Taking 3-D To TV Movie theaters are full of 3-D flicks, but now the technology is moving to television. When can viewers expect to watch the Super Bowl in 3-D on a flat screen? Ira Flatow and guests discuss the frontier of this technology, and what it might look like when it hits the market.
NPR logo

Taking 3-D To TV

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/124901334/124901313" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Taking 3-D To TV

Taking 3-D To TV

Taking 3-D To TV

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/124901334/124901313" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Movie theaters are full of 3-D flicks, but now the technology is moving to television. When can viewers expect to watch the Super Bowl in 3-D on a flat screen? Ira Flatow and guests discuss the frontier of this technology, and what it might look like when it hits the market.


Priya Ganapati, staff writer, Wired Magazine, San Francisco, Calif.

Lenny Lipton, president and chief Science Officer, Oculus3D, life fellow, Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, Los Angeles, Calif.

Toni Myers, director, Hubble 3D, Toronto, Canada


This is SCIENCE FRIDAY from NPR. I'm Ira Flatow. 3-D has come a long way since the movies in the '50s, old 3-D movies like "Dial M for Murder." You mean, you didn't know that was a 3-D movie? I saw it. It was great. "Creature from the Black Lagoon," I'm sure you saw that one.

They used 3-D to make the audience feel like objects were shooting out at them, right? You always had to duck when something was coming out of the screen. Well, now movies like "Up!" and "Avatar" give 3-D a whole new dimension, and they win Academy Awards. So everybody in the industry now wants to jump on the bandwagon and make 3-D stuff, but nobody really knows where the bandwagon is going.

Filmmakers are thinking in terms of theaters. TV set makers want you to stay home and watch 3-D at home. The first 3-D TVs will be hitting the market soon. Could they really change how we watch television?

This hour, 3-D experts are here to guide us through the entertainment revolution. What do you think about 3-D? Where would you like to see it? Our number, 1-800-989-8255.

Maybe you have some questions about how 3-D works. You can tweet us, tweet your questions by writing the @ sign followed by S-C-I-F-R-I. That's @scifri. And if you want more information, you can go to our Web site at sciencefriday.com, where we have photos and information up there. Go over there now, you'll see some stuff about 3-D.

Let me introduce my guests. Toni Myers is the director of the movie "Hubble 3D." That's coming out today in theaters. She's here in the studio. Welcome to SCIENCE FRIDAY.

Ms. TONI MYERS (Director, "Hubble 3D"): Thank you, Ira, great to be here.

FLATOW: You're welcome. And if you want to see some images from the new movie "Hubble 3D," as I say, you can go to our Web site at sciencefriday.com/arts, where our art stuff is housed. Priya Ganapati is a staff writer for Wired Magazine in San Francisco, California. Welcome to SCIENCE FRIDAY.

Ms. PRIYA GANAPATI (Staff Writer, Wired Magazine): Hi, Ira, thanks for having me on the show.

FLATOW: You're welcome. Let me ask you first: What are some of the technologies that people are using to get 3-D on their TV sets, Priya?

Ms. GANAPATI: Ira, before I get into that, I want to explain exactly what how 3-D works.

FLATOW: Oh, good.

Ms. GANAPATI: So fundamentally, our eyes are about three inches apart. So each eye sees the same image but from a slightly different perspective. What our brain does is takes these two set of images, fuses them into one, helps focus it, and that and it computes very quickly the distance or the depth along with that image.

Now, what 3-D TVs are trying to do is fundamentally trick the brain into watching an image and perceiving it as 3-D. So it's all about showing the eyes two different sets of images and then letting our brain do the work, putting it together, and giving the whole perception of depth, or 3-D, as they call it.

FLATOW: And usually we have to wear those glasses to separate the two images and let our eyes see them, right?

