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2D to 3D conversion vs 3D head to head review

The ins and outs of both approaches to 3D
Fri Jan 06 2012, 17:29
3D Glasses

THE WORLD OF 3D can be a minefield, so we've outlined how some of the technology works and the differences between them, focusing mainly on how 2D to 3D conversion stacks up against dedicated 3D.

3D comes in several varieties, most commonly with passive or active shutter glasses and less commonly, glasses free.

Passive shutter glasses use the kind of 3D that you experience in the cinema with light weight polarised glasses. The screen shows two images on the screen simultaneously with one intended for each eye. The filters on the glasses make sure each eye sees only one image.

Active shutter glasses are heavier, battery operated glasses that work in synchronisation with the screen. The two images are quickly alternated instead of showing them at the same time and the glasses block the vision of one eye alternately in time with the screen.

2D to 3D conversion is seemingly a misunderstood and almost unknown technology that is in fact present in most 3D capable TVs. In LG's case, it is a standard feature on its entire 3D range. One of LG's product managers told us that 80 per cent of the UK is unaware of 2D to 3D conversion.

The feature is actually quite simple. Its method involves taking a 2D image and creating a second version of it. Behind the scenes, the TV analyses the image to calculate the background and foreground objects using complex algorithms. The two images create one 3D image that can easily be adjusted to the viewer's liking by simply sliding them closer together or farther apart.

As the method involves creating a duplicate image, it will work with any 2D image that is on the screen, no matter the source. The best thing about it is that it can do it all in real time, meaning that things like live TV or a 2D DVD can be watched in 3D at the click of a button.

A major difference between 2D and 3D is the way the content is produced. 3D programs and films are shot with 3D cameras that have dual lenses and therefore produce two images. There is also the fact that the content is created with 3D in mind and what it will look like, while it's unlikely that the producers of Eastenders give any thought to it.

If you have a 3D TV then it doesn't matter what content you're viewing. Whether it be a 2D image translated into 3D by the TV or a 3D Blu-ray film, you will be using the same method to view the image so this doesn't affect things.

Either method gives you 3D, just using two different standards. The conversion option gives a sense of depth into the screen rather than in your face pop out of the screen effects. It looks reasonably good, especially for still images, but suffers when the action on screen is moving fast or the camera pans quickly.

You can expect, in theory, that dedicated 3D content will provide a more immersive and impressive experience. The 3D is much more effective, giving much more wow factor and a sense of being able to touch what you're seeing, though not every 3D film or program reaches the kind of standards set by James Cameron's Avatar. µ


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