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Karel Bata

Best place to sit when watching 3D?

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I 've just read a fascinating American Cinematographer article on Coraline and am looking forward to soaking it all in.

 

My problem is that I usually sit in the front row (ever since i was a kid) but that's not the best place for 3D. Is there a simple formula for working out where you should be to optimise the effect without getting a headache?

 

Cheers! :D

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I 've just read a fascinating American Cinematographer article on Coraline and am looking forward to soaking it all in.

 

My problem is that I usually sit in the front row (ever since i was a kid) but that's not the best place for 3D. Is there a simple formula for working out where you should be to optimise the effect without getting a headache?

 

Cheers! :D

 

I think most projection is set about 2/3 the way back in the center.

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I think most projection is set about 2/3 the way back in the center.

 

I usually sit in the centre lined up with the surround speakers on either side. that seems to be roughly 1.5 to 2 screen widths back, although that can vary a bit depending on the layout of the theatre.

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For 3D showings? Well, about 80" to the left of the screen centreline at my local cinema, which will put you in the 2D screen next door.

 

By this technique, it's possible to avoid leaving with a splitting headache.

 

P

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For 3D showings? Well, about 80" to the left of the screen centreline at my local cinema, which will put you in the 2D screen next door.

 

 

priceless.

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By this technique, it's possible to avoid leaving with a splitting headache.

How did I pick this as a Phil Rhodes comment before I even looked at the sidebar ;)

 

Seriously Phil, if you get a headache from good, modern 3D screenings, then it's the content rather than the technology. (And that is perfectly believable, I'm still waiting to see a film that is worth the effort, in 3D).

 

In any case, 3D is a sham. If it was really 3D, then it would matter where you sat, as every seat would give you a different view of the scene.

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I try to get seats in the center of the theater about a third or halfway back, whether the movie is 3D or not. I saw Coraline recently in 3D and it looks very, very nice shown like that.

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Last things first:

 

In any case, 3D is a sham. If it was really 3D, then it would matter where you sat, as every seat would give you a different view of the scene.

 

Yes. This is 2.5D at best.

 

Seriously Phil, if you get a headache from good, modern 3D screenings, then it's the content rather than the technology. (And that is perfectly believable, I'm still waiting to see a film that is worth the effort, in 3D).

 

Uhoh - you've been subsumed by the 3D mafia!

 

I think part of the problem comes from the convergence/focus disparity- they can persuade you that the object is 200 feet away with fake stereoscopy, but you still need to focus on the image 40 feet away.

 

Then there's cuts. Your eyes aren't usually asked to reconverge in 1/48 of a second, since you aren't capable of changing position fast enough. There seems to be little or no attention paid to keeping the changes in convergence minimised between takes, since this makes it less punch-in-the-face spectacular.

 

Then there is the issue that stereoscopic vision doesn't really operate beyond thirty or forty feet in any case, so there's a tendency to force the issue by scaling the virtual space. This is a technique whereby something that would be happening between a hundred and a thousand feet is represented as happening between five and ten, in terms of stereoscopy. This avoids the sad fact that in the most spectacular landscape shots, the 3D effect should by rights be almost invisible - but of course this is not what Mr. Producer is paying for, so...

 

All of these things create a fairly serious disagreement in your visual cortex. They aren't easy to solve and no current technique even tries; you get very dirty looks if you mention them to 3D people because they know it's a huge problem and they haven't got the foggiest idea how to solve them, or feel that they must do them in order to justify their existence ("Wow, lookee that, Mr. Producer! We're great! Hire us!"), or possibly actually don't seem to know that they're doing it, as frequently happens with the compressed-space issue. One major 3D release (which made me very nearly hurl) does that all the time, and the guys who did it, when interviewed, don't seem to have any idea that they did. One is left with the alarming feeling that they just wound the convergence controls around until the producers started to applaud.

 

That would be bad enough, but we have a 3D establishment at the moment who likes to promote the idea that they've solved all the problems with whizzy new technology. In fact, the technology being used now differs only in the detail from the very earliest days of anaglyph, and has exactly the same problems. They're perfect messiahs who have brough salvation to the film industry.

 

Well, bollocks, it still makes me feel sick and that's not my fault. I can only hope that the major 3D systems start offering people the option of glasses with two identical lenses so that we don't have to suffer this literally mindbending mess if we don't want to.

 

P

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The best place to sit is generally close to the back - this will put you in the original position for the stereo images. In other words you are trying to put yourself the closest you can to the 'camera view', it will also minimise any gain created by the silver screen (if it has one). having said that it is possible to change the 'sweet spot' of a cinema to any point at all, not that cinemas will do that - just that you can.

 

Phil is correct that there could still be problems, but is very wrong in his description of them!

 

The separation/convergence of the cameras has nothing to do with the problems viewing stereo images causes. Yes you can exaggerate stereo but the eyes are easily capable of dealing with that (your eye can converge to your nose through to directly parallel, so no amount of extra convergence will tax them. The problem is the focusing mechanism of the eyes. The eye must gather their 'stereo' information from the screen, if they then must converge something with too great stereo, they cannot maintain their focus on the screen (but will try to) and thus the eyes are strained.

