Plastics Help Bring 3D Movies to Your Living Room

Plastic 3D movie glasses

In December of 2009 moviegoers travelled to planet Pandora, riding on the backs of winged creatures and breathing toxic air—all without leaving their theater chairs. Avatar once again demonstrated that Americans love three-dimensional (3D) movies.  And now advancements made possible by plastics are translating that magic to DVD and Blu-Ray™ and bringing 3D into the living room.

Since the first 3D movie in 1915, children and adults have been captivated by the mystery of creating three—dimensions from two, but the technology is based simply on our brain’s way of viewing and interpreting the world. Since our eyes are approximately two inches apart, they see the world from two slightly different perspectives. Our brain pieces the two images together to form a three-dimensional image.

Although the technology varies, 3D theatrical movies generally magnify the two inch distance between our eyes by showing the same film in two hues from slightly different positions. When viewed through special “glasses” (actually plastic: the old red and blue plastic lenses or the more up-to-date polarizing plastic lenses), images that otherwise look like a colorful blur suddenly “pop” from the screen.

3D-capable HDTV tricks the mind in a similar way—by generating two independent, slightly offset images on the screen.  The HDTV’s “glasses” are made of light-weight plastic frames and lenses and look like they belong at the beach rather than the fun house. Like a camera shutter, these futuristic glasses actually control shutter speed, filtering the HDTV’s images so they reach the eyes with perfect synchronicity.

The result? Flying spaceships and bounding Navi—all from the comfort of a La-Z-Boy.