Will 3D TV Work?
Andy Ruffell / 5 years ago
People have been trying to produce 3D films for over 50 years now, and up until the last year or so technology simply wasn’t good enough to produce a convincing image. Now, however, 3D has hit the mainstream with the likes of Sky opening a dedicated 3D TV channel, and the world’s major manufacturers working round the clock to produce new models.
Whilst some experts predict the 3D TV market will read £100bn by 2014, there remain some extremely respected figures that argue that 3D simply will not and cannot ever really work. Often, this seems as bad-tempered carping about ‘the way things were’ but the Oscar-winning editor of Apocalypse Now has thrown his hat into the ring – and this is a man who knows a thing or two about the silver screen.
According to Mr Murch, 3D television and film requires the brain to do things that it has never had to do before in the entirety of human existence (a big claim). The argument is thus:
- When you watch a 3D film it’s not a ‘true’ 3D image, that is to say, the technology gives the illusion of depth. Essentially, the screen is twenty feet away, but because of the foreground and background illusion created by the technology, the image upon which we may be focussing could appear to be 60 feet away.
- When our eyes focus on something there are two processes that take place, one is focussing, and one is converging. When you look at something three feet away, you both focus and converge on the object, when you look at something seventy feet away, your lenses focus on the object, whilst the angle of convergence opens out so that both eyes are practically looking at parallels to each other.
- With a 3D screen we have to focus on one thing (the illusionary image in the background) and converge on another (the screen). These are almost always at different distances and therefore watching 3D can be extremely tiring (or impossible for people with certain visual problems).
- Additionally, because of this approach, the image appears to be smaller (even if it’s an enormous IMAX) because it’s literally pulling the lines of your eyes inwards.
Mr Murch, as mentioned above, is well-respected and his science makes sense. However, the sales figures don’t really agree. Though it may be unusual for us to do this different distance focussing and convergence, we obviously can do it, and without a great amount of difficulty. Additionally, as the technology improves, it will support our brains in achieving this visual trick, and make 3D viewing ever easier.
At the end of the day, we all know there’s a lot more to a good film or a good television programme than just the technical elements; but this techno-scaremongering still means there’s no reason to bin your 3D TV just yet.