Category: 3D

A year or so ago I wrote about designer 3D glasses for everyone as 3D was poised to takeover movie screens with offerings from the biggest filmmakers including James Cameron, Robert Zemeckis, Steven speilberg and many others.

2009 delivered, as box office saw enough success and available screens to be called a watershed year for 3D Cinema, where some films can even be profitable on exclusively 3D theatrical releases. Speaking at the National Association of Braodcasters Conference in Vegas, Chris Chinnock, President of consultation and market research firm Insight Media predicted that 2010 will be a “watershed year for 3DTV.”

This is an amazing prediction considering most consumers have yet to hear or see anything about 3D solutions for the home theater. And yet the installed user-base is already sufficiently in place that the chicken/egg conundrum that usually delays new platform rollouts due to lack of standardization has already been hatched; over 2 million DLP/Plasma 3D screens already sit in consumer home-theaters and yet 99% of their respective owners aren’t even aware of their home screens capabilities. As the content becomes avaialble and is broadcast, these screens will be able to handle the incoming signals.

Chinnock and his companies research identified over 40 different market segments for 3D in play today each with their own hardware and software approach to the emergent technology.

While the public is most familiar with standard stereoscopic 3D that requires either active or passive glasses to view properly, end-users will begin seeing more and more AS-3D products – that is – auto-stereoscopic 3D – that require no glasses to be correctly viewed. Already there are AS-3D picture frames coming out of China for a street price of about $300 although at this time quality is still considered sub-par, and with a viewing angle between 15 and 45 degrees.

I will continue to report on this market segment over the coming days from here at the NAB show in Vegas.

Hollywood has started to align itself behind the idea that the movie industry, despite a healthy summer take 26% over this time last year, is still seeing 5% decline in people’s butts in movie theater seats.

They are meeting this challenge in a variety of ways, principally among them the idea that 3D is a movie viewing experience that can uniquely be appreciated in the IMAX 3D screening theater. The Hannah Montana movie of 2007 made almost 3 times as much on its 3D screenings as it did in conventional 2D theaters – earning almost 60 million in 3D showings off its meager 15 million dollar production budget.

The studios have taken notice, and there are no less than 25 3D movies in the production pipeline including comers from Dreamworks, Disney, Sony, Universal and even some independents.

Interestingly enough the companies that manufacture the 3D production equipment were caught off-guard by this sudden backing from Tinseltown. Caught with their pants down, they are now scrambling to get everything from cameras, lighting systems and stereoscopic editing solutions to market. And they are meeting the challenge – companies like Iconix, makers of the world’s smallest HD camera showed a high-def stereoscopic camera system at this year’s NAB show that can be had for somewhere in the ballpark of US$250K. Sounds like a lot, but that is just the first wave. Digital Ordnance showed a High-Def stereoscopic video playback system for newar realtime playback of your 3D content on set so you know you are getting things right. This is quite something considering the massive amount of bandwidth required to spit out synched, near parallel streams of full 2k HD of an array of hard drives.

But enough geek talk.

Another very interesting event that took place at this year’s NAB show was the live satellite 3D television broadcast from Howie Mandell in Los Angeles. The company behind the demonstration, 3ality, has managed to acheive this using a simple single stream no different than 2-D television.

Yes, you heard me right. Live. 3D. Single-stream. Broadcast.

Samsung and Mitsubishi are already selling 3-D ready digital televisions, and recently WIRED magazine featured an exclusive stream of Bjork’s new 3D video. They pointed out that the stream HAD to be viewed from their site because of a special encoder that permitted it to work. see the trick here? it requires a proprietary encoder for playback – that means, until some hacker/coder develops a freeware/open source version of a hi bandwidth 3D streaming encoder, people can control where viewers access content. Advertisers LOVE this. And so do the content creators because they get financed by the advertisers. So 3D is big business and mark my words, before you can say “What is Blu-Ray?” you will be getting a catalog from Fred Segal’s with a price list for the latest Gucci Polarized 3D glasses – you know the tortoise shell ones with the miniature diamonds in the arms.

Because in a year’s time, you won’t leave home without them.

ps. the above Gucci is FAKE and they had nothing to do with this article which is entirely speculative.