Poll: Will Glasses-Free 3D Finally Interest You in 3D?

Once the great shining hope of both Hollywood and the consumer electronics industry, 3D on home video has largely failed to capture the interest of the public. Sales of both 3D TVs and 3D Blu-ray discs have disappointed, at least compared to the (perhaps unreasonable) expectations placed upon them. Some people blame the need to wear dorky 3D glasses as the main cause for resistance against the format, but is that really true? Will glasses-free 3D finally be the magic bullet that gets you to buy into 3D, or is 3D a lost cause as far as you’re concerned?

Although the technology behind glasses-free 3D has been available (at least in concept) for several years already, mass implementation into consumer products still faces significant obstacles. One of the biggest problems is viewing angle. In order to properly see the 3D effect, existing glasses-free displays require you to sit either directly in front of the screen or in a limited number of specific positions. Move your head slightly, and the picture loses 3D and is swamped in crosstalk artifacts. While manufacturers have been working hard to overcome this issue, powerhouse brand LG reports that it won’t be ready to mass produce glasses-free 3D TVs until 2017 at the earliest, much later than previously planned.

In the meantime, some other companies have dumped 3D entirely from their product lines, or redirected the focus of their marketing efforts toward the 4k (but 2D) UHD format instead.

Honestly, I’m not sure that 3D glasses are really to blame for the format’s failure. Many people just plain don’t like 3D. Others may have only passive interest in it as a theatrical format, but don’t feel the need to upgrade their TVs or projectors for it.

Personally, I like 3D, enough so that I installed a second projector in my home theater just for 3D purposes (because my primary projector sucks at 3D). Wearing 3D glasses is a nuisance, especially since I have to put them on top of my existing glasses, but I’m willing to deal with it. Yet 3D still accounts for only a tiny fraction of my viewing, and half the movies I’ve bought on Blu-ray 3D are crappy post-conversions that look better in 2D anyway.

I doubt that glasses-free 3D will really change too many people’s opinions about the 3D format. Am I wrong about that? What are your feelings about glasses-free 3D?

Have You Been Waiting for Glasses-Free 3D?

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  1. T.J. Kats

    Voted already have and don’t mind glasses. I am curious though to see how well this works because as you are finding out with kids it is very hard at times to just sit still and watch something which is what 3d really needs when using glasses.

  2. William Henley

    The glasses don’t bother me too much, but the viewing angle does. I am a 3D fanboy, but don’t watch it nearly as much as I would like. I like to watch television laying down. The couch that is in front of the television, I lay on my side. While this has no effect on 2D stuff, because my head is tilted, it doesn’t work on 3D. If I lay on the side sofa, my head is at the right angle, but my viewing angle of the television makes 3D not work. Maybe I should just move the sofa and put a few recliners in the living room. 🙁

    I have a feeling that glasses free will be worse – from what I have seen with glasses free displays (such as on my cameras – I have two 3D cameras) the viewing angle has to be perfect, you get a blurey image with crosstalk.

    I would also like to see some pro-sumer software come out for conversion. Pretty much, only about 30-40% of stuff I throw at my 3D Bee come out looking good, and Movavi Vidio Converter 3D, which produces better stuff (when I can get it to actually work) is buggy at best. Pretty much, the best 3D stuff I have seen with home software is if you are looking at something from a slight angle, you are not using pictures or graphics as backgrounds (like on a stage), and clothing is solid color (they seem to use light to judge distance) and if there is like some shakyness to the video (like a handheld camera or phone). I would love to see some type of prosumer software that would automatically detect camera cuts or scene changes, can track objects, but let me go in and set distances from the camera on different objects (especially body parts on women / girls – especially with the 3D Bee, I get chest sticking several inches out of the screen and stomachs either looking like they have rolls of fat or have serious anorexia problems, and guys all look like body builders – MovAvi Video Converter 3D does a MUCH better job at that,).

    Long story short, I guess I just want more control – ie better viewing angles and more control (and better algorithms) with conversion products.

    • William Henley

      Sorry if that sounds confusing – the 3D Bee, while convienant, does not produce as good of 3D images as MovAvi Video Converter 3D does, but MovAvi is buggy. Other 3D software I have used doesn’t really seem to do much. I just want better control.

  3. No option for headsets like Facebook Oculus, Project Morpheus, and Sony’s 3D Personal Viewer? Forget glasses-free and go for VR, so says the latest craze/trend.

