Translation Please: More Geek-Speak On In-Home 3-D

5/04/2009 1:00 PM Eastern

Last time, we looked into a few surface tendrils of 3-D: Types of glasses, areas of momentum, thickets of different approaches.

If you (like me) are tickled by impressively nerdy language, 3-D is a topic that keeps on giving. What other realm gives up doozies like “voxel emitters,” “lenticular arrays,” “conoscopic methods” and, my personal favorite — the “wobulation mirror”?

3-D is a treasure trove of geek-speak.

This week’s translation will step further into the challenges of getting 3-D from cinemas to TV screens. Not “just” TVs, either — 3-D video could play on PC monitors, game consoles (a biggie), even picture frames. (How Harry Potter is that?)

Before a 3-D image can be displayed on any screen, it needs to be encoded and compressed. The two main types (not including color coding) are called “spatial” and “temporal.” In space; in time.

Spatial encoding typically involves juxtaposing both left- and right-eye images into one frame of video — either side by side, or top to bottom, or by line, column, or “checkerboard” interleaving.

Spatial techniques use less bandwidth. But, jamming two images into one frame, necessarily reduces the resolution of that frame by half.

Temporal encoding sends the left eye image, then the right, left, right — very quickly, in sequence. Active 3-D glasses (meaning battery required) shutter the left and right lenses to produce the 3-D image. It uses more bandwidth, but preserves resolution.

And as for that wobulation mirror — in a huge oversimplification, it wobbles pixels, in some home theater systems (mostly DLPs), to trick the human eye into seeing higher resolution.

Stumped by gibberish? Visit Leslie Ellis

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