3D Vision Blog

A normal user's look into the world of 3D Stereo Technologies

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What to Choose: IMAX 3D versus RealD versus Dolby 3D for 3D Movies?

December 18th, 2009 · 103 Comments · 3D Movies & Videos


Lately this has become a big question for a lot of people, especially when considering where to go and watch James Cameron’s 3D blockbuster Avatar, and the questions has crossed my mind too, considering that there are cinemas with all of the three major 3D technologies where I live too. So here is a quick and short comparison between the three major solutions used in 3D movie theaters worldwide, along with information on which one I personally prefer, but you are also more than welcome to share your personal preferences along with the WHYs…

This one is the oldest of the three standards that is famous mostly because of the very big screens present in these cinemas, but they are still not very widely available around the world with most of the IMAX cinemas present in USA. Up until very recently IMAX 3D was only analogue with the movies being shot on large frame 70mm film in order to achieve good image quality on the larger screens these cinemas use, as compared to normal 35mm film. The digital version was introduced last year and still very few cinemas use that and the resolution and respectively the projection screen sizes for these implementations are not as big as on the analogue ones. IMAX uses big linear passive polarized plastic glasses for the viewers that do not provide the best possible experience. Anyway, getting back to the user experience, there is something very specific for IMAX 3D and that is the fact that the movies shown there are usually optimized for more pop-out screen effect than depth. This means that most of the time objects literally seem to pop out of the screen appearing as if you can touch them, kids do love this effect, but this is also more tiring for the brain. So usually longer movies are a bit of a problem to watch and Avatar is close to 3 hours, so you should be carefully consider this, especially if you feel a little “out of this world” when watching movies in an IMAX cinema. Some other drawbacks that are not always present and most of the people miss are the lower contrast in some dark scenes, a bit more ghosting of objects and problems refocusing your eyes quickly enough to follow the whole picture in fast action scenes and thus you might miss some important parts. Anyway IMAX 3D is certainly the most easy way to achieve the WOW effect with just about anyone that is watching his first stereoscopic 3D movie, but it this is not the first for you, then the other alternatives might be better…

This is a bit newer standard, but a digital one from its start… digital here meaning that the movies are recorded in a digital format and the projectors being used are also digital. RealD 3D cinemas uses circular polarized plastic glasses instead of linear polarized to provide better user experience when watching stereoscopic content. Circular polarization is considered to be better, because viewers are able to move their head as they like without the loss of the 3D depth effect. With the linear polarized glasses you have to be a bit steady, not moving around too much and sometimes you might have trouble finding the right position for your head in order to achieve the best effect when watching the movie to fully enjoy it. The circular polarized plastic glasses used here are also cheap to produce, but this technology requires the use of more expensive silver screen for projection which makes it a bit more expensive to implement. Still at the moment RealD is the most widely used standard for stereoscopic 3D movie projections all over the world, so you will most likely have one of these cinemas where you live. The immersion experience with RealD is a bit different compared to what you get at IMAX 3D projections as here the depth perception is of actual depth so the action is more going inside the screen, and not popping out of it. This does not make things less impressive, although some people might get a little disappointed at first if they were expecting to have the IMAX 3D pop-out effects, but after some time of watching they still get the feeling they are right in the middle of the action. This way of going more in the projection screen and not out of it is also easier on your brain as it is not that overloaded with information and is considered better for longer movies. Also it is easier to keep track of quick action scenes and the ghosting is usually less, so most of the people prefer this technology, although it is still not perfect.

Dolby 3D
Also known as Dolby 3D Digital Cinema is the newest of the three technologies for stereoscopic 3D movie projection and as you can guess not only by the name it is as well digital like RealD. A lot of people find that Dolby 3D is the best stereoscopic 3D technology for them to watch movies in the cinema. Here we also have the typical cinema style plastic 3D glasses that use a bit more specific passive filters related to the main colors we see which is by far considered to provide the best results. Of course this special type of polarization brings the cost of the glasses up compared to the normal linear or circular polarized glasses the other technologies use, but there the projection screen doesn’t have to be specific (Dolby 3D at home, anyone?). Dolby 3D provides better color reproduction (colors look a bit brighter and more vivid) and a sharper image with more details visible (especially in darker areas), better contrast and almost no ghosting of the objects you see on the screen, which also are not that much popping out of the screen like in IMAX 3D, but rely more on inside depth, like with RealD. Still the stereoscopic 3D experience here is yet again not perfect as you might have trouble with the quick refocusing of your eyes on some objects moving fast from the back to front and some people might have weird troubles seeing the right colors some rare occasions.

