Wide-eyed Wonder: an artist's musings on three-dimensional vision

Some are color blind. I am stereo blind.

Archive for the ‘3D movies and gaming’ Category

Relax. Let go. Give your brain permission.

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I’ve been following this VT patient’s progress reports with interest. Today’s post “Stop trying so hard and just SEE” mentions a common hurdle to diverging our eyes, the ability to RELAX those rogue eye turn-in muscles! “Stop LOOKING” my VT would often say. LOOKING to isolate something normally fixates both eyes on an object, or in my case, unconsciously fixates one eye while turning in and suppressing the out-of-alignment image of the other. “Soften your gaze” was another frequent VT exhortation.

1218randotLast week, random dots did the trick of NOT LOOKING for this VT patient, and I think I understand why. The randomness of the thing viewed eliminates the worry about getting a “right” answer, and therefore is less stressful than “Is the elephant or the fly popping out for you?” which can trigger frantic LOOKING.

Randomness is the opposite of representation, therefore the brain lets go of the need to comprehend and interpret an object. As an artist who strives to accurately represent objects, a good dose of randomness may be exactly what my brain needs to stop trying so hard.

This is why, for me, letting go also requires giving myself permission to allow a new way of seeing to emerge, to be visually open-minded.

I’m rejoicing that random dot stereograms are working for this patient to overcome her eye turn-in along with the many awesome mind-opening exercises her Vision Therapist is tailoring to wake up her brain.

By letting go and giving herself permission to see a new way, her world is opening up into the third dimension I long to experience.

 

Stereo Vision Survey

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Exciting news! Bruce Bridgeman, the gentleman who gained stereo vision after watching Hugo, has teamed up with Sue Barry of Fixing My Gaze to create a long crowd-sourced research project in search of those who have experienced increased stereo vision after watching 3D movies.

Although my stereo experiences are limited and have not yet been scientifically verified, there seems to be room for even me to take this survey, as there is a comment section at the end of three different sections where I can plug in additional information. (In my case, how BRAO has affected my vision.)

I encourage all strabismic adults to at least read the survey, which is instructive in itself. If you have had a stereoscopic experience after watching a 3D movie, share your experience in the survey.

The survey also takes into account if you have had any vision therapy or had your stereo-awareness measured by a professional.

The VisionHelp Blog

If either you, a family member, or any patients you encounter have developed stereo vision as an adult – even intermittent or weak stereo vision – please complete this survey developed by Sue Barry and Bruce Bridgeman:

http://bit.ly/1vThYaM

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The survey and its background were just published on page 13 of the new journal, Vision Development & Rehabilitation.  Through crowdsourcing of this nature, Drs. Barry and Bridgeman may be able to provide evidence to support that the viewing of stereoscopic 3D movies and similar modalities can be therapeutic for certain individuals.  We blogged about that possibility here last year, and this survey is an important step in that direction.

Completing the survey is entirely voluntary. You do not need to answer every question before submitting it. Your answers are sent to a spreadsheet which simply tabulates your answers with no other identifying information.  Thank you in advance!

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Life of 3.1415926535 8979323846 2643383279 etc.

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… that would be Pi

I’d read so much about the artistic use of 3D technology in Ang Lee’s film Life of Pi, I decided it was worth a strabismic test. If I did not see palpable space, with things jumping off the screen towards me, at least I would see art: imagery that would move me and delight my eyes and heart.

I learned something even before seeing the movie: I’m probably the last person on the planet to arrive at a 3D movie only to discover the theater is playing a 2D version! I’d read so much about the artful use of 3D by Ang Lee, that I completely ruled out anyone wanting to see the movie any other way. And so our first trip to the nearest theater in the next town was self-defeating. We went grocery shopping instead.

But, almost two weeks later, Pi resurfaced (with the necessary “3D” listed in the title) in the next town over. (I had given up on Pi and was looking for the Hobbit. But Middle Earth can wait.)

It was good timing for taking in a matinee today, as I had exactly one week to adjust to my new bi-focal lenses with base-right prism (but that’s another story.)

