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3D Technology: What's it all about?

Ever wonder what you're really seeing up there on the big screen? Next time you nestle down in your seat, ready to dive in to some popcorn and watch the newest 3D flick, you'll know.

There are several ways to display 3D images on the screen, but the two most common ways are Passive Stereo Visualization and Active Stereo Visualization.

Passive Stereo Visualization is also known as polarized 3D projection. In this format the theater uses two projectors to display two images onto a custom-made silver screen. The images are projected with two opposing polarizing filters. The audience wears passive polarized glasses that allow each eye to see a separate image. The brain puts these two images together as one, resulting in 3D.

Active Stereo Visualization systems present the left and right eyes images that are alternating so fast, the viewer doesn't even notice. The audience wears active shutter glasses that have lenses which turn from opaque to transparent in unison with each alternating image. The left image is only displayed when the left lens is transparent (and the right one is opaque) and vice versa. The brain puts these two distinct images together as 3D.

Many people prefer the passive method of watching 3D movies because the glasses are more comfortable to wear. The active shutter glasses are a bit heavier due to the batteries and the synchronization emitter inside.

3D and Eye Health
Some people may experience headaches, nausea, or blurry vision when they watch 3D movies. But the truth is if these signs appear, it's because something is wrong with the viewer's binocular (stereoscopic) vision.

Your eyes have to work together to be able to see 3D comfortably and without feeling ill. An eye doctor will be able to determine the cause of the problem. It's usually due to weaker muscles in one eye or that vision is slightly better in one eye.

If you suffer from these problems while watching 3D, make an appointment with your VSP doctor to find out why and what can be done about it.

Your 3D Questions Answered

How is new 3D technology different from older 3D?
Today’s 3D technology is full color and high resolution, offering all the detail and vivid colors that far exceed the “old” anaglyph (blue and cyan colored lenses) method of projecting 3D.

Does everyone watching a 3D movie need to wear the glasses?
Yes, the glasses must be worn in order to view the 3D images.

What is RealD?
RealD has developed 3D cinema technology using circular polarized projection to create a stereoscopic picture, or 3D. It is the world's most widely used technology for watching 3D movies in theaters. RealD is also working with consumer electronic manufacturers to deliver 3D to the home electronics industry.

What is circular polarization?
Circular polarization utilizes a projector alternately projecting right-eye frames and left-eye frames 144 times per second. It circularly polarizes these frames, clockwise for the right eye and counterclockwise for the left eye. With the use of circular polarization lens technology viewers can tilt their head and look about the theater naturally without a disturbing loss of 3D perception.