Why it is Dangerous for all Movies and TV to be in 3D?

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President Obama and the First Lady watching the 3D superbowl ads

Over the past several months, I have followed many online discussions where Stereo 3D enthusiasts claim that it is time for all TV programs and Films to be made in 3D and how today’s 3D technologies can make this vision a reality.  I’ve read some suggesting that Stereo 3D, while it might work with some specialized shows, it won’t work for talk shows, cooking or home improvements… others claim that the cost will continue to be prohibitive.

What I missed reading was any scientific details of why it should, will, or it should not and will not work.  This compelled me to write, and share with my readers, important findings in hopes of shedding better light on the future use of Stereo 3D technologies.

First I would like to discuss the scientific differences between 2D and Stereo 3D visualization.  Mission3-D’s extensive research has come to realize that a human brain functions with pre-determined programming, programming that is harmonious with the need for survival.  Speech and language is stored in one section of the brain, images in another, and there seems to be a special, wider, more complex place for storing an “Experience”.

Studies conducted by Mission3-D on the effects of depth perception in humans have been quite telling.  It turns out that human depth perception is an intricate part of defining an “Experience”.  While our brains can store words, stories and “2D’ images for re-collection, such “data” tends to be rationally and consciously manipulated by the brain with a potentially different outcome based on the rational of any given situation.  Stored data does not seem to subconsciously affect behavior, stored experiences do.

Most learning retention studies suggest a 7 to 8 fold learning retention when a person experiences something vs. reading about it.  In fact, studies conducted by CongitinveArts of Chicago Illinois, have found that on average, attending a live lecture only results in a 5% learning retention, while reading the same materials allows for twice as much learning retention (10%), viewing a multimedia version story-style version of the same materials results in a 25% learning retention, with learning retention reaching 75% when the person experiences things first hand.  Depth perception is the primary differentiating facture attributed to an experience.

Subsequently, in memory retention research on 2D vs. Stereo 3D imageries, Mission3-D concluded the same results: Stereo 3D images are up to 8 times more memorable than their 2D counterparts, with the memory retention factor increasing with increased depth perception and decreasing with decreased depth perception.  We also noted an increased attentive and awareness state with those who perceive depth vs. those who do not.

Basically our human binocular vision acts as radar of sorts with the need to store a depth-induced experience every time we live a new experience.  Subsequently, we tried to test the effects of depth perception on written text to see if such depth perception can aid in memorizing text, our findings showed quite the opposite.  The human brain became confused with Stereo 3D text; with 2D text the brain expected to store data but with 3D, the brain was being told to store a visual experience.  The result was that the brain became unable to concentrate on each word and was distracted as it was trying to understand what this new experience means.

Psychologically we react differently to 2D from Stereo 3D.  A 2D visual is calming and does not force a high-attentive state or increased awareness, it is passive.  With no depth perception, our brain is told not to store an experience, just store “data” when seen, heard or said repeatedly, such as the story or the net result of what was heard and seen, all stored for future rational manipulation.

Most humans seize to perceive depth beyond 50 meters, seeing 2D, a stage at which we no longer seems to store an experience.  This means that 3D perception is not necessary for all things in our life, 2D has an important role to play.  It turns out that we need 2D viewing as much as we need Stereo 3D.  There will be times when we want to relax and put our minds at ease, and there will be times when we need to be attentive and “learn”, knowing that what we actually “learn” can have major repercussions on our lives.

Note how we are willing to pay more for an apartment situated on a wide street than for on a narrow one, the real scientific reason is that when we open the curtains and look out the windows we feel more relaxed and at ease because objects are seen far away minimizing the need for a heightened state of awareness.  Normally, we go home to relax.  The same can be said about wanting to take a relaxing vacation, often associated with going to a beach resort where you can have ample time looking far into the horizon and minimize depth perception.