Ms. GANAPATI: Exactly. The easiest way, and the most common way to do it is you have to have a pair of glasses that will basically, you know, sort of show one set of image to each eye, though they're both the same frame. So what fundamentally happens is those glasses trick your brain into thinking that you're watching something in 3-D. And there is a technology that can let you do that without glasses, but it is right now very experimental, at its early stages, and we are not completely there yet.

FLATOW: So when we see these new TV sets that are coming out, you're still going to have to wear the glasses.

Ms. GANAPATI: There is no getting away from that. Yes, you still have to wear your glasses. You have some choice in the kind of glasses that you get, and you have some that both - in terms of price points and how these glasses look and how they work, but yes, you do have to wear those glasses.

FLATOW: Toni Myers, your movie, "Hubble 3D," is coming out today. What's the difference what's different about the 3-D technology in this movie versus how other movies are made?

Ms. MYERS: Well, first of all, it's IMAX 3-D, which is projected onto a very large screen, very, very bright and sharp. It's shot, as is most 3-D, traditionally with two pieces of film - one for the left eye, one for the right.

But in this case, because we shot the film in space, most of it, that technology is a special design that exposes the left eye and the right eye on a single strip of film. It moves horizontally through the camera at a great rate of speed, and then when we get the footage back from space, we separate it all back, frame by frame, into left and right eyes because that's how you have to project it.

FLATOW: And so you're still using that ancient technology of film instead of digital, right?

Ms. MYERS: We are still using that ancient technology, which is quite wonderful.

FLATOW: It is, isn't it?

Ms. MYERS: Very, very high resolution. There is nothing yet digitally that really comes close to that super-high resolution. But it will soon.

FLATOW: And seeing it in the IMAX format in 3-D, it's overwhelming. I've seen IMAX. It's just wonderfully overwhelming, surrounding you, right?

Ms. MYERS: It's pretty immersive because not only are you going inside and outside of the screen, but it's out beyond your peripheral vision in most cases.

FLATOW: Priya, how are home TV people going to compete with this?

Ms. GANAPATI: Home TVs are not, obviously, on the same quality - 3-D stuff on home TV is obviously not on the same quality both in terms of brightness and the experience that they offer, but the very fact that you're sitting on your couch, you're sitting at home and watching something in 3-D is a huge advantage. So that's what TV makers are counting on, that you can be at home and still have the experience. But it's still fundamentally the same difference between watching a movie on your high-definition TV today at home with watching it in the theater.

FLATOW: Of course, the popcorn is a lot cheaper at home.

Ms. MYERS: That I have to agree with.

Ms. GANAPATI: It is, and you can decide how much candy you want to have.

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: Exactly. 1-800-989-8255 is our number. We're talking about the future of 3-D technology. If you'd like to give us a call, also you can send us a tweet @scifri, @-S-C-I-F-R-I. You know, one of the things that we're not seeing that are coming out, and I've talked to 3-D gamers people, is that 3-D games. They tell me that you can get too nauseous playing a 3-D game, Toni. Have you found that to be true?

Ms. MYERS: I'm not a gamer. So I couldn't tell you.

Ms. GANAPATI: I have tried 3-D games, and yes, it's a lot of motion fundamentally, and there's a lot going on in the screen, unlike a 3-D movie, some other 3-D piece of content where, you know, you're not overloaded, and your brain is not bombarded with images and information.

So 3-D games can be a bit challenging if you're trying it out for the first time, but the advantage is that the whole 3-D aspect to it, it can be a lot of fun and given the right game, it's a huge step up just from traditional 2-D games.

FLATOW: Toni, can you or I should phrase it this way. Are you thinking of making films for the smaller screen than just the giant IMAX 3-D movies?

Ms. MYERS: My experience is all with the IMAX canvas, and yes, it would be interesting to try it, but so far, I'd like to continue working with the area that I know. But television, I guess, would have a different set of challenges.

FLATOW: And how do you train astronauts to become professional photographers with 3-D IMAX?

