by Ben Drawbaugh posted Oct 26th 2009 at 11:36AM
Now wait one second before you start on the whole "I'm not wearing any stupid looking glasses," because no matter what you say, there are more people paying extra to go 3D movies than ever and the reason is simple; it's because this isn't like the crappy 3D you saw during the Super Bowl last year -- or that our parents grew up with. No, the 3D that Sony, Panasonic, and others are promising next year is like nothing you've seen. We've come a long way since the old anaglyph red and blue glasses that come in cereal boxes, so before you knock the new technology before it's even out, click through and read about the technologies that might bring us a real 3D revolution.
3D, the basics
We have two eyes for a reason and while we've enjoyed stereo sound since-like-forever, stereoscopic images haven't quite arrived. At its core, 3D is as simple as using two cameras to capture the data that our eyes would, but it's the display part that's proven tricky. Ultimately, the technology has to find a way to present each eye with a different variation of an image, at that point our eyes and brain do the rest.
Circular polarized or active LCD shutter glasses
The one thing that hasn't changed about 3D is the need for glasses -- if you're holding out for 3D on a big screen without glasses, you're going to let this generation of 3D pass you by. The technology in the glasses varies by a lot and the main two types these days are circular polarized and active LCD shutter. Both serve the same purpose, to ensure each eye sees a different image, but in much different ways.
Circular polarized glasses are easily the most common used in 3D cinema today. If you've been to a 3D presentation of a Pixar movie, or maybe to Disney World and used what look like cheap sunglasses, you've probably tried the technology. Without going into too much detail, each lens is set to filter out different light, so for example in a polarized system like RealD's, there can either be two projectors with different polarizing filters in front of each (pictured below) or a special ZScreen which can alternate the clockwise and counterclockwise polarization for each frame. In either case, the right and left frame alternate at about 144 times per second so that each of 24 frames per second of a movie is displayed 3 times per eye.
One of the problems with circular polarized 3D is that a special silver screen is required and some argue it can negatively affect the color accuracy. But what's worse is that most of us don't have a projector at home and so far only a few HDTVs like the ridiculously expensive JVC GD-463D10 LCD TV at $9,200 can pull off the same polarization trickery.
Like it or not, 3D is coming and just like HD before it, there will be plenty of technology pundits predicting its demise. The problem right now is very few have had the chance to check out the technology and if you have been lucky enough to see it, it is hard to convey how cool it is to others. On top of this, 3D has a long road ahead because most people think they have seen it because they've tried the anaglyph glasses during a Super Bowl Commercial. The other big hurdle is the whole stupid looking glasses argument -- which doesn't make that much sense since you'll be wearing them in the privacy of your own home. Now we know that the same technology lovers who read Engadget would never hate on any new technology without experiencing it first hand, but tell your friends and family that something new is coming, and no it isn't like anything else they've seen.
Although 3D is becoming more popular on the big screen, I'm not sure how popular it will be in the home. Consumers prefer to have everything built in without having to buy extras like glasses. They'd rather have a screen that projects 3D, that's why HD has become popular, you can buy the whole package without having to set it up yourself.
How will 3D affect the fashion world? The fashion show has already been broadcast online, and McQueen has already used holograms, so why not have 3D as the next step for the runway? If they can film things in 3D then it can be shown in 3D