As the film began, the hummingbirds in flight brought an audible thrill to the folks to my left. Ah, but they were too quick for me! And then a short conversation began between my husband and I: “Did you see that? says he. “No” says I. After a few more similar exchanges I said “If I see something, I’ll squeeze your hand.” I believe he got one hesitant squeeze as the monkeys rushed through the trees.

Then I forgot all about how I was seeing as I became immersed in the story.

It was a delightful story with visible layers of foreground, middle-ground and background all moving on their own planes, however if only within the screen for me. More delightful were the even more layers of meaning. Naturally it is easier to take the layers of meaning with me, and enjoy them in my mind long after the visual effects fade away. Ang Lee was masterful in using the concrete layers of the story to enhance the abstract and philosophical.

I had popped sinus medication and ginger pills before the trip, and the seas did get rough! But my stomach did not once drop out from under me. (Suppression has it’s advantages.) I also did not turn green around the gills when the seas turned calm with endless random bobbing. No ginger pills needed, unlike the many times I’ve been becalmed on Lake Erie in my father’s sailboat!

But the “float” stayed with me after the movie.

When everything is floating for two and a half hours, my guess is it does open one’s brain to recognize “float” in the real world.
Dr. Susan Barry describes her experience with “float”, saying “Knowing that objects are separated by volumes of space and perceiving those empty volumes are very different experiences. ”

My first thing to pop out toward me was not the whale in the movie, but my coat, hanging in front of me on a hook in the bathroom stall. It billowed towards me. (My first “sighting” since getting the new lenses.) The bathroom sink faucet took on the familiar forward projection, and doorways and all things moving in my periphery as I walked through the lobby swam in kinetic motion-parallax. A trip to Lowe’s afterwards revealed noticeable depth in the layers of paint chip racks. Empty racks of all sorts reached out toward me, and a small stand of Ohio State banners swam towards me as I walked by, like a school of fish.

I’m floating still.

Links to layers of meaning
Life of Pi: A Novel by Yann Martel By Phoebe Kate Foster http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/life-of-pi/

‘Life of Pi’ Ending Explained by Ben Kendrick http://screenrant.com/life-of-pi-movie-ending-spoilers/

Links to layers of 3D
Life Of Pi’s Visual Effects Are Extraordinary. Here’s Why by Brendon Connelly
http://www.bleedingcool.com/2012/12/19/life-of-pis-cg-secrets-fx-supervisor-bill-westenhofer-on-tigers-magical-skies-and-more/

How did they bring the ‘unfilmable’ Life of Pi to our screens? by Nick Clark
http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/how-did-they-bring-the-unfilmable-life-of-pi-to-our-screens-8393738.html

Ang Lee On The Filmmaking Journey Of “Life of Pi” By: Scott Pierce
http://www.fastcocreate.com/1682021/ang-lee-on-the-filmmaking-journey-of-life-of-pi

How 3D in film is improving, especially for the stereoblind

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Several months ago, I was encouraged by the BBC story  of a stereoblind man who gained binocular vision simply by watching a 3D movie.

In February 2012, neuroscientist Bruce Bridgeman went with his wife to see Hugo,  a masterfully crafted 3D movie by Martin Scorese. Bridgmen recounts in an email to Oliver Sacks  “my wife and I paid a surcharge for 3D glasses, which I thought were a waste of money for me – having been exotropic since childhood, I was nearly stereo-blind. But I took the polarizing glasses to avoid seeing annoying fringes in the film.

To my great surprise, I immediately experienced the film in vivid stereo. I was enthralled.

“But perhaps the filmmakers exaggerated the stereo disparities in the film to enhance the value of the 3D technology … Hugo’s VFX supervisor Ben Grossmann said ‘We checked and checked: We were four to six times bigger than any other 3D movie.’ But everything looked amazing …

Image

“When the movie ended we turned in our polarized glasses and walked out into the street. I was astonished to see a lamppost standing out from the background. Trees, cars, even people were in relief more vivid than I had ever experienced. Clearly the disparities weren’t amped up on the street. Did a few hours of enhanced disparity wake up long-neglected binocular neurons in my visual cortex?”