Ms. MYERS: That's really easy because astronauts are really smart, and they wouldn't be astronauts if they weren't the best learners in the world. So James Neihouse, our director of photography and crew trainer and I go down there and spend about 28 to 30 hours with the crew, spread over eight months in advance of the flight. And we during that time train ourselves about the mission in terms of what's going on. We develop a shopping list of scenes with them and show them how to operate the camera, and it's always a joy to do that.

FLATOW: 1-800-989-8255. Lots of people want to ask questions. So let's go to Ian(ph) in Akron. Hi, Ian.

IAN (Caller): Hey there, how are you?

FLATOW: Hey there.

IAN: Great show today, by the way. I wanted to inquire about how exactly is the rollout being planned for the 3-D, you know, TV movement that's going to happen in terms of like, you know, CNN or ESPN or, you know, the cooking station or, you know, whatever the viewer wants to watch. How will that actually come to pass in terms of, if I buy the TV, when will I be able to actually access the things that I'm used to in 3-D?

FLATOW: Or are there going to be separate 3-D channels like there are high-definition channels now?

IAN: That's what I'm thinking. And I was just wondering: Do we know anything about how that actually is planned to roll out because I've just heard of these TVs recently and I didn't know if, you know, even with when it comes to gaming, like you just said, like are there going to be separate fees for such use, and, like, do I like - are there going to be (unintelligible) channels emerging?

FLATOW: All right, let me ask Priya. Priya Ganapati of Wired, can you give us some hint on that?

Ms. GANAPATI: We are going to see a lot of 3-D channels come out this year. For instance, let's start with Europe first. In Europe, you're going to see SkyTV launch its first 3-D channel on April 3rd. So that's just only next month, and this SkyTV 3-D channel will be available to SkyTV subscribers at no extra cost. So they are making a big move there.

In the U.S., we're going to see Discovery and ESPN both launch 3-D channels by the end of the year. ESPN has said that starting June 11th with the 2010 FIFA World Cup, it's going to start offering sports events in 3-D on its 3-D channels.

Discovery hasn't said exactly when it's going to kick off 3-D programming, but it promises it will be before the end of the year.

DirectTV is going to have three 3-D channels in the U.S., and we're going to see another major event later next week with Madison Square Garden live broadcasting a 3-D game, a hockey game in 3-D for the first time.

FLATOW: I heard there was a golf game that was going to be also...

Ms. GANAPATI: Right.

FLATOW: Yeah. Why can't we just retrofit our old, high-definition TV with some box that might turn it into 3-D?

Ms. GANAPATI: I think the way it's because of this your TV has to blast out images, an alternating set of images for your eyes, and that's what's called a refresh rate, so the rate at which the TV sends out those frames.

And traditional LCD or plasma TVs that we have right now do not have a high enough refresh rate to let you watch 3-D TV. There are also some other internal modifications that have to be made. For instance, you have to have some kind of infrared technology inside the TV that will communicate with your glasses so that the images on the TV are in synch with your glasses. You need to have a connector.

So there's a whole bunch of equipment that goes inside the TV to make sure that it works with 3-D.

FLATOW: And I guess we won't know how well it will be accepted until it actually comes out. Do we have a rollout date for the first one?

Ms. GANAPATI: Panasonic has said that it's going to have its first 3-D TV bundle available by the end of the month. They did put out a few units, which were all sold out, but they're going to be available at Best Buy at the end of the month. And this is going to be 50-inch TVs, which include a 3-D Blu-ray player and a set of glasses.

FLATOW: All right, we're going to take a break and come back and talk more with Toni Myers and Priya Ganapati. Also, we're going to be joined by Lenny Lipton, who is president and chief science officer at Oculus3D. He'll tell us more about the movie industry. So stay with us. We'll be right back after this short break. Our number, 1-800-989-8255. You can also see a 3-D movie or a little bit of a 3-D about the 3-D movies on sciencefriday.com and watch a little bit of "Hubble 3D." So stay with us. We'll be right back after this short break.

