Let me start this topic with a little history. One of the first 3D experiences was the Stereoscope Viewer that was developed around the 1830’s. A special camera was used that had 2 lenses placed about 2 ½” apart (about the same distance as our 2 eyes are apart). When the picture was taken, there were 2 images of the same subject from slightly different perspectives. The resulting Stereograph (dual picture) was placed in the Stereoscope Viewer. The person looking into the lenses of the viewer would see the left image with the left eye and the right image with the right eye. Due to the fact that the images were slightly different our brain would combine the images and we would perceive a 3 Dimensional picture. This technology became widely popular in the 1850’s and well into the 1900’s. My grandmother had one and we loved it as kids.

In the 50’s and early 60’s the movie folks used a slightly different approach to provide a similar 3D experience. This time they used a technology called Anaglyph which incorporated the use of red and blue colored glasses. The movie without the glasses appeared to have blue and red ghosts. The red lens would filter out the red image and capture the blue image and the blue lens would filter the blue and capture the red thereby giving each eye a different image and the brain would do its thing and combine it to provide a 3 dimensional experience.

Okay, if I haven’t lost or bored you yet, here is where we are today. The movie theaters use glasses that incorporate polarized lenses. The glasses only let images through that are polarized for a specific lens; this provides the 2 separate images our eyes need to provide the 3D image.

Now we come to 3D TV. The TV manufacturers have come up with another technology to accomplish 3D for their televisions. They call it “Active Shutter” and it consists of battery operated glasses that look slightly tinted and have an infra-red receiver that allows the glasses to be synced to the 3D TV. The glasses are built around LCD technology and each eye piece can be darkened (shuttered) around 120 times per second for each eye. The TV transmits one set of pictures (frames) for the right eye and another set for the left eye and the glasses make sure each eye gets the intended image. The resulting 3D effect is pretty impressive.

Here is the down side: Each TV manufacturer has its own proprietary system, meaning their glasses only work with their TVs. At a cost of approximately $115.00 per pair of glasses, having a 3D party could get expensive especially if your friends couldn’t bring their own glasses from a different manufacturer. The 3D video feed needs to be transmitted over high speed HDMI cables, so a lot of regular, existing, HDMI cables won’t work. Also, current surround receivers equipped with HDMI switching, will not pass 3D signals, so the 3D source (e.g. 3D Blu-Ray) will have to be connected directly to the TV or a new 3D compatible receiver would need to be purchased.

The 3D technology is definitely improved and the movie experience is very involving. If you decide to jump in and get the technology, you’ll definitely wow family and friends. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns about transitioning to 3D.