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3D FLIC: Exploring 3D film without nausea and headaches

3D FLIC: Exploring 3D film without nausea and headaches

Lovebirds, a mix of animation and live action from by Toronto company Starz Animation, is the showcase production of the Toronto-based 3D Film Innovation Consortium (3D FLIC), a York University initiative that has brought academic researchers and filmmakers together to explore the burgeoning world of 3D filmmaking to achieve better results, wrote Liam Lacey in The Globe and Mail March 25:

The movie, which unites new research into visual perception with the practical aspects of 3D filmmaking, is part of an attempt to boost the local film economy and improve the 3D viewing experience – with less nausea, eye strain and headaches.

The computer-generated animation portions were created by Starz (which did the 3D animation for the Disney feature Gnomeo and Juliet). The live-action set was shot by York University professor Ali Kazimi using a LiDAR device (light detection and ranging, or laser radar) to create a 3D map of the set. The information was integrated into the software with the animated images to ensure accurate placement of the birds against the backdrop and to study depth perception.

Kazimi, whose background is in documentary filmmaking, is cautious about the kind of sweeping generalizations being thrown around about 3D film language, but he believes it heralds fundamental changes in film storytelling, especially in slowing down the pace of films. "There's a lot more visual information for the viewer to absorb and you need to provide the time," he says.

His York colleague, psychologist Laurie Wilcox, is studying how people see 3D, including issues of ghosting, image disparity and motion that can make the experience unsatisfying. Simple things such as screen size and even where you sit in the theatre make a big difference. By sitting at the middle, or toward the back, the viewer can enjoy the most comfortable experience. Seats on the aisles, she suggests, "should probably be discounted."

Complicating 3D experience is the issue of "vection" or the illusion of self- motion which can occur while watching 3D. For some, it may create motion sickness.

Lovebirds will get its world premiere at the Toronto International Stereoscopic 3D Conference, June 11-14 at the Toronto International Film Festival Bell Lightbox.

The 3D FLIC project is led by Professor Nell Tenhaaf; the $1.4 million interdisciplinary project includes filmmakers, vision scientists, psychologists and industry partners.

Posted by Elizabeth Monier-Williams, research communications officer, with files courtesy of YFile– York University’s daily e-bulletin.