And after all this you can say that it is still mostly a matter of personal preferences where you’ll watch 3D movies, but sometimes you might not have IMAX 3D cinema around or any other technology. Have in mind that with the case of Avatar, it is also being shown in some 2D cinemas, but that will be too stupid to do when the movie has been made especially to be watched in 3D. The only thing I don’t like about IMAX is that after about 40 minutes I’m a bit tired and I probably will have trouble watching a movies that is much longer than that. As for RealD and Dolby 3D for me there is hardly any significant difference between the quality and experience you get in cinemas equipped with one or the the other technology, although Dolby 3D seems to be slightly better. And don’t forget that sometimes not well enough built or equipped 3D movie theater can also ruin everything with the one at fault not the technology being used… ;)

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The Game Resident Evil 5 for PC and its 3D Vision Readiness (part 2)

September 17th, 2009 · 12 Comments · Stereo 3D Games


I’m continuing with some official information about the first 3D Vision Ready Game – Resident Evil 5 for PC that is already out in USA, Asia and Korea (since 15th September), launched today in Japan and it should be officially available in Europe tomorrow. Just to prepare you on what to do and how to play the game for getting the best possible Stereoscopic 3D experience here are some tips, but first just a short intro about the game. Resident Evil 5 starts somewhere in Africa, where innocent villagers are transforming into ruthless abominations… or Zombies and we all like to call them. You are Chris Redfield and together with your new partner, Sheva Alomar, you must stop whatever is causing the disturbing turn of events…


Now what is especially interesting about the PC version of RE5 is that with it you will be the first to experience stereoscopic 3D out of screen effects as your living room is transformed into the world of Kijuju (as Nvidia and Capcom state). Infected Majini coming at you from every angle, dust flying in and out of screen and the scariest bosses to date are taken up a notch. Resident Evil 5 PC is a whole new level of fear you’ll never forget if you play the game with 3D Vision equipped system, bringing it to the maximum possible realism level. Up until this point, games have taken advantage of “Depth of Field” effects that make the game appear as though the player is looking through a window into the game world. But the holy grail of 3D is “Out-of-Screen” effects (although a bit more tiring for the eyes and the brain), and Resident Evil 5 is among the first games to exploit out-of-screen effects, making thrown objects and zombie blood appear as if they are literally popping out of the screen (note that it is not everywhere and everything that is popping out of the screen, but actually just a few things). Resident Evil 5 is also the first game to support Stereoscopic 3D *EVERYTHING* – all levels, menus, and cut-scene movies (cinematics) can all be experienced in 3D using NVIDIA 3D Vision… even the start-screen and in-game item menus are in 3D.



And here is what Nvidia recommends as best settings to really enjoy the games in Stereoscopic 3D mode with 3D Vision, just don’t forget that it is recommend to have at least Nvidia GeForce GTX260 for these settings to deliver comfortable gameplay. Set the Screen Resolution to 1680×1050 and Refresh Rate to 120Hz, and also optionally you can disable Motion Blur for better S3D effect in the game when using 3D Vision. And even if you still don’t have the GeForce 3D Vision shutter glasses and a compatible display you may still play the game in S3D mode with GeForce 3D Vision Discover or another plain paper anaglyph (red/cyan) glasses, but with not that good level of realism (don’t forget the disadvantages of the anaglyph technology).

Also read the Information about Resident Evil 5 for PC and its 3D Vision Readiness (part 1)

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Changing the Convergence Level in 3D Vision

June 23rd, 2009 · 10 Comments · GeForce 3D Vision


Normally when you are using 3D Vision you have control only on the level of depth by either turning the scroll wheel on the IR transmitter or by using CRTL + F3 or CTRL + F4 to decrease or increase it. And this is normal as in most games you don’t have to play with convergence, because everything is usually being set in the available profile, but what happens if you run a game that has not been profiled by Nvidia? If you run a new game, or some old and not very popular one you might notice that there is nothing impressive when you run it with 3D Vision. Here you can try to change the convergence in order to improve the situation and it actually helps… usually, but there is no guarantee. But even if the game looks good by default you can achieve even better results by changing the convergence and thus improving the level of depth, the pop-out of the screen effect or even both…

You should know that by default the keys for changing the convergence level are CRTL + F5 and CTL + F6, but they are not active so even when pressing them nothing will change. In order to be able to control the level of convergence you must first “Enable the advanced in-game settings” from Nvidia’s Control Panel by going in to “Stereoscopic 3D”, choosing “Set up stereoscopic 3D” and then opening the “Set Keyboard Shortcuts”. When you activate the advanced settings you would be able to use the CTRL + F7 key combination in order to save the custom settings you set by changing the level of convergence so that you will not have to make them each time you run a given game. However you should know that there is still no graphic representation showing you the level of convergence, so when you are changing it you must carefully watch the changes on the screen. Nvidia is probably going to build additional functionality into a later version of the driver that will show you visually the level of convergence such as the one already available for the level of depth.

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