TMA! (too many acronyms)
Yes, it appears that 3D is making another swing at the hearts of the viewing audience. Does having 3D in the home mean we’ll have to sit in the living room wearing those silly cardboard glasses? Well, yes, and no. Glasses are required so that each eye only sees the image its supposed to see, but technology has advanced quit a bit from the color filter days. Today, the glasses either use polarized filters, or electronic liquid crystal shutters. The polarized filters are really only for a commercial theater where two projectors will be pointed at the screen. In the home, the electronic type will be used primarily, meaning your glasses will need batteries. The shutters open and close alternately for each eye, at up to sixty times per second.
To get 3D images to our home theaters requires that the entire delivery chain be adapted for the technology. First, the movies must be filmed in 3D. Of course computer animated movies don’t really require cameras, so they can handle that. But for real-life 3D, essentially two cameras must be used to record simultaneously, placed about the same distance apart as our own human eyes. It makes sense then, that the information from those cameras would be doubled, which necessitates a higher bandwidth cable and connector format. They are already putting that in place with the HDMI 1.4 standard. BluRay discs can handle the extra information, but new players with the new format output will be manufactured. Now we we have to get this uber-dense signal to our TV; we’ll likely need a new HDMI cable for that. Speaking of the TV, it will need to have the upgraded input, along with the ability to show twice as many image frames per second; 120(Hz) in fact, so start making plans for an upgrade.
Is it worth it? Well, that’s pretty subjective. There is no denying that 3D is a really cool effect. However, there are many caveats such as how close to the screen you must sit, and how big the screen is, or the effect just doesn’t want to ‘connect’ with your brain. In fact, our brains just aren’t that easily fooled, and it usually takes a focused effort to keep your eyes and brain open to the effect for the whole movie. Many people find this very fatiguing, maybe even painful after awhile. Personally, I think the biggest benefit of 3D video in the home will be for gaming. If I already have to use a funky controller or steering wheel, I’ll gladly wear the glasses to have the full 3D experience while driving my favorite rally car. But I just don’t think the majority of film directors are going to force their audience to wear space cadet glasses and strain to focus for an hour and a half, or two, or three.