When I decided to invite some people over to my house last Friday to watch the World Cup on a new 50-inch plasma 3-D TV, a loaner from Panasonic, I made the mistake of emailing out a picture of myself wearing the 3-D glasses. My brother, bless him, replied, "I love the third dimension!" Everyone else seemed a little put off. "If I can extract a promise that no photos of me will appear on Popsci.com, I'm in," emailed one friend.
I can understand the hesitation. 3-D glasses flatter no one. You'd feel less conspicuous wearing a clown nose. But that was the half the point of the party. With the recent hubbub over 3-D TV, I wanted to find out if people could take the technology seriously. Can you wear the glasses without feeling as though you're part of the entertainment? Is it possible to enjoy an entire soccer game with such an awkward, uncomfortable accessory strapped to your face, and in the company of others? I figured I'd let my friends be the judge. And judge they did.
In case you've missed the advertising blitz, Panasonic, Sony and Samsung have all begun selling 3-D TVs this summer, and in June ESPN launched the first 3-D channel, with World Cup soccer as its inaugural offering. The relative few people who've had the opportunity to watch the new sets are raving about the picture quality. As Panasonic's VP of 3-D technology Peter Fannon says, "I'm delighted to say the damn thing works." But for all the legitimate advances in screen technology, engineers have yet to solve 3-D's Achilles' heel—the dignity-stealing eyewear needed to trick your brain into registering depth. In fact, stylistically, the new generation of glasses seems to have taken a turn for the worse. Bulky, plastic specs replace the simple cardboard and cellophane frames of yesteryear, and cost up to $180 each. Panasonic calls its 3-D glasses "active-shutter eyewear." The darkened lenses are battery-powered to flash in sync with images on your TV, and come in one size—humongous—with a detachable rubber nose bridge that sometimes sticks to your face when you remove the glasses. Like I said, the tool factor is hard to ignore.
Yet despite this, and despite the frightful picture of me offering up direct evidence of said tool factor, people did show up, they did wear the glasses, and they did seem to enjoy the spectacle of Brazil battling Ghana in 3-D. In fact, nearly everyone expressed genuine surprise over the 3-D effect once they got over the jokiness of the glasses, uttering some variation of, "Wow, it's actually pretty good." The ground-level shots filmed from the sidelines drew the most 'oohs and 'aahs.' They gave the uncannily realistic illusion of little men running around inside the TV, Wonkavision-like, although people expecting to see soccer balls and cleats fly into their face were disappointed. Those shots never materialized. The graphics popped the most, which sometime proved irritating, as there was the temptation to swat at the scoreboard whenever it floated into the middle of the screen.
The 3-D effect was less impressive when the cameras switched to aerial view. From this vantage the game seemed to flatten back into two dimensions. Capturing depth perception at different distances is one of the big challenges of filming in 3-D. Cinematographers use two cameras—one for each eye. Filming distant action requires widening the length between the cameras, which in turn sacrifices depth of field. So the closer the shot, the better the 3-D. Contact sports like boxing and ultimate fighting, where in-your-face ringside shots dominate, would be killer in 3-D. Soccer, meh.
If there's one advantage to the oversize specs it's that they fit comfortably over conventional glasses, allowing the four-eyed to become six-eyed with little hassle. Fannon says in the future people will be able to order their own prescription 3-D glasses through their eye doctor. That would be cool but even cooler would be 3-D TVs that don't require glasses at all.
Since that's not going to happen anytime soon, Fannon says, we're stuck with the eyewear. And people seemed to grow tired of it pretty quickly. I maxed out after about 15 minutes. It's true that Panasonic's 3-D TV has mostly solved the problem of "cross talk," where the lenses fail to open and close fast enough to keep images intended for one eye from contaminating the other eye, resulting in a blurry picture and a murderous headache. But eye and brain fatigue is still an issue, as acknowledged by the disclaimer about the potential for dizziness and illness that pops up on the screen before you start watching any kind of 3-D programming. With images flashing before me 120 times each second, I definitely got the worrisome feeling that something bad was happening to my brain, like I might be one flicker away from a seizure. And 3-D content is a blurry mess without the glasses. So once the novelty wore off (within an hour of turning the tube on) we wound up switching the channel back to two-dimensional ESPN for relief.
Perhaps more disruptive than the glasses, though, is the fact that 3-D TVs are incompatible with everything. To view ESPN 3-D, I needed a DirecTV satellite signal (currently only DirecTV, Comcast, and AT&T's U-verse provide 3-D content), a special 3-D set-top box, a special 3-D receiver if we wanted to use our current Surround Sound setup and a special 3-D Blu-ray player if we wanted to watch movies in 3-D (and options right now are fairly limited).
