8 Myths About 3D
We debunk some old and modern misconceptions about 3D.
March 25, 2010 by Stephen Hopkins

If there’s one thing new technology breeds, it’s misconceptions, incorrect facts, and myths. Rarely has an AV technology done so as thoroughly as 3DTV.

With some help from the 3-D Film Preservation Fund and the 3D TV Buying Guide, we’re going to dispel some myths about 3D.

Some of these date back to the 1950s and some are as new as the latest LED lit LCD TV with fancy active-shutter glasses.

3D films of the ‘50s were viewed using anaglyph (red/blue or red/green) glasses - This is one that, until recently, had me fooled as well. An extremely small number of films from early 1953 were presented in anaglyph, while the vast majority were presented using polarized light and polarized glasses. Anaglyph was made memorable by 3D comics of the same era and has been mis-associated with 3D films of the era ever since.

2010 LCDs and plasmas are the first home 3DTV models - Mitsubishi has had “3D Ready” DLP displays available since 2007. While not immediately compatible with the new HDMI 1.4 and Blu-ray 3D specs, an adapter will be available soon. Some 2008 Samsung DLP displays use the same “3D Ready” technology. 

3D films have to be shot separately in 2D - Since the 3D effect is created using a pair of 2D images spaced to simulate the distance between the left and right eyes, simply using one of the two image streams can create a “flat” 2D print or transfer.

Most modern 3D films shot natively use separate full-resolution cameras or 3D cameras with separate digital sensors. Older 3D films, such as Jaws 3D, used two lenses that split the 35mm frame, so 3D transfers usually suffered in resolution to their 3D counterpart. 

3D LCDs and plasmas are much more expensive than 2D models - Samsung has a 32-inch 3D LCD for $1199 and a 46-inch model for $1799. Prices go up from there, but MSRPs are fairly close to similar 2D models from the prior model year.

Expect prices to creep down as they spend more time on the market and more manufacturers release new models. You may not find 3D in budget entry-level models quite yet, but you don’t need flagship models to get the goods.

3D glasses cause eye-strain and headaches - All 3D glasses do is filter light. Whether it’s filtering polarized light with passive glasses, colors with anaglyph, or on/off with active-shutter, all the glasses do is control what light reaches your eye. What can causes eye strain in a small percentage of viewers is the 3D effect and how the brain computes it, as well as diminished brightness due to the glasses.

You may say “Ah Ha! The glasses do cause strain.” But when brightness specs are followed by theater projectionists and TV manufacturers, this cause of strain should be non-existent. 

3D TV owners must always wear 3D glasses - 3D glasses will only need to be worn when watching 3D content. 2D content does not require 3D glasses.

Jaws 3D was an awesome movie - Not even close.  Seriously?  Who told you that?

All 3D TV glasses will be compatible - While there’s no reason multiple brands of OEM 3D glasses couldn’t be inter-operable, we don’t live in that perfect world.  The bulk of 3DTV manufacturers will be using IR emitters for syncing active shutter glasses, but there’s no industry standard for sync signals or other technical considerations. The same holds for the few systems using Bluetooth for syncing, while the even smaller number using proprietary RF connections are nearly guaranteed to be 100% proprietary.

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Stephen Hopkins is chief technology editor for EH Publishing. He writes product reviews, features, and focuses heavily on 3D TV, iPhone and iPad apps, and digital content.

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