(Soundbite of music)

FLATOW: You're listening to SCIENCE FRIDAY from NPR. I'm Ira Flatow. We're talking about the future of 3-D with my guest, Toni Myers, director of the movie, the new IMAX movie, "Hubble 3-D," coming out today in theaters. She's here with me in our studios. Priya Ganapati is a staff writer for Wired magazine in San Francisco. And joining us now is Lenny Lipton, president and chief Science Officer of Oculus3-D. Welcome to SCIENCE FRIDAY, Lenny.

Mr. LENNY LIPTON (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers): Hi Ira, how are you doing?

FLATOW: Hi there. Do we have to create new technologies to make all these new 3-D movies? Do we have to create new cameras and things like that?

Mr. LIPTON: It would be good to have what I call an integral camera that was designed from the ground up as a 3-D camera because right now we have cameras that are assembled out of existing 2-D cameras, and I think in terms of ease of use and instrumentation and even the final result, the industry requires not only the movie industry but the television industry requires a camera that was designed to be a 3-D camera, rather than two cameras put together.

CONAN: Toni Myers, you agree?

Ms. MYERS: Yes, I think you definitely need a purpose-built instrument to do it, especially as the what I hear all the time is strapping two 2-D cameras together, and that frequently results in an inter-ocular distance that's far too great and doesn't give ideal 3-D.

FLATOW: So you have to fool around with it later on?

Ms. MYERS: Yes, you have to move it closer and find a way to mess with the lens mounts and everything.

FLATOW: So does the difference have be exactly the difference between your two eyeballs, Lenny?

Mr. LIPTON: No, no, no, that would be a mistake. What you really want to wind up with is a comfortable, beautiful image, and you don't have to have the distance between the camera lenses the same as the distance between the eyes. In fact, only occasionally will that be the case.

FLATOW: 1-800-989-8255 is our number. Will we appreciate 3-D on these tiny little smartphones we have? I mean, can you actually see 3-D on something like that?

Mr. LIPTON: When I was in Japan four or five years ago, these little phones had stereoscopic images on them, and they had a lot of charm. They were charming. The image wasn't especially deep, but it was fun.

FLATOW: Charming and fun.

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: Useful? Who knows? I mean, can you why would I've always wondered this now. Why would you want to watch a movie on a tiny little screen that was big in 1946? We should be getting into bigger technologies now.

But do you see any problems, Lenny, with the new crop of TVs that are coming out now, the 3-D television?

Mr. LIPTON: Well, it's fascinating because my colleagues and I at Stereographics in the 1980s invented all the key technology that's now going into the 3-D televisions.

We offered products for industry and science, but we made the first flicker-free field-sequential televisions, which were really monitors for computer graphics. We made the first shuttering eyewear, CrystalEyes. We sold over 100,000 pairs, but for people in aerial mapping and molecular modeling, and present shuttering glasses are a continuation of the tradition of CrystalEyes, which was invented, I don't know, 25 years ago.

And even the multiplexing technique that is now used, the most popular one, the side-by-side technique, we invented and patented. So it's wonderful to see everything happening now, obviously being driven by the movies. The success of 3-D movies have created a craving for home viewing. So I think that's something I've been waiting for.

FLATOW: Let's go to Ted in Cincinnati. Hi, Ted. Welcome to SCIENCE FRIDAY.

TED (Caller): Thank you very much. I think my question probably concerns more of the movie technologies than the digital television technologies, but like many men, I am red-green colorblind, and I find that the red-lens, blue-lens glasses don't do anything for me when I'm watching 3-D projections or 3-D images because I'm just not picking up any depth at all. They just look a little fuzzy.

FLATOW: Toni Myers is shaking her head on that one.

Ms. MYERS: Well, we in our theaters use a polarizing technique. So you don't have the red-blue glasses, happily. So you'll be able to separate those images.

