As I strode into the movie theater and gave the usher my ticket, I politely refused the 3D glasses he tried to hand me.
“No thanks. I brought my own,” I told him.
The usher looked somewhat confused and I don’t blame him. I very well might have been the only person in the theater wearing my own 3D shades. But if Oakley has their way, everyone will soon be.
Let’s face facts, 3D isn’t going anywhere. It’s quickly migrating from movie screens to our TVs and game consoles so it makes perfect sense that companies are starting to manufacture personal 3D glasses. I had heard that they were coming, but hadn’t really been paying attention. Then a rep from Oakely reached out to me.
Okay, full disclosure time: I was given a pair of 3D glasses from Oakley, but in accepting them I was under no obligation to write about them or pressured to give them a positive review. The products that I write about on this blog are things that interest me (even if they don’t contain bacon). Being the giant movie-geek that I am, how could I not test-drive personal 3D glasses?
You should know that I’m a fan of 3D movies. Well, I’m a fan of movies that make good use of 3D. Flicks like Avatar, How to Train Your Dragon and Despicable Me use 3D in clever ways to enhance the experience. So if a movie is conceived and shot in 3D, I don’t mind paying a bit more for that extra dimension.
The glasses soon arrived with a bunch of literature extolling the virtues of the lenses—premium optics designed to reduce glare and show truer colors, etc. I was excited to see if these claims were true. At the very least, it would be nice to have a pristine pair of glasses that nobody else had worn.
For the test run, I decided to see Tangled because I heard it was a good movie (and I secretly have a hair fetish, shhh). When it came to picking a theater, I encountered the first stumbling block of personalized 3D glasses: not all 3D theaters are created equal. There are two different kinds of 3D—active polarization, which use glasses with an electronically controlled shutter, and passive polarization, which use standard disposable glasses. While the majority of theaters use passive, guess which one my favorite local theater uses? So I had to travel a little bit further to try ‘em out.
In the theater I settled into my seat and strapped on the Oakleys. They were comfortable, feeling good against the bridge of my nose without hurting the tops of my ears like some 3D glasses can. Aside from that it was hard to notice much of a difference. The picture did look a tiny bit sharper, but nothing overtly noticeable. It’s like when I hear an audiophile complain that mp3s don’t sound as good as CDs or records—I really can’t tell.
After watching the movie (it’s very good, by the way) I began weighing the pros and cons of personal 3D glasses. The biggest con is that they aren’t cheap. The Oakleys retail for $150. Considering that theaters aren’t yet dropping the 3D surcharge if you bring your own glasses, these truly feel like a luxury item. While they are super comfortable to wear, and having my own glasses means I won’t be watching through scratched or dirty lenses, it’s unfortunate that they don’t work on every 3D screen (including 3D TV’s, which currently use active polarization).
I think there will be a market for personalized 3D glasses down the line—perhaps when there’s a more uniform system of exhibition is in place. But considering the love affair I have with my local theater, having my own glasses isn’t enough to lure me away. But I’ll happily wear them if I’m at a theater where the glasses work.