In case you were unaware, 3D is once again all the rage. With the record-breaking success of Avatar, movie studios, TV networks, and electronics manufacturers are looking to capitalize on this recent surge in popularity.
There has never been a good way to reproduce the "3D movie theater" experience at home (those red/blue glasses don't count!). That will supposedly change with 3DTVs (3D-capable HDTVs). All the major TV manufacturers had 3DTVs on display earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Show, with the first models expected to go on sale this summer. Movies will be available in 3D on Blu-ray Disc, and TV networks may broadcast in 3D (ESPN & The Discovery Channel are launching 3D channels). Sony has also demoed PlayStation 3 videogames in 3D.
In non-techie terms, 3D video works by having footage from two perspectives...one for the left eye and one for the right. By using 3D glasses, video intended for the left eye is hidden from the right eye and vice versa.
You've probably seen DVDs that come with the old-school red & blue glasses. While the 3D effect is okay, these glasses decrease brightness, give everything a green hue, and can even cause headaches/eye strain.
Most movie theaters nowadays use polarized 3D (i.e. glasses with grey lenses). This provides for incredible 3D without affecting color or brightness. But this isn't possible at home, as it requires a projector with a special lens and a special screen to project onto.
3DTVs will utilize wirelessly-synchronized shutter glasses, while quickly alternating between the left & right perspectives. The lenses are actually thin LCDs that darken & lighten. So the TV will display a single frame intended for your left eye, the right lens on the shutter glasses will darken completely, and only your left eye will see the frame. The next frame is only for your right eye, so when the TV displays it the left lens will darken & the right lens will lighten, making the frame viewable only to your right eye. As this will be running at 120 frames per second, it should appear silky smooth to the human eye.
Being the nerd that I am, in-home 3D definitely sounds cool. But with prices dropping on HDTVs, will consumers be willing to pay a premium for 3DTVs? Will folks that already own a HDTV go through the hassle of upgrading? Will current-gen Blu-ray players be 3D-compatible, or will they have to be upgraded with newer players? And will movie/TV-watchers and gamers scoff at having to constantly wear dorky 3D glasses?
What do you think? Sound off in the comments below!