FLATOW: Ted, when was the last time you saw a 3-D movie?

TED: It's probably been a few years now. I didn't see any point in going back because they were so unfulfilling for all the hype.

FLATOW: Well, they don't use those crummy little, you know, paper glasses anymore.

TED: Well, as recently as last year or two years' ago Super Bowl, they were doing a commercial with those, and I think it was Pepsi, maybe, or Doritos or somebody, and they had distributed them widely, but...

FLATOW: Don't believe everything you see on television. All the new ones are as Toni was saying, they all use these polarizing lenses that have no color in them. So you won't be suffering anymore. Good luck to you.

TED: Thank you much.

FLATOW: Right. Well, you were mentioning, Lenny, that you would love to have new technology, a camera dedicated to just making 3-D film. What other new technologies do you see on the horizon or would you love to have if you had a blank check to make it?

Mr. LIPTON: Oh, the major change would be to eliminate the eyewear, but I think that's a Herculean effort that's going to take a very long time.

Everything we have is in place now for eyewear-based systems for television and for the theater. So I think we're looking at a period of development without really requiring inventing the wheel. So there's got to be a lot of good engineering.

FLATOW: Yeah, Priya, do you agree that's the biggest challenge?

Ms. GANAPATI: Right, and right now we do have some prototype systems that are in their sort of early stages, TV sets, 3-D TVs that don't require any eyewear, but they have a lot of limitations, both starting with you have to sit in front of the TV at a particular angle to make sure you can watch those images right, and it has a limited viewing distance. So you have to be within four feet to sort of see the images.

So we have a long way to go before we can get rid of those limitations and make it a comfortable viewing experience that you can watch the TV from any angle, you can be anywhere in the room, and all that is not possible right now with TVs that don't use glasses.

FLATOW: Toni, did you want to jump in?

Ms. MYERS: I just had a question was for the glassless technique. Is it some kind of coating that goes on the front of the television that and what is that? I'm curious about it.

Mr. LIPTON: The major issue here has to do with the selection technique, which, as you say, a coating. But typically we use our refractive optics with a multiplicity of very small lenses that are able to take the multiple perspectives that the set is displaying and fan them out into space.

So you've got an issue with regard to how to design that properly, but also because stereoscopic television, to fulfill the same kind of requirements of ease of viewing that present television has, requires probably 100 or more images, you've got a very big pixel requirement. You've got to have a lot of information, which probably today can't possibly be broadcast but has to be constructed in the television set.

So you know, 4K TVs are way beyond our horizon, but we might need a 400K to do auto stereoscopic TVs - that is to say TV without eyewear. So it's a big resolution issue. You need a lot of information.

FLATOW: So you need a big, what did you say, a big bandwidth. You need a big pipe for the Internet...

Mr. LIPTON: No, you may not need a big pipe. You may be able to reconstruct the image at the television set. That was the thrust of Phillips' effort for many years. Phillips was working on such a device, and they withdrew from the market and from their development efforts a year ago, which I think was a setback. They, I think, came to the determination that it was just going to take too much time and money.

FLATOW: Yeah, yeah. Toni, how were you able to convert 2-D Hubble images into 3-D?

Ms. MYERS: We do that in Toronto at IMAX in-house, and the typical conversion process involves making a duplicate eye and offsetting it by the correct distance, and then the computer artists come in and fill in the occlusion areas where there's missing information, just like you would in Photoshop. It's a...

FLATOW: One frame at a time? Oh my goodness.

Ms. MYERS: It's rotoscoping and occlusion work. It's very, very detailed and labor-intensive, but they do a great job.

Mr. LIPTON: It's quite remarkable because it has been used for two major features, "G-Force," which is a Bruckheimer Disney movie, and "Alice," another Disney movie, and in both cases they did a pretty darn good job.

Ms. MYERS: They certainly did. I saw "Alice" yesterday.

FLATOW: "Alice in Wonderland."

