3D Vision Blog

A normal user's look into the world of 3D Stereo Technologies

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The 3D Hype Bubble is Completely Busted and That is a Good Thing

July 17th, 2012 · 8 Comments · Other S3D Tech

The talk about whether stereoscopic 3D gaming is dead or will die soon continues, I’ve already shared some thoughts on that topic, however there is another interesting article by Neil Shneider from MTBS, published on Gamasutra, that you might want to check out. Neil also does an overview on what and how things are developing lately in regards not only to Nintendo, but stereoscopic 3D gaming and 3D in general, the most important thing however is the conclusion he makes. The fact that the 3D hype bubble is now completely busted as some media is claiming is actually not a bad thing according to him, and I can say that I agree as well, especially considering that too much hype can make things go the wrong way and we’ve seen that happen with 3D in some aspects already.

Bursting the 3D hype bubble is actually not a bad thing, because now people interested in stereoscopic 3D gaming and 3D content in general should be able to get a more clear view without too much hype surrounding it. And most of all the focus will not be the hype surrounding it and everyone thinking that all things 3D are great and deserve the attention and your hard earned money. With everything stereoscopic 3D things follow the same principle as with everything else – something new and trendy gets a lot of hype, but that does not make it good for sure, or bad for that matter. And when you remove the all the hype surrounding it, things become clearer and easy to judge, is it good or is it bad. Not to mention the fact that when 3D is not surrounded by too much hype, the companies and individuals interested in making a quick profit, exploiting the 3D hype should also disappear or at least become a lot less. Now, it is a completely different thing if other big companies that are producing good stereoscopic 3D content and products get scared by the lack of hype surrounding 3D and leave that market, this can indeed be a bad thing, but this is not even close to happening as we can clearly see. So stereoscopic 3D is here to stay, it will not be gone overnight as some people may think, and the users interested into stereoscopic 3D gaming are just getting more and more.

More about why it is actually a good thing that 3D hype is starting to wear off…

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More About the Possible Health Risks Associated With Stereo 3D

August 12th, 2010 · 10 Comments · Other S3D Tech

At the moment a lot of people are concerned about the possible negative effects that watching stereo 3D content might possibly bring, and there are even speculations that it could even lead to permanent damage to the viewer’s eyes if watching too much 3D content on a daily basis. It is true that there haven’t been too much tests regarding this being done, but there are also no cases that confirm that watching stereo 3D content can lead to some health risks. Actually the only real concern is for small kids while their eyes and brain are still being developed, so maybe just in case you should be careful there is you have children. Other than that you can experience some short-term lets call them side effects from watching stereo 3D content like a movie, TV show, playing a game etc. and at least half of the time the reason for you getting uncomfortable, your eyes feeling tired, getting disoriented etc. is due to being exposed to badly shot or converted 3D content.

But beyond those short-term effects is there risk of permanent eye damage from exposing eyeballs to the faux third dimension for prolonged periods of time? That is what Gamasutra has asked a specialist – Dr. Mark Borchert, a respected L.A.-based ophthalmologist with the American Academy of Ophthalmology and here is what he answered:

It’s not likely to cause any permanent harm to vision. There are people who get uncomfortable with it, and get eye strain or headaches, or on much rarer occasions, a sense of imbalance or nausea, but there’s no evidence it can cause permanent harm to your vision or use of both eyes together or anything like that.

However while Borchert admitted that ophthalmologists “don’t have an answer” to the negative effects of 3D effect viewing on young children, the expert pegged the appropriate 3D viewing age even lower than Nintendo.

Binocularity and stereoscopic vision is something that is learned in the first few years of life, primarily in about the first three years of life. So it’s unlikely that children at that age, where stereoscopic vision is developing most critically, are going to be playing these games. But the effect of 3D on young children, we have no idea. For older children, it’s not going to hurt them. I can’t imagine how this is going to cause any kind of permanent harm to someone who is over four years of age.

Here I can personally confirm that being exposed to “fake” 3D content on computer screens, HMDs, paper prints and other sources for years I have no problems with my normal stereoscopic vision whatsoever, but then again I’m also well over three years old. And regarding the uncomfortable and more tiring first experience that most people have when they watch some 3D content for the first time, there is another scientific explanation, but simply said the main reason is that it is something new, and our eyes and brain need some time to adjust to it. So you should not get discouraged about watching stereo 3D movies or playing games in stereo 3D mode just because you first experience was a bit uncomfortable, try again a few times and if you still don’t get used to it, then you might have some trouble with your eyes or something else, so you should go and see a specialist just in case.