The blogger who posted Bruce Bridgeman’s email is non other than Barry B. Sandrew, Ph.D., stereographer and founder of Legend3D, which worked with Scorese on Hugo and Director Ang Lee on Life of Pi.  Like Scorese and Lee, Sandrew is more interested in how 3D technology can enhance a story to make it more life-like, instead of pushing bizarre 3D experiences on an audience. Thankfully, the trend has shifted towards creating depth scripts to enhance drama: “The actors become like a moving sculpture,” Mr. Scorsese says. “This brings it out, particularly in the faces of the actors, the drama.” 1

I am of the opinion that well-crafted, life-experience-enhancing 3D movies will provide the most powerful “handle” for my stereoblind brain to understand stereopsis. Morgan Peck, the BBC blogger, adds that breakthrough comes, according to Dr. Laurie Wilcox of York University “when the person finally figures out what to look for.”

Peck backs the idea of stereo cognition via monocular depth cues  with the experimental research of Dr. Dennis Levi, where in 2011 five stereoblind adults learned to see 3D.  “Levi found that his subjects were most likely to have a breakthrough if the stereoscopic images were reinforced by monocular cues like relative size and shading. This could explain why Bridgeman’s experience was so dramatic.” 2

Peck adds final affirmation from Dr. Sandrew “It’s intuitive that monocular cues, which partially stereoblind people rely on every day are essential to the quality of their 3D experience. My mantra is to incorporate monocular cues wherever possible.”

I just checked: I can still catch Life of Pi in my area. There’s still time to see Sandrew’s mantra in action. I’m onto it!

Further reading:
A Visionary Director’s Sumptuous ‘Pi’ by Joe Morgenstern Wall Street Journal
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323713104578132912697702772.html

“Life of Pi” Director Ang Lee to Receive Harold Lloyd Award at International 3D Society Creative Arts Awards, February 6, 2013
http://online.wsj.com/article/PR-CO-20121203-902307.html?mod=crnews

The Godfathers of Film Take On 3-D* (include Scorese’s thoughts on the application of 3D in Hugo)
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903918104576502090225620336.html

 

Written by Lynda Rimke

January 10, 2013 at 12:15 am

Less than half full

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I lost the moon the other day. When I bent to see it out the passenger car window, the car roof blocked my left eye, but not my right. The moon hid itself in the blind half of my right eye. It was quite a surprise! Thankfully, I don’t normally see things disappear in this way.

It’s been over 3 months since my vision loss from the branch retinal artery occlusion (BRAO) and I am pretty resigned to not regaining my central vision. The blindness in the upper half is a bit more than half, making reading impossible with the affected eye, and eye-teaming by pointing both eyes at the same thing at the same time next to impossible. My tests with the Brock string reveal a partial string in front of the bead that my right eye cannot see without a conscious effort to look above the bead (photo illustration here).

My decision to pursue more vision therapy to gain stereopsis is pretty much settled: if I could read with the right eye and see the Brock bead easily, I would go for it. But alas, I cannot. When it comes to seeing 3D, my glass is less than half full.

I do have one friend who has urged me not to fully resign myself to permanent loss until six months have passed. He also had BRAO and regained more vision in months 4-6. However, the retinologist said the ischemic tissue would resolve in about 3 months, so I’m mostly resigned at this point.

And so I have begun to grieve a bit. When watching the best documentary of Dr. Susan Barry’s (aka “Stereo Sue”) story yet (Imagine: The Man Who Forgot How to Read and Other Stories, Part 3 beginning at minute 11) I felt that I would never be able to see the front end of a Toyota (minute 14:14) with anything close to her jubilation over it’s roundness … I got misty-eyed when the film ended with Oliver Sacks sadness over his stereo loss (Sue’s gain is compaired to Dr. Sack’s loss in part 4). That night the family cat breathed her last, and the next morning the torrents flowed over the dual losses. My husband was relieved to see me cry, finally.

My self-portrait is another step in the grief process. Today, I took advantage of the cracked side of the mirror and left the top of my head in a vignette to illustrate not so much what I see, but how my impairment can feel at times. I’ve felt the need to do this portrait before pursuing my art again. (I still can’t make a nose pop out like it should!)