Ms. MYERS: Yeah.

FLATOW: Yeah, I'm reminded of "Coraline," which was a stop-action movie, where they had to do...

Mr. LIPTON: "Coraline" was actually shot I Henry Selick and I have been friends for years. He called up one day and asked how I figured he ought to shoot that, and I proposed to him he take a single digital camera and jog it over by a few millimeters to produce the left and right images, and that's how Henry shot "Coraline." But it wasn't reconstructed. It was actually shot stereoscopically.

FLATOW: No, I meant how labor-intensive it is to shoot one frame at a time like that, because it's not a cartoon.

Mr. LIPTON: He had to have at least 30 soundstages going at the same time to (unintelligible)...

FLATOW: So that's the way that you would do it? You would recommend that's how you do it with stop-action like that? You take one camera, and move it left and right, back and forth?

Mr. LIPTON: Yeah, that's the way Henry did it, based on my explanation to him, and he and his cinematographer, Pete Kozachik, worked out the details, and if you think about it, it's a pretty good technique because you can't possibly get a twin lens stereo camera in there. So by taking - the puppets in the background aren't going to move...

FLATOW: Right.

Mr. LIPTON: ...you can take advantage of that.

FLATOW: Mm-hmm. Priya, what do you see besides the camera - the lensless, eyeless, eyeglassless challenge as another challenge to making 3-D acceptable all over the place?

Ms. GANAPATI: I think that right now just working with the systems that we have, 3-D is - can be a fun experience, but it's also very draining. That's the problem of some people. Some people don't do very well with 3-D TVs. They - you get the issue of eye strain. They get headaches. You know, you sometimes just feel - get nauseatic through the whole process. So it's not - so even with existing systems, that's - that whole challenge of adjusting to 3-D.

And plus cost. Cost is a huge factor. 3-D TVs, as we know today, are expensive, and we have to see if consumers are willing to pay that much money to get on this new technology.

FLATOW: Mm-hmm.

Mr. LIPTON: Well, the issue you raise is very interesting. You have to be very careful shooting for a small screen. But I think 3-D movies are going to translate very well onto stereoscopic televisions and will probably be very comfortable to view. When you're looking at 3-D images pretty close, say, living room distances, there are some real concerns you don't have with a theater screen.

FLATOW: Right.

Mr. LIPTON: I think it can be worked out. Also, with regard to the price or the cost issue, I think we're going to see stereoscopic televisions become de rigueur. They're just going to become a normal and they'll be so-called stereo-ready, and I don't think they're going to cost very much more than a normal flat-panel TV...

FLATOW: Right.

Mr. LIPTON: ...in the long run because they're going to lay off all of the delta. The extra cost is going to be in the aftermarket. The shuttering eyewear are going to bear the expense of the difference between 2-D and 3-D.

FLATOW: Well, would it be possible for me now? I wear glasses. Could I not now or sometime soon go get my prescription glasses but have them built already with 3-D built into them? And then I - wearing them all the time, they sort of look - they're polarized so they leave the sun out and I'm happy about that. But now when I sit down in front of my 3-D TV set, I don't have to put another pair of glasses on.

Mr. LIPTON: I'm not sure that's that likely a possibility for shuttering eyewear, which were electronic devices with electro-optical shutters in them.

FLATOW: But what if they're just plain polarizing kind that I'm watching in the theater now?

Mr. LIPTON: Well, the - here's the trick. For a stereoscopic television to be a successful consumer item, the delta between that and a TV set has to be pretty darn small or people aren't going to go for it, especially now when there's a very little content or maybe almost no content. So the technique that the major - or the technology that the major electronics suppliers and set manufacturers have adopted is one in which the cost of making a high field rate television that runs in a, you know, you have a lot of pictures per second, 120 instead of 60, is not that great.

