Great big gods, teeny tiny temples!
November 12, 2011 6:02 PM   Subscribe

Why did all the supposed-to-be-massive sets in Immortals 3D look tiny? Did it have something to do with the fact that it's a 3D conversion? It was like the whole thing was shot in tilt-shift.

I saw Immortals 3D with the husband last night -- terrible movie by the way, but pretty -- and one thing that struck me was that all the enormous buildings just somehow looked minuscule. Like the Sybelline temple somehow appeared to be about the size of a Rubik's cube, with teeny tiny little Greeks walking around it. It was very much like the effect given by tilt-shift photography.

I know this was a 3D conversion, but I've never actually seen a movie in 3D before so I have nothing to compare it to. I also have exceptionally good vision (20/15); would that have anything to do with it? Or was it just done really badly?
posted by KathrynT to Media & Arts (4 answers total)
I haven't seen the film but I have seen 3D conversions where the buildings didn't look teeny--so it's not an inherent property of 3D conversion. On the other hand, with 3D conversion, a tilt-shift effect would be easy as pie to pull off.
posted by yoink at 6:23 PM on November 12, 2011

I have not seen it yet, so I'm speculating a lot.

Your depth perception is less pronounced when things are further away. When you look at the moon, it's indistinguishable from a flat disc, even though it is spherical, right? And even though different stars could be hundreds of light years apart, they all look like the same distance, right?

So my theory is there may have been some shots that had very subtle depth because the camera was far away from the subject, but someone with some clout said, "I can barely see the 3rd D in this movie! Add moar depth!" But the exaggerated depth will make it seem to you like it was small and close instead of big and far away.
posted by RobotHero at 6:30 PM on November 12, 2011

That's a common problem with 3D movies - I've seen it referred to as the "dollhouse effect" or "puppet theater effect."

It's described in this article at Slate: "The "dollhouse effect"—also known as the "puppet theater effect"—is well-known among stereographers, especially those who make live-action (as opposed to animated) 3-D. It describes the uncanny distortion that sometimes turns up in 3-D medium or long shots. The objects in a scene suddenly become a bit too real for their own good; you see an entire house in perfect depth, floating in the air in front of you, and your brain rebels—a real house would be much bigger than that! So you reach some kind of neural compromise: It's not a real house but a scale model, sitting on a tiny street decorated with matchstick trees and little action figures walking to and fro."
posted by Awkward Philip at 11:39 PM on November 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

(disclaimer: haven't seen the movie, but I create real time interactive 3d)

Stereo vision (mostly) relies on the parallax between what each eye sees. An object that is close to you allows each eye to see very different views of the object. Something that's far away looks exactly the same to both eyes.

Using a process to create stereoscopy allows the producer to choose how much to push the 3d effect. In film, the cameras may be separated by a few feet to give a strong stereo effect for long shots. Similarly, CGI can force depth.

Your brain knows how far apart your eyes are, however. If you're seeing different views of an object in each eye, your brain knows that means the object is danger close. So it must be small, or smaller than it seems if it looks like a building.

Perceptual cues like this are fun to play with. But ignoring them or being unaware of the consequences makes for stupendous unintended consequences. I'd bet that in the film you saw the top of food chainperson said, "moar 3d!!! Everywhere!!1!"
posted by lothar at 9:55 AM on November 13, 2011

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