The good news is that my brain has smoothly pieced together a complete visual field. I actually do see a near-complete picture without wrinkles or cracks, but sadly, this is because my right eye is almost fully suppressed. I am a master suppressor, having suppressed my left eye for no real reason all my life right up to March 26th. I was beginning to overcome this rogue suppression when the BRAO hit. Now, ironically, suppression is helpful.

I only see my blind veil when the left eye is occluded by the bridge of my nose, most often when I turn to look behind my right shoulder to back up the car. At those times, I rely on my recently learned ability to look above what I need to see. Nothing is clear, but movement and large objects can be detected out of the corner of my right eye. Needless to say, I avoid backing up the car as much as possible, and do so very slowly when I absolutely have no choice.

I frightened myself passing a box truck last week. I felt way too close to the truck when I quickly got back into my lane after realizing the oncoming pickup truck was much closer than I had first determined. I felt it was a close call, and I’m sure the other drivers thought I was out of my head!

When not encumbered by driving, my summer hours in the outdoors have been delightful. I attribute this to a ramped-up sense of motion parallax. This week, picking blueberries and pruning are challenging my brain and eyes to orient myself in space. These are visually demanding situations where “where” is more important than “what.” When I make a move, the branches of bushes and trees diverge and converge just like a 2D video game. What fun! I also routinely search for and destroy the random leaves of returning poison ivy with carefully aimed squirts of herbicide, first-person shooter style.

Inside the Northern  Laurel Oak

I really sensed space inside my magnificent Laurel Oak, but alas, a photo doesn't capture volumes of air.

Occasionally, I thrill over my sense of what Susan Barry calls “palpable space” as well as the heightened textures of grass, weeds, and even asphalt. This is probably because I am seeing the world through my “other” eye and the viewpoint and perspective are new. While hanging laundry, I truly sense the space between the moving clothes-lines and pins. Sometimes, I am enchanted by the hollow spaces inside trees, and the “float” of the lily pads on my pond. I can see “under” the wire mesh deck table when I bob up and down in my deck chair in the evening cool. I see the space inside my coffee cup (this I consider to be true stereo). It is all a delight to my inner child.

So much of the world in my new, 5-acre homestead (photos here) is a rediscovery of childhood delights: stars at night and glorious moonshadow; weeds I haven’t seen since childhood blooming in delicate flower at the edges of the pond. We even have bats at sunset, that swoop over the pond in amazing aerobatics as they scoop up their insect meals: another childhood memory from my Nana’s summer cottage in New Jersey. When a cold front comes through, the clouds dance over the house and fields …

I can still be amazed at everything I see. I still SEE, and so my half-empty stereo-vision cup overflows.

Arr— Avast with the “weird eye” Matey!

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Johnny Depp as buccanneer Jack Sparrow

Johnny Depp, starring actor in the latest 3D release of Pirates of the Carribbean, cannot see the special effects in the movie:

“.. Johnny Depp’s vision isn’t exactly shipshape, ‘I’m unable to see in 3-D. I can’t — my eyes don’t see in 3-D. I have a weird eye,’ Depp told Access Hollywood. ” [1]

“Weird eye” … “Lazy Eye”… How many adults have simply been conditioned to create our own miserable self-diagnosis due to gross lack of correct information and a wee touch of pride?

These terms belittle the problem and remove it from medical discussion. The correct term is “stereoblindness” due to any number of medical conditions that hinder binocular vision, like amblyopia and strabismus.

Depp explained further “It may come as a surprise to you, but I’ve never seen things normally—” (elicits a laugh) “— as normal people … because one of my eyes, you know, doesn’t see (waves left hand beside his face) very much.” View the interview here.

Depp’s “weird” eye is not deviating enough to reveal mis-aligned catchlights in any of his published photos. A catchlight falling on different parts of the iris of each eye is the most reliable visual indication of eye mis-alignment or strabismus.

My own photos, like Depp’s, do not reveal misalignment; and I did not think of myself as cross-eyed or strabismic until I was diagnosed in 2010. I was as reluctant as Depp to explain why. It was easier to keep it under the radar, even to myself.

