Glasses-Free 3D Movies Might Make 3D Movies Slightly Less Terrible Soon

Illustration for article titled Glasses-Free 3D Movies Might Make 3D Movies Slightly Less Terrible Soon

Glasses-free 3D: eventually someone is going to get this right, and researchers in South Korea are well on their way, which means eventually we might be able to go to a 3D movie without having to wear those dorky, uncomfortable glasses.

Now you wear specs in a film like say, Avatar, so that two separate images can come together to create one 3D image. In the theater, there are two projectors playing two different movies behind the audience, and the glasses help you see them as one. To ditch the specs, a projector would have to be behind the screen, and most theaters don't have the money or the equipment for that. Until now:

The new method would allow movie theaters to keep their projectors where they've always been, behind the audience, and uses fairly simple optical technology. A special array sits in front of the projector and polarizes its light. A filter covering the screen then obscures different vertical regions of the screen, like the slats of venetian blinds. Each of your eyes, sitting at a slightly different angle, has some of the screen blocked and some of the screen visible. The movie has the right-eye and left-eye images interleaved in vertical columns with one another. The trick then is to have the light visible to your left eye contain the left-eye pixels and vice versa for the right eye.


Of course, 3D has more problems than just goofy glasses; it's also a horrible, garish novelty. But at least this way your eye-rolling won't be hidden behind a stupid pair of shades. [Optics Express via Wired]

Image credit: NinaMalyna/Shutterstock

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The problems with 3D aren't the fault of the technology. They're the fault of ignorant cinematographers and cheap theaters.

Headaches only occur if the glasses used are cheap enough to cause ghosting (almost always are). Or, they may also occur if the cinematographer doesn't realize that 3D is different from 2D and starts making things popping out of the screen, yet only partially in frame. That's a big no-no: your brain can't figure out why something in front of the screen is suddenly partially behind it, and it's a big eye strain.

And cheap party tricks? That's only when, once again, ignorant DPs don't know what they're doing. "Hey, this is 3D? Let's throw stuff at the audience or stick my huge sword out at them! It'll be fun!" No. No, it won't. It'll be cheesy.

3D is best used when most things push INTO the screen, few things pop out, and the things that do pop out STAY IN FRAME until they're back behind the screen. In addition, the separation of the two images needs to be as distinct as possible; no ghosting!

That said, this new technology seems like, at its core, a giant dynamic lenticular screen. If it works well with minimal to no ghosting, I'd love it :) .