Between slipping B.O. returns Stateside and sluggish TV set sales, 3D has taken its share of knocks this year. But some potential auds have also steered clear of the format because of the impression that 3D isn’t safe for viewing, especially by kids.
Now the industry has teamed with the American Optometric Assn. to help curb misinformation about the stereoscopic format.
The AOA, in conjunction with the Consumer Electronics Assn. and the 3D@Home Consortium, will publish a report this month titled “3D in the Classroom: See Well, Learn Well.” Its focus: promoting the effectiveness of 3D in teaching classroom concepts. It also makes a case for the value of 3D eye exams vs. traditional exams. The report, endorsed by James Cameron and Jeffrey Katzenberg, two of the biz’s outspoken 3D advocates, will be available on the AOA’s website.
While professionals like Technicolor’s 3D guru Pete Routhier note that poorly made 3D can cause eye strain, headaches or nausea, the AOA report notes that discomfort caused by stereoscopy is not innate to the format. In fact, pain associated with 3D can often be an indicator of a problem with the health of the viewer’s eyes.
Dr. Michael Duenas, associate director of health sciences and policy at the AOA, said the group is even starting to look at clinical use of 3D as a public health prevention tool. Duenas said 3D eye exams can diagnose issues like lazy eye at an early stage and measure eye convergence and eye tracking to treat issues before they become serious problems.
AOA began speaking out after Nintendo attached a warning on its new 3DS stating that the effect should not be used for children younger than 6. In a statement, the AOA disputed that assertion, saying, “Since vision develops from birth, it is crucial to uncover the type of vision disorders that may interfere with Nintendo 3D viewing at an early age. Accordingly, children younger than 6 can use the 3DS in 3D mode if their visual system is developing normally.”Labels on most 3DTV sets also warn against prolonged viewing, despite the fact that there is no medical evidence that substantiates these warnings.
Jim Chabin, CEO and prexy of trade org the Int’l 3D Society, said such alerts can create false impressions.
“I was in a meeting when someone read the story of the Samsung (warning) label and people were truly mystified that they had done it,” Int’l 3D Society CEO and prexy Jim Chabin wrote in an email to Variety. “People thought it was either an idea from some overzealous corporate legal department or just a tactic to disrupt competitors in the press. It was odd.”
While the AOA report and other initiatives supporting the technology are backed by the 3D@Home Consortium, an industry coalition toplined by Intel, Samsung and Sony, among others, Duenas said the AOA is speaking out not in the interest of the entertainment industry but as advocates of public health and safety.
“We don’t want people to have a problem (viewing 3D) and say, ‘Well, it’s not my eyes. It’s the theater or it’s the screen,’?” said Duenas, “when in reality it could be their eyes.”