So, is it possible to take 3-D TV seriously? My informal focus group says, "Hell no." But I'm hopeful that will change soon. In three to five years, assuming the technology matures, formats unify, camera work improves, prices drop, glasses shrink (if not disappear entirely) and content broadens, I think 3-D stands a reasonable shot of becoming standard issue on most tubes, just as HD is today. Until then, it's hard to justify spending an extra $500 or so on a TV for it. In this case it's better to let those early-adopting masochists pave the way.
Do not worry to much about how you look in 3D glasses. Remember, everyone is looking at the TV, not you.
For me, it would not matter if they are big or small, as long as they are comfortable to wear at hours at a time.
I also like them to be kinda water resistant, so I can wipe them off with a little soap and water or glass cleaner.
Imagine all of us in a home, sharing these glasses and they become 6 months, 1 year or older,.... ick.
haha I'm almost positive ghana didn't play brazil yet (except maybe in qualifying matches before the world cup started). brazil played portugal last friday
hamstrahammer: didn'y you know that 3D can see into alternate universes? cuz that's the only way she saw that game last friday...
Seriously not a product I am interested in. All hype in my opinion. This is the new gimmick. They ran out of the old ones... hd 480, hd 720, hd 1080, Now even higher but few peoples eyes can actually register the difference unless its a much larger than realistic screen. Much as with the media formats... vhs, dvd, hddvd, bluray, now blueray with multi layer.
Anyway 3-D TV is a joke on all of us. If you want non headache and life like richness in 3-D walk outside it is amazing the crispness, and realism found out there.
Did you even have your friends over for the viewing? Is all this just bs from your own head, or did those glasses screw you up that bad?
And I think it is your fault now that Ghana and Brazil are now out...
@twobrain: I agree with you. What we have here is basically a flawed technology. The only way this is going to catch on is if they keep on pushing it. I hope it goes away like all the other failed 3d technologies
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3D tech is impossible without some sort of polarizing filter over each eye...
3D w/o any glasses is already exist but they have limitations on distance and viewing angle to TV.
I think active-shutter eyewear is absolutely wrong way to use w/ TV. Remember Avatar? It was perfectly 3D and did not require any active-shutter glasses. 3D TV should use the same tech (it would just require an active-shutter filter in front of TV itself; not on the glasses.)
I believe that tech already exists too. I have no idea why TV producers want active-shutter instead. (Maybe to make extra money by selling new glasses to each customer for years to come?)
I had very little intrest in buying a 3-D t.v. but after reading this article I have no intrest in them at all. To purchase a new t.v. then need to buy a 3-D set-top box and glasses and pay for 3-D channels. Sounds to me like another industry that has lost touch with reality. The need to spend additional money to enjoy it sounds like a way for these companies to bleed every dollar that they can from the consumer. "To really enjoy youre recent purchase you also need to buy this, this, this, and this. Thank you for money!"
To create 3d without the glasses all that needs to be done is to make everything on the screen in focus. Real life is 3d because everything is in focus and allows your eye to jump from one object to another, near and far. I imagine a series of cameras placed as close to a single point as possible, all focusing on different depths, and then the in focus images extracted and combined in a computer would form a glasses free 3d image.
I saw Avatar first in 3D and then in 2D on purpose to see what I thought of the technology. First off let me tell you my wife had to take off the 3D glasses several times just because it strained her eyes. I should also say I have seen really old 3D movies, and some newer ones a few years before Avatar. And at amusement parks.
So what did I think? In the movies that tried to use the 3D to impress you by throwing things out the screen at you. The fund lasts for just a few minutes and then become annoying. For when the use of the technology like Avatar, the store was much more important then the 3D. The best way I can describe it is reading a book there is no picture, just your mind and the author's skill at painting the images, and yet you "see" it. That was true for Avatar in 2D for me. I was quickly into the story, and my mind filled in the 3D, without any glasses.
So the bottom line is that I wouldn't pay or be inconvenienced by any of this. If a movie needs 3D it probably isn't a good movie.
"For when the use of the technology like Avatar, the store was much more important then the 3D. "
Should have been:
For when they use the technology well like in Avatar, the story was much more important then 3D.
I've seen steroscopic cross-eyed 3D photos and videos, and it's amazing. Yet I think 3DTV needs to wait a few years and be perfected, it's kinda too early with Blu-Ray and HDTV on the rise.
@visualize I agree. Nintendo's 3DS is a perfect example.
A 3D effect WITHOUT glasses is what should be worked on.
