The technology has been present for many years, but recent digital advances can correct things that made viewing of 3D films unpleasant in the past. A number of animated theatrical films have been shown in 3D with polarized glasses. (I saw Beowulf; it worked well and I didn’t have a headache afterwards – wish the movie had been better, though.) Now both James Cameron and Steven Spielberg are making live action 3D films for release in 2009.
Samsung and Mitsubishi introduced 3D HDTV technology in some of their DLP displays this year. The process has a virtually zero implementation cost on new DLP HDTV displays, but it requires both VESA-compatible LCD shutter glasses and a sync signal transmitter, plus a video source showing 3D images which use the DLP HDTV 3D format. The higher resolution of HDTV allows for an unusual checkerboard approach. The 3D content is sent in via the HDMI or DVI port. Left and right images are independently filtered and then sampled in an offset grid pattern, using every other pixel. The resulting two checkerboarded views are then combined with the shutter glasses to appear as left and right stereo images, providing the viewer with the highest quality images possible using the available bandwidth.
Even with polarized glasses 3D is a major improvement over the old anaglyph method of red and green glasses – which ruined color images and often gave viewers a headache. But Philips has a new line of 3D TVs using their WOWvx technology, which requires no glasses. It places tiny lenses over each of the millions of red, green and blue sub pixels making up the plasma or LCD screen. Each sub pixel projects light at one of nine angles which fan out in front of the video display. A processor in the TV generates nine slightly different views corresponding to the different angles, so that from almost any location in front of the display, a viewer will get a different image at each eye. It’s similar to the 3D still cameras which have four sets of lenses to provide the different angles which are incorporated into a final lenticular 3D print for viewing, but much better. The 42-inch displays are being first sold to retailers who will use them to create 3D ads intended to grab the attention of passing shoppers.
Philips 3D Solutions has also introduced the BlueBox, a digital service suite of advanced 3D content creation tools to convert standard video content to 3D. The WOWvx Spacer creates semiautomatic conversions of existing 2D video to 2D-plus-Depth format which can be shown on the Philips displays without glasses. Content creators will be able to produce 3D content more quickly, at lower cost and in unprecedented high 3D quality. The easy-to-use tools allow designers to automate a large part of the their work with no compromise in high quality standards.