How to avoid James Cameron’s 3D Avatar headache

Well Avatar is a hit with just about everyone you ask raving about how good the movie is and how it is going to change how we watch them. The only problem is that there is a nasty side-effect to these 3D type movies.

Some people get really nasty headaches when they watch Avatar. Not just minor ones but the real down and dirty nasty types of headaches.

Mark Anderson at the ShadowLocked blog has a great explanation of why it happens for those that are curious but more important he also has a suggestion that will help alleviate or do away with the headaches that can come from watching 3D movies like Avatar. It all has to do with avoiding what is referred to as the “circle of confusion” which is the ‘Don’t Look At This’ part in the image at the top of this post.

Checking out the ‘circle of confusion’ in Avatar is literally quite a headache, and counterintuitive to our enjoyment of the ‘baked and locked’ 3D planes that we are being presented with. Knowing that depth-of-field is all he has to play with if he’s not going to shoot rocks directly at us, Cameron doesn’t hold back – he relentlessly racks focus in scene after scene.

So the trick to avoiding a headache when watching this movie is to be obedient, and concentrate on the parts of the shot that the focus tells you are ‘important’. Once I understood this at the preview screenings last week, my headache began to clear up, but I was conscious too of the effort of having to ‘zip over’ to the next point of rapid-focus in order to keep up and preserve the 3D illusion.

image courtesy of

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