5 Aug 2011
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It’s suddenly all the rage, but where’s the buzz really coming from? 3D has been around for decades! Dozens of movies have tried to wow audiences with graphics that supposedly jump out of the screen, and various attempts at outfitting PC users with multicolored glasses have been soundly rejected.

The problem is it’s never been believable enough. 3D has so far always been an effect, not an experience. It’s been imperfect, at best approximating new ranges of motion and at worst causing headaches and nausea. Now, technology companies think the technology and costs are finally at a point where 3D can cross over to the mainstream. They’re all hell bent on convincing us too, with coordinated product launches and gala public events aimed at capturing the general imagination. Movies like Avatar were produced almost solely to show off the potential of 3D, will do this well. Avatar is such a great example because it didn’t use 3D effects just to scare the audience with objects hurtling out of the screen. It actually drew viewers into a believable new world and exposed them to a whole new experience. Avatar was the watershed the industry needed—and created.

Maybe it is time everyone got together and took on the task of completely changing our understanding of normal movie and TV viewing. Maybe there really is no other way to break out of our constraints and move into a new generation. No doubt, 3D technology is finally ready to jump into the mainstream, but we’ll soon enough see what the majority of end users decide about how, when and where they’ll engage with 3D.

I don’t think we will
ever make another 2D film. Why would we make a movie in black and white if we
have color? … I think ultimately all movies are going to be in 3D
Jon Landau,
Producer – Avatar

Home Video

While 3D experiences in cinemas and other public venues will do doubt keep growing in popularity, will people really want full-blown setups in their homes? What will the 3D TV experience be like? First of all, everyone’s going to have to buy new TV sets, even those who have spent several lakhs on the latest, slimmest, most high-end models. When the wave of hype over HD swept over us a few years ago, people were enthusiastic about shifting from huge boxy TV sets to slim LCD panels anyway, and no matter if the picture quality didn’t instantly improve, people were happy to buy them for the various other advantages they represented. It hasn’t been long at all, and people are now supposed to believe that a whole new generation is upon us. We’re used to upgrading our computers and cellphones, but two years is too soon to trade in an expensive LCD or plasma TV. Other than 3D, these new TVs won’t offer anything different to regular flat TVs at all. Even if people love the experience, convincing them that it’s worth the cost to bring it home will take a lot of work.

The compulsory polarized glasses are going to be extremely awkward and invasive. This will likely be the main reason that families won’t gather around the TV to watch their mainstream entertainment programs in 3D. People are used to leaving their TVs on while doing any number of other chores. You can’t comfortably work, eat, talk, lie down, cuddle with loved ones, or do anything other than concentrate on the TV while wearing dark glasses. Channel surfers will be irritated if they have to constantly put on and take off the glasses just because only a few shows here and there require them. Any ambient lighting in the room will spoil the effect, and besides, many bedrooms and living rooms might not be able to fit everyone sitting in the ideal position in front of the screen. Imagine inviting friends over and not having enough glasses for everyone to watch a program together. The glasses are expensive, so most families won’t have more than one extra set lying around. In fact if you want to invite a large group over to watch a movie, you’ll have to specify that each one should bring their own glasses! Unfortunately, the technology doesn’t allow for those wearing glasses to experience 3D while those without get to see a regular 2D image; they’re left with blurry, superimposed images. It’s either all with or all without.

And where’s the content? Viewing will be limited to Blu-ray movie discs for a very long time (which will of course require a new Blu-ray player and even new HDMI cables). Broadcasters in some parts of the world have announced they will roll out a few 3D channels during 2010, but the status in India is completely unknown. These channels require much higher bandwidth, so it’s only going to be our DTH services that will offer them. If this becomes the next weapon in the DTH wars, subscribers will be limited to only those channels that the providers offer. Even then, it will most probably be expensive and could even require fresh internal cabling and a set-top box upgrade. At the rate things are changing, the second and third generations of 3D TVs might be on the market before there’s enough content reaching them!

