Posts Tagged ‘3D’

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.

Sensory Overload?

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

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It seems that good old-fashioned 3D is something of a dinosaur these days, except of course in home entertainment. There was a time when 3D was pretty impressive. In a lot of ways it still is, yet 3D is losing ground to a new concept – 4D. 4D references a touch factor in addition to the typical 3D. There have been several new 3D shows released in the last few years that all added some bonus features to a 3D short film.

The oldest show I can think of is the Terminator show at Universal Studios, Hollywood. Not only was there 3D, they drove a motorcycle onto the stage, fired off incredibly loud assault rifles, and bounced the viewers along with the action in the specialized seating. One had to remember to brace for the ending if they were to view it more than once. The final scene dropped the audience rather violently back into position, and most people leaving the theater could be seen holding their backs or other parts in some amount of pain. The show was pretty good, though, for all the loud racket.

Universal followed up the Terminator with Shrek 4D. This took advantage of an ogre’s likelihood to blow snot at an audience, and said audience was squirted with water at just the right time. The Shrek show was also pretty good. Disney began offering similar shows with A Bug’s Life and the Muppets. I was unfortunately sitting in just the wrong position for A Bug’s Life the first time I saw it though. I was unprepared for the small hard object to poke at the audience to make them think a bug was under their seat. Let’s just say I was a little young at the time for a prostate exam. Further viewings were achieved without this problem, so I still think it is a pretty decent show.

With the addition of 4D elements to Captain Eo, I am wondering more and more whether or not this is necessary. It seems that they could have spent a lot of their time developing decent 3D glasses rather than rigging seats to spray water or dangling huge black widow puppets above an audience. I would have much preferred the better viewing experience over the effects immersion.

What do you think? Is 4D superior to 3D? Would you agree that the glasses need more work than the touch effects? Let me know.

Captain Eo Tribute

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010
Captain Eo Tribute

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It’s official. Captain Eo is back. Having just posted about it here, I feel like I should be in a Windows 7 commercial. You know the ones, “I’m a PC, and Windows 7 was My idea.” Well, not one to turn down buckets of money, Disney brought back its classic 3D adventure Captain Eo, starring none other than Michael Jackson. Profiteering, anyone? Not that I mind it. As I mentioned in my previous post on the topic, Captain Eo set the standard for 3D movies in my mind. I finally had a chance to see how good a memory I really have.

I dragged my parents, wife, and two boys in to see the movie. At 17 minutes, I guess film is more accurate, though music video is probably the best description. I remember when it was released the lines were incredibly long. At 5 years old, all lines are long, but I recall an hour and a half wait being a minimum wait time. I also remember a documentary on the making of Captain Eo, where they showed how they got Michael Jackson and his nemesis to interact high above the stage floor. When we got to the doors at the end of the line, we were able to watch another brief documentary. This one showed George Lucas, Francis Coppola, and Michael Jackson at their best, along with all the choreographers, set designers, and more. It was interesting to me, but I was walking down memory lane, so I was bound to be impressed.

When the show started, the asteroid that floated above the audience was just as impressive as I remembered it. I have had trouble with 3D glasses for the last decade or so, and am constantly fiddling with them to get the best effect. This time was no different, but since a lot of the 3D elements were slow-paced, I had reasonable success viewing them.

Not everything was as it once was, however. First of all there was the noticeable “Tribute” label added to the t-shirts and posters I saw at the park. Next was an announcement at the beginning about how most of the original special effects had been retained. I wondered what to expect, and it didn’t take long to find out. Captain Eo succumbed to the “4D” hype. The fourth dimension involved here is touch. Disney and Universal have been adding various pokes, prods, and blasts of air or water to enhance their films, and Captain Eo got the same treatment. There was the occasional blast of air in the face as an action sequence played out, and for most of the dance numbers the whole audience got to rock out to the beat, although not of their own accord. The seating had been rigged to bounce to the rhythm of the music. I could have done without these features. The music was good enough on its own. It did give me a chance to keep my one-year-old busy, and he was clapping through the whole show, even without the glasses.

All in all, it was a really good show, and was almost as good as I remembered it. I was glad to have had a chance to relive that brief period of my childhood where Captain Eo reigned supreme and “Honey I Shrunk the Audience” was not even a speck on the horizon. I don’t know how long Disney will keep it around, but judging by the rabid Michael Jackson fans out there, I would imagine the cash registers will be ringing for the better part of this year at least. If you haven’t seen it, it is worth a look. It isn’t an Oscar winning piece by any means, but it is good entertainment, and Disney for all its faults is good at giving a good show.

Check out Disneyland’s Captain Eo page.