 

Its actually very easy to control - there is a zone in which the eyes do not strain in their focus, but like cinematography there are people who are good at it and there are people who are bad at it.

 

In any case, 3D is a sham. If it was really 3D, then it would matter where you sat, as every seat would give you a different view of the scene.

 

 

Yes. This is 2.5D at best.

 

for stereo, it does matter where you sit (but obviously not in the way you are meaning), since every seat will give you a different stereo parallax. The disparity of the stereo parallax vs the actual image parallax is why the side seating is less than ideal.

 

Well, bollocks, it still makes me feel sick and that's not my fault. I can only hope that the major 3D systems start offering people the option of glasses with two identical lenses so that we don't have to suffer this literally mindbending mess if we don't want to.

 

why not just go to 2d screenings of the same movies, then you won't even need the glasses?

:lol:

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Phil, a lot of your criticism seems based on the argument that 3D is getting your eyes/brain to do something unnatural. But since when is watching a film like watching the real thing anyway? Does it also give you a headache to focus on a close up that is forty feet away? Cutting from that to a wide shot should (in theory) make you feel sick too. Hell, a track/zoom should send people out of the theatres in droves. But it doesn't.

 

Film is an evolving language and 3D is particularly difficult to get 'right', if there is such a thing. Doesn't mean it's not worth trying. I think it's a lot of fun, and I envy those working at the cutting edge of something so challenging.

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Yes, yes, I know, everything's perfect and you've solved all the problems and I'm just wrong. But:

 

Yes you can exaggerate stereo but the eyes are easily capable of dealing with that

 

You keep saying that. I'll keep throwing up. Deal?

 

P

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Yes, yes, I know, everything's perfect and you've solved all the problems and I'm just wrong. But:

 

 

 

You keep saying that. I'll keep throwing up. Deal?

 

P

 

Actually I've clearly stated there are problems. What you're describing as the problem is in fact *not* the problem. There is so much misinformation about stereo - I'm trying to help address that problem, I've posted in a number of these threads.

 

Exaggerating the stereographic effect on, for example, a landscape, will not produce strain, unless that exaggeration is done incorrectly.

 

As I hinted, I don't really get your position. If a car company produces a blue version of a car you prefer in white, surely the option you take is just to buy the white one? Why complain about them giving you options?

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There is another problem though, isn't there? If optimal seating is in the middle and at least half way back, doesn't that mean that over half the audience are losing out?

 

And forgive my ignorance, but is the 'screen size':'depth of cinema' ratio always the same? I thought there was some variance, which in turn would affect the best seating position in a 3D screening..? I had originally expected someone to say something like "sit 3x the width of the screen away."

Edited by Karel Bata

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There is another problem though, isn't there? If optimal seating is in the middle and at least half way back, doesn't that mean that over half the audience are losing out?

 

And forgive my ignorance, but is the 'screen size':'depth of cinema' ratio always the same? I thought there was some variance, which in turn would affect the best seating position in a 3D screening..? I had originally expected someone to say something like "sit 3x the width of the screen away."

 

 

thats yes and yes! in relation to the last question, generally you find that up the back(ish) gives the best result not just for the width/depth ratio but also because you are higher up and hence the image perspective and the stereo that your brain generates are closer. The problem is that many theatres aren't designed for stereo, they are simply converted to stereo projection. this lack of standardisation - coupled with the fact that many don't even realise that screen size makes a difference - makes it hard to give a direct answer of where exactly to sit.

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So basically towards the back of a really good modern cinema or of an IMAX.

 

Cheers! :D

 

 

p.s. Anyone remember John Walter's 'smell-o-vision'? I've still got the scratch card! B)

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Why complain about them giving you options?

 

Because there's a bunch of stereophiles wandering around telling me I'm some sort of idiot for having the temerity, the unmitigated intestinal temerity, to be made to feel ill by their work.

 

I'm observing a real 3D scene involving a computer keyboard and a monitor right now, and it isn't making me feel unwell. Observing scenes with 3D information reconstructed from stereography does make me feel unwell, particularly and identifiably when the aforementioned problems are present, and this means one of two things:

 

- I have found a way of making myself feel unwell by the power of thought alone, and I am craftily using this ability to spite you,

 

or

 

- There is something wrong with your techniques.

 

-P

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By design the "sweet spot" in theaters with stadium style seating is the row of seats level with the center of the screen. In the AMC mulitplex where I see most of my first run movies that row is at a crossover aisle. Which conveniently also means no-ones sitting immediately in front of you. While I can't be certain, it makes sense that aisle is also the best for 3D since you're centered on the screen, therefore at the camera POV.

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Oh why don't they bring back the old cinemas where you could sit at the front of the circle.. :(

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Uhoh - you've been subsumed by the 3D mafia!
Well No, Phil, I've been to look at a variety of 3D presentations and made up my mind. And I didn't get headaches.