And now what is the actual and a bit more technical reason for the first maybe not so comfortable experience of some 3D content when you are exposed for more than a few minutes. The way that out eyes normally work is that they perceive the depth we are seeing by converging our eyes at an object we want to focus on based on the distance to it – for close objects they converge more and for more distant objects they may even remain parallel. And this movement of the eyes is achieved by the extraocular muscles of which each eye has six, and these muscles are responsible for it’s movement and depending on the distance to the object you are focusing on the eyes need to move in order to converge with the right angle. Then you also have the eyes focus differently depending on the distance to the object you converged your vision on and that is done by changing the curvature of the lens inside your eyes with the help of the ciliary muscles. These two things happen together in order for us to perceive the depth of real world objects in the real life when we are not watching stereo 3D content on out computer or TV screen…

However when watching 3D content on a screen there is something different and new to out eyes and brain and that is exactly what tires you at first, because you need some time to adjust to the new “sensation” and learn how to properly do it. You can even say that your eye muscles need to be trained too, although it is not only up to the muscles not being ready for the additional load they need to handle when watching stereo 3D content. As already mentioned while we are babies and small kids our binocularity and stereoscopic vision is being developed and we learn how to see and perceive the distance and depth of everything in the world around us. And since we use the method described above in the real world and try to apply the same when watching stereo 3D content on a flat screen, we try to do things the same way at first, but in case of “fake” 3D content displayed on screen there is something different. Normally when you are watching an object at a distance of lets say 10 meters away form you, your eyes are first converging for that distance of ten meters and then they focus for the same distance of 10 meters. However when watching a stereo 3D movie or playing a game in stereo 3D mode our eyes are still having to converge for a different distance depending on what content is being currently displayed on the monitor (lets say the 3D screen is 1 meter away from the viewer), so if you get an object that appears deeper inside the screen your eyes will let’s say converge for a distance of 3 meters or if something jumps out of the screen they will converge for lets say half a meter. So this way the first part is the same, our eyes still converge differently depending on the sense of volume (depth or pop-out) we have of the objects displayed on the 3D screen although the screen is actually sitting at a fixed position. However regarding the distance that out eyes need to focus at, depending on the object being displayed on a 3D screen, things are a bit different compared to the real world, as if you converge on an object that is 3 meters away from you in the real world your eyes will also focus for a 3 meter distance. But when you are watching the same thing on a 3D display your eyes will still converge for a 3 meter distance, but the focus you will get will not be for 3 meters like in the real world, but will instead remain at 1 meter – the distance to where your 3D monitor is. Now this is the exact reason that at first the stereo 3D content feels a bit weird, unreal and tiring for our eyes and brain, but after watching a second or third movie or trying to play a game for a few times in stereo 3D mode we adjust and we can easily do this different way of seeing things without feeling strain.

And now comes the role of bad 3D content like movies that were converted from 2D to 3D and that conversion hasn’t been properly made. Going to such a movie can have all the bad effects you’ve felt the first time when you watched some stereoscopic 3D content and in result can create a bad image for the movie (which is to be expected), but also can draw away people from stereo 3D in general usually because of them not knowing the difference between good and bad 3D and/or not knowing that they have actually watched a movie shot in 2D and then badly converted in 3D. The problem with bad conversions to 3D is that generally they contain contradicting depth cues or objects that our brain tells us that should be closer to us, but our eyes tell us just the opposite – that they should be very far form us. This again leads to some additional strain for both the brain and the eyes that are contradicting each other, but there can also be a lot of other factors that can lead to bad experience like jumping through fast scenes all the time with very far and very close objects with our eyes having to readjust to these changes too quick and too much and so on. And then again there should be no health risks associated with watching even badly converted 2D to 3D content, it just leaves a long term bad experience and may as well drive that person away from 3D for a while. However bringing small kids younger than 3 years to watch a badly converted 2D to 3D movie, or exposing them to an autoconverted 2D to 3D TV show or a movie at home on the new 3D HDTV is definitely not a good idea!

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Five Reasons 3D Display ISN’T Doomed (A Rebuttal) by Neil Schneider

August 2nd, 2010 · 1 Comment · General 3D News

Here is a response from Neil Schneider from MTBS3D.com to a blog post written by Steve Peterson on Gamasutra.com in it, he lists “5 Reasons 3D Display is Doomed“, but it’s a very fixed position, so Neil shares his “Five Reasons 3D Display ISN’T Doomed” below:

1. 3D Is Expensive

“The new generation of consoles helped catalyze the purchase of HDTVs, and now we ask customers to drop at least $2000 on a new set so they can play 3D titles?”

Over ten years ago, the first traditional HDTVs were sold in 1998 for between $5,000 to $10,000 US – and the dollar was valued higher back then. Looking at a current Best Buy online listing, the most expensive 3D HDTV featured is the Samsung 55″ unit going for about $5,000 US (Model UN55C9000). The Samsung 46″ 3D Plasma is going for about $1,400 US (Model LN46C750).

In the 2D market, Samsung’s 65″ (Model UN65C6500) is going for over $4,000 US, and the majority of mid-range units are going for about $2,000 a piece. Not so far off from the 3D world, if you ask me. I only focused on Samsung for consistency, but it’s a very diverse market including Sony, LG Electronics, Panasonic, and more.

