3D TV and Movies: The Depth Script

Patrick Le Callet is a professor at ecole polytechnique de l’université de Nantes in France. I was like a kid in a candy shop when I came across his list of publications.  Scroll down to the third one, for example, on the importance of visual attention in improving the 3D TV experience.  Suffice it to say that researchers are increasingly looking at the complex interplay of video and image quality an content, accommodative-convergence issues, the extent of applicability of Panum’s fusional areas, cognitive load in general, and the role of sustaining visual attention to 2D vs. 3D content over time.

I’m looking forward to presenting a lecture on the topic of viewing problems associated with 3D technology, together with my colleague, Dr. Gary Etting, at the SECO meeting in Atlanta later this week.  I presented a version of the lecture to colleagues at the Hudson County Optometric Society in New Jersey last week, and it really is wonderful to get back to talking about some very basic concepts in binocular vision through the lens of 3D media.  I’ll be involved in a big 3D emphasis at the AOA meeting in Chicago in June, and lecturing on the subject at the GWCO meeting toward the end of September in Oregon.

Here’s one key concept that has emerged from research at the Institute of Research on Communications and Cybernetics (IRCCyN) at the University of Nantes.

Although not intuitive at first, it turns out that adding too much 3D content to sustained viewing can be a negative rather than a positive.  This research builds on the concept of creating a depth budget for TV, particularly for stereoscopic 3D storytelling in a movie.

Brian Gardner deals with this beautifully in his article in Creative Cow magazine the writing of a depth script. Here is an example of a script written for controlling the amount of motion parallax generated.  You can see that it resembles the concept of writing a musical score, where the effect of crescendo would be lost on an audience if there weren’t peaks and valleys in the nuances of pitch, volume, harmonics, instrument quality, stereophonics, and so forth.

Where is all this headed?  The ultimate viewing experience with new technology will be an idealized  combination of the medium and human factors.  For the latter, production of content must consider what works best for the average human observer.  This can be informed by ongoing collaborations between screenwriters, production specialists, and vision specialists.  In addition, vision specialists will play an increasing role in optimizing the visual capacity of the observer to handle the cognitive binocular loads involved.

– Leonard J. Press, O.D., FCOVD, FAAO



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