 

We perceive depth with the help of a dozen or more cues - parallax, focus, convergence, relative size, haze/desaturation of distant objects, and so on. The job of any 3D system, as with any 2D system, is to fool us with as many of those cues as possible, while also producing images that don't have their own artefacts - such as ghosting, etc. And if we can watch the images with a little constraint on our comfort as possible that helps too.

 

The latest round of 3D addresses (OK, not perfectly) many more of these issues than previously. Circular polarisers allow you to tilt your head without getting ghosting. The sudden jumps in distance/convergence that you speak of can be addressed by rapid predictive convergence pulls just before the cut. And so on.

 

OK, 3D isn't perfect. Neither is 2D. Neither is stereo sound, or 5.1 sound, or 22.2 sound or any other means of reproduction.

 

My point is that comments on 3D or any other system should be based on current experience interpreted by theoretical considerations, not on theoretical arguments based on old or even anecdotal experience.

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That would be bad enough, but we have a 3D establishment at the moment who likes to promote the idea that they've solved all the problems with whizzy new technology. In fact, the technology being used now differs only in the detail from the very earliest days of anaglyph, and has exactly the same problems. They're perfect messiahs who have brough salvation to the film industry.

Well, after 20 years I think those-who-think-the-film-industry-owes-them-a-living have had all the mileage they're going to get out of: "I know! We'll announce that we've at last come up with a whizzy new video camera technology that really does ("Take 115...") equal the performance of 35mm Film, and thus revolutionize Hollywood by slashing at least 0.6% off the production cost of the average cinema release movie!"

 

"And for the first time put 35mm quality within the reach of people who (to paraphrase Ric in The Young Ones) want to make 'features' (yeah, right) that would be of interest to two or at most three people!"

 

"No! BETTER than 35mm film!"

"Oh shoot - BETTER THAN IMAX!"

 

The amount of hoo-haa we see on here every time some digitally-shot film project (no matter how excremental or limited interest) actually gets seen by the general public or nominated for some nebulous award or other (SFA in industry percentage terms) says it all.

 

(Please do not mention TV shows. They are, after all TV cameras, that's what they were designed for).

 

I will allow that for shooting 3-D, digital cameras are likely to be much more practical than using film, but they're still answering a question that nobody is really asking.

 

Over the past 100 years there have been countless technologies that Hollywood has enthusiastically embraced virtually overnight, and others that have ignominiously sunk without a trace.

 

By the way, I personally don't suffer any ill-effects from watching 3-D, but I know plenty of people who find the experience either uncomfortable or just not terribly exciting. On that basis alone, I don't think 3-D is ever likely to take off. I have yet to see single 3-D feature that I could see would lose anything in a 2-D verson.

 

It's like movies generally; some really need to be seen on a big screen, others work just as well on a 20" TV.

Edited by Keith Walters

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My point is that comments on 3D or any other system should be based on current experience interpreted by theoretical considerations, not on theoretical arguments based on old or even anecdotal experience.

 

And for exactly this reason I went to see Beowulf at the Arclight Hollywood, a combination which should have provided for the very best technical circumstances. This was a production which had made all these claims to have solved all the problems, and while I lasted longer than normal (perhaps 45 minutes), I was still forced to give up and watch the latter half of it in no-glasses, double-vision mode.

 

The irony of it is that watching most modern 3D without the glasses on is actually less uncomfortable than watching it with!

 

P

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I think this polarisation of opinion is hinting at something that hasn't been investigated properly.

 

My girlfriend can't ride a bike without at some point falling off. :lol: I'd like her to try again - I enjoy an energetic bike ride - but at the end of the day I have to accept what she adamantly states - it's not for her. :(

 

There's clearly a substantial percentage of the population that claim to react negatively to 3D. Telling them to 'try harder', or thinking that it's a problem that can somehow be 'fixed', or on the other hand that 'all 3D is rubbish' is a bit pointless. So, er, maybe cinemas should provide a 'test booth' outside where you can check to see that it works for you before you go in...? (I doubt that will ever happen of course)

 

It's like a lot of things in life: try it (or don't), and if you don't like it, don't do it. Nobody's making you. And if you really think you've been conned into it, ask for your money back. Most theatres here will oblige.

Edited by Karel Bata

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I haven't seen any recent movie in 3D, I think I saw a film 5 or 6 years back at a museum showcasing the effect and throwing it in your face.

 

I just saw Pixar's UP in 3D skeptically, thinking it was going to be a gimmicky movie like what you might find at an amusement park. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself really enjoying the 3D and feeling it added to the films experience. By the end of the movie I had forgotten that I was wearing the glasses or distracted by the 3D effect.

 

I'm enthusiastic to see more 3D movies in the future, and I believe the technical hiccups of production and projection can be ironed out and perfected. I recently read that Peter Jackson says every movie he shoots in the future will be in 3D and that James Cameron is working on a 3D film as well. Tron 2.0 is filming in Vancouver entirely in 3D also.

 

Very exiting.

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For 3D to take off they are going to have to crank up the frame rate as 24 frames per second does not cut the mustard for 3D because it creates too much motion blur. 2K digital cinema supports projection up to 48 frames per second.

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