Omni Focus. New camera that focuses on everything.
Nichole Dyer, the writer, must be a teenager. Only somebody like that would be so worried about her vanity when wearing something that looks like sunglasses that give real stereoscopic 3D. They don't have fake noses and mustaches like a Groucho Marx mask. Why worry about it so much? Watch the movie instead of looking in the mirror.
The problem with the World Cup is that the cameras have to be pretty far from the action. 3D will be great for soap operas and sitcoms, as well as basketball, bowling, tennis, late night shows, porno, and anything where the action or detail relief is close to the camera. The reason it needs to be close is because the two eyes see the same point on the subject with a different angle. This is true for all points in an image. But for subjects that are far away, like at the far end of a soccer field, that angle is small. When the subject is close, the angle is large and the 3D effect is strong. The angle is called parallax and telephoto lenses don't help.
3D is necessary to make the image look more realistic. Wide screen, color, and high def make the image more realistic too. However, music doesn't make it more realistic. Music in movies is not so bad, but why the directors and producers have to add music to science and nature programs. It drives me nuts, you see some graphic on how a magma chamber forms under a volcano, and the director desides we need to hear some stupid mysterious music at the same time. What for? Directors are so naive.
Even in movies like the beginning of Sherlock Holmes when he's running thorugh the streets. The music is overbearing much of the time. If the movie needs music, it's probably not a good movie. That probably applies to all movies. Take away the music, and there's not much left. Fortunately we don't have to hear continuous music during sports, just every couple minutes when there's a break in the action. Maybe 3D will make the music soundtracks less necessary.
I felt little but annoyance when I saw Avatar in 3D. Couldn't bloody see anything (I'm pretty sure I had a migraine afterward too). It was much prettier on my HDTV anyway.
I fail to see the significance of being able to watch a round ball fly through the air in 3D when all I want to know is who kicked the ball that scored. To me, 3D is just another gimmick to sell TV, once the gimmick effect wears off and the headaches gets worse, most of us will go back to 2D.
cs4, if all you're interested in is the score and who made what goal when you shouldn't even bother watching sweaty men run back and forth, pointlessly kicking a leather ball; you should just wait until the game is over and read a summary of it on the internet.
Seeing that I need vision correcting lenses, and spend $300+ a year to wear contacts because I.....HATE glasses!
Once you get past the actual look of glasses on your face (some people look great, I don't) you then have to put up with the fact that you 2 different fields of vision, the corrected and outside the lenses, then you have to put up with the uncomfort of glasses. I wore glasses for ten years, I have a nice red mark on my nose bridge from the nose piece thats there forever. A love tattoo of sorts from my arch enemy.
Now I see that they tried to get past the discomfort with the wide wrap around lens, and the nose piece looks pretty cushioned, but they therefore inflated the first problem with the look of the glasses. I immediately was surprised they went for the old geek look instead of the very trendy and nauseating aviators.
When I first looked into this tech I was very hyped. I've finally come into a job that pays above slave wage and was looking to be the first annoying person to say I got something first. I've always been a HUGE 3D fan ever since I was 4 years old and received a 3D coloring book. I had always wondered why 3D seemed like a fad, it always seemed really cool to me.
I personally was looking into the older DLP 3D ready TV's as they seemed like they were next to giving them away. But of course as soon as sony made a big stink about 3D at E3 now prices have gone up all across the board.
I am personally very impressed with 3D TVs. But as I read 2 years ago in AV magazine, the tech has a long way to go. I think nintendo's upcoming 3DS has hit the nail on the head. Real 3D without stupid glasses. When TVs can duplicate this, I think it has the potential for mainstream. But the biggest shadow lurking is the HUGE potential for seizures and possible links to epilepsy. The video games industry has buried these findings on video games for years, 3D is much worse as the writers fears were warranted. People that have never been epileptic have gone into sudden seizures after short time viewing.
I understand we're in a depression, but this is just another big sign that the end is near. I mean giant companies are putting allot of eggs in one basket for a short term financial gain. The biggest reason for me not purchasing the TV wasnt even the health concerns, it was just as the writer mentioned the fact that it is very incompatibly with EVERYTHING. So I was not interested once I found out the compatibility issues. It seems like a big scam much like HD DV and super HD.
Best kind of 3d TV would be a real-time (dynamic) laser hologram. I think there is already research on it but it is probably decades off.
C'mon, really? Your worried about how you look? How about the ridiculous amount of money you spent for maybe 15 minutes of #D till your head tired of extra weight? Thats more embarrassing.
