Saturday, January 2, 2010

[movies] Avatar and 3d glasses

Avatar was a good opportunity to compare different 3d technologies in movie theaters. I have seen it twice, once with shutter glasses, and a second time with the Dolby technology, that is the Infitec color filters. I did not see the movie through polarized glasses, but I used some in the past.

The first time I saw the movie was through shutter glasses. I was a bit disappointed at first since I was eager to try the Infitec approach. In addition, it felt a bit old-school since in 1999 I had shutter glasses at home! (the cheap but effective Elsa Revelator, much less expensive than the ones currently on shelves). Nevertheless the experience was extremely good, with very impressive depth and comfortable images. Key drawbacks where not-so-clean glasses (but I had brought glass-cleaners) and significant loss of brightness.

The second time I saw the movie, in a different theater, was through the Infitec (Dolby) color interference filters. The main advantages are the lightweight cheap glasses (still sold for 1 euro in this theater...), the fact that you can tilt your head (compared to polarized glasses) and the much less significant loss of brightness (compared to shutter glasses).
However, when the first images came I immediately felt very uncomfortable with the 3d perception. Something was slightly wrong, especially in the interior scenes. After several experiments (good thing I had seen the movie before!) I noticed that many specular reflections - especially colored ones - where strongly reduced on one eye while still present on the other. This creates an odd feeling, quite tiring for the eyes. I am told by a friend that you can experience a similar effect if you look outside putting a polarized glass in front of only one eye, since the polarized glass filters out reflections . (Nothing to do with watching a 3d movie with polarized glasses - just another use for polarized glass).

In the end, while the Infitec glasses do work well - much better than early 3D glasses - personally I would recommend seeing the movie through shutter glasses. It was much more comfortable for a movie of this length.

And, by the way, the movie is great, but there is no James Cameron's movie I did not enjoy ;-)

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