Will Your RealD AVATAR 3D Glasses Work At Home?

3D Did you keep your AVATAR 3D glasses after you left the movie theater? Many people saw AVATAR in 3D, in normal 3D or IMAX 3D. You get your special glasses when you give them your ticket, but you don’t always have to hand the glasses back. If you still have the RealD 3D glasses, will you be able to use them to watch AVATAR at home? There is a difference between IMAX 3D glasses and other 3D glasses; active 3D technology and passive 3D technology. Will either work on a home release of AVATAR in 3D?

Guest Post By Rebecca Scudder

When AVATAR was released, there were generally three different prices to see the movie. You could watch in 3D, in IMAX or in a regular theatre, with no 3D effects at all. Both the 3D showing and the IMAX showings gave you 3D glasses to watch and enjoy the movie.

At the end of the IMAX AVATAR showing, did you notice an usher hovering next to you as you stood by the bin for your IMAX glasses? They strongly suggested that you drop your glasses in as you left.

If you watched the 3D version where they handed you shrink wrapped RealD glasses, no one really seemed to care if you left with your glasses for a souvenir. Will they do you any good later?

The difference is in the technology used in the glasses. AVATAR 3D glasses from RealD give 3D vision passively, with oppositely circularly polarized lenses. They are cheap to produce, and they are not built to last. Instead, a special projector made by Sony shows images for left and right eyes separately, with an attachment that polarizes the images and projects them into the theater at the same time, superimposed on each other. Without the special projector and a silvered screen, the RealD glasses will not work. RealD technology is going to stay in the movie theater, due to the equipment needed to make the passive polarized lenses work.

AVATAR 3D IMAX LC shutter glasses use active technology, with a receiver built into the frame. The theater does not consider them disposable, as they are not inexpensive. If you did manage to leave the theater with a set of the glasses, will they work on home equipment? They could theoretically work with some of the future home 3D systems, depending on the transmission frequency. But the likelihood of them using the same transmission method and frequency is not very high, because the current LC shutter lenses may use infrared, radio frequency, DLP-Link or a Bluetooth receiver in the glasses to receive the timing signal.

In late March 2009, Panasonic started selling a 50” plasma TV along with a pair of 3D glasses and a Blu-ray player. Samsung has recently shipped a 55” LED Back lit LCD TV which is now in stores. Sony is also supposed to release a 3D TV in June of 2010. For computer users, Panasonic will introduce the new BT-3DL2550, a 25.5-inch 3D LCD production monitor with full 1920x1200 resolution at the 2010 NAB Show. With it, the viewer uses LC shutter glasses with a timing mechanism which opens and shut the lenses on each side alternately. Nvidia has released the GeForce 3D Vision kit, which has 3D LC shutter glasses, a transmitter, drivers and special software. The limiting factor is the need for a 120 Hz monitor, because there are not many available.

In short, by the time you need AVATAR 3D glasses for home viewing, you will have a choice of different systems you can watch it on. However, you’ll need the glasses that come with that system, not those souvenir RealD glasses you have gathering dust on a shelf.

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If you saw AVATAR in 3D, did you keep your 3D glasses?


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Yep...kept every pair, every time, I had to pay extra to use them....that made them MINE......next question?

Ayhan B.

I did the same. I paid extra for the movie, and besides, I can give the glasses as toys to my younger siblings. As the above article says, outside the movie theater, they don't really serve too much of a purpose, so why not keep them and use them for something else? Dropping them into those bins saves the movie theaters some money, because they wash and sterilize them, then give them to someone else who decides to see the movie.


Yes I did keep my RealD glasses after I watched the movie. Unfortunately, I couldn't keep the IMAX 3-D glasses which would have been cool but understandable. Shucks they might not even work when I get the 3D DVD but they will be just souvenirs :)


I saw it in IMAX and Dolby 3D, did not keep the glasses, dolby glasses are passive but use very expensive narrow band color interference filters that cost around $60 a pair, they are made by a German company called Infitec.

But, I purchased some RealD glasses from amazon for my own custom projection setup, I am using dual DLP projectors with circular polarized filters and a home made silver screen all for under $1000. I am building the system now and my tests look very promising. I will be posting a project journal at heathjepson.com shortly, and it will have all the details of this project plus photos. This weekend I am building the projector mount and should be getting my projectors by the middle of next week.

Check out iz3d, it is a passive 3d monitor (linear polarized, closest match to IMAX) it was not mentioned here, it could possibly work with IMAX glasses.

Rebecca Scudder

The iZ3D H220Z1 monitor is a good choice for a first 3D monitor. A 22" monitor, it comes with a couple pairs of passive 3D glasses included, and I've seen it for as low as $300 online. User reviews on it are pretty favorable too.

I'll be interested to hear how your version of a 3D projection theater works out.

Rebecca Scudder

Oh, and I did return my IMAX 3D glasses to the theater- the usher kept telling me I wouldn't be able to use them anywhere else. @_@


I will be putting my dual-projector system to the test this week and will probably have some info on my website by wednesday. www.heathjepson.com

If only I had a stereoscopic copy of Avatar, then I would have some great test material! For now I'll be using the Avatar PC game and Journey To The Center of The Earth for testing.


Hi, I had to return my IMAX 3D glasses to the theater. They said it belongs to the theater.

It'd be interested to hear how your version of the 3D projection theater works out as well.

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Unfortunately, I couldn't keep the IMAX 3-D glasses.. but I understand. Anyway, AVATAR in 3D was cool...

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I had experience it one in theater...The best thing is that you can feel the sounds and 3G technology make you part of what your are watching with the help of your Sunglasses.

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