Technology

Translation Please: A Quick 3-D Lingo Guide

4/25/2009 2:00 AM Eastern

Status report from the Digital Cinema Summit, put on annually by the Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers on the weekend preceding the National Association of Broadcasters show: Lots of excited activity in every link of the 3-D food chain.

Also: Tonnage of new lingo. Consider this week’s translation a decoder, aimed at making you quickly conversant on the major 3-D topics.

TVs first: For a fun, seven-syllable word which will make you feel smart, try “autostereoscopic.” People who say it usually mean a 3-D TV that doesn’t require eyeglasses. Speaking of glasses: Several different kinds are in play, but the big three are anaglyph (the SMPTE audience booed), polarized and “shutterglass.”

Anaglyphs are the color-coded paper jobs. 3-D purists find them puerile and damaging to the category. Concerns were raised, for instance, that any further anaglyph-based attempts at 3D on TV (think Super Bowl commercials) will “poison the well.”

Cinematic 3-D typically uses polarized glasses. Right now, they’re Blues Brothers-ish. Watch for branded versions, for people who regularly attend cinematic 3-D events.

Drawback: Polarized glasses only work with polarized light, which typically comes from projection-based systems. As in not TVs. Not yet.

Shutter glasses use battery power to alternatively shutter, then open, the left and right eyepieces.

By the numbers: Nearly 2,100 of 5,500 digital cinema screens in the U.S. are rigged to play 3-D titles right now. Twenty new titles will play over the next 20 months, from big-name directors. The majority will earn double or triple the ticket sales of the same title in 2-D.

All in, 3-D is a fun place to be — yet the volume of preconceived negative opinions is fierce. Try giving it five more viewings this year, at the movies, before locking in an opinion.

Stumped by gibberish? Visit Leslie Ellis atwww.translation-please.com.

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