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Digital 3D powered by DLP Cinema technology

New dimensions in movies with Digital 3D

digital 3d

The stereoscopic era of motion pictures began in the late 1890s when a British film pioneer filed a patent for a 3D movie, The Power of Love, process using two projectors. Although many experiments were conducted over the next two decades, it wasn't until September 27, 1922 that the first confirmed 3D movie, The Power of Love, was shown to a paying audience at the Ambassador Theatre in Los Angeles; however, the experience was disappointing due to glare.

Refining the 3D Movie Process

The first commercial full-color 3D film, using Polaroid filters to reduce glare, took place at the 1940s New York World's Fair. This short film, produced and shot by John A. Norling, showed the assembly of a Chrysler automobile. To view the 35 mm film, shown on two interlocked projectors, audience members wore eyewear that allowed the left eye image to be seen only by the left eye and vice versa; this technique reduced glare but did not eliminate it.

Although 3D presentations have improved over the last 60 years, today many theme parks and large-format theatres use the same dual-projector setup to show movies shot on film. As a result of using two film projectors, cross-talk or ghosting (caused by small amounts of stray light) may result in headaches in audience members who tip their heads from side-to-side.

DLP Cinema systems have been deployed and tested commercially in theatres since 1999, providing more than 13 years of in-field usage. And with the November 2005 release of Chicken Little – Disney’s first fully computer animated movie distributed in 3D format – the digital revolution arrived to stay.

100% digital DLP Cinema chip for an amazing 3D picture

DLP Cinema technology was the world's first digital 3D single projector solution for movie theatres and commercial use. By using just one projector to produce a 3D image, technical problems of yesteryear like cross-talk and ghosting, are virtually eliminated. What movie goers experience is precise, lifelike images in vibrant colors delivered through the millions of microscopic mirrors on the DLP Cinema chip. The chip acts as a light modulator or reflector, and not as a generator of light, resulting in an amazing 3D picture.

Experience 3D Movie Vision

There are two ways to view digital 3D movies: through active or passive glasses. Passive glasses are the most common type of eyewear used in today's digital 3D movie experience. These lightweight glasses are based on a polarization modulator and can be thrown away after watching the movie. The most widely used passive glasses for cinemas are provided by RealD; however, DLP Cinema 3D technology is compatible with MasterImage's and Dolby’s 3D passive glasses.

Transforming movie experiences across the country

Today there are more than 45,000 theatres in the world that offer the digital 3D experience powered by DLP Cinema technology. There are more theatres opening every day and more movies being made with the digital 3D experience in mind.

3D Eyewear: Close up


Active eyewear devices are wireless battery-powered glasses with liquid crystal shutters that are run in synchrony with the video field rate. Synchronization information is communicated to the glasses by means of an infrared (IR) emitter. When the emitter recognizes the vertical blanking synchronization pulse through the computer’s video signal, it broadcasts coded IR pulses to signify when the left eye and right eye images are being displayed. The glasses incorporate an IR detection diode that detects the emitter’s signal and tells the shutters when to close and transmit. Although viewing a 3D movie with active glasses virtually eliminates ghosting, the glasses are expensive and need to be cleaned after every use.


An alternative to active glasses is the passive polarized filter approach, which is a special kind of liquid crystal polarization modulator and requires theatres to install a silver screen. The polarized filter is placed in front of the DLP Cinema projector lens(es) like a sheet-polarizing filter. The device changes the characteristic of polarized light and switches between left- and right-handed circularly polarized light at field rate. The advantage of circular polarized light is that audience members may move their heads a lot more before the stereoscopic effect is lost. Passive glasses are made of either cardboard or plastic that cannot be sanitized and therefore are for one time use.

Award-winning color

2009 Academy Scientific and Engineering Award Winner