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How does Sky 3D work?

Your brain creates a sense of depth by combining the slightly different perspectives from the left and right eye of the same object or scene into a merged image that includes depth information.  Delivering the two different images on a single two dimensional screen to the viewer is a challenge as there is only one view available to both eyes.

Sky 3D projects both a left and right image onto the same screen, and then the glasses that you wear filter out the correct image to each eye, to create the sense of depth of real life.


How are 3D images captured?

3D starts with recording content the way that our eyes see it from two different perspectives. Two HD cameras are used in a special camera rig to take aligned left and right images of the chosen scene so what you see at home is exactly what the cameraman sees whether hes on the touchline of a football match or in the heart of a car chase in a movie.

The images then make their way through Skys broadcast infrastructure where they are compressed and positioned side by side in a single HD frame.


How are 3D images broadcast?

Sky 3D is broadcast using a normal HD broadcast channel, over existing Sky infrastructure which means you can enjoy Sky 3D using your Sky+HD box, provided you have a 3D ready TV.


How are 3D images viewed?

There are two different 3D TV technologies coming to market now.

The first, polarized screens, project both the left and right images onto the screen at the same time, and then a special filter on the glass polarizes the left and right images differently, such that your 3D glasses then use a different left and right lens to filter the correct image to each eye.  Your brain then does the rest.

Active shutter glasses alternately block one eye and then the other in sync with the TV, which is alternating left and right images on the screen at a very high rate (usually a minimum of 50 frames per eye per second).  This is fast enough that the brain sees no gaps, and again, takes the two different views from left and right eyes to merge them into an image with depth.

The best way to choose the one that suits you is to go to your local retailer and take a look.


How does it compare to 3D in cinemas?

In essence the way in which 3D is shown at cinemas and how you can experience 3D at home are very similar. With Sky 3D however, you can be sure youll get the best seat in the house as well as the added benefit of Sky+ functionality allowing you to pause, rewind and record 3D TV.


How does it compare to the 3D I have seen through red and green glasses?

The 'red and green' glasses form of 3D (anaglyph) was popular back in the 80s with Hollywood films like Jaws-3D.  Although the principles are the same, Sky 3D delivers a far superior experience. Anaglyph images suffer from a loss of colour, as the method for filtering out the left and right images strip out a wide range of colour from the image, making images dark and dull at times. It also creates an image that is hard for the brain to process, leading to the headaches and eye strain associated with 3D in the past.

With Sky 3D however, the picture you see will be as good as normal HD TV.


Can 3D TVs only be used to watch 3D content?

The new 3D ready TVs coming into the market will all be fully HD ready, so rest assured you can still watch all of the great HD and SD content available on Sky on the same TV as you enjoy Sky 3D.


Active v Passive 3D explained

Active v Passive 3D refers to the type of glasses you have to wear to watch 3D.

Active glasses contain LCD lenses that alternately black-out each eye depending on whether the right or left image is being displayed on the screen.  They are referred to as active because they require a battery to operate the LCD lenses. The shuttering occurs so rapidly that you dont see the shutters just the amazing 3D picture. 

Passive glasses use polarisation to separate out the left and right image.  They are referred to as passive because the glasses do not require any power to operate them. These work with polarised TVs that use circular polarisation to deliver the two images to the viewer.  The TVs have a polarized filter integrated into the screen, and when switched into a 3D mode, the filter orientates the light emitting from screen differently for the left and right image.  When you put on the passive polarised glasses the left lens has a filter that blocks out the right image and right lens has a filter that blocks out the left image.

One important point to consider is the cost of replacing broken or lost 3D glasses.  Active glasses will cost more than polarised glasses due to the additional technology they use.  Active glasses will also occasionally need a new lithium battery (similar to a watch battery) when it runs out.


Will I be able to record 3D programmes?

All the usual Sky+ features that you know and love will be available on the Sky 3D channel.*

Where can I see Sky 3D in pubs?

On Sunday 31st January Sky will become the first TV company anywhere to broadcast a live 3D TV sports event to a public audience. The Premier League game between Arsenal and Manchester United will be filmed in 3D and broadcast over the Sky platform to nine pubs in the UK and Ireland. The pubs which are located in London, Manchester, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Dublin have been kitted out with the UK and Ireland's first commercially available 3D TV sets. From April as more 3D ready TVs become available, Sky will show live Premiership football in hundreds of pubs nationwide, giving football fans across the country the opportunity to experience 3D TV for the first time.


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Last modified: March 24, 2017