My guess is Depp is either alternating and his misalignment is slight, like Keira Knightly, or his left eye has amblyopia. However, if he was patched like a pirate for amblyopia as a child, he didn’t mention it …

Thankfully, the 3D movies and other 3D media are exposing and increasing awareness of the many types of stereoblindness adults and children have experienced all their lives.

Hopefully Mr. Depp, who is known for his generosity, will be generous enough to himself one day to investigate exactly why his eye is “weird” and what he can do about it.

Perhaps he should start with purchasing the story of Sue Barry, who brilliantly describes her own 3D awakening in her fourties in her book, Fixing My Gaze. Sue was recently featured in Oliver Sack’s documentary, Imagine: The Man Who Forgot How to Read and Other Stories (3/4 starting at 11 min 30 sec), happily interacting with the very 3D in Depp’s film that he cannot see!

Then, he could visit an optometrist trained in developmental vision therapy for an eye exam to find out why his eye is “wierd..” Many adults are regaining vision in a “lazy” eye (amblyopia) through vision therapy, like my blogging friend “Strabbie”, who had measurable improvement after only 12 weeks:

So I’ve been chugging along with my vision therapy, and at my 12-week appointment, I had an eye evaluation by my optometrist. I am delighted to share that the subjective feeling I have, that my left eye is open and working, has been measured, and my left amblyopic eye which could see 20/30 corrected now sees 20/20 (+ or -) which means my left eye sees TWO LINES BETTER on the eye chart now! [2]

Kudos to Dr. Nathan Bonilla-Warford for posting here and on Facebook.

Pirate speak, courtesy of http://www.yarr.org.uk/talk/

To find out if this child is dressed for Halloween, or is patched for amblyopia, click here.

Written by Lynda Rimke

May 19, 2011 at 8:10 pm

3D gaming and esophoria risks

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In a Wall St. Journal article last Friday, it was reported that a professor in the Department of Ophthalmology, Osaka University Medical School, Japan will be studying whether children with esophoria, the tendency for the eyes to turn inward, will become at risk of more turn-in with prolonged 3D gaming.

Takashi Fujikado, a visual-science professor at Osaka University’s Graduate School of Medicine, is starting research on whether children afflicted with esophoria, who are constantly making extra effort to prevent their eyes from becoming cross-eyed, may find it difficult to return the eyes to normal position after watching 3-D images for a long period of time.

When a 3-D image pops out from a screen, it draws the eyes inward to focus on an object that appears closer. This may affect children six years old and younger because their eyes, still under development, are more sensitive to such stimuli, he said.

Children with such a condition are rare but it is difficult to determine how many there are, Mr. Fujikado said, because esophoria doesn’t necessarily have symptoms.[1]

I have a hunch that what Dr. Fujikado is looking for is whether the esophoria may develop into an esotropia, where an eye constantly or alternately turns inward. Alternating esotropia is the strabismus I mysteriously developed as a child, unknown to my parents and undetectable in photographs.

Visitors try Nintendo's 3DS players at Nintendo World 2011. —Bloomberg News

Esophoria is not a form of strabismus. It is “A muscle condition in which, when both eyes are open, each eye points accurately at the target. However, upon covering one eye the covered eye turns inwards. Also known as over-convergence.”[2]

Esophoria can be picked up during an eye exam with a cross-cover test that breaks fusion. Watch the differences between exotropia and exophoria here. With esotropia and esophoria, the deviating eye would snap back into alignment from the nose, not the ear. (Note the extreme solution of surgery is for tropias of a certain kind that cannot be corrected with vision therapy or orthoptics.)

Unlike esotropia, fusion is possible (with esophoria) and therefore diplopia (or seeing double) is uncommon.[3]

Donald J. Getz, OD, FCOVD, FAAO explains another sign of esophoria [4]

“… a child with esophoria sees things smaller than what they actually are. In order to see an object properly, it is necessary to make the object larger. The only means at the disposal of the child to make it larger is to bring it closer. Eventually, the child is observed with his head buried in a book… ”

Photograph: Frank Baron