Why Watch Titanic 3D Without 3D Glasses?

James Cameron’s Titanic in 3D broke all records for box office openings in China, and is doing quite well worldwide.  What do you notice about the picture below, a double page front and center spread in the April 23 issue of TIME magazine, showing moviegoers in the Chinese province of Shanxi watching Titanic 3D?

Right, there’s glare on the page.  But that’s only because I couldn’t find a clean version of it on the Internet.  What I really want you to notice is that there are three people within the first three rows who aren’t wearing their 3D glasses.  Spoofs aside about the super 3D effects of the film, how is it that James Cameron spent $18 million and over a year in production meticuloulsy re-doing the film into stereoscopic 3D, frame by frame, even aligning the stars just right to satisfy an astrophysicist, and some moviegoers would not appreciate the effort?  We know, courtesy of the work of Dr. Martin Banks and colleagues at UC Berekely College of Optometry, that where you’re sitting in the theater affects your S3D viewing experience.  But is there more to it?

The AOA and the ophthalmic industry is paying close attention to how moviegoers and consumers of entertainment in general are responding to 3D media.  If you’re a moviegoer watching this heralded film and you have as sinking feeling that something is wrong with your perception, it may be because you’re experiencing one of the 3Ds of stereoscopic 3D viewing: discomfort, dizziness, or lack of depth.  One way to cope is to simply watch without the 3D glasses – but the experience is clearly not the same and most likely is out of focus due to the effects necessary to create 3D-ness for your moviegoing neighbors.  So it’s a tradeoff in what makes you more uncomfortable: unstable or absent 3D viewing through the glasses, or ghosting without the glasses.  More than an inconvenience, people with unadressed binocular vision issues are making compromises in activities of daily living – many of which aren’t readily apparent.    Specialized lenses, prisms, or optometric vision therapy can help binocular vision difficulties at any age.    It takes motivation and persistence, but it all begins with discovery of the problem in the first place.

– Leonard J. Press, O.D., FCOVD, FAAO

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