Build Your Own: Wall-Sized 3D Gaming, Just Like Theaters Do It

When it comes to 3D, bigger is better. Forget everything anyone ever told you about the appropriate size of a TV, because 3D is a dish best served large. Let me tell you something: I have seen the future and the future is jaw-dropping, wall-sized 3D gaming, complete with full-scale cars in Burnout Paradise and man-sized zombies in Left 4 Dead. I now partake in spaceship battles so viscerally convincing that I feel as if I were traveling through the void at warp speed, lasers blazing--all of it in glorious, larger-than-life 3D. If you want to know how you can do it too, read on.

Three years ago I wrote an article called Wall-Sized 3D Displays: The Ultimate Gaming Room. Back in 2007, watching a 3D film in a theater was still somewhat of a novelty. There were no mass-market 3D displays on the horizon and if you wanted to take 3D technology home, you would expect to pay a lot of money for something that probably wouldn't work all that well. And what would you do with it? Commercial movies weren't released in a 3D format, so the best you could hope for was some 3D gaming.

What a difference three years can make in the technology industry. Avatar thrust 3D into the pop-culture mainstream and all of the major TV manufacturers have announced 3D-ready sets for the home. We are also on the brink of the commercial release of the 3D Blu-ray format. The futuristic idea of commonplace stereoscopic 3D displays in our homes has never been this close to realization.

It is in this environment that we have re-embarked on the quest for a wall-sized 3D theater in the home. With commercial adoption on the horizon, it is no longer good enough for a 3D projection system to simply work--it has to be comfortable, functional, and ultimately, desirable enough to use on a regular basis. While we did manage to get the wall-sized 3D theater to work in 2007, the limitations of this older technology were such that there were unpleasant aspects to deal with. It's easier to endure a bit of brain-numbing strobe effects when you're pioneering something that will never be viable for the average consumer, but now that 3D is about to be released to the masses, our expectations are much higher.

With the release of 3D Blu-ray, you will see more articles from us over the next few weeks and months, but we'll start at the beginning. For most of us, our first taste of 3D has been in a movie theater. There are many ways to experience a stereoscopic 3D display, but let's start by recreating the method commonly used by movie studios: a dual-projector polarized setup.

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  • shubham1401

    This is really nice :)
  • kobbra
    I've never watched 3D films in cinema, and I don't have a geforce 3D system, but I'm pretty good at watching crossview images or videos on youtube, so I have a good idea about what to expect when I' ll go to cinema to watch avatar or other type of 3D films, and what I want to say is: 3D is completely insanely awsome!!!!!!!!!!
  • Black3ird
    Christmas here we come!! (I wish)
    Interesting concept in general, hopefully one day in the near future this will be the 'average' set up for us all!
  • Anonymous
    Were did you found 3D movies???????

    Yeah 3D works on my 120Hz Samsung 40inh and Nvidia GTX 280 Vision 3D. But i never found a movie for 3D.
  • jenkem
    This is the craziest shit i've ever seen. This is the first time I've ever gotten crossview to work, and I was completely stunned with what I saw. I seriously just sat there with a slowly growing headache for like 5 minutes staring at the call of duty and crysis pictures, amazed at how real it looked. To be able to actually play in 3D, and on a big projected screen, must be phenomenal.
    Could you guys make a crossview video of some 3D gameplay? I youtubed a bit but couldn't find anything.
  • chechak
    AMD's Open Stereo 3D Initiative vs NVIDIA 3D VISION
    which one you choose.... 3D future of vision?
  • whitewhale1
    one question i wonder

    i have nvidia 3d...and i love it

    however when fraps tells me im getting 45fps say...does that mean each eye is getting 22-23 fps?

    if so that might explain why i feel tired after using it for long...whereas anything over 60fps i dont feel so bad haha
  • swamprat
    One thing that's quite hard to deal with (that might be better with projectors than on a backlit screen) is that each eye is able to focus and have its own sense of 3d anyway. IIRC, the reason that too much computer work fluffs up your eyes is because the light is effectively parallel beams so your eyes think it's coming from further away than it is, so the eyes are saying the screen is 1' away based on binocular vision and much further based on each eye's focusing.

    Dealing with that (if it's an issue at all rather than something I heard wrongly at some point) would be quite impressive and might help with the 3D effect too. No idea what sort of weird lenses you'd need to cheat the eyes into focusing differently for different depths though...
  • tossum
    How come luminescence is a such a big factor to consider, when effectively you will be doubling that brightness by using 2 projectors? e.g. by using that $1000 1080p jobbie you will actually be displaying at 4000 lumines not 2000 correct?

    Also I would just like to say that head tracking coupled with this 3d wall must be simply mindblowing.
  • bjorklund
    Really nice! :) Thank you!
  • Anonymous
    You might also want to look at using a single 120Hz projector such as the DepthQ 3D HD - though it does cost about $6,000. Also the DepthQ Polarising Modulator, a single polarising filter that 'switches' the direction of polarisation in sync to the left/right frames so that you get the same polarised picture on the wall but from a single projector.

    You might also want to mention using circular polarised filters/glasses in the followup review, these are not much more expensive than the linear polarised ones you used here but avoid the issue of 'bleeding' between the images if you tilt your head. These are what the 3D cinemas use.
  • habit12
    I was left scratching my head wondering why this article was even written? Its shows you in pain staking detail how to purchase and install a “DOUBLE PROJECTOR SYSTEM” only at the last few lines to take it all back by saying: Oh by the way we were only kidding save your money and time “Nvidia's 3D Vision” is out and will require only “ONE” projector at a lot less money and hassle.

    Some poor sod probably missed the last line and blew $3000.00 only to come back and reread the article and discover he’s been suckerd.
  • Anonymous
    There are certain aspects where Nvidia 3D vision single projector systems cannot beat a polarised double projector system.

    These aspects include :
    -screen brightness/size : a double projector system provides 2x the brightness.
    -absolute zero flicker : for some people 120Hz is not enough to be comfortable.
    -no show-stopper sync hiccups (some nvidia 3D vision have some, see nvidia forums for people ranting about this issue)
    -simultaneous display of Left/Right pictures : when images move quickly you loose track of depth with shutter systems, when the left and right eye views are displayed simultaneously, you don't get this issue.
    -glasses comfort : no matter how light Nvidia makes it's LCD shutter glasses, they still contain lots of plastic, electronics, batteries and liquid crystals. When adding something to your nose every ounce counts. Many people consider shutter glasses too heavy and prefer ultra-light passive polarised glasses.
    -ability to use any projector you want
    -ability to use 1080p projectors (there are currently no 1080p projectors on the market that support nvidia 3Dvision)
  • pasoleatis

    Nice article. Is it possible to do the same using two displayes near each other? I would mae the building easier.
  • Anonymous

    yes it would but the attachment to your neck to make your head flick between the two monitors 60 times a second could be a bit risky!
  • joneb
    Headtracking with fully immersible 3d glasses will be the best as I remember years ago trying out a vr headset with one of the popular 3d fps of the time and even that was amazing even though the graphics were very low quality obviously in comparison to todays. It was sore on the eyes eventually and on the neck as the headset was heavy too and the games that worked on it was limited. As the 3d covered the full field of vision and with the tracking you were virtually in that game when the headset was on.
  • Anonymous
    The article is incorrect when it says that Dolby 3D used alternate frames and polarisation, it in fact uses a wavelength multiplex method that is by far the best steroscopic method currently available. There is no need for a special silver screen (to prevent depolarisation of the light).
  • Anonymous
    I'm thinking if I combine this article with this one that I can build a 3D projector for under $1000 (especially since I already have one home-made projector :)