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Build your own RealD 3D Theater

Learn how to build your own full-color 3D theater using this tutorial.

Components you need:

2 Projectors
2 Polarizing Filters (linear or circular) and matching Cicular/Linear Polarized Glasses
Silver Screen
Computer for playback
Software (VLC for Mac or Stereoscopic Player PC)
DVI to HDMI Cables (optional)









Overview – The way this system works is, you project two images, one for each eye, onto a screen. The light of each image is polarized to match a pair of glasses that the viewer wears. The lenses filter each video out leaving each eye viewing one of the two images. A special silver screen preserves the polarization of the light. This is very close to the system used in the theaters today and can even work with RealD glasses. Note- this set-up requires stereoscopic source material. It will not convert 2D movies to 3D. 



Projectors – The first thing you need is a couple projectors; it would be great if they matched but they don’t have to. The resolutions don’t have to match either but it will probably make your life easier. The important part is that you can match the two played back images perfectly. It’s also good to get as bright of projectors as you can. There are two sets of filters involved and each will cut down the light. I used Infocus Projectors and I’m very happy with the result. One other note – We’ve been using a pair of DVI-to-HDMI Cables to connect the computer to the projectors. The computer had trouble seeing the projectors at the same resolution and these cables solved the problem.


Silver Screen - Aim both projectors at your silver screen (You can get yours from either Awater3D or StrongMDI, I’ve used both and they are great). Get both images to overlap perfectly. I used a focus chart for one projector and an inverted focus chart for the other. This makes aligning the images easier. You have to use a silver screen otherwise the images will loose their polarization when they reflect and the filters on the glasses will not work. Other options include silver screen paint (which we have not tried, supposedly works but you need to apply to a very flat surface and use a sprayer). Vintage silver screens will also work, the image looks great and you can find them for as little as $20 online.

Filters Next, you’ll need a set of polarizing filters. You have two options here: you can get two linear polarizers such as these or a set of circular polarizers such as these from Awater 3D or these from American Polarizers. I’ve used both and they are excellent. Circular Polarizers will match Real D glasses while linear require their own glasses - such as these.

Align the filters -
Linear polarizers work at 45° to each other. Most likely you’ll need to tip each filter like a diamond to align it correctly. You can hold it up to a pair of linear 3D glasses to check alignment. It should black out one eye and let light pass through the other. Do the opposite for the opposite eye.


Circular Polarizers work differently. They have a front and back and a left and right. Again use your circular polarized glasses to test the orientation of each filter. I’ve used filters from both Awater3D and American Polarizers, each are great and come labeled. If there is a notable loss in resolution when the filter is applied check to see that you have removed all the protective laminates that come on the filters.


Playback – Stereoscopic Movies come in several formats. However, they all operate under the same principal: show the viewer two different movies at the same time, one per eye. To do this, two separate videos are played back at the same time, either as independent video files of squished together into either a side-by-side or over-under format. Each playback method requires special software.


For Macs - use VLC Player – File> Advanced Open File> Play Another Media  Synchronously. I’ve used this to watch 90 minutes of stereo content with perfect sync. note – it’s not easy to jump around with VLC player. You pretty much have to hit play and watch. You can also configure it to playback Side-by-side movies using the wall filter. This is pretty tricky but works great once set-up.

For PCs – Stereoscopic Player is the software to use. There are other freeware options out there but I haven’t tried them. They seem to get very little use – it’s up to you what you want to use.

That’s everything you need. Respond below and I’ll do my best to answer any questions you have. Good Luck!

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