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5 Things You Never Knew About 3D

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by Jennifer Allan

July 28, 2010

Electricpig got in on one of the BBC’s 3Dbootcamps, which are teaching its camera and production crews about how to film in 3D. The bootcamps are run by Buzz Hays, Executive Stereoscopic 3D producer at Sony’s 3D Technology Centre. Click through to find out five things Sony is teaching Auntie, that you never knew about 3D.
1. If you’re getting eye strain, it’s probably the director’s fault.
Eye strain is one of the key arguments against 3D. But if you feel like your eyes are doing too much work, it’s probably not your fault. Hays says that directors shooting in 3D have to think about the shots that come before and after whatever they’re shooting to prevent eye strain in their audiences. The strain comes from big differences in the ‘depth’ of the object in focus from one shot to the next, so if your eyes are having to switch to something near, then far, then near again, they’ll get tired. “There’s a very subtle difference between comfortable viewing and a splitting headache,” says Hays.

2. Most 3D screens don’t get enough light

When a standard was set for the amount of light a 3D capable screen should receive in the cinema, it was set well below the standard that normal cinema screens get. This means that often, your 3D cinema experience is not as good as it should be, and with some extra light on the screen, could be rendered much sharper, clearer, and brighter.

3. Polarizing glasses were invented in 1937

The plastic Buddy Holly specs you forget to take off when you walk out of the cinema were actually invented in 1937. The famous shot from Life magazine, of a cinema of people wearing red and green 3D glasses was actually originally a shot of people in a cinema wearing polarising glasses. The colours were painted in afterwards.

4. 3D doesn’t damage the eyes

“There are hundreds of people working in 3D all day, every day,” says Hays. “As far as we know, not one has complained of any health problems as a result.” Hays references a company that works in stereoscopic sales (selling 3D equipment). The company has had 250,000 clients over 20 years, and has had no reports of people having problems with their eyes after lengthy exposure to 3D. “And that’s a very big test group,” he says.

5. Shooting in 3D is shooting blind. It’s all about the maths.

Directors shooting a 3D feature film generally can’t see the what the 3D will look like until they get the dailies, the raw unedited footage of a day’s shooting. This means that a lot more planning has to go into 3D shooting. Much of the 3D imagery is monitored by a stereographer to check depth, and that the objects that will be in the foreground and background aren’t interfering with each other.

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