Will The Suits Ruin 3D?

The Real Battle of 3D: Shutter Vs. Polarized

After listening to speakers at the 3D Gaming Summit this week, it is clear that filmmakers and game developers are split about which technology is best. Filmmakers like polarized glasses, while game developers like shutter glasses.

For example, Paul Anderson, writer, director, and producer of the films Mortal Kombat and Resident Evil, is adamant that polarized glasses are the way to go. “I hate shutter glasses,” he said during a discussion on stage, noting their weight and tendency to cause headaches. While Anderson said he wasn’t familiar with many game titles, he said he was excited about the future games.

Executives and industry professionals at the conference tended to agree with Anderson’s perspective, but didn’t agree with the panel of game developers who insisted that shutter glasses are a better technology than polarized glasses are. Mark Rein, vice president of Epic Games, told a story of how he watched a clip of Avatar prior to the film’s release on a giant TV, complete with backlight and shutter glasses. He said it looked spectacular.

“The 3D-capable LCD and plasma screens I’ve seen produced a brighter and more vibrant picture than what you [see] with a projector, even in the best theaters,” Rein told Tom’s Guide after the panel discussion. “When you see much higher frame rates than films are capable of, on these vibrant screens, you will be very captivated–at least I am.”

Unfortunately, videogame developers couldn’t wow the conference attendees. Nearly every 3D demo experienced technical difficulties. Developers blamed the issues on poor projection hardware. The demos were shown on a three-year-old projector, and even though the demos were designed to be viewed with shutter glasses, the crowed viewed them with polarized glasses.

During one Q&A session after a panel discussion, the first question was: “How could you show such faulty footage?” Murmurs of agreement ran through the crowd, comprised mostly of film industry workers. The person asking the question followed up by saying: “Film never has problems like this.”

Outside of the show floor, Gunnar Optiks, a maker of computer-friendly glasses to relieve eyestrain, showed off its new polarized glasses, which, the firm says, work with any display and 3D movie.  “You can walk into any theater and watch Avatar with these glasses,” Mark McNabb, vice president of marketing for Gunnar Optiks, told Tom’s Guide. 

Gunnar Optiks’ polarized glasses are much like any standard and ordinary pair, with a small form-factor, true lenses, and very light weight. The company has aligned iZ3D and hopes to sell the polarized glasses to those interested in owning their own pairs to bring to movie theaters or use at home. The glasses will be available in early May, starting at $79.99.

Gunnar Optiks’ executives expect polarized glasses to win out, for two main reasons: they’re simpler and lighter. Polarized glasses are just like any standard pair. Shutter glasses, on the other hand, are expensive, bulky, and require battery power. Nvidia’s 3D Vision Glasses are significantly heavier than a pair of Gunnar Optiks’, as are Panasonic’s.

As I learned from other attendees, shutter glasses may yet win out. In Europe, for example, Volfoni, the largest manufacturer of 3D glasses, makes shutter glasses, while theaters in the UK all use them. While the U.S. film industry may be pushing for polarized glasses, gamers want shutter glasses, as do Europeans. It may be possible for Volfoni to gain share in the United States, especially if it makes smaller and lighter shutter glasses.

Shutter glasses require hardware and software to be built into the display, while polarized glasses only require hardware. Shutter glasses must communicate with the display to properly open and close the lenses, while polarized glasses don’t have that problem.

Shutter glasses require users to sit in the “sweet spot,” directly in front of the screen, to see the image properly. This isn’t true for all technologies, but Nvidia’s technology requires it for now. Polarized lenses, on the other hand, can allow viewers to properly see the image at any angle, so long as they are circular polarized glasses, the de-facto standard at the 3D Gaming Summit.

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  • JohnnyLucky
    I had the opportunity to view 3D gaming and 3D TV at a local Fry's Electronics store. I was not impressed with the technology. It still requires a lot of development and price reduction to an acceptable level.
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  • anamaniac
    JohnnyLuckyI had the opportunity to view 3D gaming and 3D TV at a local Fry's Electronics store. I was not impressed with the technology. It still requires a lot of development and price reduction to an acceptable level.

    Agreed.
    I jumped on the i7 bandwagon, but I'll pass on by this one, for now.
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  • bloody llama
    Back when Nvidia first released their 3D Vision kit, I bought it. Back then, it was so new, I couldn't even find any reviews on the internet. Despite that, it worked perfectly for the most part. GUIs and 2D sprites in games produced a lot of eye strain, but it's merely a game design implementaion. Despite this, I have come to hate 3D gaming. It gives me migrains and does not make games any more fun. I returned my $600 3D vision kit, and am glad that I did.
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  • ksampanna
    Watching Avatar in 3D gave me a headache, not because the movie was bad or anything (on the contrary, it was spectacular), but because of the glasses. And that was only for 3 hrs.
    Gamers play a lot more than that in one stretch. So atleast until a technology comes which allows us to play in 3D for long hours without giving migranes, I'l pass ...
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  • virtualban
    I am waiting for Virtual Reality helmets or glasses with screens in those and head positioning/angle/etc adjustment for games. That is where I see the future, cost effective and addresses most of the issues. Resolution will slowly reach up.
    -1
  • Anonymous
    I want 3D and I want it now. I have no issues with headaches. My only issue is price and standardization. Im with ATI for the moment. Very close to going back to Nvidia just for 3D vision.
    3
  • Anonymous
    I just spent an eternity putting in my comments only to lose everything when trying to submit again... why do I bother?
    1
  • Anonymous
    Take 2: I see another mess coming as far as competing standards go and early adoptoers (our heroes) will lierally pay the price again. There are 2 competing standards ATM (not this again), the most prevalent being the shutter glasses, and the other being polerised glasses (with differing standards here again). IMHO circular polerised glasses makes the most sense due to the fact that they are cheap and are less likely to give ppl headaches (shuter glasses have to give an alternating image to each eye... just the thought gives me a headache), not to mention all the other advantages of polerised glasses such as no need for power/transmitters, synch issues, maximum transmitter dist etc... But herein lies the problem, currently, NVidia is pushing the shutter tech and is here right now, but ATI is (seemingly) sitting on it's ass, though roumers are that it will back the polerised tech. What's ATI waiting for? It appears that 3d may very well be ruined b4 it even starts due to early adoptors getting stung (sorry guys... u really are our heroes) with hight costs and headaches etc. Word will spread that the tech is crap and everything will grind to a halt. If only the big corps (including the games and movie industry) will come to an agreement on a standard... dream on!
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  • znegval
    Maybe having never played/watched anything with 3D glasses help but I have absolutely zero desire to jump into this. And I mean really, zero, nothing, nada.
    0
  • trooth
    3D is the new bluray, which was the new DVD etc.