When 3D does come to TV broadcasts, it will be only for limited types of content. Not all types of programming will benefit either. Sports and movies will probably be the first to embrace it, followed by educational content such as science and wildlife shows. There could be smaller segments or single one-off shows on general entertainment channels, but there’s not much scope for compelling action in most sitcoms, family dramas or cartoons. Even the news channels won’t be able to ensure that every camera crew has the required cameras and transmission capacity to file reports.

Deloitte’s March 2010 State of the Media Democracy survey, which polled users aged 14 to 69 in Tier I and II Indian cities, reveals that 92 percent rate TV as their preferred source of entertainment. While 100 percent owned TVs, 77 percent still had non-flat sets (ie CRTs). This shows how much potential there is for people to upgrade over the next few years. The outlook for 3D technology is also quite good, with 29 and 25 percent or respondents looking forward to watching 3D video and playing 3D games at home. Most likely, anyone who is willing to spend a lot of money to get the best possible equipment for a dedicated home theater system will buy a 3D set, and manufacturers will have this as a feature only on their top models to project it as a higher-level option and of course charge suitable premiums. Early-adopter cinema freaks will also no doubt buy new Blu-ray players and start building collections of 3D movies, if not rent them from libraries. General consumers might buy a new TV which happens to support 3D viewing, but that won’t be the main motivating factor. It’s likely that most people will simply use the 3D gimmick once in a while, either when broadcasters start offering full 3D channels and content on demand, or when they rent the occasional 3D Blu-day disc. They’ll keep the one or two pairs of glasses that came with the set, but won’t spend on outfitting the entire family. They’ll choose 3D versions of programs or movies when they’re specifically sitting down to watch them, but prefer the regular flat variety when just watching casually. In India, the majority of LCD TV sales happen in the range of 26 to 32 inches, with prices falling enough for them to make their way into middle-class homes where they would have been considered ridiculously expensive just a few years ago. 3D will be a high-end feature; one which will just not be within reach of many first-time flat TV buyers. Even if it does become a middle-range feature in a few years’ time, it will be a while longer before this segment will consider paying to upgrade.

No Indian brand is ready to commit to prices and launch schedules for 3D TVs and accessories, but we can safely assume these products will reach India by the end of 2010, after rolling out across the USA and Europe. Samsung’s first bundle, containing a 46-inch LCD TV, a Blu-ray player and two pairs of active shutter glasses has just gone on sale for US$ 2,899 (approx Rs 1,31,600). Extra glasses cost US$ 250 each (approx Rs 11,350). Early adopters are going to have to be extremely passionate about their viewing experience to shell out this kind of money under these conditions!

Computers and gaming

Where TVs are more social in nature, computers are almost always used by individuals. For that very reason, 3D applications will go beyond merely watching videos. Already, game developers are building 3D into their engines and environments. Beyond that, YouTube is experimenting with 3D videos and even Google has decided to add native rendering functionality to the Chrome browser. There isn’t much public buzz about things other than gaming, but soon enough, graphics designers will finally manipulate their 3D models in 3D space, architects will take clients on first-person walkthroughs of their sketches, online shops will let people browse through racks of items, and dozens of new uses will emerge.

Gaming is where things can get very interesting. Both on the PC and on living room consoles, gaming is a single-minded activity in which immersiveness is the end goal. As opposed to TV and movies which are fairly social in nature, people usually game alone and undisturbed. First-person shooters which are truly first person, racing games in which the environment whizzes past, and even sports simulators will see immediate benefits from 3D. Less action-oriented games like The Sims and Spore will suck players in and give them all kinds of new thrills. Just like movies, games developed with 3D in mind will become the flag bearers of this new technology. Truly excellent games will even motivate people to spend on new consoles and TV sets, and passionate gamers are well known to spend large amounts of money at regular intervals to stay current with the latest, greatest hardware.

