3D TV: Fears and Hopes

The Sydney Morning Herald has a story by Louisia Hearn on the state of 3D TV. Although it tends to emphasize the possible negatives in the public accepting this technology, it is nevertheless a useful survey of what’s happening. She begins by noting that:

3D movies are all the rage in Hollywood once again, and this time flatscreen TV makers are joining in the party, promising to release a slew of 3D-ready TV sets for our lounge rooms as early as next year. …

While some [manufacturers] claim their products may be in stores as early as next year, when it came to actual availability, very few TV makers were prepared to discuss upcoming products or possible timeframes.

However, last week’s announcement by Britain’s BSkyB satellite service of its plans to roll out the country’s first 3D channel next year gives a certain sense of real possibility to 3D TV becoming more than just a gimmick.

She cites a report by the Gartner Group indicating a strong pent-up demand in “the consumer market for watching 3D movies at home.”

However, the lack of available 3D content and the wide array of display technologies have led to a “confused situation for consumers at this very nascent stage”, it said.

For its part, BSkyB has

said it had already recorded a number of events in 3D including a special performance of Swan Lake by the English National Ballet and an England v New Zealand rugby union Test match.

The main problem, she seems to feel, is the problem of glasses.

While eye strain, headaches and motion sickness associated with the early days of 3D have largely been addressed, one of the main barriers to the technology persists.

None of the display makers has managed to overcome the need for special glasses.

“Anecdotal evidence from cinemagoers does suggest that wearing 3D glasses can become tedious after a short time, or they can induce headaches, and in the home practical issues can arise when the viewers in the room outnumber the available sets of glasses,” Gartner said.

The Gartner report concludes:

“For the consumer home market, the 3D TV is likely to remain a niche product, not only because of the global recession, but also mainly because the technologies available are not ideal in terms of their ease of use, cost or practicality, let alone the range of available 3D content.”

Author: Harvey Deneroff

Harvey Deneroff is a Los Angeles-based independent animation and film scholar specializing in labor history. He formerly taught at the Savannah College of Art and Design and was editor of Animation Magazine, Animation World Magazine, and Graiffit (published by ASIFA-Hollywood). He is the founder and past president of the Society for Animation Studies.

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