My Next 3D Home Entertainment Experience

Super Bowl XLIII is (almost) here and it comes with a firsthand opportunity to view 3D on your non-3D home TV set. Courtesy of some major advertisers, we all have a chance to pick up some ColorCode 3D glasses for free and watch a few commercials in 3D. To be very clear, we will not see the game itself in 3D, just a few commercials at the end of the second quarter. The glasses can be picked up in a bunch of supermarkets. Then as a special treat keep the glasses for a 1 hr episode of the NBC comedy Chuck to be televised in 3D on Monday, February 2nd.

I am looking forward to compare the ColorCode 3D technology with the old anaglyph type glasses that have the type used for 3D DVD releases. Last year, when Journey to the Center Of The Earth 3D movie showed up in my local supermarket, I knew the time had come for a firsthand in-home experiment. With four pairs of 3D glasses included and enough snacks in my shopping cart I was heading home to my very own 3D home adventure.

After dinner and a good glass of red wine, we settled in the living room in front of our 50" PDP TV with high anticipation and the normal 10 minutes of anxiety before the DVD box was opened and DVD fed to the DVD player. The 3D glasses turned out to be the old paper anaglyph (red/green) type, which the older generation (which I regrettably belong to) still remembers. Uncomfortable and awkward to wear, we started the movie. As mentioned above I still remember the good old days of black & white TV and I felt magically being moved back in time. A short check of the TV (without the glasses) confirmed there was a hint of color but through the glasses it looked more or less like a black & white movie (others have noted that the movies look green).

How about the 3D effect? Yes, it was certainly there as things were trying to jump out of the screen to bite you with incredibly long sharp teeth. But it also reminded me of why 3D movies didn’t make it in the 1950s. In short, the movie didn’t make us jump, but it did induce a significant headache within the first twenty minutes. After similar complaints from my wife, it was discontinued and replaced with a nice high definition (1080i) TV show in full color.

During a family dinner a few weeks later the experiment was repeated with significantly younger folks in the 5 - 30 year old group. The result was pretty much the same with the 20-30 year old group giving up after less than two minutes and the youngest group opting for other activities after exactly 5 minutes and 22 seconds. (Warned by my own experience I had fast-forwarded the movie to the first movie scene).

As a team member of display experts and enthusiasts I felt I could not just take this defeat without further research. With much renewed enthusiasm I repeated the experiment on the rest of the TVs in my home. The 37" LCD TV produced pretty much the same result as the 50" PDP. Interestingly a 21" LCD in the guest room gave me much less headache and a much-improved 3D effect. What was the reason for this improvement? Was I finally getting used to the anaglyph glasses or was it the screen size?

To find out, I headed for the home office and surprisingly found that the PC gave me by far the best 3D experience of all viewing devices in my home. After repeating this on my work computer I concluded that on smaller display with a closer viewing distance the anaglyph rendering did the trick. Still the washed out colors and some problems with ghosting didn’t make this a real pleasure to watch but it didn’t create a headache either. There is a lot I don’t know about how the movie was mastered (or re-mastered) for DVD and how it was encoded in anaglyph to know the real reason for this effect.

Meanwhile, I have given the movie to friends and family for their viewing pleasure and have received very similar feedback. Although this was not a statistical or scientifically correct evaluation, I still believe that a lot of people will have a similar experience.

With the ColorCode 3D technology promising a better picture quality and 3D effect, I am looking forward to the next step in field-testing with around 150 million potential viewers. If you have a chance to view the commercials and/or the Chuck episode, drop me an e-mail to see what the industry insiders think of this new approach.

By Norbert Hildebrand, DisplayDaily