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Kooptech's blog - 3D technologies

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a teenager using 3D glasses to watch movies in cinema

Cinematic future - 3D technology in all its glory

Although 3D technology is so much more than just entertainment, it is cinemas, TV screens and creative video games that bring this truly incredible experience into our everyday lives. With technological advancements showing up on the market on a daily basis, no wonder that something that was once known to photographers only is now a widely spread phenomenon that people can enjoy and get to know in their free time. To get a true 3D experience you can’t just put on a movie branded as 3D on a regular TV screen – there is several aspects to be taken into account in order for the technology to work. So how exactly does it work and what needs to be made sure of to make the perfect 3D experience?

How does 3D movie work?

In the most basic understanding of how cinemas work, you need a large room, a huge screen and a projector. This is how cinemas have worked for years and how you can bring display technology into your everyday life. Projectors, both lamp and laser, are now frequently used in cinemas as well as lecture rooms, conference rooms or even homes and open-air events. But how 3D work here? A projector that can actually work with 3D technology (used in systems such as XpanD 3D, IMAX 3D and Dolby 3D) can display 2 separate visuals at the same time and make them distinct from one another by using different wavelengths of light or different polarization on both of them. The visual that is actually displayed on the screen is blurry and uncomfortable to look at, but once you put on your 3D glasses, they help your eyes see the picture clearly, with each lens catching one of the images and your brain connecting them as one, three dimensional picture.

All the 3D systems and methods of projecting 3D images

First of all, we have the system that uses colours as the way to distinct the images from each other. This idea is now mostly used in the Dolby 3D system, in which an alternate colour wheel is placed in the projector which is able to produce the same colour scheme as the original three filters found in traditional projectors, but at the same time it can transmit light at different wavelengths. Dolby 3D glasses have complementary dichroic filters in the lenses in order to filter out either one or the other set of three light wavelengths and let each eye see only one image shown. In this way, one projector can display the left and right stereoscopic images simultaneously. This method is widely known as wavelength multiplex visualization and it’s the biggest pride of Dolby studios to this day.

Another way of projecting 3D images, used by Dolby’s biggest competitor, IMAX 3D is the idea of using two separate camera lenses that represent the left and right eye during the production and creating two separate, simultaneous images then and there. The lenses are separated by a distance of 64 mm, which is the average distance between a human's eyes. The images are then projected onto the screen by using polarizing filters to oppositely polarize the light used in projecting each image. The viewer wearing specially designed 3D glasses with polarizing filters oriented to match the projector filters, sees one image in each eye and just like with the previous method, his brain does the work of joining them together.

There is one more method used in IMAX 3D system and it capitalises on a technology designed by another cinematic giant, XpanD 3D. The company developed an active-shutter 3D solution, which is used in all their 3D glasses and allows watching 3D movies in which the two projections rapidly alternate. While one image is being shown, the projection of the other one is blocked. The projections change so quickly that it’s invisible to the viewers eye, but for the technology itself, it works wonders. All you need to do is wear specially designed XpanD 3D shutter glasses with liquid crystal shutters that block or transmit light in sync with the projectors, so that each eye can see only the images meant for it.

3D projectors and glasses

There are many brands that put home and commercial use projectors on the market, but only a few of them actually provide those capable of displaying 3D movies. NEC laser projectors, as well as Barco laser projectors and Christie laser projectors are all the best solution you can get on the market right now if you are even slightly interested in using 3D for your own entertainment. They are used by many cinemas around the world as well, as they are top quality new solutions capable of keeping up with the ever-changing technology and high quality of the movies.

There is also the matter of 3D glasses, which we mentioned before briefly. XpanD 3D glasses and Dolby 3D glasses are not the only ones, but they are definitely of the best quality and can provide far better experience than any of their competitors. To make them work correctly though, there are rules to remember and one of them is to make sure of proper maintenance. 3D glasses in cinemas are distributed among people screening after screening and they must be hygienic and clean at all times. There are specialised systems and solutions to get them back to their best state and at kooptech-cinema, we have them all.