Will 3D Fail in 2011?

James Cameron’s blockbuster 3D movie “Avatar” broke all records and finally got people excited about going to the movie theater once again.  While Avatar in 3D may be the masterpiece which all 3D movies to follow are judged by, in 12 short months we’ve went from Avatar to “Jackass in 3D” as well as several others signifying the low in 3D production quality.

3D just for the sake of 3D isn’t really compelling entertainment which brings me to my first beef with many 3D movies – had they not been 3D they would have never been made at all.  Producers often change the story line and include action sequences which normally don’t belong in the story simply to glorify and enhance the 3D effect to give the audience that “Oh WOW Moment”. While this works the first time you see the movie, overtime the overexposure and mishandling of 3D effects quickly becomes boring.

A perfect example of the overexposure and overhype of 3D was the first ever live broadcast 3D NFL Football game featuring the Dallas Cowboys back on Dec 14th, 2009.  The idea was to showcase HDlogix 3D technology at halftime.  80,000 fans were invited to put on 3D glasses  to watch a special 3D half time show on a 160ft x 72ft giant screen.

The 3D promotion was a giant flop!  Many fans refused to wear the goofy 3D glasses and saw a blurry picture while some of the ones that did wear the glasses felt nauseous and disorientated.  The crowed booed and moaned for a few minutes and then when it was apparent that the 3D experiment failed the video was switched back to 2D regular TV and the crowd erupted in Cheers!  This is one glaring example of the horrible reality of current-generation 3D technology.  People cheer and applaud when you turn it off?

Many movie and television executives will tell you that 3D is the natural evolution of movies and television.  First there was black and white TV, then color, then S-Video, then 480, 720 and 1080P HDTV and now 3D is the natural next step.  While this thinking may make sense from an evolution standpoint when you look at the progression of TV each step was an enhancement over the original, the way the viewer interacted or interfaced with the TV didn’t change only the quality of the picture changed and enhanced the viewers experience. 

What’s Natural about wearing 3D glasses?

Today’s current generation of 3D televisions and movie screens require the viewer to wear Goofy 3D glasses in order to experience 3D.  This isn’t a step forward or  Natural but rather a fundamental different way of viewing television and movies.  3D technology requiring special glasses of one kind or another has been around for decades the Natural Progression or Logical Next Step would be from having to wear 3D glasses to experiencing 3D Without Wearing the Goofy Glasses.

In order for 3D TV to succeed in the consumer market three things need to happen:

  • First it’s got to be really high quality (equivalent to today’s 2D 1080P displays)  without the lower resolution, motion blur, shutter eye strain and annoying artifacts.
  • Secondly, 3D has to be used for the right reasons and applications.  3D is great for video games however excessive 3D use in some movies and TV shows for gratuitous reasons is simply boring and eventually annoying.
  • Lastly and perhaps most importantly – NO GOOFY GLASSES.  In order for the 3D experience to gain wide acceptance watching 3D must be as Natural as watching regular 2D programming and that means the glasses have to go!

Until the experience of watching 3D is as natural and experience as watching regular TV, 3D will not gain mass consumer appeal and will continue to remain a Novelty.

This year at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show several manufacturers including LG, Samsung and Vizio exhibited the next generation of 3D technology called FPR, which stands for Film Patterned Retarder or will more commonly be referred to as Passive 3D.  While this new technology uses smaller, slimmer, lighter weight, un-powered, passive polarized glasses and reports to reduce or eliminate many of the annoying shutter and artifact issues which occur with Active Shutter 3D technology the fact still remains – You still have to wear Glasses, albeit more stylish, cost effective and lighter ones to experience 3D TV from Passive Flat Panel 3D TV’s.

Will Passive (FPR) 3D technology make TV’s, tablets, laptops and computer monitors fly off the shelf this year,  at least one manufacturer LG is hoping so.  Beginning next month LG will be launching Passive 3D Flat Panel TV’s, Computer Monitors and Tablet computers with FPR 3D technology built in while they discontinue production of Active Shutter Flat Panel 3D TV’s.  Samsung, Vizio and other manufacturers haven’t been so bold as to drop Active Shutter 3D panels yet from their product offering in 2011 but this may be due to having more stock in the distribution chain rather than believing  Active Shutter Technology is better.

Ultimately the consumer will decide which 3D format will win the battle.   Passive FPR 3D technology may be the next evolution in the un-natural progression of 3D TV but introducing another 3D format in less than two years may confuse consumers similar to the last format battle Blu-ray vs HD-DVD or the grandaddy of them all VHS vs Beta.   At least consumers won’t have to  Re-Buy their media library again.  Both Active Shutter and Passive (FPR) 3D displays use the same 3D blu-ray discs – Thank God for That!

Tell us what you think … will FPR – Passive 3D TV catch on and ultimately increase 3D TV sales or will it lead to more confusion amongst consumers who will continue to postpone purchasing a 3D TV until there’s one which doesn’t require the viewer to wear Glasses?

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One Response to Will 3D Fail in 2011?

  1. Rob says:

    Fad……. a pricey one at that. Until I can replicate the true cinematic 3D experience in my home at a reasonable price I will be content with HD2D 🙂

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