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3D Primer

3DTVs have been out for almost a year, and many questions still surround this new technology.   Lets try and give you a quick introduction to 3D Television.

When I was a kid I went to see JAWS in 3D. In those days, we had to wear this cardboard glasses with a red and blue filter. It was really nifty to be able to see that shark swim in 3D back in the 1980’s, but these days with HDTV out and about, people demand more. In the late 90’s we stated seeing the newer generation 3D glasses emerge which did not require colored lenses. Instead, they use polarized glasses to create a 3D image. This created a 3d effect without the need for discoloration.   These passive polarized glasses are now the standard for movie theaters and IMAX 3D.   For the livingroom, however they simply will not do. Livingroom viewers have become accustomed to 1080i HD quality, which a television would not be able to produce using polarized glasses. With polarized glasses, each eye can only see half of the image - this is what makes it look 3D.  But,  this means that even though your Television is delivering 1080p images, your eye is only seeing half that image (or 540p).   


Shutter Eyeland

To resolve this issue, major television makers such as LG, Sharp, Samsung, Sony and Panasonic use a technology called “active shutter 3D glasses.”   These glasses use a clear LCD screen   in place of the polarized lens of   3D glasses.   The LCD lenses on the 3D glasses “shutter” on and off in sync with a signal produced by the 3D TV. This has the affect of covering up the left, and right eye in rapid succession so that the left eye only see’s   the 3DTV image intended for it, and a split second later the right eye see’s its specific image. This creates the illusion of 3D. The shutter occurs so fast that the wearer does not notice it.


3D Headaches - It’s like you can touch them.

One of the most common complains about 3D technology is that it can cause headaches and nausea. Most experts agree, however, that the cause of the discomfort isn’t the shutter glasses, or the 3DTV. The problem occurs when 3D film makers try to do too many flashy 3D effects. When things are constantly popping out into the crowd to wow them with 3D specialness, viewers can easily get eye fatigue . This becomes very tiresome after a two hour movie, and headaches   and discomfort can result. The best advice is to be careful when selecting a movie. Choose one that does not have a tremendous amount of shaky camera movement or blurry objects.   A 3D movie should use the depth of the screen to tell a story, not wow you with bits of flying debris .

All dressed up…            

So, you have your 3D compatible TV, a 3D Blue-ray player, and 3D glasses for all your viewers. All this leads us to the most obvious question:   What’s there to watch? As of right now the only full-time TV station broadcasting in 3D is ESPN-3D , which mainly rebroadcasts pre-recorded sporting events in 3D.   The most common 3D programming available today is the 3D Blue-ray disc.   A quick perusal of Blue-ray.com shows a smattering of titles now available (around 40) although most of them are documentaries or nature shows.

Fake it ‘till ya make it.

Since there isn’t a wide selection of 3D content, most 3D Televisions (like the and the Samsung 7000 series televisions and the Sony HX800 televisions) have a system to convert 2D content into 3D . This would, essentially, allow users to watch everything from their local news to CSI in 3D.   However, in my experience the manipulation of the image never looks quite right - although it is better than nothing.


Can one use 3D Glasses while laying down on the couch?

Unfortunately, the 3D technology will not work if you are laying down side ways on your couch. This si true for both the 3D Glasses (shutter based technology) and the polarized versions of 3D.


Blu-Ray Playah’s

   Blu-Ray video players made before 2009 are not compatible with Blu-Ray 3D. You’ll have to make sure that you have a Blu-Ray 3D Compatible Blu-Ray player     in order to watch 3D movies. This is because 3D Blu-Ray discs are coded with   a special signal that has to be transmitted to the 3D glasses. Non 3D players will not be able to read this coding or transmit the signal properly to the Glasses.

   The Sony Playstation 3, however, is compatible with Blu-Ray 3D as Sony has released a software upgrade to allow for 3D compatibility. The same goes for your satellite or cable box, which will certainly be able to produce 3D programming from the few channels that now provide it. There won’t even be a need to purchase new HDMI wires, as the current ones you have will work just fine.