Whoa, who knew? Watching 3D movies on PS VR

by: Eric -
More On: PlayStation VR

I’m not a 3D hater. I’m a hater of bad 3D.

When done poorly, 3D can be a nightmare scenario. If the images are even slightly off, the effect can be jarring and nauseating. But done well, 3D can add a lot to a film. In particular, I enjoy 3D in animated films. Being a dad, I am forced to sit through a lot of poor animated films, but I do still enjoy seeing the sense of perspective and scope that 3D can lend to an otherwise pedestrian film. And when employed well in a good film, the effect can be simply magical (Looking at you, Zootopia!).

When I recently discovered that Sony patched in the ability to watch 3D Blu-rays on PlayStation VR last year, I was both shocked that I missed the news, and interested in giving it a shot. Every PS VR game is presented in 3D, and while some of them are of the “flickering and vomit-inducing” variety, many of them are simply amazing. I was interested to see how the feature worked on films that had been carefully calibrated for 3D display. The end result is a mixed bag, but in the end, I’m glad that Sony did it.

After some investigation, I discovered that I have seven Blu-rays with 3D capability, the results of letting my Disney Blu-ray club membership go on for far too long. So last night while my wife was out, I settled in and watched:

  • The “Judy chases a weasel like Godzilla through tiny rodent town” scene from Zootopia
  • The “Hulk-Buster vs. Hulk” fight from The Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • The opening dance/credits sequence from Guardians of the Galaxy
  • The airport fight scene from Captain America: Civil War (of course!)
  • The end “I’m shrinking!” sequence from Ant Man
  • One of those “everything is sideways and upside-down” fights from Doctor Strange

I am pleased to report that the 3D feature works very well.  There are some obvious drawbacks to watching a film through the PS VR, not the least if which is the fact that it feels weird to sit in a room with a thing on your head, giggling to yourself for a couple of hours. It reminds me of that episode of Star Trek - The Next Generation with Ashley Judd, where the crew all gets seduced by “The Game” so all they want to do is hang out in their quarters and stare at this device strapped to their head. But of course, the biggest issue is the resolution.

PS VR is not exactly known for its clear and crisp images. The “screen door” effect is alive and well in the PS VR, and that doesn’t change much when watching a Blu-ray. One can change the size of the precepted “screen” in PS VR, and I initially thought that I would watch the films with the screen set on “huge” mode. At the movies, my usual opinion is “the bigger the better”. However, on PS VR, I quickly decided that the huge screen was too big, as I did not want to have to move my head to follow the image in different corners of the screen. I also felt like the 3D was somehow less effective in that mode and without the level of detail one would get on a decent modern TV, the size only exaggerated the resolution issues. Once I shrunk the image down to “medium” in the settings, the 3D effect became much crisper and things snapped into place for me.

When all is said and done, watching movies in PS VR is like watching them on a very large, very high end SDTV, but in very well-done 3D. Not optimal, but totally watchable. After a minute or two, you forget the resolution as the film itself sucks you in. 15 years ago, this tech would have been unbelievable, science fiction stuff. As it stands, it is a nice feature on what I consider to be a pretty excellent and affordable piece of home tech.

I guess the real deciding question is, will I start buying Blu-rays in 3D just to take advantage of this feature? Five extra bucks to watch The Last Jedi in 3D, with the world blotted out and my kids unable to distract me? Yes. Yes, I will. Abso-freakin-lutely.

comments powered by Disqus