  4. Deaditelord

    Personally, if all 3D movies were as well implemented as Avatar and Gravity (haven’t seen Hugo in 3D yet), I think more people would be interested in the format. Instead the majority of 3D movies are terrible conversion hatchet jobs. When considering the home market though, the biggest issue with the 3D format is the overall cost of converting to 3D. Momentarily setting aside having to buy a new 3DTV, the 3D glasses are still too expensive and the 3D blu-rays are overpriced. While not quite reaching laserdisc territory, 3D blu-rays (other than Dredd) always seem to hover right around the $25 – $30 mark and almost never go on sale at a significant discount (50% off or more). On the other hand, 2D blu-rays cost almost $10 less and in most cases quickly drop in price and are often available at a significant discount. Considering Dredd proved you can put both versions on a single blu-ray, there’s no reason to charge consumers an additional $10.

    Coming back to the cost of 3DTVs, I’ve had more than a few people tell me that they aren’t going to spend money on a new HDTV when their current HDTV works perfectly, but that they would be interested in a 3DTV when they need/decide to buy their next HDTV. I suspect many consumers share that opinion (I didn’t buy a 3DTV until my original HDTV bit the dust) and it’s one of the reasons why I think 4K will also struggle to gain wide consumer acceptance. People are happy with the current picture quality of their HDTVs so why drop a whole bunch of money on an upgrade?

  5. I’m quite happy with my current 3DTV – I find the 3D experience at home FAR better than that in the theater…and I have a ‘passive’ set (no shutter glasses, just the same kind you get in the theater).

  6. The problems discussed about glasses free are quite valid. Even using a Nintendo 3ds it just doesn’t feel like 3d.
    I think I would be happy with polarized 3d glasses (as opposed to active shutters.) Polarized lenses do not need batteries (DUH) and are not as bulky and are pretty much compatible across the board.
    Glasses free might end up being very dorky – I only see it working well with like a VR environment.

  7. Jason

    I have a 3D projector but rarely watch anything in 3D. my rule of thumb has been to only watch films that were shot in 3D and not just converted in post. the 3D experience is definitely better at home than in the theater but it’s awfully hard to sell people on that. 3Ds failure is less about the glasses and more about the content that is available. I, like many, will never see it as more than a novelty. There’s a reason Wolf of Wall Street wasn’t shot in 3D despite Scorsese’s desire to shoot everything in 3D now.

  8. Barsoom Bob

    I am a 3D fan boy, I find the concept desirable but the execution generally not so much. It makes me laugh when people say they hate 3D, We live in a 3D world and the holy grail of popular media has been a steady climb towards replicating reality. I have collected quite a few 3D films, and even with the reduced brightness and having to wear the not so comfortable glasses, I do like what I get out of my home set better than the movie theater. BUT as someone pointed out once, the sense of depth does seem to “shrink” the size impact of my 50″ TV. This I don’t like so much, so I am almost to the point where I am going to buy a good quality projector and big screen and give that a whirl.

    I voted skeptical. As much as I would love glasses free, full brightness 3D television, I don’t think it will work even remotely as well as the glasses on types for the simple biological reasons of how we see. God bless the incredible machine that our bodies are, which feeds us to two distinct prespectives, in continuous real time, to our brain which renders fully fleshed out objects with depth perception. Getting that from a single point source screen is going to be tough and very compromised. The prismatic screens are so finicky viewing angle wise and so course in their resolution that they only work with simple image elements.

    I believe Brian possibly hit it right on the head with the personal viewers choice like Occulus Rift and the Sony VR headset. They should give the truest, brightest 3D image because it comes the closest to mimicing how we see in real life, but on the down side, not only are we back to wearing heavy glasses again, It becomes a solitary isolated experience. This is going to be a hard nut to crack successfully.

  9. I already have 3D at home and I love it. I’ve watched 3D all day before and on a regular basis and don’t ever get headaches or eye strain. The only time it makes me uncomfortable is if I already have a headache or I’m really tired and fighting sleep. I watch Pacific Rim almost every day on 3D ( alot of times my favorite parts) and I don’t think I’ve ever watched Avengers at home in 2D. Both of those are conversions I believe and to my eyes, they look great. I’ve had it for two years now and it hasn’t got old for me at all. It’s one of those things that as a child seemed unfathomable to ever have at home so I still get a kick out of it. I’ve bought quite a few movies that I otherwise would have no interest in buying just for the 3D. A couple have been duds, but most have been more enjoyable in 3D. I have passive 3D and the glasses don’t bother me at all. I would love to see what glasses free 3D looks like in person, but I’m in no hurry to go out and get it. If it looks as good as my 3D at home now, then when I’m ready for another tv, I would definitely consider it.

  10. The big problem for the 3D movie is no the 3D-TV is the high price for the movie mostly 34.99 + sales taxes, sometimes 39.99 the high price is an obstacle for success.

  11. PaulB

    Agreed to limited content and excessive (imo) premium on discs is a big limiter in folks wanting a 3d TV. I think good glasses free tv would be huge for 3d as many of the issues folks have with 3d are related to the way stereoscopic images and glasses (especially shutter ones) work.

