorts of companies popping up claiming to do 2D to 3D movie conversions. That means there is going to be a lot of 3D crap coming to market.

Buyer beware!

3D is art and science, not a commodity or ingredient to be added on demand.


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