For someone who dislikes the 3D trend as much as I do, I sure write about it a lot. (See below for links to some of my previous articles about 3D). Despite the vociferous backlash against three-dimensional technology, the entertainment industry continues to invest heavily in it, from movies, to video games, to cellphones, to cameras, and yes, to television. The one hurdle above all others that needs to be conquered for 3D to truly conquer everyone's imagination is the need to get rid of those annoying glasses. Prognosticators are saying that the day when successful 3D TV without glasses will be a widespread, affordable reality might be here sooner than we think, and when that happens, 3D really could be the cash-cow that show biz beancounters are hoping it will be.
The glasses-free 3D that I've seen on phones is pretty impressive, and the buzz I'm hearing about glasses-free 3D handheld videogames is generating excitement. When it comes to movies, however, all the 3D hype has left me extremely disappointed. I've seen better 3D effects in theme park attractions. Hollywood has hoodwinked us because most of the current 3D films have been mediocre at best -- the artificial depth perception has been unnecessary and distracting. Efforts to bring 3D television sets to the marketplace have left me equally cold. Like the current films, 3D TV has been dependent on viewers wearing those unwieldy, uncomfortable, and annoying glasses, and forced to sit in a certain spot to get the full illusion -- and even then, the results aren't always optimal according to previews of the early tech.
Glasses-free 3D, once perfected on a large screen scale, might be the game changer that convinces skeptics like me to take a chance on it. Believers in the technology claim that the 3D transition will be comparable to the switch from silent movies to sound or from black-and-white TV to color. We shall see if they're right or if it will just be another let-down.
If you want to read more about my thoughts on the 3D trend, here are links to my previous essays:
3D TV vs. 3D Cinema
A Letter to George Lucas About 3D
Are 3D Movie Theaters the Future of Video Games?
Bits and Pieces: News From Around Pop Culture (Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W1 camera)
Finally 3D Without the Glasses (Nintendo 3DS)
Poll Results: Backlash Against 3D
Why Hollywood Will Never Stop Experimenting With 3D
Will we be tempted by more three-dimensional bells and whistles? Will 3D finally live up to what its advocates think it can eventually be? Or will it fade away as a failed experiment that never delivered on its potential?
UPDATED (July 6, 2011) -- As further proof that 3D technology is the real deal and likely here to stay, here's a note I received today about existing glasses-free 3D television:
Just noticed your blog and wondered if you were interested in knowing about IPONT who make 3DTV without glasses technology. They were recently involved in the BBC 3D experiment which showed the Wimbledon Men's Final in 3D (in London). They have also been in talks with Sky3D and showed their technology to sports fans in pubs.
Here is a blog post from the Wimbledon event. Let me know if you would be interested in learning more about 3DTV Without Glasses, which actually works right now and is pretty impressive.
Blog post from event: http://bit.ly/run4ui
Press release of the event: http://bit.ly/nGDNHy
Video of people watching 3DTV without glasses at UEFA Final: http://bit.ly/n1x3oC
Let me know if you would like more info or some photos."