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The 3-D Experience


Dee Yun Dee Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2010-06-25 05:10:58

3D Is Here!


Panel 5: NSFW. A single tear rolls down Biggs' face as the sales representative has his way with him.

BIGGS - I'll also (ow) buy the (oh god) take the 3D Blu-Ray (when will it end) version of Avatar.

SALES REP - Sorry sir (ungh) I don't expect that (gugh) to be released (AHHNN) until 2011.

Today's comic strip was triggered by a PlayStation 3 firmware update that enabled 3D. That prompted me to investigate the hardware involved. I've been an early adopter (sucker) since I bought a first-generation Sony DVD player back in the day, then a first generation Sony HDTV, and I anticipate that I will not be able to withstand the knowledge that there is a home entertainment feature that I cannot access. I'm currently staring hard at this first gen 3D Panasonic television.

The way 3D works is by interlacing two staggered images really fast, tricking the eyes into seeing them as a single three dimensional image. Anyone who saw Avatar in 3D in the theater knows how potentially cool this is (I still can't believe this killer app isn't available for the launch of the 3D television hardware). However, it's far from perfect and can give some people uncomfortable, even debilitating, eyestrain.

The home 3D experience has another hurdle. The *battery operated* glasses (which are inherently already a hassle) need to sync up with the television itself via a line-of-sight infrared beam. What that means is that if you turn your head away, the screen will be a jumbled mess until the glasses resync with the TV. Along with the inconsistency of "tricking your eyes", this constraint does dampens the wonder of the 3D experience.

Finally, I have a serious reservation about 3D gaming. Because of the need for rapid interlacing images, the framerate needs to be doubled. 60 frames per second video appears as 30 fps in 3D. 30 fps would be an utterly intolerable 15 fps. So to get the silky framerates we've come to accept as standards for racing games and shooters, consoles will have to achieve -120- frames per second. That extreme requirement can only come at the cost of performance in other areas. I hope programmers can "harness the vast power of the PS3 Cell Processor", because I'd be saddened if 3D gaming required the sacrifice of true high definition visuals, believable textures, density of design, etc. ...all of the things that contribute to making contemporary videogames so technically astounding.

Despite these reservations, I am excited about the potential of 3D. Right now, the current launch offerings present limited (albeit cool) functionality, such as floating HUDs. But if the tech does truly catch on, game developers may be able to think up unique applications that utilize 3D in their fundamental design, to present experiences not otherwise possible. Consider what the advent of sound or color did for film.

However, I refuse to sign over my firstborn as the cost of entry. Your $4,000 television can go fuck itself, Sony. That's college fund investment kind of money. However, if Panasonic has solved its problems with deteriorating black levels, I think I'll save up and pull the trigger. If not, if I'm forced to wait (guh! early adopter OCD mental cramp), 3D content will take some time to build up momentum anyway.

I also had some thoughts on recent events regarding Afghanistan, but they don't really fit this blog. I posted a mini-brain dump in the forums instead.

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