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Did you see Avatar in 3D?

What captured your attention?

I recently discovered an academic paper nominated for the Tobii EyeTrackAwards (PDF) about Stereographic (3D) eye tracking compared to regular 2D.  The Finnish (Nokia Research Centre) and Japanese researchers used a Tobii X120 eye tracker to track a large Hyundai Stereoscopic display.

How has 3D changed cinematography?

I’m sure James Cameron considered that:

  • 2D viewers tend to look at the actors and the significance of the actors start at the beginning of a shot, as the eyes of the viewer focus almost immediately to them.
  • 3D viewers’ gaze is more widely distributed. For example, complex 3D structures and structures nearer than the actor captured the interest and eye movements of the participants.

The way that this type of information is generally discovered by movie makers, is to ask viewers to describe their experiences. However, the full experience can not ever be completely described as some things are not fully accessible to conscious thought. This is where eye tracking comes in.  It allows us to see what people focus on the screen immediately, although it may not be processed consciously.

3D (more processing)                                                   2D (less processing)

In a 3D movie people are ‘forced’ to consider more parts of the screen that they normally would. This gives them a richer and more immersive experience.

What do you think?

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8 Responses

  1. Sanaz 02/03/10
  2. That may explain why (well possibly a contributing factor) I thought my house lacked so much colour when I arrived home after watching 3D avatar!

  3. Ah yes! And were you unusually tired too?

  4. Wouldn’t this be countered on the 3D side by the fact that you are looking for the usual 3D visual cues as you have been fooled into thinking it is 3D by a presence of a few of them. So for the rest of the time you are visually hunting for the missing cues, working your eyes into overtime. In this case you will never find them.

    There is a point of course where your brain stops looking for the missing cues.

  5. I’m sorry, but 3D is a new experiance, and so it is logical that the the viewer is more interessted in viewing the 3D obejcts in and aorund the scene and not so much focused on the actor.

  6. pilar 04/03/10
  7. I wonder why watching 3D movies gives such an exciting experience.
    Could it be because:
    a) It’s new, as the Lumiere films were new and people ran out of the cinema thinking the train may hit them? With time this novelty effect will wear out, and since it’s such a tiring experience will eventually die out.
    b) Is it because the brain gets a kick? Because 3D films means double frames per second (2D is 25 in DVD and 24 in 35mm) and more processing? Is this why we are so tired after watching a 3D the movie?
    c) Is it because Film Language and Narrative used in 3D is different from 2D and tells the story differently?
    I am very interested in this research.

  8. I saw Avatar in Imax 3D. It was definitely a visual spectacle but I found the “pop out” effect to be lacking. And in fact the feeling of depth going well past the physical screen was what I noticed more often than not. Granted I read somewhere that Cameron didn’t want to go overboard with cheap tricks to wow the audience. My friend had also seen the film in one of the other digital 3D formats (can’t say which) and said he found the 3D to be more impressive there. I definitely enjoyed the movie but I was a bit disappointed having seen Beowulf in Imax 3D and it was absolutely breathtaking all the way through by comparison.

  9. We have already established that a 3D movie is much more than a pair of 2D animated pictures. It may be useful to repeat that mantra once again. It’s not the existence of these two shots that makes the 3D. It’s not their content. It’s the relationship between the two.

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