Tag Archive: Active vs Passive 3D


This post in on the back of reading an insightful article on TechRadar, where Sony Computer Entertainment UK head Fergal Gara underlines that 3D is not as important as it is made out to be. Even though his belief is largely from a gaming perspective, he opinionates that it significantly translates to basic TV viewing as well.

One of the major factors behind this thought is the hassle of wearing glasses. We have known for ages that the active-shutter glasses have been a bane to the retrospective growth of 3D TV’s. It boils down largely due to the fact that these glasses are heavy, battery-powered and require near perfect synchronization with the TV screen to give the desired 3D experience. But isn’t that the reason passive 3D has gained popularity over the years. Since passive 3D glasses are nothing but polarized frames, there is no restriction on the design front and gives you much more liberty with its 3D viewing feature. With these lightweight frames that also come in clip-on designs for spectacled individuals, these glasses provides more positional flexibility for 3D viewing while negating the ill-effects of dizziness and headaches. LG kicked off the passive 3D trend with its Cinema 3D range, with Toshiba following suit.

And IFA Berlin 2012 has also thrown quite a few pleasant surprises at us, the most important in the HDTV arena being the unveiling of commercial-production ready 4K TV’s by both LG and Sony. Now with Sony bringing their massive 84 inch 4K TV into the fray, they have not only switched to passive 3D but also incorporated the Simulview™ feature which allows dual player full screen gaming with their flagship PS3 console. In that sense, Gara’s view comes across as disputable with the Japanese giants pumping in the time and resources to make sure that 3D is an essential factor in their latest offering.

 

 

Now one thing I do agree with is his observation that the importance of 3D is gauged directly from consumer response towards it which to this point has been mildly favorable at best. But I don’t think it’s down to the technology itself but because of the costs involved. 3D TV’s are yet to reach a level where every second person can easily afford it and the introduction of 4K’s ad 8K’s haven’t exactly resulted in a drop down in costs of the lower end models. Anyone reading this would want to chastise me for this, but I feel it’s a very feasible step by manufacturers to innovate at present to scale down the costs in future. There’s a reason iconic filmmakers like James Cameron and Ridley Scott have turned to 3D in their latest directorial projects. And Cameron firmly advocates that the bond between 3D and its audience can be strengthened and evolved for wider masses through 3D TV’s in your living space.

3D at this point might just seem like a fancy gimmick for the higher costs of TV’s these days, but a consolidated approach has slowly but surely garnered the interest of public and long may it improve. Because an increased demand only means competition which will result in significant price drops for the 3D TV’s available in the market at this juncture of time.

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I remember going to Nehru Planetarium quite a few times during my schooling days in Delhi in the name of class trips. The whole ethnicity of the place used to leave us kids amazed and the space show was the cherry on the cake. Just seeing planets, moons and stars revolving around you in a dome-shaped structure gave the heart-thumping feeling that you were actually in space. I can still recall that the next few days were spent with lingering feelings of the experience. At the time I believed that it was the closest one can get to virtual reality and then 3D happened.

The first Indian 3D film “Chhota Chetan” was released way back in 1984 and then re-released in 1998. That is when I first came to grips with how 3D works. As funny as the flying skeletons in the film were, it revealed a whole new avenue of entertainment. And since 3D was still in a very beginning stage, we watched it with Red CYAN 3D glasses. But that was it during the time for 3D as nothing concrete developed on that platform. The second half of the first decade of 20th century was the emergence of HD entertainment as people were still reveling in the massive SD (240-480p) to HD (720p) upgrade. And along with that came the LCD TV’s to replace the bulky CRT’s.

But the real renaissance period of 3D has coincided with the emergence of the IMAX cinemas in India. Industry insiders still believed that 3D was never going to be commercially viable, but IMAX changed that. After being a rip-roaring success across US, the IMAX 3D technology was made readily available for Indian audiences. My first IMAX experience was during my 2008 internship in Hyderabad when I got to seeBeowulf” and my was I left impressed. The combination of high definition and digital 3D made the protagonists come alive on screen. And that is where my love affair with 3D started. Major consumer electronic powerhouses after seeing the positive reaction of audiences towards 3D started to pump the moolah towards 3D home entertainment and engaged their workforce to produce 3D projectors and TV’s.

The initial 3D TV’s came with active-shutter in both plasma and LED technologies. While the majority of the masses were enthused about the concept of being able to watch 3D at home, there were not too many takers as the technology was exorbitantly expensive at the time. And there were major flaws of flickering and ghosting on these TV’s along with the bulky electronic glasses which were a constant source of headache for users. Eventually, the likes of Toshiba and LG did some more homework and decided to part with their active 3D technology in favor of passive 3D. And it did come as a welcome relief for the growing community of 3D consumers to have 3D technologies which was similar to the 3D in theaters. At present, the 3D medium is silently gaining popularity with most companies investing big time and more and more in the crowd showing favorable enthusiasm towards 3D. And a real blueprint that the 3D is here to stay has been the vote of confidence from James Cameron (creator of the blockbuster “Avatar”) and his constant pursuit to make passive 3D mainstream; one thing which he believes can only be defined by TV’s.

Now the ground reality is that only a certain part of the population can afford 3D TV’s at the moment because their cost factor hasn’t dropped significantly over the years, but the early adoption of the technology by manufacturers seems to suggest that mainstream and household 3D domination isn’t too far away.

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