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The Renaissance of 3D:
How the New 3D Technologies Work

Bill Livolsi, February 5, 2010

Anaglyph Method

"Anaglyph" is a fancy word used to describe the most basic style of 3D projection in use. The left- and right-eye images are superimposed (usually recorded onto the same film stock) and color differences are used to separate the two. The viewer wears a pair of colored-lens glasses (traditionally red and cyan) which force the eyes to differentiate between the two. The end result is the impression of depth. The anaglyph method is primarily used for home releases of theatrical movies--even if those movies did not use anaglyph in the cinema--because it is inexpensive and easy to use. Until now, if you have seen a DVD or Blu-ray labeled "3D," it uses the anaglyph method.

Advantages of Anaglyph 3D

Accessible. The anaglyph method is used for current 3D DVDs and Blu-ray discs because it requires no special equipment. You don't need a "3D-ready" projector or television. It will work on your current television or projector regardless of technology, frame rate, aspect ratio, resolution, or anything else. If you can watch a movie, you can watch an anaglyph movie in 3D.

Inexpensive. The DVD and Blu-ray discs in anaglyph 3D typically cost no more than their 2D counterparts and include four pairs of cheap cardboard-framed glasses. Since there is no extra expense to the consumer in glasses, video displays, or DVD players, it is by far the least expensive 3D system out there.

Passive Technology. We will discuss this in more depth shortly, but anaglyph 3D uses passive glasses. Passive glasses have no circuitry or electronic parts which makes them inexpensive, easy to use, and lightweight. This is ideal for children and larger audiences as instances of glasses breaking or "walking away" do not cause significant financial hardship.

Disadvantages of Anaglyph 3D

Color. The big problem with anaglyph 3D and one of the reasons people have a poor impression of 3D overall is poor color. When one lens is tinting everything red and the other is tinting everything cyan, color can seem a little out-of-whack. These days post-production houses are able to adjust the color such that it looks more normal, but everything still takes on a sort of shimmery look and colors don't seem as solid or definitive as they do in normal 2D.

Light loss. A filter by definition removes things which are unwanted or undesirable. For an anaglyph system to work only selected wavelengths of light are allowed to reach the viewer's eyes, so all other wavelengths are undesirable. As a result the image seen through anaglyph glasses is much dimmer than a comparable 2D image.

Cross-talk. Partly due to the design of the glasses and partly due to the use of color filtering, anaglyph 3D is more prone to cross-talk than other technologies. Cross-talk occurs when one eye sees a portion of the image meant for the other eye. It is distracting and obvious when it occurs and it breaks the viewer's immersion in the material.

Eyestrain. Anaglyph also tends to cause more eyestrain than other technologies. Some attribute this to the use of red and cyan filters which change the wavelength of light entering the eye. Cheap glasses do not have the ability to correct for this. As a result, one eye's focal distance is different than the other's and the eyes can have a hard time focusing. Coupled with the effect of 3D video, which is already taxing to the eyes, anaglyph can give some people eyestrain-induced headaches.

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What is 3D
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Polarizers
Contents: What is 3D Anaglyph Polarizers Interference Filter
  Shutter Glasses Conclusion
Comments (19) Post a Comment
Currious Posted Feb 5, 2010 5:41 PM PST
So what about glasses-less 3D TVs?

Some companies claim they have that techno in store, from a flat screen.

One easy way to generate 3D that has been done, is to use a fast rotating screen, and as it turns display different pixels for that 3D position.
DD HT Lover Posted Feb 6, 2010 7:00 AM PST
Another fantastic article. Thanks for keeping us ahead of the curve again.
Paul Posted Feb 6, 2010 12:34 PM PST
When special glasses are no longer required, I'll be interested.
Matthieu Posted Feb 8, 2010 6:10 AM PST
Wow you did your homework VERY well. I'm into the 3D photogrphy for a long time and still I learned some things about tech stuff from yur review.
MREUM Posted Feb 10, 2010 9:31 AM PST
I still think 3D is a fad, just like before. People will tire of it, particularly if the 3D films are no better than what has already been produced. Until a system emerges that does not need glasses I do not see it being anymore than a novelty, although the adolescent gaming crowd will probably like it.
willdao Posted Feb 11, 2010 3:03 PM PST
Bill,

Very nice, comprehensive article!

Will
Wyatt Posted Feb 12, 2010 11:35 AM PST
As someone who has been working on a 3D film for the past year now and has experienced looking at the same material with all technologies (except for Interference3D), I can tell you that a good pair of shutter glasses is the best way to go.

I am sensitive to 3D cross-talk and the shutter glasses eliminate this completely for a crisper / cleaner looking image. Another advantage is that you do not have to keep your head on a level plane, so if you wanted to lay down on the couch with your head cocked sideway, shutter glasses would still work as intended. Polarized glasses do not stand up well to this.

