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A High-Tech Movie Battle: Which 3-D Glasses Are Best?

By December 28, 2009Newswires

A High-Tech Movie Battle: Which 3-D Glasses Are Best?
by Eric A. Taub

While the blue-skinned Na’vi are shooting arrows out of the screen toward the audience in the 3-D movie “Avatar,” another battle is being fought in the theater — over the goofy-looking glasses that moviegoers must wear to see the three-dimensional effects.

Four companies are fighting for bridge of the nose with three different technologies. Each of them is more advanced than the paper glasses worn to view “Bwana Devil,” regarded as the first of the commercial 3-D movies in the 1950s, but all work on the same general principle. Each eye sees a slightly different frame of the movie, but the brain puts them together and perceives depth.

About four million glasses made by RealD, the market leader, were worn during Avatar’s opening weekend in the United States. RealD’s glasses use polarized lenses and cost about 65 cents each. MasterImage 3D, another vendor, uses a similar technology.

Dolby Laboratories, the company behind theater sound systems, makes glasses that filter out different frequencies of red, green and blue. They cost about $28 each. The glasses of the third company, XpanD, use battery-powered LCD shutters that open and shut so each eye sees the appropriate frame of the movie. Those cost as much as $50 each.

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