Cinemas and public venues

Perhaps 3D will still be best experienced only in cinemas, where everyone is sure to have a pair of glasses and is ideally focused only on the film while it’s playing. The effect is far more engaging on a huge screen that fills your peripheral vision. This year is going to see a massive number of 3D movies released, primarily because the technology is ready, the distribution channels are in place, and viewers have indicated they enjoy the experience. But they also help to familiarize users with 3D, in the hope that they will want to buy all the components required to set up a new high-end home theater system. Movie studios have also caught on to the fact that they have to stop selling products and start selling experiences. People today have the unofficial options of buying pirated discs and downloading screener copies from the Internet, rather than spending money on movie tickets and DVDs.

A 3D film simply cannot be pirated yet, since there isn’t any reliable method to turn a 3D print into a 2D one for easy distribution. Most pirated copies of just-released movies are either ripped from the film reels while on their way to cinemas (relatively high quality), or recorded off cinema screens with handheld videocameras which the pirates sneak in (relatively low quality). New 3D films are transmitted securely to cinemas, preventing them from being intercepted on the way, and just imagine trying to watch a recording of the mashed images you see on screen when you take off your polarized glasses! It would be totally unmanageable to sneak a 3D camera into a cinema, and even then they’d never be able to recombine the visuals and record them in any reproducible form. Besides, those who do decide to spend on cinema tickets rather than watch a movie at home are more likely to pay a premium for a 3D version. While many movies are currently released in both 2D and 3D formats to ensure they can be screened anywhere, titles will soon be released exclusively in 3D format in the future; a move studios and distributors will greatly profit by.

In fact the novelty value is still so fresh that a large number of the 3D movies we’re already seeing are in fact rereleases of older movies, which were certainly not shot with all the necessary equipment. Technology has made it possible to splice and recombine 2D movies, although the effect won’t be as seamless as something envisioned in 3D from the ground up, like Avatar. Filmmaking, both as an art and as an industry, will have to undergo massive changes to account for the way our eyes behave when trying to focus on moving objects. The effects on cinema will be as dramatic as when the same as when sound was added to video, and when monochrome became color.

Cinema owners, who have spent lakhs of rupees refitting their halls for 3D, will most likely find things other than movies to show there since the quality of the viewing experience will be far greater than one can achieve at home. The prime candidates are of course sporting events, such as this year’s IPL tournament and the upcoming football World Cup. Sports matches are typically a few hours long, action-packed, and allow for fixed and moving camera positions. Efforts are on to outfit public venues such as pubs and restaurants with 3D screens for this purpose as well. While it will definitely be odd to walk into a bar and see everyone wearing dark glasses indoors, this is exactly the kind of social setting that sports matches are watched in. People will get to experience 3D viewing in a natural environment, although the glasses will obstruct their vision when trying to eat or drink!

It’s easy to sit back and analyze all the problems with 3D home entertainment, but if nobody jumps on board now, it will never reach critical mass. Perhaps we as consumers will reject the current generation of home products altogether, and even if so, perhaps the few people who do go out and buy 3D movie setups will continue to enjoy and appreciate them long after, much like Laser Discs a decade ago. On the other hand, 3D is already well entrenched in cinemas, games and sports broadcasts so there should be a fair number of people who want to bring that kind of experience home. The ideal future is one in which the glasses aren't necessary at all, but that's still beyond our capabilities for now! Either way, the best part is that we have the whole industry coming together over an emerging standard. And the pace of innovation will push better features into lower prices. No matter how many dimensions you view it in, 2010 is going to be an interesting year indeed.

Source : Chip magazine.
It is time to go for 3D but, let me know how many content available in 3d formate?
Only few movie & d2h has.
Also the company is producing Autoscopy 3D {without any glass} enable tv set.
It is far way...
Ratnesh said:
It is time to go for 3D but, let me know how many content available in 3d formate?
Only few movie & d2h has.
Also the company is producing Autoscopy 3D {without any glass} enable tv set.
It is far way...

Toshiba is working on glasses free 3d tv set...
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