Selective Focus or… the Circle of Isolation in 3D (click for larger)

Depth OF Field: A stereoscopic 3D taboo?

Is Depth of Field (DoF) a no no in Stereoscopic 3D movie making? Pretty much yes. You would want to have infinite DoF in a 3D movie, so as not to cause undue duress to audiences eyes and minds as they struggle to “fuse” out-of-focus imagery. Yet, DoF and RackFocus are staple in the Cinematographers and Directors toolkit when making movies, and have been for the past few generations. They work extremely well to direct the audiences’ attention to part of the visual frame, or to lock attention to an important prop or character in a scene.

Why does it fail in 3D? The answer is rather simple…although we know 3d to be an illusion, our minds still can’t help wander in a 3D scene, savoring detail and aided with “spatial resolution” as it builds up this illusion. The one area it gets drawn to instantly is that out of focus area unfortunately! The eyes never really complain like other muscles in our body. You only get to know about the strain a few hours later in the form of a headache.

Although just an optical illusion, the ability of 3D movies to influence people has still not been completely studied. Why give an optical illusion such importance? Because it’s just a powerful phenomenon, that can even activate our physical reflexes. Yes even experienced stereographers with years of stereoscopic experience under their belts, will still flinch a bit when the “gimmick” bit in a 3D movie comes at them unexpectedly!

Directors want Depth of Field to tell a story:

How can we solve this dilemma? As it turns out, there maybe a way after all to give back this much coveted tool to the Cinematographer. We call it the Circle of Isolation. DPs also call it selective focus.

The trick may be to …

Read the rest in the Book, “THINK in 3D” via Amazon: Paperback & e-book (also on iPad via free kindle app)