How to Watch 3D Movies on a Projector

Watching 3D movies in your home is a past craze that’s making a comeback in the late 2010s and early 2021s, especially in light of technology advancing enough to make consumer-grade projectors a thing. Yes, full-color 3D requires glasses and a special display too, just like the red-and-blue glasses required to view “black-and-white” or “monochrome” 3D movies in the 1950s. If you’re curious about how to watch 3d movies on projector or projection devices, then keep on reading. We’ll cover everything you need to know.

Yes, 3D is a bit of a recurring gimmick. However, it’s an effective gimmick that keeps popping up in cinema and home theaters because the idea of watching something in three dimensions remains appealing to anyone who wants to be immersed in what they’re watching.

You may also like: Your Complete Guide to 3D Projectors 

3D Movie Projector Technology 

If you’re a person who likes the idea and experience of watching 3D movies and shows in your home theater, then you should be prepared to wear special glasses and/or avail of a screen that makes the flat image look almost holographic to your eyes. Most complications arise from the paraphernalia but if you’re reasonably tech-savvy, you should be able to take care of everything.

  • How 3D Movies Work in a Home Theater Environment: The special technology needed to make 3D movies and shows work is where the complications arise. Naturally, the cost will root from them, from special 3D films to special 3D DVD/Blu-Ray players to special HDTV screens and/or 3D glasses to view them. HDTVs and computers with 3D graphics are also available to render the flat images in a way that gives them the illusion of depth. Projectors can make use of the same technology. 3D glasses are usually a must but sometimes they’re not.

3D Movie Projector Technology

  • The 3D-Enabled Video Projector and Other Displays: Ostensibly, a 3D-enabled projector should be your starting point in viewing a 3D movie using such a device. For TV, it’s about getting an OLED, LCD/LED, or plasma HDTV (although plasmas were discontinued in 2014 to early 2015). For projectors, it’s about getting LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) or DLP (Digital Light Processor) ones. LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon) projectors with 3D capabilities are much rarer since the leading brands are mostly LCD or DLP. These devices work with 3D standards approved for streaming sources, cable/satellite, or Blu-Ray/DVD.

Read more: Projector Display Technology

  • 2D Mode is an Option for 3D-Enabled Projectors: Many 3D-enabled projectors, TVs, and computer monitors display standard 2D too. This way, you won’t have to end up with a projector that you can only use for 3D movies. It can also play standard TV programs from your cable/satellite or streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu as well as DVDs, CDs, and other video content like you’d normally have in a regular projector, HDTV, or computer monitor. You can see them in the way you’re used to seeing them and then turn on the 3D mode in order to see a 3D movie with more depth and perspective so that you can get the best viewing result possible.
  • The Importance of 3D Glasses: Like with the old black & white (or rather, monochrome red and blue images overlapping each other) 3D, you need special glasses to be able to correctly see a 3D movie. The viewing position of your 3D media should be correct so that your 3D glasses can get the right angle and depth perception needed to make the 3D really pop or feel deep instead of as flat as a picture. There are two types of glasses—Active or Passive.

3d glass

    • Passive Polarized: A passive polarized pair of glasses look like sunglasses and are worn the same way. They offer enough front place to place over eyeglasses if you wear those too. These glasses and inexpensive to make. It will typically cost you about $5-$25 for every pair. However, it depends on the style of the frame. The frame could be plastic or metal as well as flexible or rigid.
    • Active Shutter: These glasses are bulkier and feature a transmitter and batteries. The transmitter synchronizes the onscreen display rate with the rapidly moving shutters for your eye in order to produce a 3D effect. This type of glasses has more moving parts and is actually a device instead of polarized glasses. It’s naturally more expensive, ranging in price from $50-$150, but it depends on the makers of such glasses.

The brand and model of projector you get determines which type of glasses—active shutter or passive polarized—you should get. For instance, Sony TVs require either passive polarized or active shutter glasses, LG 3D-enabled TVs require passive glasses alone. It’s a tossup when it comes to projectors, but for the most part, they require active shutter glasses because passive glasses aren’t enough to create the 3D effect with either DLP or LCD.

