Do I Need a Special Screen for 3D Projectors?

Do I Need a Special Screen for 3D Projectors?
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The ways to watch movies, live events, and TV shows at home have only gotten more diverse over the years. As TV quality continuously improves, so has projection screen technology. This improvement made some people opt for projectors because they are able to watch in large screens in the comfort of their own home. Still, many people wonder and ask the question “Do I need a special screen for 3D projectors?”

For us to find the right answer to that question, let’s try to have a better understanding of the 3D projection system. After which let us look at some pieces of equipment that you might need to have an excellent cinema-like, 3D viewing experience at home.

What is a 3D Projector?

A 3D projector is specially designed to project lifelike images in three dimensions. For a long time 3D was really the domain of the movie theater. 3D itself has gone through various versions over the years.

The first type of 3D projection that really gained any kind of popular traction in theaters was the anaglyph format. This method of projecting requires the audience to wear the now somewhat old-fashioned style of glasses – the ones with the red and blue lenses.

Following that came the most successful modern form, which is called IMAX (Image MAXimum) While you won’t be able to really replicate this system at home since it’s far too large and complex, an IMAX projector does bear a few similarities to the modern projectors you can have in your home. For example, they essentially work in the same way by projecting two slightly different images onto the screen, then by using the glasses, you can “trick” your mind into seeing a 3D image.

Do I Need a Special Screen for 3D Projectors?

Unfortunately, with regards to the big question as to whether you need a unique screen or not, we would give you a two-part answer. As frustrating as it may sound, nothing is really ever straightforward, right?

It should be noted that 3D projectors have come a long way now, and many of them mix the images internally. With these projectors, the double image is projected out, all ready to turn into 3D with the aid of modern glasses. With that said, you won’t need a special screen. You can have an ordinary piece of cloth, or you can even use your flat wall as an area where the images will be projected, and you can go for whatever color is best for your particular installation.

Now, taking a look at the other side of the coin, there are still a few occasions where a special screen may be needed to be able to project clear 3D images. The most common one is if you have an old-fashioned or outdated 3D projector.

Older projectors will use something called the anaglyph method, which we mentioned earlier. This type of projection has to be paired with a silver screen since its reflective surface is needed to help the two images mix properly and produce the 3D effect.

Do I Need Any Other Special Equipment?

Now that you know that there is a possibility that you can invest on a 3D projector that does not need a particular screen, it is time for you to figure out whether you need any other specialized equipment to mimic the “feel” brought about by watching movies in the cinema or not.

3D Glasses

Generally speaking, you do need some specifically designed accessories or items. In fact, we just dropped a hint in the section above, and that is the need for some specialized glasses. Just like with the projectors, glasses for 3D images have evolved far from the style of those in the past.

This means that you won’t be wearing the cool, old-school cardboard glasses with blue and red lenses. Instead, modern designs have what are called active shutter glasses. Active shutter glasses when activated will darken each lens for a fraction of a second in an alternating pattern. For instance, the left will darken, followed by the right, then back to the left and so on.

Don’t worry about flickering since the activation will happen so fast you won’t actually notice it. What you will see is a 3D image coming to life up on the screen. Also the alternation between lenses ensures that the left eye only sees the image intended for that eye and the same happens with the right.

Sound System

We did mention a while ago that IMAX is one of the most successful modern 3D projecting systems, but because of some factors, it could never be truly replicated in an average person’s home. Having said that you can still steal a few tips and tricks from IMAX and incorporate them into your own home projection set up.

One good thing to copy from IMAX is loudspeaker placement. IMAX screens are studded with lots of tiny little holes, these are so small that you can’t see them, they do not visually affect the projection screen. These holes make the screen acoustically transparent and help the sound from the speakers to propagate evenly throughout the theater. This when coupled with the amazing 3D images creates a truly absorbing experience.

The IMAX sound system is complex and unless you have a huge budget it will be impossible to replicate at home. For example, theatres showing IMAX have loudpeakers in the ceiling and microphones in the auditorium (to feed back the sound to the management system so that loudspeaker output can varied as required)

So saying, you can somewhat imitate IMAX audio using a sound surround system. Such a system typically comprises of eight loudpeakers each having different acoustic functions. Needless to say this can be costly and time consuming to set up, but if you are in a position to do this, why not?


As long as you do not have an old projector, the answer to the question “Do I need a special screen for 3D projectors?” is a no. That is because the projector itself and the glasses are doing all the work, and effectively tricking your brain into seeing 3D images.

If you do have an older projector the answer is “yes”; a silver screen is needed to produce the 3D effect.

What it does mean of course, is that even if you don’t need a special screen, you should still invest in the best screen that you can. 3D projectors and speakers are not cheap, and a high-quality screen which is acoustically transparent will really allow you to make the most of that investment with excellent sound and image reproduction

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