|FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
WHICH 3D TECHNOLOGY IS THE BEST?
What is defined as "the best" depends on your particular target audience and application.
If you want the least expensive and most user friendly 3D method for large consumer markets, then the red/cyan viewers are the best. The most inexpensive cardboard models have roughly the price of a postage stamp, in quantity. The prices for high end plastic models vary (up to $15 for glasses with flip-up lenses and dioptric correction.) Most suppliers offer large bulk discounts.
If you want the most advanced technology, with no compromise in color reproduction, then you need liquid crystal glasses. The glasses are synchronized with the computer monitor, and they work like a pair of shutters that alternate the left and the right images at high speed. They require a classic desktop monitor (no laptop screens) and a simple installation. Most models retail for under $100.
If you want to show large screen 3D at a large gathering - during a trade show or a corporate event - then you need polarized projection. Two images are projected in sync on a silver screen, and the audience wears polarized glasses. The color reproduction is great, the glasses are inexpensive and user friendly, however the projection setup entails a more significant expense. The polarized method works with slides, motion pictures, and computer or video projection. Most recommended for repeat events.
A few other 3D methods are available, depending on application. Please contact the member sites for more details.
Most other sites mention "Red/Blue Glasses", because for a long time this was the standard. In the past a lot of 3D images were black and white originals converted to red/blue 3D. But since motion picture quality filters became inexpensive enough to be used in 3D glasses, this method (called "Anaglyphic") proved capable of reproducing color surprisingly well. Many cheap glasses still have red/blue filters, which is a wrong choice, for the following reason:
The whole idea behind 3D is to separate the two images, so each image reaches only the corresponding eye. To do this, you need filters that can cancel each other (if you overlay them, you should see black). And to get good cancellation with color filters, you need to use complementary colors. For the left eye image, you take away the blue and the green - so you end up with red. For the right eye, you take off the red - which means that you don't end up with blue, but with a combination of green and blue - aka cyan!
The red filter is always on the left, following a standard established by 3D motion picture promoters in the 30s and 40s. At that time nobody knew about the different functions performed by the two brain hemispheres, so probably the red was placed on the left just because it "felt good". The left eye "talks" to the right hemisphere - and the red color is associated with emotion. If you don't believe this, ask yourself when was the last time when a friend going through mid-life crisis bought a BLUE Corvette?
For a free pair of demo 3D viewers please send a business inquiry by fax, on your letterhead, including a brief description of your intended 3D project. The fax number is 818-841-9362; no e-mail requests please. We will send you a free pair of viewers, or we will refer your inquiry to a supplier matching your particular application. Some of the sites featured in this Album may also offer samples. If you are planning a 3D project for your business, please visit the Album sites and contact the companies directly. Finally, for visitors who only wish to view 3D images and don't have a business project in mind, some of the member sites provide links to retailers.
The only part that requires professional expertise, or at least some training for your personnel, is creating the 3D images themselves. The owners of the member sites can provide all the necessary services.
Once you have the 3D images, they can be included in your website like any other graphic, using the most basic Internet functions. Your own webmaster can do this very easily (click here for a page with simple layout suggestions). It is, however, a good idea to have your webmaster stay in touch with your stereography consultant, for possible suggestions that may amplify the impact of your 3D site. Some of the Album members also offer Internet design services - please check out their pages.
Regular television and video are not suitable for anaglyphic 3D, except for a few applications. The color reproduction is usually poor (NTSC = "Never Twice the Same Color"), and this leads to 3D distortions and ghost images. Only computer screens can offer the level of accuracy needed for good 3D reproduction. Computers process and display the color in a way that is very different from regular television.
Anaglyphic 3D can be reproduced very well in print media, where each ink tone can be controlled very accurately. There is only one problem, and it is not a technical one. When you hold a magazine or a book in your hands, you are fully aware that you are looking at a piece of flimsy paper. If the pictures show small 3D subjects, such as tiny art objects or jewelry, that's OK. However, if you are looking at a fabulous landscape, or at a cruise ship, or at any subject that's large in real life, the 3D effect will be less credible as long as you are holding the print in your hands! Wall-mounted prints will work much better for such subjects.
