There are few things in life that are as exhilarating as a 3D movie that requires so little commitment. All you have to do is pay for a ticket to feel like Megatron is reaching through the screen to sucker-punch you.
Unfortunately for you and the Decepticons, the price of a 3D movie is considerably more expensive than its two-dimensional peers and that’s without considering the elevated price of movie theater snacks.
Money doesn’t come easy and in the interest of getting you the most bang for your hard-earned buck, we are gonna take a look at the best seat in the house the next time you go to a 3D screening.
To put it in the simplest terms, you wanna sit in the “bulls-eye” of the theatre, in the very middle of the seats. This means that if you are looking at a blueprint of the theatre, you would want to cut it into fourths and choose the chair closest to the intersection of all four spots. To give you a better idea of why this is true, we are going to take a look at everything that goes into a three-dimensional experience, from the surround sound to the depth of frames that extend towards you.
The main difference is obviously the extra dimension. Kidding, the biggest difference you will notice in 3D films is that without the glasses, certain images will begin to appear a bit blurry. This is because the film is trying to portray multiple images at once which are picked up through the glasses.
Your glasses are each picking up a certain frame in the screen through the lenses, in a process known as polarization. Simply put, polarization allows certain images or light to be perceived in a unique way depending on the direction of polarity within the lens. So while one lens will perceive images horizontally, the other will perceive them vertically. This is what creates the 3D effect we see in films today.
Those of us who were around in the days of red and blue 3D glasses had to deal with the color of a film taking a hit to get the 3D image moving towards us, which was done by a movie being filmed by two simultaneous cameras.These glasses worked similarly (though far worse) by only allowing red hues while the other lens allowed blue hues. When these worked in tandem they created the depth that we now know as the third dimension.
The reason this is important is that depending on where you sit in the theatre, the projection can feel very minor up close, while otherwise feeling like a mile away at a distance. Equally important is the size of the screen, as smaller screens may require you to move up a few rows to ensure that the 3D effect comes through clearly.
Now a lot of this does come down to personal opinion. While the center does seem to be the prime area to sit, usually in most theatres that spot will be taken or likely reserved. So when you can’t get the prime middle seats, do you go towards the back or front? Well, that really depends on what you are after.
Sitting in the back has its positives, you get the full spectrum of the movie with a good amount of three-dimensional depth as well. The downside however is that you often can feel like the 3D is too far removed from the nosebleeds on top of the fact that some smaller screens will actually be hard to see from far out. This is especially worth considering when you have to account for an image that is already slightly blurry.
If you sit in the front you will be able to experience the action up close, even if you will need to purchase a neck brace after. Front seat people tend to favor the feeling of being right next to the magic, even if they don’t get the full picture from such a close-up spot. The cons of the front rows are that you will struggle to see everything in the full picture as well as the repercussions of having to crank your neck around for an hour and a half or more.
My bias is probably coming through in this as I’m a back-row person myself, but neither is objectively better than the other and you should start trying to push more into the middle regardless of which you favor. You could also be more prepared than the rest of the spontaneous masses and actually reserve that center row ahead of time so you don’t have to worry about this recurring issue.
The only variable to consider here is if your screen is larger or smaller than normal as this will play a role in how you take in the film. A towering screen should be met with seats a bit further back to better take in the movie. While on a smaller screen you may want to scooch up a few rows further to not feel so removed from the contents of your film. Don’t be afraid to be “that person” and try a seat or two out before moving, if you are gonna pay the elevated price for a 3D movie you deserve to enjoy it fully.
Typically speaking, any movie theatre you go to will have surround sound, especially when it comes to 3D films. If they don’t, you likely deserve a better moviegoing experience or at the very least cheaper tickets. Regardless, the layout of these speakers tends to again favor the center position of the theatre.
Beyond that, you will want to avoid sitting on the ends of your row, not only because of the possibility of distorted images but because several movies put out audio from different speakers. For instance, the movie Gravity makes use of surround sound by placing the audio in the speakers where the actor is moving towards (quite spectacularly), which can only be appreciated from a center seat. It’s also a problem if you are close to one speaker in particular, which may vastly change your moviegoing experience in a negative way.
This also matters vertically as well, considering most theatres will keep a couple of speakers towards the back to give off 360 degrees of sound or at least the perception of it. So while I do favor the back seats, be careful of sitting so far back that you are overpowered by the rear speakers.
If you want to sit on the bottommost corner of a theatre, I’m not here to tell you not to. The goal of this article is to offer the best visual and auditory experience one could muster from a 3D movie, and the bottom line is you are hardpressed to find a more enjoyable spot than plopped down directly in the center.
One final consideration might be your own sensory handicaps. For instance, I have a bit of hearing loss that makes me favor my right ear, so I likely benefit from a left-leaning seat a bit more than most. I also have good vision, so while I may enjoy the seats further to the back, someone more near-sighted might think I’m crazy, it’s a personal choice at the end of the day!