Why 3D Can Be a Headache

With 3D releases becoming more and more common those suffering from nausea or headaches will be looking for an answer to the problems which take all the fun out of the 3D experience. Luckily there may be solutions.

The nausea felt by some can simply be explained as motion sickness. The immersive images tell your body it is moving while your body actually remains still; this makes the brain all confused, and when the brain gets confused we get nausea. This can be cured the same way as any other motion sickness; wrist bands, pills, or whatever works for you.

Headaches are all to do with the eyes. The first problem which cannot be helped by the viewer and is related to the fact that whatever you are looking at, no matter how “close” is it to you in the 3D film, all objects are the same distance away from you on the screen. When an object flies from far away to right in front of your face your eyes expect to have to adjust to keep it in focus, with 3D they don’t have to. Your eyes are not having to work to keep an object in focus but are constantly expecting to have to, this conflict can lead to a headache, and there’s not much you can do about it.

A second cause comes from the fact that not everything is in focus. Any shot in a film is composed of various objects and planes, some in focus and some not, and in a 3D environment the brain expects to be able to focus on anything it wants; in a 3D film these two facts come into conflict. If your eye wanders from the particular part of the frame in focus and attempts to fix on something out of focus it will have real trouble. Headaches can arise from the eye trying to focus on the unfocusable, as not everything is constantly in focus a wandering eye will run into difficulties. The simple solution here is to only look at what you’re supposed to look at, easier said than done if the frame is filled with stunning, out of focus images.

So if you do suffer with 3D movies take whatever precautions you’d take on a long car journey and only look at the part of the screen that is in focus. If you still get headaches then perhaps 3D isn’t for you just yet, and if you can watch 3D without any problems then… good!

The problems of headaches are discussed at Rabbit+Crow and shadowlocked.