3D or not 3D?

I’m going to start off by saying that I used to hate 3D. I’d purposfully avoid it every time I had the choice between seeing a film in 3D or 2D. This wasn’t a choice I made because it was controversial or I wanted to be awkward, but because 3D simply didn’t work.

Before yesterday, my 3D experiences had been plagued with problems which included: crosstalk between the two images, eye strain, headaches, shiny metallic looking surfaces and being unable to focus on certain objects (generally closer ones). These problems all contributed to one thing – pulling me out of the film rather than immersing me further. It was safe to say that at this point, I would never consider adopting 3D. But as they say, never say never.

I was lucky enough to be invited to the Dolby Christmas screening of Puss in Boots 3D at the Empire Theatre in Leicester Square, London. I was expecting another experience full of the problems I listed earlier, but wanted to attend anyway because it was a pretty special event. To my suprise, none of these problems occurred during the WHOLE of the film. I was completely immersed and thoroughly enjoyed the 3D aspect of it. For the first time, I thought that the 3D helped immerse me into the film.

I was wondering how my experiences with 3D could variate so drastically, and was lucky enough to have a chat with an ex-Dolby Film Sound Consultant who explained some pitfalls of 3D. The main and most common problem, is calibration. Whilst it’s quite easy to calibrate the two (or four) projectors to somewhere close to where it should be, it takes a long time to calibrate the projectors perfectly. In fact, for this Dolby Screening, they had 2 Dolby employees setting up and calibrating both the audio and video for two days before the screening (which clearly made a lot of difference).

Another difference is the type of 3D used. I’m not too knowledgeable on the different types of 3D, however, I’m of the understanding that my bad experiences have all been using the Real3D glasses system which use Poliarized 3D glasses and my good experience was using Infitec (Interference Filter Technology) Glasses. I’m not sure on exactly how these systems differ, but considering the Real3D glasses are considered disposable whilst the Infitec/Dolby glasses aren’t, I’m under the assumption that the Infitec technology is the better of the two.

I believe that the main reason for my dissapointing experiences has been down to calibration rather than the tech used, which is a total shame that I’ve had to wait this long to see 3D properly. If the cinemas spent some extra time calibrating their rooms to produce picture and audio in the way they were intended to be viewed/heard then it would be a much more enjoyable experience and would certainly encourage me to see more 3D films. In fact, I’ve got a bit of a gripe with cinemas on the audio side of things as well which I’ll run through on my next blog post.

I’d love to hear your views on 3D, whether you like it or not and whether you agree/disagree with me, so please leave a comment!