Being a parent, I went to see the new Digital 3D movie Meet the Robinsons over the weekend. The film itself is a little predictable, and not much to really blog about, but the Digital 3D is really impressive. It uses Disney Digital 3D technology (a rebranding of Real D) like Chicken Little and Monster House before it. Now I'm wishing I did though, because the 3D technology is really impressive!
In the olden days (read '1980s'), 3D meant wearing red and blue glasses, so that the stuff on the screen that was coloured red could only be seen by one eye, and similarly for blue. This meant that each eye would see something different, and hopefully you'd get the 3D effect happening. But of course, the colours were never done very well, and you'd see double images, have a hard time focussing, and generally get a sore head. But nevertheless it was a trend, and comic books, TV shows, and of course movies would all be shown in 3D. Even Hitchcock made a version of "Dial M for Murder" in 3D, which I had always hoped to see at Valhalla, when it wasn't burning down.
Real D is done differently though and uses a similar technology to the the IMAX 3D experience. IMAX 3D was another thing that I had hoped to experience, but missed out on for one reason or another. The IMAX principle was that you would watch a higher-framerate movie, wearing special glasses which had LCD lenses. The lenses would blank over each eye at just the right time, so that your eyes only saw the frames they were meant to see. No funny colours here, your eye actually sees what the camera sees. Proper 3D.
Real D also works with a higher-framerate, but the LCD bit happens at the projector. It polarises the light in two directions, and then a cheap pair of glasses with polarised lenses will do the trick. The physics behind polarisation is that light which only has waves in a particular direction can be filtered out with a lense which is polarised in the opposite direction… ie, light-waves which only go up and down can be filtered out by a lense which only allows horizontal waves through. This is why polarised sunglasses reduce glare, because glare tends to be polarised light.
The effect is incredible. The whole movie is 3D, and I found myself noticing the distance in almost every scene. Some more than others, like when the hero is going through a tunnel. But of course, this is animation. I have read that U2's recent tour was filmed in 3D as well, and I want to see how live-action goes in 3D.
So my next thought is… when will this become available on my PC? Surely a good quality monitor could be set up with a high-framerate, and whilst it would be hard to polarise the light coming off a screen, could I get some USB connected LCD glasses and have a 3D computing experience? It could be really good for visualising data.