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I don't care what NBC is saying... 3D on TV still doesn't work

by Joel Keller, posted Jan 30th 2009 12:00PM
Today talks about 3DThis morning, among all its other self-promotional Super Bowl nonsense, NBC's Today show was promoting the 3D experience that fans will see during the game on Sunday. Sobe and the animated movie Monsters vs. Aliens will both have ads in 3D, and then fans can use the same glasses to watch Monday night's episode of Chuck, which is shot with the same Intel Tru3D technology as the ads. DreamWorks' co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg appeared on Today with Zachary Levi from Chuck to promote the technology and explain how different it was from the old red-and-green 3D that gave people headaches in the days of yore.

According to Levy and Katzenberg, this version of 3D is supposed to work, no matter what the delivery method. Well, NBC was kind enough to send me a preview copy of Monday's Chuck (which I sent on to Allison for her episode review), complete with glasses. I've got to tell you... it doesn't work. At least not on TV. At least not for me.

I put on the glasses right at the beginning of the episode, eagerly anticipating seeing the usual assortment of gimmicks 3D shows have used in the past to make people extremely aware that the show's in 3D: graphics that pop out, knives, fists, and feet flying towards my face, and low, table-length perspectives. The show had all of them. The only problem was that I couldn't see any of the 3D effect at all. In fact, it was so hard to focus between the blue and clear lenses that were in front of me that all I saw were blue fringes coming off all the characters.

Now, there are some caveats to my story: I wear glasses, so I had to wear the 3D specs in front of those. But in the 3D movies I've seen, that was never something that seemed to be a problem. My astigmatism has gotten worse over the years, and the lenses that I use to correct them have gotten pretty strong; my guess is that the Tru3D system doesn't work very well for people in my situation, though a quick Google search didn't yield any info on that.

Again, it might just be the smaller scale. 3D works well when you're staring at a screen that's 20 feet high and fills your field of vision. Looking at even a large plasma or LCD screen might not have the same effect. But that's been the main problem with 3D on television in the past, and something that current producers may not overcome until everyone projects TV on their walls.

Has anyone else -- especially any of my fellow four-eyes out there -- tried Tru3D? Did I do something wrong? Or will my vision problems doom me to a world of 2D entertainment? Let me know in the comments.

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The 3D effect just isn't impressive. I'd prefer to see things coming off the screen toward me and not just additional depth. I also find the blur distracting! The glasses are supposed to filter out the colors that are used to create the simulated depth but they were still very visible. I wondered if perhaps the wrong colored lenses were provided, I even tried adjusting the blue on the tv but couldn't improve the effect. Most disappointing was the scene where the female assassin throws the knife at chuck. That knife should have been "in my face!" Instead I saw a big blue blotch at the left side of the screen and an 'amber' blotch on the right! Was this supposed to be the moment where something jumped through the screen and into the room??? ...didn't happen. Not even a little bit. I'd be interested in knowing more about what went wrong with that particular scene, it just seemed so off the mark. Anywho, with 3D like that I'll be wanting virtual reality to hit the market first! :)

February 10 2009 at 5:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Ummm? I tried watching chuck on four different tv's. It never worked. I got the 3D glasses at work and promoted the tv show where I work. What an embarrasment that was. I too got cuts on my nose, both sides. I hope the tv industry apologizes for once again duping the tv viewers. Reminds me of the Blair Witch Project when it was first coming out. How they said it was a true story. I would have watched even if they had not said it was gonna be 3D. I am a big fan of the show. Now, not so much.

February 03 2009 at 7:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

the 3D on TV was a complete bust, the glasses work If watch the videos on You tube with my glasses, but the TV signal processing interpreted the fringe as a signal problem and just smeared the image.

February 03 2009 at 4:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yeah Joel, I'm with you. I was extremely disappointed. I do not wear glasses. Watching my 51" HDTV, I kept trying to flip the glasses up, then back down again to see the "difference"....nothing. WTF! What a bunch of hype. The only way I've seen real 3D is at my local IMAX theater where you'll see kids reaching out trying to catch stuff flying off the screen.
This was bogus as far as I'm concerned. Nice try NBC.

February 03 2009 at 9:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Chuck 3D was not worth the cardboard cutting into my nose. I had same problem with glasses, astigmatism, but that has not been a problem before with 3D. Glasses were purple-blue and amber. 3D worked best on opening Buy-More scene, and when the lady assasins threw a knife at Chuck that came at the screen. Nothing coming out of the screen though. Like all guys, I was hoping to see a certain lady spy crawling out of the screen towards me... The superbowl 3D ad with the dancing players was best so far. It reminded me of those 3D vision graphics you had to stare at until you go crosseyed.

February 02 2009 at 11:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Should have tried watching it without your eyepatch on.

January 31 2009 at 2:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

everyone should go see My bloody valentine in 3D -- it's great traditional (not like the saw films) and actually has a story and great performances from Supernatural star Jensen Ackles and also actors kerr smith and jaime king.

reminds me of Scream but in 3D!

January 30 2009 at 9:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The pair I got were blue and red. That would normally mean that one eye gets a picture with the blue filtered out and the other eye gets a picture with the red filtered out. Since the blue and red images are slightly offset, the two eyes see slightly different images which tricks the brain into believing that the images have depth.

If you got blue and clear, and it was meant for blue and red, then you won't see get the same effect.

For anyone having problems finding the glasses, we were told that they would be near where pepsi and sobe drinks are sold and found them at a local grocery.

January 30 2009 at 9:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I dont know what glasses you got but the ones i picked up (and that zach levi showed on tv today) are blue/amber not blue/clear. maybe you got a bum pair.

January 30 2009 at 6:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Here's an idea to give your article some credibility... let someone else try it before you jump to conclusions. The title "3D on TV still doesn't work" sounds pretty conclusive even though you admit that your eyesight isn't exactly 20/20.

Sorry if I don't take your word on NBC's 3D failure as gospel. They probably did a fair bit of testing before they gave this the go-ahead. I'd believe NBC before I believe an astigmatic blogger.

January 30 2009 at 4:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Tony's comment
Joel Keller

If you read beyond the headline (which, I admit, is supposed to be a grabber), I said "it doesn't work. At least not on TV. At least not for me." So basically, you're being as cursory as you say I'm being.

Also, others can tell me whether it works or not, but I can't see through their eyes in order to verify it, right?

January 30 2009 at 4:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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