Back when I was a kid, I used to read a lot of comic books. Even the ads were fun — catalogs advertised crazy stuff like the “Hypno” coin and “X-ray” glasses and cardboard “tanks” you could buy. I didn’t have the money then, which probably was just as well.
So when this pair of TV Eyes 3-D came my way, I immediately had a pang of nostalgia. Because these glasses purport to create a “3D” effect when you’re watching something on a regular 2D HDTV — most especially that being a movie from a DVD or Blu-ray disc. And while the aviator-like design of the glasses is quite solid, with a good heft that bespeaks a quality construction, how these glasses approach the concept of “3D” is quite different than the normal technologies being used with 3D TVs. What that means is that there’s no polarized lenses or battery powered liquid-crystal shutters doing the 3D polka. Instead, each lens is blacked out with a series of small pinholes running horizontally almost from the bridge out just past the middle at the other side.
What’s going on, as I understand it, is that your eyes are going to be seeing off-axis from the normal. This offset will be adjusted from the glasses first, and then your brain will take care of “requiring” this new image data it’s being sent by your eyes (if this makes your head seem like a computer, well, it is — just biological instead of digital). And that depth perception will take over to make the image “appear 3D-like.”
A short manual accompanies the glasses and is vital in order to be properly using them. Besides noting that a darkened room environment will work best, and that distance alters the intensity of the effect (10 feet from the TV seems to work good), you receive detailed instructions as to how to adjust the glasses to your eyes (prescription glasses wears are to put this pair beneath them, not over as is the case with “normal” 3D glasses).
So let me run you through how I’ve adjusted them before giving it a go. Putting the TV Eyes 3-D glasses on, I bend the sides slightly so as to ensure that all of the peripheral ambient light is blocked out. I also make some vertical adjustments, along with the lateral, so that the pinholes are lined up even with my eyes — by that I mean I can look straight ahead through the pinholes directly, and panning does not cause my sight to “slip” into darkness.
The final adjustment will be when seated, facing the HDTV. In this case, I’m going with my 100-inch” projection screen and have cranked the projector’s bulb to its high setting for plenty of light. Sitting down as I do normally before the screen, I’ve let the projector warm up and have been letting CNN wash across the screen. With the glasses on, I look straight at the screen while closing my left eye. I make an adjustment so that the distortion line being seen is right of the center of my vision. I then switch eyes and repeat this; only the distortion is now to the left of center.
Opening both eyes, I verify that that the distortion lines are now gone — a slight head tilt seems to have done the trick here. According to what I’ve been told, that should do it — but slight movements of the head might need to be done in order to keep the focal point aligned properly.
Now I agree that all this sounds like a lot of work, but in actuality the amount of time spent will be miniscule. Regardless, seeing an effect is what I’m now after and frankly I don’t care that it’s an optical effect or that my brain is being fooled or whatnot. As long as I’m not seeing dead people….
Now according to the folks making the TV Eyes 3-D, a good example is to run the DVD of Tangled (animated movie), where there is a floating lantern. Okay, I will.
I can’t say the image isn’t looking a bit off to start, but I am able to “calm” my eyes down to where I can sort of forget I’m wearing glasses geared to providing an optical illusion. That doesn’t mean I stop seeing the holes, though — that will pretty much stay with you, even as your brain tries to dismiss them in a similar manner to “white noise.” So here comes that floating lantern scene. The TV Eyes 3-D folks say that it should have a 3D-like effect that looks as good as real 3D using shutter glasses. Guess what? It sort of does. Or at least I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.
But just because there’s a “3D” like effect in this one place doesn’t mean it’s going to happen elsewhere without some serious viewing to check it out. So I pull from my collection both animated (which TV Eyes 3-D folks recommend as showing the effect off best) as well as live action films and run through them over the course of a couple of days.
What’s my take on this? First, that the TV Eyes 3-D folks are right when they say each person is going to be perceiving the effect differently, or not at all. And that it’s not really 3D. At least I saw that I wasn’t getting a headache, but then I did limit myself to one movie at a time, followed by a short break with the glasses off. Folks with the tendency for migraines might not fare as well — remember the eye’s are being taxed in order for the optical effect as seen through the pinholes to occur.
Bottom line: I found some of the old Disney films that used multi-layered techniques (like Peter Pan’s opening scene) can show off this optical effect of the TV Eyes 3-D glasses. Again, it’s not 3D but a depth perception experience that provides a more focused imaging. In general this effect is pretty subtle and at times, flatness reigns supreme. But at a retail of under $30, what you’re getting can be a fun way to “see” movies from a different slant. So as long as you know that, giving it a go isn’t an insult. It’s all about being entertained, right?
- Good construction
- Can cause headaches in some individuals
- Works easiest when there are no prescription glasses involved
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.