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    HDTV in 3D

    150 150 Grand Home Automation - West Michigan's Smart Home Technology Designers

    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.
    Sean Hotchkiss

    Out of Control!

    150 150 Grand Home Automation - West Michigan's Smart Home Technology Designers

    You have it all planned out in your head – Just exactly what kind of theater seats you’re going to have, the color of the carpet and wall-fabrics, how many rows of seats, how big the screen will be, and so on. You can imagine turning it on for the first evening, having the THX ‘whoosh’ or your favorite movie scene ‘shock and awe’ you into quivering A/V delight. But don’t stop there – actually run through what it really takes to make that all happen…

    – Set the temperature to the right spot, just cool enough for a lap blanket
    – Get all the electronics warmed up
    – Turn the lights down low at first, then totally off for the main event
    – Find the projector remote
    – Turn on the projector
    – Set the projector input to ‘HDMI1’ for the BluRay player
    – Find the video processor remote
    – Set the video processor input to ‘DVD’
    – Make sure the video memory is set to ‘Cinema’
    – Find the surround processor remote
    – Turn on the surround processor
    – Set the audio input to ‘DVD1’
    – Set the surround mode to ‘Cinema’
    – Make sure THX processing is engaged
    – Set the volume to reference -10dB
    – Turn on all the audio amplifiers
    – Find the BluRay remote
    – Turn on the BluRay player
    – Get the disc playing
    – Use the ‘pop-up menu’ to get to right scene for the big show

    Much less dreamy, huh?
    Can you really remember all of that? Could any member of your family? Guests? Probably not. What about the different settings for different sources like satellite tv or VuDu? This problem of control is what companies like Crestron are perfect for. From a simple handheld automated remote control to a fancy wireless touchpanel, these controllers can turn an evening focused on technology, ‘stuff’, and frustration, into one spent enoying the true art of cinema.

    Remember – The image may be pristine, and the audio dynamic and crystal clear, but if you can’t turn it on, it’s all just an expensive living room.
    Sean Hotchkiss