Posts Tagged ‘3-D’

Is 3-D Worth It?

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

I was in a Sony Style store the other day and checked out their 3-D televisions. I’ve had my doubts about whether or not it was worth the effort to get into the 3-D game. I usually don’t mind 3-D in special theme park auditoriums, but haven’t found much use for the frequent releases in movie theaters. I was even less interested in bringing 3-D into my home.

I put on the glasses and turned them on. It was weird having to turn on 3-D glasses, but I figured it must mean they do something different. A short moment later I was watching a polar bear swimming straight toward me. I could see the movement of the bear’s muscles and the ripple of fur as it moved. The picture was incredibly crisp, and I found myself pleasantly surprised at the quality of the picture.

As good as the picture quality is, I still find myself asking why I would want this in my home. There is still the problem of not having enough glasses for inviting friends to a movie night or to watch a Sunday game. There is also the issue of limited content. If the movie isn’t filmed in 3-D, I’m not too interested in a converted copy.

At the end of the day, I think if I end up with a 3-D it will only be because it happened to be a feature on the TV that is the right price and the right size for my living room. I might even use the feature from time to time, and the PS3 is already geared to play 3-D content. I just don’t see myself getting too excited about purchasing the next 3-D film for my collection. Now a 3-D hologram would be another story. I could get behind that, watching a movie on my coffee table and being able to walk around Gondor in The Lord of the Rings or some other spectacular digital world. Until then, I am still waiting and watching. Evidently I am not alone, as the 3-D televisions worldwide are offering incentive after incentive to get people to buy.

What about you? Has the 3-D bug bit you yet? Let me know in the comments.

The Problem With 3D

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

There was a post last night on the Sony blog that got me thinking about the whole 3D extravaganza. The post discusses the frustration the blogger experienced at having to stand around at a store waiting for a sales associate to bring him a pair of 3D glasses. The sales associate never showed, leaving the blogger to watch 3D displays without glasses. While the post was intended to offer advice for people who want to try out 3D in a store, it ended up describing the biggest issue people have with 3D. The scarcity and high-cost of the glasses.

TechCrunch and others have been discussing some of the 3D TV numbers from Japan this week. The numbers aren’t so good. If they are having to slash prices in Japan to get people to buy a 3D TV, the market is going to be that much harder here in the US. There are two main reasons for that. First, we are still in the middle of this economic crisis, and the 3D TVs are priced way too high currently. The second problem is the glasses themselves.

Say you buy a 3D TV because you want to watch some football games with your buddies. You notice that there are only a couple pairs of glasses, and each additional pair is $100+. You’ll probably opt to leave some friends off the invitation list, or at least make them suffer through the game without glasses. Nobody wants to be the guy that tells his buddies they have to bring their own glasses.

The Sony blogger’s experience in being forced to watch 3D TV glasses-free is one we really don’t want to force on our friends and family. Nintendo got it right when it added a glasses-free feature on its 3DS handheld system. If you are playing 3D games in public you’ll want to be able to leave the glasses at home. This is why Nintendo had such huge lines at E3. People really don’t seem to want to wear the glasses.

I am sure there are some really great things about 3D TV. I don’t think we’re there yet, though, and I am not alone. I would like to see continued development of the platform, but it is still a bit too volatile right now. I do believe there is a future for 3D, and when it arrives in full glory I will be more than happy to receive it. Until then, I am looking forward to other things like Google TV.

3-D Still Going Strong

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

I took my son to see Toy Story 3 in 3-D yesterday. I’m not sure why I did. I haven’t really seen what the hype about 3-D is all about, yet I continue to take him to these enhanced movies. He doesn’t like wearing the glasses, being only 4, and I don’t really get a benefit either. It got me thinking again about the 3-D hype that’s been the craze this year.

When I was 5 or 6, Captain Eo was playing at Disneyland. It was a huge deal at the time. 3-D was supposed to be the future. The film had all kinds of optical tricks aimed to please those willing to wear the 3-D glasses. An asteroid comes out over the crowd and explodes over people’s heads in the opening scene. Back then that was pretty impressive, and it became the base for all my future 3-D evaluation for better or worse. Other 3-D shows have come and gone, and some shows introduced a “fourth” dimension, prodding, poking, spraying, and blowing cold air on the audience in tandem with the action on the screen. This is all well and good for a theme park gimmick, but are we really ready for full-length films in our living rooms?

I am beginning to wonder why I am not jumping on the 3-D hype wagon. Maybe it is because I don’t really get much benefit from the glasses. When I expect to see things pop out of the screen, they don’t. Maybe it’s because the glasses never fit me right. Maybe wearing contacts does something to ruin the effect. I am not sure why, but it just doesn’t seem to work well for me. Watching Toy Story 3 though, I began to wonder if my expectations were wrong. I only noticed a couple of things that seemed meant to pop off the screen, and they did. What I noticed more was a focus on the individual characters location in space. There was an effect of a 3 dimensional figure with a sometimes two dimensional backdrop. It felt like a video game.

Is this what the hype is about then? Perhaps. From what I can tell it seems to be the case. This new 3-D fad isn’t so much about popping images off of the screen, but to enhance depth perception on the screen. As great as this epiphany seemed to be, it was quickly dashed tonight. My family sat down for a spontaneous family movie night, and we rented an old kid-friendly film that the kids hadn’t seen in a while. Given how old the movie was, it didn’t seem likely that it had been enhanced in any noticeable way. What I noticed though was the same 3-D depth perception I experienced in the theater. Is this simply a camera trick, or am I so used to the 2-D method that I automatically adjust my perception? I really hope it was an automatic response, since I was pretty happy to see something new at the 3-D movie theater.

I think one of the best ways to discover the actual intent of modern 3-D movies and games though is the Nintendo 3DS. According to a friend who attended E3, the line to the Nintendo demos was huge. There was a wall of people heading in Nintendo’s direction to check out the glasses-free 3-D gaming experience. The 3-D camera on the device is what I am most interested in. Taking a picture of someone in 3-D will likely show us what the hype is all about. I doubt anyone will have the capacity to view these images in real 3-D, but from what I’ve heard the difference can be seen when compared to the same image in 2-D.

As the 3-D televisions are pouring into retail stores, and gaming systems like the PlayStation 3 are upgrading 3-D capabilities, hopefully we will understand whether the hype is worth it. I think I am better prepared to accept the phenomenon in my video games than I am in my movies. Maybe it will turn out to be a simple fad, as Beta turned out to be. A lot of money will be spent marketing 3-D this year. Hopefully for the sake of all involved this won’t be as short lived as other fads. 3-D has a lot of potential. It has been coming for decades. It would be nice to see it finally gain some traction. Until then, we’ll just have to wait and see.