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THE AL GILKES COLUMN – Living in a 3D world

Al Gilkes

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Have you heard about the latest development in television? Well, as it is in the cinema, three-dimensional (3-D) images are now jumping out of TV sets and into living rooms. do not try too hard to understand how all of this technology works, but from what I have read, 3-D has to do with the idea that if separate images are shown to your left and right eyes, your brain combines them and create the illusion of a third dimension.So, just as you do when you go to the cinema to watch 3-D thrillers like Avatar, in order to enjoy the full 3-D experience from your home television set you have to wear what are known as “active glasses”. These cause you to enjoy the effect of feeling that you are right in the middle of all the action.Apparently two images, one for the right eye and one for the left eye, alternate quickly on the TV screen, shutters on the 3-D glasses swap your vision from one eye to the other, the TV connects with the glasses through a sensor between the lenses and, like magic, you get the sensation that you are in the midst of all the action, that you can reach out and touch the characters and so on and so on.Unfortunately, although 3-D TV sets are now being sold in stores in the United States and other countries, it will be a while yet before they become as commonplace as Blackberrys, Playstations and iPods. Until then, we in Barbados have to continue enjoying our 3-D experiences in the cinema.I, therefore, am waiting impatiently for the release next week of the latest such 3-D experience, The Last Airbender. No doubt, some of you younger folk will want to know why I don’t “leave young people things alone” and keep my old tail at home. Well, for your information, if I were to search into all the old stuff that I have stored away, I would more than likely find a pair of ancient Polaroid 3-D glasses that I first used when I was about 12 years old. And I sure that my good friend Peter Boyce will more than likely claim that was more than 100 years ago.And what was I doing with 3-D glasses back in the dark ages? The answer is that I was watching 3-D movies in no longer existing cinemas like the Roxy in Eagle Hall, the Plazas in Bridgetown, Oistins and Barbarees Hill, the Vista in Christ Church, the Olympic behind Parliament and the Empire on Probyn Street, along with the lone surviving Globe on Roebuck Street.So if you think 3-D is a new something, think again because, like many “new” things of today, it’s nothing but recycled technology from yesterday.I will never forget my first 3-D experience, sitting in the Bridgetown Plaza (next to the Fire Service headquarters) to watch the then new release Charge At Feather River. It was a western starring Guy Madison about a trip by cavalry through Indian territory to rescue two captured white women. The two sides clashed at Feather River and, for about an hour, knives, arrows, spears and tomahawks came flying at the audience non-stop. Talk about ducking! As schoolboys we would bet each other about who would be the first to duck and I vividly recall one scene where a rattlesnake was about to strike one of the soldiers and he tried to stop it by spitting tobacco juice  at the reptile. No need to tell you that it was not only us, the schoolboys, but the entire packed Plaza that ducked when that mouthful of dirty spit came flying in slow motion right into our faces.See you for The Airbender.
• Al Gilkes heads a public relations firm.