3D TV. Hype versus Reality

January 20, 2010

By Hype versus Reality I do not, at all, mean that 3D is all hype.  In fact the only thing I stand to question is the immediate value and quality of the 3D versus the immediate “buzz” that specially CES has created for it. 3D is a reality. It is here. Without the need for having those glasses that we wear to the cinema. But then there are a few things we need to keep in mind.

3D TV works almost like an optical illusion by sending two different images to our left and right eye. Which means that the “films” production process would be special too. Like anyother TV technology, converting the entire production chain to be 3D is going to have to go through its cycle. Remember, the HD broadcast discussions started in mid 1980s, and they became a reality mid 2000s.  There would be discussions on broadcast standards, usual fights over formats of storage (like we had with BlueRay) and what not. I am not aware of any standardisation discussions that may have started- I am sure they have though.

There is also an issue of technology adoption by the whole value chain of broadcast. Only about 30% of the TV content on-air is true HD at the moment- even on the HD channels. Technology adoption cycles have become much shorter these days, but the cost of this “switch over” needs to be kept in mind. Any broadcast and production infrastructure is expensive.

Secondly, there is two ways of getting this content. Much like HD. You can “upscale” the existing content to look like 3D, and there is originally produced 3D. You should be able to imagine the difference. There would always be “Avatars” of the world for a cutting edge 3D experience, but we need to keep in mind that unless “Desparate Housewives” becomes 3D, nothing much would have changed. You know what I mean?

Thirdly, the existing technology is best viewed at 0 degrees, i.e. from right infront of the TV. You can view it at other angles, but its not the same. The quality of the current screen is also less than that of a modern 2D HD screen.

Fourthly, where do you see the lowest hanging fruits for 3D? I think gaming and commercial public screens (for advertising in Malls, Trains, etc) would be the first ones to jump to it. Also, do we know how much storage the 3D content requires? Can we put it on the existing BlueRay? Or would we need another format? Or would we be able to stream3D online? I see another video compression format coming up!

I see massive developments in this area, and of course the need for a lot of work. You?