Further reading: The GT1080Darbee displays true 3D content from almost any 3D source

  • Viewing Positioning Must Also Be Optimal: You should set up your projector (like your computers and HDTVs) capable of playing 3D content in a way where the 3D content is best presented. The angles must be correct, especially when it comes to projectors that require the maximum amount of light and the right flat surface to project the image precisely and amazingly. A 3D graphics card might also be in play if you’re instead projecting a 3D game in 3D vision.
  • Optimize Your Settings: There’s more to watching 3D movies in your home than buying the right equipment. Everything needs to be set up just right, from the equipment to the viewing angles as well as the 3D glasses, in order to properly see your 3D movie. The worst 3D movies look muddy. There are also people who claim that they can’t see 3D clearly, with everything looking blurry or not as in-depth as other people experience. 3D technology, however, has been discontinued but available to buy in stores.
  • Is Glasses-Free 3D Possible? You can stream TV network shows at Ultra HD using no-glasses 3DTV. This is handy because you only need a 3D projector to project the 3D movie and you don’t need to pay extra for the glasses. They probably use roughly the same technology available in the Nintendo 3DS, where the screen offers a glasses-free 3D mode that’s practically holographic with its effects.
  • Glasses-Free 3D in Projectors: Even though scientific, medical, and commercial applications avail of this 3D tech, it’s also available for consumers in small-form factors like portable game systems, smartphones, and tablets. There are glasses-free 3D projectors available, but they aren’t consumer-grade. For example, there is a glasses-free 3D projection show that presents the 2,000-year history of the Silk Road in Shanghai, China back on January 12, 2018. It’s not exactly the type of projector you can take at home for your home entertainment.
  • 3D and Home Theater Receivers: Even though adding a 3D mode doesn’t change anything about the sound, music, and audio in general, it might affect how immersive your 3D projector experience is. The better and more “3D” or high-fidelity your audio is via your home theater system, the more realistic and engaging your projected 3D movie is. You should get something like the Yamaha RX-V683 7.2 Channel Network Home Theater Receiver to have in-sync audio and video through the receiver.
  • 3D-Enabled Blu-Ray Disc Player and Discs: In order to find 3D Blu-Ray discs, you need a 3D-enabled BD player or even Ultra HD BD player for good measure. Alas, aside from playing 3D BDs, these players should be able to have a 2D mode that allows for regular viewings of non-3D CDs, DVDs, and BDs. Thankfully, in the U.S. alone, you can avail of over 500 BD titles that are 3D. Still not as big a collection as non-3D movies but plenty enough to justify buying a 3D projector with glasses. You can’t always find these titles at your local retail shop, but online there’s a steady stream of them. Or they’ve even in literal streaming content mode!
  • 4K UHD vs. 1080p FHD for 3D Projection: If you’re going for 3D-projected movies it’d be such a waste to settle for 720p or 1080p 3D. Why not avail of 4K Ultra HD TV shows or films for good measure? 4K content makes use of more pixels, which in turn gives you more details no matter how big or blown up your film is. Just remember that 4K is relatively new for projectors and no Ultra HD projectors offer a 3D viewing option. It’s more common to find Full HD 3D. Some 3D content can be upscaled to 4K though, but mostly for 4K UHD TVs and not 4K projectors.

What Have We Learned?

Thank you for reading. If you would please comment below in order to share your thoughts on the 3D movie and TV show gimmick. Does it work for you? Do you think moviemakers can still find a way to expand on this technology? 

It’s a reasonably simple affair to have to watch 3D movies at home, especially in light of the current lockdowns and quarantines due to the coronavirus. It isn’t that different from watching 2D “regular” TV. It’s not like the transition from black & white movies to color movies or silent films to “talkies”. However, this gimmick still works enough to make films like Avatar become the highest-grossing movie of all time (before Avengers: Endgame took that top spot). You’ll simply need new technology, projectors, and special glasses.

References:

  1. How to set up the projector for 3D viewing“, Sony.com, October 20, 2020
  2. How To Watch 3D Movies At Home“, Home Theater Academy, Retrieved November 9, 2020
  3. Robert Silva, “What Do I Need in My Home Theater to Watch 3D?“, Lifewire.com, September 11, 2020
  4. Glasses-free 3D projection show presents the 2,000-year history of the Maritime Silk Road“, Barco.com, January 12, 2018
James Core
I write dozens of helpful informational articles based on topics that I have identified again and again throughout my research and work experience. I am here to help you find the right projector.

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