And if you lay the cost off into the eyewear - in other words, if the aftermarket purchase is where the cost resides rather than in the set itself, you be able to sell a lot of sets that are ready for stereoscopic broadcasting. And then when there is good content, people go out and buy the eyewear and then they're ready to see stereoscopic images.

FLATOW: Mm-hmm.

Mr. LIPTON: But the technique you're describing, where you have patch(ph) polarizing eyewear is one that intrinsically costs more because it requires a special layer that is applied to the monitor screen and that is, at this point, quite costly.

FLATOW: Mm-hmm.

Mr. LIPTON: If the cost of that could come down, your suggestion would be a good one because it does produce a good-looking image, but it's still rather costly.

FLATOW: Yeah. We're talking about the future of 3-D this hour on SCIENCE FRIDAY from NPR.

Talking with Toni Myers, Priya Ganapati and Lenny Lipton. Just a few minutes left to go. Any predictions, Priya?

Ms. GANAPATI: I think we're going to definitely see a lot of interest in 3-D TVs. They're just beginning to sort of take off. We're seeing the content come and we're going to be seeing Hollywood show lot of interest, which is going to translate into, you know, consumer interest in 3-D televisions because - so I definitely think next year is going to be very interesting for 3-D TVs. We might see price come down and a little bit more of standardization in the kind of technology that's being used. So I think next year will be the year to watch for 3-D TV.

FLATOW: Toni Myers, are all the - all the new IMAX going to be out in 3-D (unintelligible) do you think?

Ms. MYERS: Pretty much so. It's it's definitely taken off and all of the studio movies that IMAX does are - a lot of those are 3-D now. And certainly the next films I'm planning to do will be 3-D.

FLATOW: Give us a hint what the next one might be.

Ms. MYERS: Well, I'd certainly like to do another space film that concentrates on Earth, but also the International Space Station. I had a wonderful experience on this film, flying through the Hubble data, the actual pictures that Hubble has sent back. And having done two sequences like that, I sure would love to do a lot more. The response has been terrific.

FLATOW: Does NASA get any money from the film?

Ms. MYERS: NASA's charter, by law, says that they need to disseminate all the information about what the agency is doing to the public and what the taxpayer dollars are paying for. And so we fulfill that mandate.

FLATOW: That means no, I guess.

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: You're putting good stuff (unintelligible).

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. MYERS: No, they supply the orbiter and the astronauts and we supply the film.

FLATOW: And, Lenny, any closing thoughts on the future of 3-D?

Mr. LIPTON: Well, I see stereoscopic movies continuing to drive the home medium. Right now we have a collision of major features in the theaters. There aren't enough theaters that can show 3-D movies, and that's what my new company is trying to do, provide more projection systems. And as long as this persists, and I actually think that the stereoscopic medium in theaters will become ubiquitous, I see over the next few years 2-D movies going away simply for economic reasons because people prefer 3-D movies.

FLATOW: Will they bring them back as 3-D somehow?

Mr. LIPTON: The 2-D movies?


Mr. LIPTON: Sure. I think - but that would require special movies like "Star Wars" and maybe "Titanic"...

FLATOW: Right.

Mr. LIPTON: ...that people would like to go back and see in 3-D. And I think they would enjoy them.

FLATOW: All right.

Mr. LIPTON: And of course, that will create more content for televisions at home, but not enough. So you'll need specially purposed home television content.

FLATOW: All right. We've run out of time. I want to thank Toni Myers, director of the IMAX movie "Hubble 3-D," coming out today in theaters. Priya Ganapati is staff writer for Wired magazine in San Francisco. Lenny Lipton, president and chief science officer of Oculus 3-D and life fellow of the Society of Motion Pictures and Television Engineers in Los Angeles. Thank you all.

Ms. GANAPATI: Thank you, Ira.

Mr. MYERS: Thanks.

FLATOW: You're welcome for taking this time to be with us today.

Mr. LIPTON: Thanks, Ira.

FLATOW: Have a great weekend.

Copyright © 2010 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Related NPR Stories