First lesson with new technology is that you never buy anything when it first comes out. Example: Xbox360 overheating, Playstation 2 and that first generation recall, 99' old Alero, Nexus 1 phone, Blackberry Storm, and on and on.
Always wait for some one else to test something out, especially when its that expensive.
The general public never seems to learn. They did it with HDTV's, every one ran out to get them not considering compatibility with Service providers, local channels, CD,DVD players etc.
Then Blue ray, people ran out and bought those when they came out, then 1.1 then what? 2.0 blue ray cam eout, so if you had a blue ray that was older, it wouldnt play newer blue rays cuz it couldn't handle the content. Then walmart sold the older ones for dirt cheap and idiot buyers who didn't research it, bought the DARK NIGHT, and could figure out why it didn't load for ten minutes. Not realizing it was because it was meant for Blue Ray 2.0 and the player htey bought from walmart was 1.1.
The fact that the version was not listed on the specs with the price was no accident by Walmart by the way, they do the same with computers and laptops, they leave the video card specs off when they are really crappy so you don't realize the good deal, is really a crappy one till you get it home.
Anyways, back to the point, don't buy first generations products because they usually have all sorts of issues. ITs tempting to buy it when it comes out because you want to be able to show off how cool you think you are, but resist this impulse.
This goes for hybrid cars to, everyone wants one, they even want to pay lots of money so they can say they are GREEN, but actually, the money you pay is way higher than the money you save on gas. By the time you save enough to make up the difference, you will have to do repairs on the hybrid and guess what?
Its expensive. Just get a gas car with a small engine and good mileage and you will do more for yourself, then you can use the money you save for something else.
Now im off topic again, sorry.
Oh, and they are working on t.v.s that don't require glasses but they havent perfected it yet and it would only work for up to two people so far.
If i understand correctly, it would require some sort of module attached ot the t.v. that detects the viewers location relative to the t.v. and uses some sort of LED lasers or light to you instead of depending on glasses to filter it. This of course sounds expensive and requires clunky hardware, so I would wait and see what comes up over the next 3 years at least, before dumping your hard earned money into new, ify technology.
This has been another segment of wasting time with Chris :D Cheers.
Oh, and additionally. The first thing I noticed with my big HDTV and playing even regular DVD's with my xbox360, is that its so sharp that it ruins the movie.
I watched Chronicles of Riddick and some other movies. The sets normalyy look fine because you cant see a lot of detail and thus, dont focus on it.
With HD movies, you can tell everythings on a set, what looked like Metals and Rocks before, now looks like Plastic and foam. I had to quit watching Riddick after 15 minutes because it looked so fake. So sharoper isnt always better.
Now you can notice the missing details in a scene. Even the sound becomes worse because you can hear how things sound fake because they are.
Batmans suite looks like cheap plastic because it is, HD really brings out the cheez in movies.
And because everyone uses computer graphics now, you can see the pixelation and lack of detail. Nothing looks real.
I watched Total Recall and it was alright, but that because they used real loactions and the gore was done with real materials and not animated. but it still lost the feel a little.
So word to the wise, Blue ray isnt worth it except under these conditions.
Its something real, like nature or educational and no props are used and its recorded in HD and was made for HD.
Otherwise, it will just ruin things for you.
Check this out. In a bid for hosting the 2022 World Cup, Japan is developing a 200 camera 3D system to generate a full 360 degree view of the games -- in 3D!
Putting aside other technical bottlenecks, not the least of which is bandwidth requirements at the viewer's end, I don't even know if I'll be alive in 12 years. But, by then, maybe they would have eliminated the need for the expensive goggles. Caring about soccer, is a much bigger hurdle.
What about Nintendo's 3DS? That has 3D with NO GLASSES!Is there some kind of screen size problem? If so, then surely someone is smart enough out there to figure that out!
Besides, I would want a 3D TV, but would prefer without the glasses. Now that Nintendo (Nintendo, people!) has figured out 3D without glasses, I want them to enlarge that for TV... (Hey Nintendo, you could make a boatload with 3D TVs just by using your-super secret?- formula for 3D with no glasses)
Avatar absolutely convinced me that 3D has a future, a brighter one than the last time a 3D hype started quite a time ago with the red and blue glasses. Todays 3D glasses like these: www.3dglassestv.net/samsung-ssg-2200ar/ with active shutter technology are much more sophisticated, and so is the technology of the new 3D HDTVs. Sure, there aren't many "real" 3D movies or television programs around so far, but once the big studios all jump on the train, it's going to be BIG. Just have a look how many 3D TVs are in the Amazon topseller charts, these is a demand for sure.