There’s currently a lot of talking (or hype, depending on your viewpoint) surrounding 3DTV, a lot of which has come off the back of 3D movies being shown in cinemas and most notably the success that the Avatar 3D movie has had.
That particular 3D movie in itself has led to more movies being made into 3D to be shown in cinemas, even if they were originally filmed in traditional 2D, although as someone who is fairly “3D-sceptical”, it’s probably a good thing that not all of these implementations have resulted in great results. For example, many people have said that the Clash of the Titans movie in 3D, was not well done at all, so that alone might put off movie studios simply running movies through a computer to “3D-ify” it to make extra cash at the box office from higher ticket prices, hopefully, they’ll instead go to the trouble of actually filming with 3D cameras, to begin with!
I do sometimes think that the movie studios thought of 3D movies in cinemas as copy protection on their new releases, they know a lot of people will pay a premium for it and right now it’s not an experience that can be replicated by simply downloading a pirate copy to view on their small screen laptop, I wonder if that will change as the rather fast introduction of 3DTV (the next step up from the fairly recent HDTVs) gets into people’s homes?
Now in addition to that we’ve seen 3D Football being shown in pubs, the launch of a Sky 3DTV channel, Sony planning PS3 3D gaming, Nintendo is working on a 3DS handheld, the promise of Sony Bravia 3DTVs and now Panasonic 3DTVs – clearly lots of things are going on with regard to 3D technology in general and 3DTVs for the home in 2010.
3DTV For Sport / Live Events
We’ve already seen that Sky 3D Football in pubs is really taking off and people enjoy the added dimension when watching their sports events. Similarly, at the Panasonic 3DTV demo event, we were shown a live music band broadcast from the recording studio to another part of the building in which we were sat (watching with our 3DTV glasses) and the effect of watching that live performance event in 3D was great to watch.
It really showed off what could be done with this kind of technology when you can’t physically be at the event itself, either because of geography or because the venue is already sold out – for instance, a big event like the 3D football broadcasts of World Cup 2010 in South Africa, being able to watch these in 3D in cinemas could be made for a great event in itself.
Although, I will say that wearing active shutter 3D glasses which darken when they sense you are viewing the 3DTV makes for a little surreal experience if you’re in a room full of people, as you feel a little disconnected from them in a social kind of sense, not a problem in a cinema where the viewing isn’t a social experience as such, but perhaps watching sport involves more social interaction? At least that’s a how I felt based on my first impressions.
3DTV For Films / TV Series / Documentaries
Now my reaction to this 3DTV application rather surprised me I must admit, as I mentioned at the start, I’ve not watched any films or documentaries in 3D before, but I was least impressed with this use of a 3DTV. Now when I say that, it wasn’t that they looked bad using Panasonic’s 3DTV system because it looked good, I felt the problem lies in that it almost looked too good so that 3D effect actually distracted me from the content or narrative itself.
This shocked me, now perhaps it’s just because it was a new experience for me or the 3D content wasn’t the best examples, but I’m not so sure as we also watched the Avatar trailer in 3D (you’d think that was the best example of current 3D content) and it didn’t make me want to watch the full movie in 3D. I’ll say again, the 3D effects looked rather good, but for me I found them distracting from what was actually going in terms of dialogue and action, perhaps it’s less of an issue the more full-length 3D movies you watch?
We then saw some documentary content of The Grand Canyon and some of a steam engine train, again it looked quite cool as an effect, but I suspect it could again be too distracting an effect to concentrate properly on the content — if anything, this kind of 3D application might be better utilised as part of a museum, where the application of this technology is perhaps more suited as part of an event or demonstration.
With that in mind, would I like to see my favourite TV drama series in 3D? Where plot and characterisation is a large part of the viewing experience? At this point, I really don’t think so. Perhaps I’m totally wrong on this point when it comes to this particular application of 3D, perhaps 3D movies work at the cinema on a huge screen because a larger screen makes the 3D effect more immersive, plus it’s more of an event than simply watching on a smaller screen at home?
3DTV For Gaming
Like I mentioned in my previous 3DTV technology article, I’ve played some true 3D gaming using NVIDIAs PC-based system (specifically Need For Speed in 3D and Batman: Arkham Asylum in 3D), in those cases I didn’t find that it added a great deal to the experience, except having to wear some 3D glasses.
However, when we were shown a more expansive open-world game in the form of the Avatar video game running in 3D on an Xbox 360, it was curiously compelling — the more you play in 3D, the more immersed in the game world you feel, I think this is because you’re in control of the action on-screen, so it translates into a better gaming experience overall. For me personally, this could be the best application as wearing the 3D glasses when alone in a room is less of a social-issue with regards to what I mentioned earlier – I was pleasantly surprised and impressed by this implementation of 3D technology.
Overall, my current thoughts on 3D technology are mixed, some of the 3D applications work really well, while others I’m really not convinced about and look ‘gimmicky’ at best, I could be wrong and the mainstream might want nothing more than have all their TV viewing available in 3D. However, if that is the case, they’ll have to pay a premium for that experience with 3DTVs alone costing £2000-3000, a typical pair of active-shutter 3D glasses will set you back around £100 each, not to mention the additional costs of a 3D Blu-Ray player if you want movies and no doubt each 3D Blu-Ray disc will also cost you more than a regular 2D Blu-Ray movie.
So what do you think to 3D technology in general? Do you like 3D movies and are more than willing to pay a premium for them? Will you be an early adopter and be buying one of these new 3DTV systems this year? Or even next year in 2011? Or would the costs involved need to fall dramatically for you to be interested? Or is it just a gimmick to get people to upgrade their recently bought HDTV? Let us know what you think to 3DTV in the comments section below!
Simon Barker is the founder and editor of Zath and has over 25 years’ worth of experience of using computers and technology in general. He can normally be found researching or testing the latest in technology products.
He has provided IT consultancy services to both home and small business users for over 15 years, building PCs, fixing hardware/software problems and providing comprehensive training.
Simon always likes to get the best out of the technology products he is using, by both making informed purchasing decisions and also optimising how they are used to get the most benefits possible.