    I specifically bought my relatively inexpensive Vizio 3d recently with the expectation I’d be able to upgrade to an Ultra-D enabled UHD TV’s before the end of 2015. All the reviews of folks who have seen them have been stellar. Given they have working tech now, it appears that it is simply a case of someone like LG adopting it.

    Dolby 3d doesn’t appear to be as good of an option as Ultra-D from all the things I’ve read so far.

  12. I love 3D and don’t mind the glasses, and don’t want to spend a ton of money on 4K. Don’t want to replace all my blus, or buy ANOTHER new tv.

    What a frustrating hobby.

    • Disney has been the worst with 3D – not only in pricing movies, but then splitting up 3D from the 2D version (as they did with Oz The Great and Powerful) or not even offering 3D in Region A (as they just did with Frozen). Disney (who owns ABC and ESPN) also shut down ESPN’s 3D channel.

      Yet, they’re still planning to release all the new Star Wars movies in 3D.

      Their inconsistent support of the format is baffling.

  13. Clemery

    My reasons for not getting on board with 3D has nothing to do with active shutters, passive glasses, or even just a technology still in its infancy… but rather because 3D is not being used to enhance the movie experience, and in most cases it just detracts from it.

    Until Gravity 3D utterly floored me, the only evidence to convince me that 3D had potential to bring a new dimension to the cinematic experience was a short sequence in Sanctum 3D, where the sense of claustrophobia was vastly increased by the use of 3D. Of course, it helps when the film is actually filmed in 3D, rather than just a greedy studio applying an unconvincing 3D conversion.

    Gravity 3D changed everything for me though… as it was the first time I felt 3D was an integral part of the experience. I saw it three times in 3D at the cinema, and bought the 3D steelbook release… sadly though, I do not have 3D at home and have not been able to bring myself to watch the 2D version yet.

    If more and more films start to embrace the use of 3D to enhance the drama, then I will definitely show a deeper interest in future 3D tech and likely bring it into my home… but if the Hollywood cash machine continues to rely on cheap 3D thrills that barely equate to more than the cinematic equivalent of paralax scrolling, then I can indeed see the tech phasing out like it has done repeatedly in the past.

  14. Peter

    I generally have not been too keen on 3D. I have a Pioneer Kuro at home and no 3D TV. From friends I have heard repeatedly that the glasses are a big problem, so I think if they ever get the technology where you have really good 3D without glasses, it might work. However, I think, as with most things that drive big sales of TVs, movies are not the killer content but sports. When the 3D push began about 4 years ago or so, Best Buy had a Panasonic 3D plasma set up where people could see a demo reel wearing the glasses. One of the clips was a Motorcross motorcycle race and it looked fantastic (I know nothing about Motocross by the way). The 3D brought a lot to the race. I remember thinking it would be really interesting to see major sports broadcast in 3D. Football I think would be great, baseball too. At that time when everyone was pushing 3D, I remember the Yankees broadcast a couple games in 3D with the guys in the booth wearing 3D glasses to see their monitors too. It was supposed to be a test and for them to learn how to do it. 3D interest waned and nothing came of it, but if they get glasses free 3D and the major sports in HD (football, baseball, hockey, basketball), I would definitely be interested.

  15. I think people make far too much of an issue about wearing 3D glasses frankly. Unless you have to wear prescription glasses which means wearing two pairs when you watch 3D, or there is a physical issue with the 3D such as headaches or nausea, I don’t see what people whine about. Nobody complains about having to wear sunglasses to go outside in the summer for a few hours or wearing goggles to dive for an hour or so. The experience justifies the mild inconvenience having to wear face furniture entails.

    Glasses free 3D would certainly be an improvement just as not having to wear prescription glasses would be nice for those of us plagued with poor eyesight. But when all is said and done I would rather “see” than miss out simply because I have to wear a pair of glasses.

  16. Mike

    More people will buy 3D tvs when glasses free becomes available, personally I use to think wearing glasses would be a pain in the a$$ but it doesn’t bother me at all.

  17. Jaster Mareel

    @William Henley, the ability to lie on my side on the couch to watch 3D is the main reason I got a plasma 3DTV because it allows you to do that.

    I love 3D at home. Even the post-conversions are good now. The Amazing spider-Man 2 looks awesome in 3D and that’s a post-conversion.

    I frankly don’t understand the massive backlash against 3D that started right out of the gate, even before ticket prices increased for it.

    It used to kind of give me headaches after full-length films, but switching to a higher refresh rate solved that small issue.

    I’ve never understood the problem with the glasses. Go outside in summer, EVERYONE is wearing glasses! Did everyone point and laugh at MIB or Terminator or Neo because they looked like “dorks” in dark glasses? This literally makes zero sense to me.

  18. Joel

    I love 3D! I also don’t understand the hate.
    I had much rather watch a movie in 3D rather than 4 K. I enjoy 4 K but feel their is more tangible effect with 3D.

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