No 3D in 'U2 3D' without binocular vision

Despite encouraging words that the new generation of 3D technology would help me see 3D films the way everyone else does, it didn't happen.

Daniel Terdiman Former Senior Writer / News
Daniel Terdiman is a senior writer at CNET News covering Twitter, Net culture, and everything in between.
Daniel Terdiman
3 min read
The new film, 'U2 3D,' depicts the mega-popular rock band in concert in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is shot all in 3D, but to someone without normal, binocular vision, the 3D effect is somewhat meaningless. U2 3D

After months of hearing about it, I finally went to see the new film, U2 3D today, full of anticipation that for the first time in my life, I would be able to actually see the 3D effects in a film.

A little background: I have strabismus, better known to some as "lazy eye," a condition that, among other things, means that I don't have normal, binocular vision, like most people.

In daily life, this condition means very little. I can drive, hit a baseball, probably even fly a plane. I do see a little bit differently in each eye, but basically, it makes no difference.

Where it has always made a difference, however, is with 3D films. Historically, when I would go to such a film, I would put on those ugly glasses with the red and blue lenses, and I wouldn't be able to see the 3D effect because of my lack of binocular vision, which the 3D technology depends on.

But when I wrote a story last year about the emergence of a new era of 3D cinema technology, I was told by one of the people I interviewed for the story that there was a high degree of likelihood that this time around, I would join the masses in getting the benefit.

And that's why I was excited as I walked into San Francisco's Metreon IMAX theater this morning for a press screening of U2 3D.

Alas, for me, at least, my excitement proved unwarranted.

From the first minutes of the film--which, I must say, is quite spectacular, especially on an IMAX screen--I wondered whether I was seeing what my seatmates were seeing.

The film is spectacular, and on an IMAX screen, it is truly larger than life. U2 3D

There was little question that the film was larger than life and that the imagery on the screen was big, explosive, and more lively than I'm used to seeing in films. And, to be sure, when I took off the special glasses--no, they're not red and blue--I did see double. But if I closed one eye or the other, I saw the same thing that I was seeing with both eyes open.

But I felt pretty sure I was missing something. So when the film was over, I asked my friend, who had been seated with me, if she felt she experienced 3D imagery.

Absolutely, was her unequivocal answer: No question that what she saw was 3D and that the film jumped off her screen in a way that normal films do not.

For me, I guess I got a hint of it. A few times, when something in the film was right in front of the camera, I got the sense of 3D. Some examples were shots taken right behind audience members. I will admit that it felt like they were right in front of me.

And a more visceral moment was a scene when U2 lead singer Bono stands in front of the camera, singing into it with his hand outstretched. That felt much more three-dimensional than anything else I could remember.

But that was about it. It makes me wonder why I would get these small tastes of 3D but that, for the most part, I wouldn't experience it.

Either way, I come away a little depressed and with dashed hopes. I had honestly been hoping that my condition would be made moot by the new technology and that for the first time, I would get to have the same viewing pleasure at a 3D film as everyone else.

But I guess not. I suppose I'll just have to keep waiting for the next generation. Until then, I'll just go on enjoying movies the way I always have.

And by the way, U2 3D is quite the film, 3D or no 3D. Go see it.