Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Sound and Motion Sickness

I wouldn't say that my motion sickness is any worse or any less than average. I mock my wife a little when she gets motion sickness from reading in the car (be it a Zune menu, or driving directions, even a little bit affects her).

The first time I recall getting motion sick was at Lagoon when I was in Jr. High. I made the mistake of riding a thrill ride twice in a row. The first time was great, the second time was longer than I could handle and I didn't ride anything the rest of the day—bummer.

Around that same time Wolfenstein 3D came out and that too affected me—I got head aches, but I was so thrilled by the new first person shooter technology that I played on, and eventually stopped getting the headaches. I have since stopped playing first person shooters because, no matter how many innovations they introduce, they still all seem the same to me; and if I play them now, the headaches come back faster (less than a minute usually) and worse than ever.

I made the same stupid roller coaster mistake years later at Knotts Berry Farm and rode the Boomerang twice in a row and couldn't do coaster's the rest of the day.

So now I'm working on a project at work. The project involves people going out with a camcorder and documenting the external state of decay of buildings. This video is being done by amateurs, with no time and no budget, so these videos display all the typical amateur video hallmarks. They are shaky, move too fast at times, difficulties with focus and white balance and are the worst example of a first person perspective ever concieved.

My job is to author them to DVD. My template is in place and I can bust them out pretty fast except for one thing. I have to drop chapters in. I have tried scrubbing the video and just dropping the chapters where they need to be, but I get lost and don't know what to label the chapters.

I was only managing one a day for a while, because it was making me so sick. Recently I figured out a little trick. I can watch them with no audio, and it doesn't bother me. I listen to a little audio here and there just to make sure I'm oriented properly. Combine that with Google Maps and not listening to the audio for a majority of the time and my motion induced headaches have stopped.

I don't know what this means, but I find it highly intriguing—I tried to find out if there was a known reason that this might be, but was unable to find any information. If someone out there knows why this is; point me at an article or something, I'd like to know. If this is new and someone wants to take this and do a study of some kind, feel free—but I want footnote/endnote credit.


  1. Weird, I wouldn't think the audio would make a difference. I would get soooo sick doing that!
    You are very right to mock me, I get sick just looking down in the car.

  2. I wonder if it has to do with your inner ear. The inner ear controls balance I wonder if the stimulation for the audio in combination with perceived motion for the pictures causes you to be motion sick.

    I have no articles or anything to reference, just my uneducated speculation.

    I think you should try an experiment. Try running a first person shooter with no audio, see if that changes whether or not you get sick.

    Nothing like sacrificing someone else to satisfy my morbid curiosity. ;-) Or in the words of the Penguins of Madagascar, “No sacrifice is greater than someone else’s”