Designing a 3D Theater: A Three-Dimensional Challenge (Part 2)

Friday, October 22, 2010

By Jennifer B. Davis

This is the second part in our three-part series on 3D theater design. In the first post, we featured information regarding overall 3D image quality. Next we’ll tackle the biggest issue affecting physical theater and room set-up: brightness loss.

Brightness Loss -

The problem:

When you implement 3D onto a television or projection system, you can expect over 80% of the original brightness to be lost. This is independent of whether you are choosing an Active 3D approach (with glasses that contain batteries that shutter black frames at your eye to distinguish left from right) or the variety of passive approaches in the marketplace. As theaters around the world have been gearing up to show 3D releases of Avatar® or other films, they have opted for a silver screen featuring a gain between 2-3. This has rendered the theaters nearly unusable for 2D content (as it amplifies the inherently brighter 2D image). High gain screens come with their own challenges, which include hot spotting, limitations on roll-up and the tendency to crease, as well as screen shape and curve recommendations.

The solution:

  1. If you want to do 2D and 3D on the same screen, look for a projection system that maintains as much brightness in 3D as possible. For instance, the dual-imaging D-73d system from Runco RETAINS 80% of the light, instead of losing it. This makes designing one room to do both (with a single screen) much easier.
  2. To preserve brightness, we recommend a gain screen. We have developed a new CSMS-3D standard in which we provide you with specifications for the 3D products on a gain screen so that you can anticipate performance. You will find those on the spec sheets for our 3D products.
  3. There are some fantastic high-gain screens that are upwards of 10 gain that avoid hot-spotting with a spherical shape that produces exceptional results. At the very least, a curved screen will direct more light towards the viewing audience. So, it is more important than ever (especially since you want to create a large screen, immersive experience for 3D) to carefully consider screen type and shape.
  4. Although it is a common set-up in theaters to have a micro-perforated, acoustically-transparent screen so that speakers can be placed and hidden behind the screen surface, the perforations actually reduce effective brightness even further (sometimes by 50%). For a 3D theater in which you are trying to preserve brightness, this may be too much of a compromise. You may want to consider instead alternate speaker placements (above or below the screen being the most common). Some innovative installations may be made possible by new developments in 3D audio processing, which allow more flexibility.

Stay tuned for our next installment in this series.

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