The computer screen, since it offers a more neutral and flat surface, is most suitable for viewing 3D images. As mentioned before, the color reproduction is very good. Therefore, any media designed for computer display - including CD, DVD, and of course the Internet - will work very well in anaglyphic 3D. The same video images that may not reproduce well on NTSC television will look great on a computer screen - if they are properly recorded.
3D images have been around for at least 150 years, and we are not aware of any lasting side effects on the users. However, during this long history, most 3D applications entailed casual use, for entertainment purposes, a few minutes at a time.
So there is no problem with casual viewing of 3D images. Probably there is no problem with extended use either, but it's better to veer on the side of safety. Therefore we don't recommend using any 3D setup daily, for hours at a time, or as part of a work environment, without first getting the setup approved by an eye doctor or by another suitable specialist. If the setup uses liquid crystal shutter glasses (LCS), we suggest consulting a neurologist as well - since they may pose a slight risk (undocumented) for people with a history of seizures.
Finally, be aware that a small fraction of the population (estimates range between 2% and 5%) are simply not capable of viewing 3D images, regardless of the 3D method being used. If a person says that he/she cannot see the 3D effect, there's no point in insisting - you would only make that person feel embarrassed. And obviously, do not insist in demonstrating 3D images to people who have (or had) major vision problems, such as eye surgery to correct crossed vision, etc.
Yes - actually there are several 3D methods that don't require glasses. However, each of them entails a trade-off, and none of them is suitable for general applications. Three examples:
- LENTICULAR 3D. We are all familiar with 3D post cards, some of which are even capable of showing 2-3 frames of animation. Narrow image strips must be strictly aligned with a layer of prismatic strips. This requires, however, some expensive processing - and there's also a compromise in quality.
.- MASKING. The left/right images can be obscured from the opposite eyes by solid obstacles or by special optics inside the display. The viewer's positioning is critical. This method may be suitable for some work applications or for some kiosk-mounted displays.
.- HOLOGRAPHY. This is the most intriguing of all 3D methods, and works on a totally different principle. You can even uncover objects obstructed by other objects, by changing your position! However, holography is VERY expensive, it rarely reproduces a modicum of real color, and although its scientific merits are amazing, in "real life" it remains a curiosity. Holography is also an undervalued form of art.
Many people, when questioned about 3D, will say: "But do we have to wear those silly glasses?" The keyword here is ... "SILLY". Over the years, many gimmick seekers offered glasses featuring toy-like designs: too many colors, too many rabbit ears, and so on. The real answer is not to try eliminating the glasses (impossible in most situations) - but to come up with product designs that have a more "SERIOUS" look! Even the kids who are over 5 years of age will prefer glasses that look more "mature". There is a fundamental business principle that some "3D Entrepreneurs" still have to grasp. "Don't try to offer a product that will make the users look silly!!!" If you look at the most successful 3D productions currently shown at major theme parks, you'll notice that the design of the 3D glasses is greatly improved compared to a few years ago.
If you take a close look at the sites featured in this Album, you'll probably find the answers to any general questions. Also, on the last page of the Album you'll see a link to the "Stereoscopic 3D Ring", which features a large variety of 3D websites - published by professionals and hobby-ists alike. If you want to look on the whole Internet for relevant subjects, the best term to look for in any search engine is "Stereoscopic". And obviously, the least time consuming solution is to use the consultation services offered by the members of the Album.
Membership in this Album
is "by invitation only", and any submission must pass an artistic (and
therefore subjective) evaluation. You must be a professional stereographer
with a business-to-business website, offering world class stereo photography
and graphics services. Submissions
are accepted by e-mail, and MUST include your telephone number in the "Subject"
Line (very important), four JPEG (*.jpg) images up to 150K each, and
a website address (URL). If the submission is approved, you will
receive an invitation, along with some simple instructions, within two