Do 3D Projectors Need a Special Screen?

Technology marches on. The home theater options of the 2020s are far beyond what was available to families only 10 to 15 years ago. Most people in the 1990s were just happy to get an A/V receiver and a huge stereo paired up with their CRT TV. Nowadays, people want to throw projectors into the mix.

With that in mind, what about 3D technology? are the glasses enough to induce the 3D effect?

Do 3D projectors need a special screen?

A special screen is unnecessary in order to view the 3D of 3D projectors. A decent standard white screen will suffice. You can even use fancy screens like black screens or gray screens for extra contrast and still end up with a decent 3D effect. White, however, has the most “fidelity” or “faithfulness”.

Having a projector in your home is all about getting crisp, scalable images you can enlarge to fill out a screen or a wall. They have drawbacks like looking faded in rooms with loads of ambient light or daylight. They’re a method of fully immersing you into the movie.

See more: How to Watch 3D Movies on a Projector

However, for the most part, they’re a cost-effective way to bring the cinematic experience to the home. Also, few things are as immersive as a 3D picture. Perhaps only virtual reality is more immersive.

Do 3D Projectors Need a Special Screen
Do 3D Projectors Need a Special Screen?

What Do You Need for a 3D Projector?

Special glasses rather than special screens are needed for 3D projection. There is such a thing as glassless 3D for sure, but even those devices work on standard screens or even the screen that came with the 3D projector.

The 3D glasses allow you to view 3D images by giving two perspectives or angles of the same image the same way your eyes can stereoscopically view a real-life 3D object. This 3D simulation from one eye to another is how modern cinemas with 3D technology go about doing this 3D effect.

Further reading: Your Complete Guide to 3D Projectors

How Does 3D in Projection Work?

A 3D projector uses different methods to present two different images to each eye. It’s the same way your eyes deal with an actual 3D object with two divergent views or angles that coalesce into a stereoscopic 3D image with depth and form.

No matter the 3D technique, the intention is to target each eye with a differently angled or slightly different image to create the illusion of depth on an otherwise flat or 2D view. It’s because of how 3D works that screen material is irrelevant.

Back in the day, the original 3D glasses with one red lens and one blue lens go about making a 3D-like image by filming a monochrome movie in two colors, red and blue, that can only be seen as one image with those classic 3D glasses.

You may also like: What’s the Best 3D Glasses for Projector?

Can a Special Screen Enhance the 3D Effect of a 3D Projector?

Specialized glasses remain your best bet in viewing 3D images. You don’t’ necessarily need a special projector screen to view something in 3D. When using something like the Epson Home Cinema 2045 Home Theater Projector (a 1080p, 3D, Miracast-supported 3LCD display), it’s more about glasses.

An ALR (Ambient Light Rejecting) screen can assist against ambient light or extra-reflective screens can give you more gain. However, for the most part, it’s all about the glasses. Reflective screens do ensure of a brighter image since the 3D process does make the imagery darker.

This is because 3D projectors can project images using four methods—checkerboard, side-by-side, frame packing, or frame sequential.


The twin images viewed from different angles are projected by the 3D projector in a checkerboard pattern reminiscent of the alternating blocks of a chessboard so that you can then translate it into a 3D image by wearing the right glasses.


One image is beside the other and the fast shutter speeds of your 3D glasses will combine the two images on each eye into one stereoscopic image with depth. This one kind of simulates old-timey red and blue 3D but they’re not on top of another but two pictures merged into one vision.

Frame Packing

This is kind of like side-by-side but this time the two full 1080p/24Fps video is packed on top of another vertically. The displayed image is alternating left and right images displayed in succession as the video plays, resulting in a Full HD 3D effect.

Frame Sequential

Instead of stacking the images at the same time, they’re instead displayed in sequential frames that coincide with your 3D glasses shutter speed. The resulting persistence of vision image should end up with stereoscopic-like depth.

When Does 3D Projection Require a Special Screen?

There’s a specific type of 3D system that requires a special screen. The dual-projection 3D system is a more complicated and advanced method of simulating 3D depth from your movies, TV shows, and videogames. These systems require a special screen that helps preserve polarization.

More to the point, this setup uses two projectors so that each screen targets a specific eye. The special screen needed here are two screens with higher gain. Preferably, you should avail of a screen with the Lambertian surface or a uniform reflective surface.

However, it’s more effective than even frame packing when it comes to maintaining the quality of each frame. You don’t have to halve the resolution of the picture in order to squeeze two different angles side-by-side using this 3D technique.

What Else Do You Need?

Personally, when my family and I started investing in a home projector, 3D projector models had only come forth in the market. They were indeed quite gimmicky to us so we passed on them. However, even in 2021, we couldn’t help but indulge in 3D ourselves.

It was the pandemic, the trend had ended, and 3D projectors were cheaper now. In terms of what else you need when it comes to seeing 3D from a 3D projector, it’s mostly about whether you’re using active or passive 3D. It’s not as much about the screen as it is about the glasses used.

If you are going to avail of a special screen, at most you’ll need an extra-reflective screen like the silver screen of yore (back in the day, projector lamp light was so terrible that you needed extra-reflective screens to make the film viewable).


  1. Ambient Light Rejecting Screens Explained“, Blog, January 22, 2016
  2. Do You Need a 4K Screen for a 4K Projector?“,, Retrieved July 9, 2021
  3. Jonah Matthes, “Do You Need a Special Screen for a 3D Projector?”, Retrieved July 12, 2021


James Core

I love my projector system and I am here to help you find the right projector for your needs.

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