The very first time I watched 3D content on my 3D video camera, I got a funny feeling in my head within like 10 minutes. I thought it was because I wasn’t used to 3D video content. However my first time wasn’t the only time I experienced this. I thought that it must be the small 3D display of the 3D video camera that gave this feeling. But no, I was wrong! Apparently, I’m not the only one and the only thing that causes this is not the LCD displays of 3D camcorders!
According to a study published by the ‘Journal of Vision’ in July 2011, researchers from the University of California-Berkeley found that watching 3D video content can cause ‘extra’ eye strain, eye fatigue and lower clarity of vision compared to after watching 2D content! This study was partly funded by Samsung. A summary of results of this study was also published on CNN with the title “Study: 3D video causes eye strain, fatigue”
But ’3D’ videos shouldn’t be ‘unnatural’!
That’s correct! One could argue that everything humans saw prior to ‘printing’ was in fact 3D and we see 3D ‘content’ from the moment we wake up every single day. If that is so, why are 3D videos suddenly causing all the eye strain? Well the reason is probably because 3D technology is still very new and it cannot be compared to the natural 3D scenarios we encounter every minute.
The study included 24 participants who were asked to watch 2D and 3D content from various distances. After analyzing the answers they provided, the scientists think that there are basically two reasons why 3D viewers are experiencing these discomforts.
- One was the apparent disparity between the depth of the 3D image and the depth of the screen – in case of regular 2D television there is no ‘depth’; thus you essentially focus at the surface of the screen. In other words, the image and screen are on the same plane. But in case of 3D content (whether you recorded it with your own 3D video camera or Blu Ray 3D video that was commercially produced) the image jumps out of the screen (or is buried deep behind the screen). However the surface of the screen remains at the same distance. This is where the ‘disparity’ between the depth of 3D image and depth of the screen becomes an issue.
- The other was the depth of the image and the proximity of the viewer to the screen – this is kind of more obvious
Samsung, a major producer of 3D TVs, who also partly funded this study, later clarified that the purpose of this study was not to prove that 3D video content causes eye fatigue but to identify which aspects of 3D video/3D TV/3D camcorder technology could be improved so that the industry could address these issues and potentially rectify these shortcoming in the future.
Is the content recorded from your home 3D camcorder any different?
The answer is “probably not different” based on personal experience as well as comments made by actual users on various discussion forums. Because most users of these 3D video cameras are not professional videographers, they don’t always get the 3D settings right (when they have the option of manually changing them). On top of that, 3D camcorders are far from perfect, especially those that are labelled ‘consumer level 3D video cameras’. As a result of both these factors, the 3D video quality is far from what is professionally produced. Therefore it can be expected that the eye strain, fatigue and lack of clarity can be an even bigger issue with amateur 3D content produced at home!