I do not foresee ever TV and Cinema being broadcasted in Stereo 3D all the time, if they did, then I can envision how viewers might begin to suffer from too much brain activity, “experience” overload, overwhelming heightened state of awareness, and might start turning away from the TV just to relax a bit; although less hours watching TV is a good thing for all humans, that’s not what the broadcasters want.  Watching a Stereo 3D film or show drains much more energy than watching it in 2D, the depth-induced alarm system commands you to be in a high-attentive state and keeps your brain on high-drive, which can be very tiring.

Depth perception, when used wisely, can open minds, bring the world together, reduce unnecessary, unwanted fears, and increase knowledge and learning retention, but if ill-used, it could reduce beneficial fears, and might result in potential psychological disorders and awkward behaviors.

In a TV talk show, the first few minutes of the first time you watch the talk show results in a depth perception experience that will render the show hosts and their guests more memorable, but unless the settings are constantly changed, the effectiveness of depth perception is minimized as time goes on because our brains have already stored the required visual experience and we start to tune in by listening, and while a slight state of added awareness remains, the 3D experience becomes minimal when compared to 2D.

A show on home improvement, if filmed properly, would actually work quite well in Stereo 3D, as depth perception will act to increase the state of awareness of the viewers and help them store an important experience every time, a strong positive as home improvement shows are intended to teach viewers how to do things.  Viewers are likely to walk away with 3 times the learning retention vs. if they were to watch the show in 2D.

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Stereo 3D has been used successfully to scare the wits out of people in horror movies, and although such movies retain a high entertainment value as you watch what looks like a horrifying “reality” that in “reality” is not supposed to affect you.  This use, I believe, begins to cloud reality and non-reality and can potentially damage our in-born built-in system of protection, subconsciously retain such unwanted experiences, and ultimately result in un-welcomed human behaviors and potentially negatively affecting mental health.  Although, I am not much a fan of horror films, with what I know about the effects of Stereo 3D, I’d rather see a 2 hour horror movie entertainment in 2D, walk away and forget all about it, than store a horror learning experience that could potentially stay with me for the rest of my life.

As it is, researchers have already found a correlation between aggressive human behavior and exposure to strong scenes of action 2D films, so can you imagine what could happen if such scenes are viewed in Stereo 3D, and become embedded as learned human experiences? It could be devastating!  Many of us could soon be like the Vietnam Vets who needed mental health treatment with many never recovering.  What is even more dangerous is to begin to learn that such realistic gruesome scenery will not harm us.  It is one thing to see a 2D scene then forget about it, and totally another to live through it and keep it forever.

It is obvious that not all people will go waco with irresponsible 3D use, however there is strong evidence that suggests many more people are likely to, with 3D vs. 2D. Not everyone that plays a shoot-it-all-out video game will go and commit a massacre at school, but we have to admit those numbers are growing.

People reach their strongest psychological fortification point at about age 40, with some learning from negative experiences and work hard to avoid having them, while others subconsciously begin to mimic them.

What I am suggesting is that from all that we know about how some 2D films or games can negatively affect some of the weaklings in our society, 3D is likely to affect many times more.  So I felt the responsibility to put out those warnings. My fears are, that once people begin to reap the financial benefits from the ill-use of 3D, no one will be able to stop them.

I am all for the use of Stereo 3D for tourism, training and education, advertising, sports entertainment, history, performing micro medical procedures, and all positive reinforcing experiences.  If done right, Stereo 3D technologies can revolutionize learning and do wonders for humanity.  But if ill-used it could also serve to further cause destruction and degrade humanity.

Stereo 3D is perhaps one of the most misunderstood mediums, it is not a gimmick as most think of it, it is a very highly effective medium, and just like any medium, it can be used responsibly for the better good or it can be used for evil purposes.  Unfortunately, I suspect it will be used for both, like everything else.

- Authored by Sam Ramadan

(C) Copyright 2009 by Mission3-D Publishing Ltd., All rights reserved.  This blog article, in part or in whole, may not be copied or reproduced without the Author’s prior written approval.  Only a 50 words max summary may be inserted within other posts, blogs, or articles as long as a link reference is included to this original blog article.

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