Is 3D DOA?

Slate argues that the problem with 3D is that it "always has, always will" hurt your eyes. And I tend to agree.

There's an interesting article over at Slate titled "The problem with 3D." I'd encourage you to read the whole thing, but the subtitle pretty much sums it up: "It hurts your eyes. Always has, always will." Author Daniel Engbar argues that today's digital-assisted 3D technology isn't so far removed from earlier incarnations of the 1950s and 1980s, and that it's still effectively hacking your brain's depth perception triggers--and putting a lot of strain on your eyes in the process.

This matters, of course, because Hollywood is doubling down on 3D technology in a big way. In addition to new movies like "Monsters vs. Aliens" and James Cameron's upcoming "Avatar," studios are repurposing existing favorites for eventual 3D releases. And why not? With increasingly affordable giant-screen TVs in the home (and ever-shrinking theater-to-DVD release windows), the industry needs new and more elaborate gimmicks to get customers into the theater.

But it's not just the movie theater. Consumer electronics companies are working hard to bring 3D to the home as well. 3D TV was arguably one of the biggest trends at January's Consumer Electronics Show--and that's exactly where I feel that Engbar's "it hurts your eyes" thesis was born out. CNET picked Nvidia's Geforce 3D Vision Kit as a finalist in the Best Gaming Product category, but it ultimately lost to the Nyko Wand because our first encounter with the Nvidia did cause some eyestrain. Our full review of the Geforce 3D Vision offered confirmation: it's cool, to be sure, but playing over long periods of time will start to hurt.

The same was true of Panasonic's 3D demo at CES (see the embedded video above). While much of the footage (which included everything from pro wrestling to the Beijing Olympics opening ceremonies) was palpably three-dimensional, it was already starting to hurt my eyes by the end--despite the fact that it was only about 10 minutes long. (As proof, I offer contemporary testimony from my now-dormant Twitter account.)

Truth be told, I have a slight astigmatism in one eye (corrected by eyeglasses) that might contribute to my 3D eyestrain. And I haven't seen any of the feature-length 3D movies yet. But I don't have a real desire to, either. (I'm intrigued by "Avatar," but that's more because I'm a longtime Cameron fanboy, not a 3D-phile.) But I fear that Engbar and I are on the losing side of this argument. I'm used to it: despite my campaign against reflective laptop screens , they're now the industry standard (I still hate 'em).

But I'm curious what you think: are you psyched for more 3D in the theater and at home? Or do you think it's just a fad that the industries are force-feeding us to sell more movie tickets and electronics? Share your thoughts below.

 

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