    It'll be mainstream eventually. As for eyestrian, that is a concern, but I suspect it has more to do with synced lens focusing on the projectors.
    7
  • Anonymous
    Where is the 1D for those of us with low end hardware?
    1
  • annymmo
    Oh now, shutter glasses will win.
    Give everybody headaches.
    And because of that 3D will fail again!

    These people really should realize the limitations of shutter glasses and go for polarized glasses.
    Guess this is the new VHS versus Betamax.
    (The technical inferiour solution has won back then: VHS won. )
    I believe/fear this will happen again.
    1
  • annymmo
    Quote:
    Shutter glasses require hardware and software to be built into the display, while polarized glasses only require hardware. Shutter glasses must communicate with the display to properly open and close the lenses, while polarized glasses don’t have that problem.

    Shutter glasses require users to sit in the “sweet spot,” directly in front of the screen, to see the image properly. This isn’t true for all technologies, but Nvidia’s technology requires it for now. Polarized lenses, on the other hand, can allow viewers to properly see the image at any angle, so long as they are circular polarized glasses, the de-facto standard at the 3D Gaming Summit.


    And still some industry is backing shutter glasses?
    What a retards! I want polarized gaming and films/tv/movie.
    I can't believe they actually are that dumb.
    ATI just has to come out with a good polarized standard.
    People will notice that it's more resistant/flexible/less-error-prone then shutter.
    The advatage of the headaches thing will win many over anyway.

    It will be liked more by the consumers.
    The shutter people are really stupid.
    -1
  • thackstonns
    Does anyone remember the 3d demo that was put on using the wii remote. Thats what I want. It gave the illusion of 3d and would make the game more immersable, also It was dirt cheap and didnt have to have a special tv. It was with Johnny lee. Head tracking. Why cant they just do that.
    -2
  • Anonymous
    I have 3 pairs of the Polarized glasses as I bought them each time I saw a new 3D movie at the cinema, they are so cheap they are almost a disposable item. Who wants to pay $100+ for a pair of shutter glasses which could easily be damaged.
    2
  • Fox Montage
    @annymmo
    It's not just a simple case of "oh, I want polarizing glasses to win." 3D images based on polarizing technology require 2 overlayed images, one with horizontally polarized light and the other with vertically polarized light. This is simply not possible to do using a conventional LCD, as they weren't designed with this in mind, and is hence why nVidia uses the shutter glasses option.

    Unless a new type of computer display with with something like h and v sub-pixels can be produced, gaming is stuck using the shutter technology for now.
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  • Anonymous
    @Fox Montage
    iZ3D has apparently accomplished this using conventional LCD technology. If you go to their site they explain it. Basically they have 2 LCD screens produce the required image. From what I have seen the technology isn't perfect yet, but alot of people like it (I saw this iZ3D monitor at a Microcenter on display, but it was on an old computer with the cheapest shitiest glasses possible, it looked like crap, but also not a fair stab at what it could be like).
    5
  • vic20
    I finally tried nVidia's 3D when I found a demo of it running on Dirt 2 at a store. Everything was a blurry separated mess until my eyes focused a certain way, just like those pictures with hidden 3D images which were popular for a while some years back.

    The effect is like floating 2D planes of images just like red/blue 3D comics in the 80s only this was full color. It is neat, but keeping your eyes focused at the same distance for extended periods is a leading cause of eye strain and is believed to accelerate the development of Presbyopia.

    If shutter 3D becomes the new "normal" way people view TV, movies and games youth could end up with 50 year old eyes by the time they are 30.

    I hope this technology is just a stepping stone to something more healthy.
    -2
  • purist
    I had the opportunity to watch Avatar with both polairzing and shutter glasses and I found the experience to be less of a strain with the polarizing system. There was some (small) amount of flicker with the shutter glasses just at the edge of some content and I did find them more of a strain on my eyes than the polairizing ones though both were quite acceptable, which is more than I can say for the movie.
    Having a single standard for 3D across all formats, cinema, video and gaming makes sense and polarizing glasses seem to make more sense in this regard. Perhaps Oakley et al can produce a stylish set that you can wear to the beach and the theatre. From a user perspective standards wars suck :(
    -1
  • jamezrp
    With Nvidia's hardware, you have to keep in mind that on the PC the depth can be adjusted. Demos you have tried publicly probably aren't suited for you...they're suited for the last person who complained when a store employee was around to change the depth.

    However, if you're watching video, then depth is preset and generally it isn't a problem. For games, yes, I've had problems even at the lowest depth setting. But that's a personal matter, because everyone's eyes are different. You may be able to see more depth than I can without irritation, or perhaps less. It really depends on the person.
    4