Sep 28, 2021Liked by John Birmingham

What an interesting question. Interesting enough to have a quick look, if not go so far as to replace making dinner or having a friend over to continue watching The Expanse this evening (in my view that's an excellent amalgam of kerbloohy and thinky. Not as thinky as foundation, but then what is). I look forward to others' answers.

These abstracts (both articles are paywalled) suggest that you're not imagining it.



(I'm mildly bemused to see one of them with an NIH logo. But only mildly).

I used terms such as: immersion, screen, size, movie, viewing, angle. Generally hits are about gaming (I picked the above two as being about movies, but on reflection it may not matter). Most hits about TV and movies are guides to set up your home theatre: but they do say something about your basic intuition about viewing angles, but within certain size ranges (say: for various TVs, rather than TVs vs devices), angle of viewing is the thing and one can go too big.

My completely uninformed WAG is that while viewing angle is important and primary between similarly-sized screens, physiological factors such as: depth perception, distance between eyes, visual acuity at different ranges DON'T scale - looking at a phone, your brain knows you're looking at a phone; but the bigger the screen in terms of orders for magnitude, the more it's like the real world.

But I have nothing whatsoever to back that up.

P.S. once upon a time, decades ago, I was a purchasing clerk in the Navy Office and one of my responsibilities was a project to put TVs into RAN (our waterborne one) ships. Buying the things, not the specs. This was of course before flatscreens. Suffice to say, the possibility of TVs being too big (on, say, an O-boat) wasn't something adequately considered.

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I am trying to imagine my last CRT box, a massive 100kg+ Sony Wega fitting onto a submarine. Trying and failing.

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The specs were for TVs that exactly fitted the available space, no more and no less.

But I suspect that "available space" in some cases omitted the need for room for the viewer to fit in front of the TV. Or not to have an 80 degree viewing angle.

Free associating now, another key memory from that time was a visit to the Naval Stores Depot in Zetland to see more of the great chain of being of which we were a part (more relevant, but much less interesting, than a firepower demo).

One of the storemen (remember the time) showing us around had a set piece that went like this. 'See that box (points at a crate that's the size of a double-decker bus). Somebody ordered a spare radar antenna. Look at all the space it is taking up. And it's never going to get used unless one on a ship gets shot off'.

The message was supposed to be, think before adding an extra item. But given it was a spare part for a WARship it struck me then and many times since as an example of the tendency of us public serpents to kind of forget the point of what we are doing.

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I watched it on my TV via an Apple TV and found it really disappointing. Just couldn't concentrate on it and by the end of the first ep I kind of had a feel for the story rather than understood it. Second ep didn't really help. I'll give it a couple more, but it would want to blow more stuff up or something to keep me engaged.

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'Just couldn't concentrate on it'... that sounds like a failure of story telling. I'd have to go back and watch it again to decide if that was so, but the use of explanatory voice over does imply there were a few probs in the writers room.

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Looking forward to reading your take on the first season.

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Perhaps there's more to the word 'big' in big screen.

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