Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Rumor Control: Glasses-Free 3D - Give Me Something That Works!

Yes, glasses-free (autostereoscopic) 3D technology is advancing. It's been advancing for a very long time, especially in the past 7 years and on hand-held devices. I've seen a plethora of these ideas come and go. "I've solved it! We have the technology to take away 3D glasses from watching stereoscopic movies!"

Right. Prove it. Don't show me in some darkened convention booth with my feet firmly planted in a small yellow circle painted on the floor. Prove it pragmatically - in a theater, with me sitting in all regions of place. I want to move my head around a bit for comfort, shift in my seat. And I want perfect, high resolution with support for up to at least 60 frames per second. Can't do it? Don't waste my time!

Much has been said and shared about the recent Wired article praising a new glasses-free 3D technology out of South Korea - I just shake my head in disgust. First of all the whole article is biased against 3D to begin with - here's its first sentence: "Watching 3-D movies generally means suffering through two things: crappy plotlines that favor spectacle over substance and the need to wear some annoying, dorky glasses."

Right. I've got news for you Adam Mann (author of the post), hating 3D is soooooo 2010. We're past it. Huge infrastructure investments have been made, movie goers support the format, most of the world's creative talent have embraced it and we are well past such ignorant journalism. You want something to hate that is actually in vogue? High frame rates. I am actually heavily in favor of HFR, but I can understand why others need to be heard right now to help shape its future - just as others voiced there opinion and helped shape 3D's future 6 years ago when I started MarketSaw. Back then, I helped educate and thoroughly evangelized 3D in all forums because most people needed it. Today, they're educated for the most part. Putting on 3D glasses for 2 hours is no more annoying than wearing sunglasses at the beach for 2 hours. It's old news. Very old.

If and when glasses-free technology exists THAT WORK, I will be first in line. But before then, there is NO story here. Ridiculous waste of time. The current polarized 3D glasses are just fine thank you.

Click to enlarge
And about the whole supposed point of the Wired post - a NEW method that could allow glasses-free 3D in theaters - complete hogwash. That's lenticular technology (the vertical lines are clearly seen in this photo from their post) and it's been around for a VERY long time. It still has the same issues, the same frustrations. There is nothing new about it. Oh it's projected? WOW! That's novel! Not.

And other movie sites pick up the story! Spreading this misleading story. Why? It's Wired. A fairly good name in breaking tech stories. Heck MarketSaw has even been featured in it. Seeing how they've handled this fiasco though, brings me a great deal of pause. Wired ain't what it used to be it seems.

Here's my final word: Lenticular 3D has been around a very long time. It works - modestly in small scale situations, like movie posters. If you move your head around a bit, it doesn't work. It's horrible with resolutions. Artifacts exist in motion. Dead zones exist depending on your position relative to the screen. Now you're saying that you want to PROJECT this mess on to a HUGE screen and call it progress? Please.

Come back when you have something that actually works well and has the potential to work well.

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Jim Dorey
jim (at) marketsaw (dot) com

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