A leading criticism Mr. Peterson uses against 3D is that people won’t buy a second set, let alone make a purchase like this in the current economy. According to DisplaySearch, LCD TV sales saw a 50% increase in 2009. According to ISuppli, even during a recession, 2009 saw a first quarter flat panel sales increase of 7.8 million units, or 17 percent. This was attributed to cocooning, or cutting back on travel in favour of a great home entertainment system.

We have to remember that these tail-end buyers aren’t the early adopters, they are the bargain hunters. If indeed people want the 3D benefits, and all the customer data we have to work with says they do, then it’s a brand new product cycle for the early adopters looking to upgrade their living room experience – which is justification for a second HDTV in their home.

While I admit that $1,400 is very reasonable for a 3D HDTV, the 3D market is clearly targeting the early adopters now, with the mass market to follow – similar to HDTV.

2. It’s Nauseating

“Headaches, dizziness, nausea… not exactly the effects you want your game to induce.”

If we look at the 3D cinema world, there is a lot of repeat business happening with masses of people going to 3D movies. Unfortunately, cinema has a handicap that forces them to come up with a single 3D experience for everyone. Despite this, the papers have not been strewn with claims of Avatar 3D nausea – just sales.

In the gaming space, we have a double-edged sword. You can customize the 3D experience individually, right down to the level of depth, and how much of that depth is inside and outside the screen. Very exciting stuff! Unfortunately, it can be an uncomfortable experience if gamers don’t choose their settings properly. There is a small learning curve here.

It’s unfortunate that Samsung’s warning label was blasted across the media the way it was. MTBS has countless members who have been happily gaming in 3D for a very long time, and see this as a protective corporate measure – not a warning of things to come.

3. Resolution/frame rate loss

“3D requires you to give up half the frame rate, or give up resolution, in order to display twice as many frames as normal. Many processes result in lower brightness (a big problem with 3D movies).”

I’m going to let you in on a dirty gaming industry secret. While the console spec encourages 60 frames per second game play, many top game developers render at 30 frames per second. So while the expected drop in frames is getting its share of media coverage, most gamers won’t notice.

As far as resolution is concerned, only a handful of console games render at 1080P. 720P is closer to 2D standard than most realize. Using traditional 2D gaming as the standard, this drop of resolution and performance isn’t a big deal at all.

The brightness aspect has to do with the choice of 3D television and glasses more so than anything else. Similar to HDTV progress, 3D displays are getting brighter to compensate, and there are future 3D innovations to come, I’m sure!

4. No New Gameplay

“So far it’s not clear what 3D display brings to the game design table in terms of enabling new forms of play. The Wii showed that relatively simple and cheap technology could bring innovative new gameplay modes; so did the DS with its two screens. I have yet to hear how 3D display will enable new game play, or even refine current gameplay. Without something new to offer, will customers buy into it?”

It’s not about the game play – it never was. According to The 2009 U-Decide Initiative, the number one reason for gamers to regularly buy updated equipment (e.g. GPUs, CPUs, Sound Cards, better displays, etc.) is game immersion – the desire to feel part of the game. 3D ties into that perfectly, which is why so much interest has developed around it.

There have been some experiments around treating depth as part of the game; like catching fireflies in a net. However, immersion is the big motivator right now.

5. 3D is Dying in Theaters

“The highly anticipated wave of 3D movies has washed over the theaters and pulled away, leaving the beaches exposed. Avatar did great business, but successive movies had lower audiences.”

A source wasn’t quoted for this remark, so I’m going to take an educated guess. The Wrap ran an article featuring a chart of 3D movies, and their declining 3D to 2D revenue share. What The Wrap failed to mention was that each listed movie had fewer and fewer screens to work with. When Avatar was released, they had virtually no 3D competition. Now that multiple 3D movies have to share the limited 3D screen space at the same time, the audience numbers look very different – artificially so.

We also have to remember that Avatar was the biggest selling movie of all time with a 15 year development history – not a 2D/3D afterthought conversion. Not even Steven Spielberg can shatter movie sales records week after week after week. If life were like that!

I will conclude by saying that while 3D has a committed and exciting future, the whole industry is going through a learning curve. Several organizations including The S-3D Gaming Alliance, Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Panasonic, Blitz Games Studios, Steelseries, Zalman, and more, are doing a study of what gamers think about 3D and which experiences excite them the most. It is hoped that what is learned from The 2010 U-Decide Initiative will help shape video games to come.

Once the study is complete, over fifty prizes will be drawn including a 3D HDTV, gaming headsets, a 3D monitor, and over 40 console and PC video games. The preliminary results will be revealed at GDC Online (formerly GDC Austin) in October. Both traditional 2D and experienced stereoscopic 3D gamers are welcome to participate… even Steve Peterson!

to read some interesting comments and get into the discussion…

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