Hopefully shutter glasses win the format war and will be mass produced making them much more affordable than they currently are.
libair Posted Feb 15, 2010 1:09 AM PST
well i think that it will take a long period before we see broadcasting in 3d although in korea this technology is here experimentally of course!!so its difficult for me who bought an hdtv this summer to participate in this even if this is 2-3 years ahead!!without the display that is capable of 3d you can only dream of 3d movies!does anyone know if there is a possibility for a top video box lets say to convert hdtv to 3d ready???of course not the 60hz but the 120hz or 200 hz ones...would that be possible!!from the other side here in grece where i live we will have the h.264 in a couple of months so i think the 3d broadcating about a century ahead!!!
Roy Posted Feb 16, 2010 11:56 AM PST
Very informative article. Thanks!

Because "3D Vision" glasses are another $200 on top of the cost of the projector, is it possible ProjectorCentral might consider a combo/package/bundle price where a person could buy say the new ViewSonic 3D projector + Nividia 3D Vision for a package price of around $500?
Jeff M. Posted Feb 22, 2010 9:41 PM PST
I don't know about the rest of you but I am ALL about 3D! If anyone on here could help me, my email is kraftmacincheese@yahoo.com I have been scowering reviews and the like in the search for a 3D projector with the crispest video that 3D projectors can offer. I am going to be throwing a distance of about 10 feet and trying to fill up a 110" screen as much as possible in a 16:9 or similar ratio. I have my eyes on the Epson 8500ub because of the awesome 200,000:1 contrast however it does not have 3D capabilities. So can anyone help me with this. I am trying to find the absolute BEST 3D projector on the market that I can get for around 3000 or so. However I am afraid that the image won't be crisp for movies and games like on one that has a contrast such as the Epson. I am a noob to projection and all of that but am computer literate so you don't have to speak slowly lol :P Thanks everyone.

Jeff
Stunko Posted Apr 8, 2010 9:17 PM PST
The current round of 3D hype will be dead inside of 24 to 36 months.... and will be resurrected some time later again... and again... and again.
Vincent Posted Apr 12, 2010 8:41 PM PST
In the 3D race, seems like the LCD/Plasma TVs are a little faster than projectors. Please correct me if I am wrong. Some of the TVs such as Samsung already supports 3D BlueRay directly (i.e. supports HDMI 1.4 format). Most data/home projectors only support HDMI 1.3 (1080P but not 3D). HDMI 1.4 is a relatively new standard.

Second problem is that it seems that only DLP projectors can support 3D projection. LCD based projectors cannot refresh at 120Hz. So quite a number of brands of projectors will not be able to get into the bandwagon so quickly.

For those looking for 3D experience using a projector and at 1080p, I guess the projectors will only be available some time later this year.
Richard Posted Apr 25, 2010 10:32 AM PST
I'm curious about one other thing. Isn't the end user dependent on the kind of coding that appears on, for instance, a Blu-Ray disk? Will these disks contain all the various encoding schemes, or what? Will I have to shop carefully, noting the kind of technology present on a specific disk before I buy it? If so, the media producers can quickly determine what standards will be weeded out, and buying anything now is premature. Just like VHS and Betamax all over again.
Bob Posted May 29, 2010 7:51 AM PST
So, if my projector refreshes at 120 Hz already, what is the prognosis for an interface box to decode Blu-ray 3D signals interlaced at 60 Hz for left and right eyes and providing the synchronization signal for the shutter glasses?
mdf Posted Jun 2, 2010 10:03 AM PST
Glasses-less 3D will never happen with current displays or projectors. In order for 3D to work, your right eye and your left eye have to see different images. If you shift a few inches to the right on your couch, how could your left eye not see what your right eye had been seeing? Until there are non-static holographic displays (there aren't and no one is working on them) the laws of physics make a glassesless 3D technology completely impossible.
Yllon Posted Jun 20, 2010 4:59 AM PST
This is not exactly true. Hitachi as come up with a way for you to see 3D with out the glasses. It is called parallax viewing. While this format is a year or two away and is only available in flat panels we will eventually see 3D with out glasses.
theG Posted Oct 10, 2010 7:38 AM PST
Bob, "Glasses-less 3D will never happen" check out [sales link deleted] and what about the 3D Nintendo DS?

Anyway, i dont mind the RealD glasses which will go with my realD projector next year... i hate sgutter glasses tho, expensive and you can see the flickering..
Esther Posted Jul 20, 2011 9:26 AM PST
what exactly do the 3D glasses given out at the movie theaters do? does anyone see a future of 3D movies without the glasses? is it likely that the glasses-less 3D showing technology will ever become commercialized enough to be used as widely as regular 2D tvs that most ppl have in their homes?
Carlos Zacharias Posted Sep 2, 2011 6:00 PM PST
What is the diference: 3 D READY AND 3D? Ex.: Optoma D33 and D66. Whych one is abble to project 3D movies riht now?

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