How Does 3D Work on a Projector?

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While 3D may seem to be the province of action movies and other casual entertainment, 3D projects can actually be extremely useful business tools. Businesses that need to display 3D models, like architecture and engineering firms, and those that frequently need to project 3D graphs of complicated datasets can benefit greatly from the depth that a 3D projector creates. While 3D projectors are generally similar to 2D projectors, they require both some additional parts as well as specially formatted content.


3D Projectors

Like any projector, a 3D unit has a bulb, an image engine and a lens. 3D projectors typically use image engines that can update quickly because some have to show twice as many images to make up a single 3D field. They also add either an infrared emitter or a small radio transmitter that sends a signal to the 3D glasses to keep them in sync with the projected images.

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3D Content

For a projector to generate a 3D image, it needs 3D content. 3D video files and images typically combine two slightly different images of the same scene representing the different views that the left and right eyes see. The files can combine the two images by putting them side by side, alternating frames or even mixing both views in the same image. The projector's image processor pulls the different frames apart for projection.


3D Glasses

To see the 3D image, every viewer needs to wear special active shutter glasses. These glasses have lenses that can be darkened separately for small fractions of a second. For instance, when the projector shows the image for left eye, its emitter sends a command to the glasses to darken the right eye and vice-versa for right eye images. This ensures that viewers see the left eye image with their left eye and the right eye image with their right eye. Their brains then assemble the separate images into a single 3D image.



3D from a 2D Projector

It is possible to project 3D images with a 2D projector, although you will need content that is in 3D anaglyph format. Anaglyph 3D has been around for decades and uses glasses with different colored lenses in lieu of the active lenses on 3D projection systems. While anaglyph 3D is typically weak at reproducing color images, it can do an excellent job of reproducing images that are in black and white and do not require a special projector.



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