I've read a lot about 3D in the last few weeks, and in every thread I pick up a little more information (and lots of opinions
). I'd like to summarize what I've been able to glean about the home 3D experience from AVS and other sources. I'm extremely excited about 3D at home. I'm not really interested in debating whether it's "right or wrong," just what's going to happen and how. If someone is interested in bashing 3D at home or 3D in general, I'd prefer it not be done here.
Let me preface this with my own 3D experiences at regular theaters. The best experience I've had with 3D was an IMAX showing of Monsters vs. Aliens in RealD, using polarized glasses. Color and contrast were excellent and the 3D was the best I've experienced outside a couple of 3D shows I attended at Smithsonian museums in Washington. Of course, my recollections of those Smithsonian 3D movies are from 2003, so it's hard to compare them to RealD IMAX from a few months ago. The IMAX showing was on film, so it looked great except for the frequent dust and debris flying across the screen every few seconds. Since I'm used to Blu-ray movies on a 1080p digital projector and spotless DaLite High Power screen, those particles were extremely distracting.
I also went back to see Monsters vs. Aliens on a regular digital 3D projector at the same cineplex. That was much less rewarding. The image was flat, lacking in contrast and the color saturation suffered. Also, the screen was marred. I could see seams and distortion waves where it was tensioned to the frame. Not a good experience. I saw Avatar on the same digital screen, so it was less enjoyable than I know it could have been. There was no Avatar IMAX showing in my area.
I've seen trailers for Avatar on my screen at home, and they had better contrast and color than what I saw at the theater. This leads me to believe that the 3D experience at home has the potential to be more rewarding than it is in many commercial 3D theaters.
Here's what I understand is going to happen.
Before very long (a few months from now), we will begin to see projectors that are capable of displaying 1080p 3D movies from the newly announced 3D Blu-ray players (which Sony says will include the PS3, with a firmware upgrade).
These displays will require viewers to wear shutter glasses, synchronized with the film by an emitter. It's my understanding that the shutter glasses will open and close so that each eye will be seeing at least 60 full resolution (1920x1080) frames per second. Since each eye will see only the frame it's meant to see, there will be no ghost images that are sometimes created by polarizing systems used in commercial theaters. In commercial theaters, polarization sometimes allows the left eye to see a ghost image of the right eye view, and vice versa. The polarization process also cuts down dramatically on the amount of light. The shutter glasses for the proposed home systems don't reduce the light as much, because each eye is seeing all the light coming from the lamp (except for a smaller amount that the shutters may attenuate).
Thus, shutter glasses may not require projection lamps that much brighter than those in normal home projectors, to create satisfyingly bright 3D images. Since each eye is seeing only its intended image, the home 3D experience has the potential to be better than the typical theatrical experience. The shutters will eliminate ghost images, and they will let in most of the light from the lamp.
The next issue is one of refresh rate. In order for projectors to eliminate 3:2 pulldown and create trick effects like frame interpolation (that we've become accustomed to in newer projectors - whether we like it or not) the refresh rate will need to be 240 frames per second - 120 complete 1920x1080 frames per second for each eye. At only 120 frames per second (total for both eyes), frame interpolation isn't feasible. 3:2 pulldown could be eliminated by using a 48fps rate for film, while still not pushing the projector past the need to display 60 individual frames per second for each eye. Again, though, frame interpolation would not be possible - not a bad thing for many people, but some would miss it.
Now, to the technologies involved. It's my understanding that DLP is the likeliest candidate for low cost implementation of 3D, because DLP switching is so fast. It's not a challenge for DLP mirrors to switch at 240 fps. I'm a little fuzzier for LCD and LCOS (SXRD and D-ILA). I've read the articles about 240hz LCDs, so apparently the technology is capable of it (though some manufacturers "cheat" that spec and don't really do a full 240 refreshes, which would be necessary to create a 3D projector capable of all the trick effects current 2D projectors can do). LED based DLP has even more potential because it can not only switch faster, but it also limits rainbow effects by increasing the RGB switching rate.
Current sets (such as the Mitsubishi and Samsung DLP rear projectors which have been sold for years and are capable of 3D) will not be able to accept the 3D signals from the new 3D Blu-ray players. Adapters may be available for such sets, but they may or may not be able to display full 1920x1080 images for each eye, and they may or may not be able to do 240fps. Even with adapters, the resolution and/or frame rate may be compromised. The emphasis is on "may" in the last few statements, since we don't yet know how compatible older displays will be until the manufacturers announce what the adapters will do. We also don't know how much the adapters will cost, although rumors have it that Mitsubishi will sell them.
Reading through all the threads has left me generally positive for the future of 3D at home, at least from a technological viewpoint. Whether or not 3D will catch on as much as I would like to see, it looks as though the 3D home experience may actually be better than the typical movie theater 3D experience. Unlike many people I've read in the numerous 3D threads here on AVS, I want home 3D. There are plenty of other threads where the pros and cons of 3D at home are being beaten to death, and I don't want to revisit those ideas here. Just about the only movies I see in the theater are 3D films. That's because my home theater beats most of the regular theaters out there. I'd like to see the same thing happen for 3D.
Is this a fair summary of where we are right now with 3D at home, from the information we have available to us? If it's not, I'll correct it, and as new info becomes available, I'll try to update things here.
I don't mean to usurp any other thread, and if people think information like this is more appropriate for some other existing thread, I'd be happy to bow out. I do have some time on my hands, though, and I'd be happy to do it.