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3D, or not 3D? September 9, 2009

Posted by mbdavenport in Uncategorized.
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3D has been garnering a lot of interest over the last few months with the arrival of several large-scale 3D movie releases and announcement of several new technologies at IFA last week. But is it really going to be the next big thing?

I have to admit that I remain sceptical. Whilst the capability to view DVDs, computer games and television in 3D has appeared to have excited a number of people that I know, I’m not sure that it will really catch on. And there are a couple of reasons for this.

Firstly, I’m not sure that 3D will make any real inroads into television or movies outside of the cinema. One place that it might see relative success is in computer and video games. 3D is an immersive technology, one that places the viewer closer to the content. This is of benefit when you’re taking part in an immersive gaming experience. Video games try to place the gamer in the game as opposed to remaining as a detached spectator and seeing bullets fly over your head as you’re scrambling for cover from an enemy sniper nest/tank/spaceship/etc. will increase that feeling of involvement with the world that has been crafted for you.

One thing that I’m not so sure that I’d want to be involved in is watching Norris, Emily and Rita sitting around in the Rovers Return drinking vodka and tonic. Television is a spectator experience and it remains to be seen if 3D can actually offer the viewer anything that the viewer wants or needs.

And 3D has to offer the viewer something that they want else the TV networks and production companies won’t bother investing in it. This leads me in to my second reason that 3D will probably fail: TV networks are painfully slow to introduce and support new viewing technologies.

I remember working in a Sony Centre in Oxford when I was at University. I spent my weekends hawking HDTVs to people telling them that it was going to be the next big thing and how soon all TV would have the HD-sexy. That was back in 2006. Three and a half years later and the only HD channel that I have on my television is BBC HD. Sure it looks nice but it spends most of the days ‘previewing’ itself and when it is playing programmes they’re rarely programmes that I want to watch. Christ, we in the UK haven’t even completed the digital switchover! TV c0mpanies will take forever to start using 3D broadcasts. And (if) when they do it’ll probably be in the form of one specialist channel on Sky with a limited programme schedule. And you know what? You’re still going to have to wear those dorky glasses.

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