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I'm sorry James Cameron, but 3D is not the future of television

by Jason Hughes, posted Aug 23rd 2009 2:24PM
3d glasses at Cannes Film FestivalJames Cameron has a lot of money. So if he wants to throw some of it at Panasonic to help promote 3D TVs, that's his terrible decision. He shot his latest film in 3D, so he's clearly got it on his mind. And if Avatar does as well as the response to that trailer would have us believe, he may have a lot of free time soon anyway.

Speaking of time, this is about the worst time to try and thrust new television and film technology on consumers. Aren't we still in the middle of this transition to digital broadcasts, HDTV and Blu-Ray? Now you're telling us we should buy new HDTVs and new Blu-Ray players that support 3D technology? Oh, and we'll need those cool 3D glasses, too.

There's a few problems with this. 3D was going to revolutionize the movies in the '80s. It didn't happen. It's supposed to be "going to revolutionize" movies right now, but it's not happening.

The new 3D technology is impressive. The full color 3D presentations look great, but I don't see it becoming the standard by which we watch television. 3D computer animation was supposed to take over completely from 2D line drawing animation, but if you look at the top cartoons on television, you'll see 2D doing just fine.

Plus, Americans are lazy. As long as you are going to require us to actively find and put on glasses to experience 3D television, most of us won't bother. We have a hard enough time finding the remote control. You come up with a way to give us the 3D experience minus the glasses, and you might be onto something.

The other problem is content. Like HD in its early days, there is virtually no content to justify the expense of a 3D upgrade, and there won't be enough any time soon, even if every studio started mass producing 3D films. Then there's the 3D itself. While it's cool for action-adventures, sci-fi and the like, what will the effect really add to most television shows?

Jaws certainly wasn't more awesome in 3D, so Law & Order: Special Victims Unit won'tl be either. If you put Ghost Whisperer in 3D, you might get legions of young men upgrading so that when Jennifer Love Hewitt turns, she'll be bursting quite literally from their television screens, but they won't be as impressed with 3D Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men.

Am I wrong? Will you be the first in line to upgrade to new 3D television technology?

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If 3D goes the adult route, then it will push the technology like it did with VHS and DVD.

August 29 2009 at 2:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i'd rather have a smell o vision over 3d tv.
food network with real smells rather than dexter with a knife coming at me.

August 25 2009 at 4:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jim Dorey

WHOA. You are way off base with this post. You sound annoying like the few 2D holdovers in the movie industry and stunningly ignorant of the facts: you are comparing the 3D of the 80's with modern 3D; you think Cameron paid something to Panasonic; and that he is biased toward 3D because of his latest film.

To the contrary. I can't stand 80's anaglyph - it is horrible - it is as far from todays 3D as black and white is from color only more so. I enjoy B&W movies. Cameron used Panasonic's 100"+ screen while shooting AVATAR - he endorses and USES the equipment. You should pay attention to that. And Cameron biased? He has said he will shoot nothing but 3D from now on. You want to call that biased go ahead. But you will also be calling Pixar, Dreamworks Animation, Disney Animation biased too as they will ONLY shoot 3D from now on. And of course the fact that Peter Jackson, Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, Tim Burton, George Lucas, and dozens of others all have 3D projects doesn't tell you something?

Or that two of the top three movies this year so far contains 3D? Or that AVATAR set unimagineable download records for a trailer?

Sounds to me like either your days in the TV industry are numbered -OR- you just wanted some controversy to get some readers on your site. I totally get the second reason, but the controversy must be researched.

Other than that, nice site.

August 24 2009 at 3:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Well for one, many DVDs, and darn near every blu-ray I've purchased, contains a digital copy that I can put on those other devices if I even owned any of them. Also, why would I want to watch a movie on a 2.5 inch screen when I have a 61 inch screen at home? I can't think of anything honestly. Maybe if I constantly traveled or had a long daily commute (where I'm not driving), but I don't do any of those things. Yes, I realize this is anecdotal, and need across consumers are different. That is why there are different ways to obtain media.

It also currently takes less time to go to Best Buy and buy a HD movie than it does to download one even with my high speed connection. You say it's getting better, but did not state so in any quantifiable terms. I found this: http://www.websiteoptimization.com/bw/0906/
that says there is a 63% penetration rate. Now, how many of those people want digital distribution of their movies? How many still want physical discs? How many of them use their connection just to check email and facebook?
This states that DVD sales are declining: http://www.ghacks.net/2009/01/25/dvd-sales-down-what-do-you-think-the-reasons-are/
I'll concede that yes, some of that would be digital downloads. But there are other factors in there was well such as renting from netflix, the economy tanking, not as many films consumers wanted to buy.

If consumers still want physical media there will be physical media. Insulting people that want physical media is some weird sort of elitist asshatery.

And it's not difficult to understand, it's currently not feasible, like I said. Not everyone lives in an area where high speed internet is even an option. And just a matter of how much time? Are you suggesting that movie studios ignore these people while they await broadband connectivity? That doesn't sound like a good idea for an industry that already claims to be on hard financial times.

And "the days are numbered". Fine, if you want to draw some imaginary line in the sand in an undefined time, sure, the days of physical media are numbered, but then so are the number of days our sun will continue to burn.

August 24 2009 at 2:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Christopher's comment

So you agree. Good then. Carry on.

August 24 2009 at 7:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Oh, and by the way why does it have to be a 2.5 inch screen it is connected to? My digital download that sits on my FTA box's DVR hard drive is connected to a 72 inch TV. The point is that if you get a download then you have the option to view it on whatever screen you want to.

August 24 2009 at 7:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jim Krisvoy

Absurd! FYI, via a US cable based outlet (Shop NBC) ther are about 2-3 million of these TV's out now. The only premium cost will be adding the glasses, and they work.

August 24 2009 at 2:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yossarian said, "Blu ray was already dead when it was released"

To which you said, "You took the words right out of my mouth, yossarian."

And if blu-ray was DOA, then that suggests dvd is certainly deader than dead...

So, want to revise that you didn't say discs were dead, chum?

See, you're not the only one who can be snarky.

Then again, I could always point out that you claim they're already useless, then go on to say that one day everyone will make them useless... which is it?

Or, maybe, rather than a pissing contest about a silly little point, you can just disagree without making yourself seem brilliant while trying to indicate others are morons........

August 24 2009 at 1:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Mike's comment

Brilliant Mike, yet I still didn't say use the term until Christopher so kindly used it first. Funny that isn't it?

It was amazing how yossarian used four lines of text but you conveniently used only half a sentenced when you quoted him, assuming that was the part I was agreeing with. Well done.

Now, take a couple of minutes to breath so your you don't get so excited with how amusing you were and then figure out that just because something is still around doesn't mean it is the best way to do something.

A perfect example of this is analog and digital TV. Even after hounding people with advertising for month after month after month, there are still people that were surprised when their analog TV's stopped working. They hadn't heard of digital TV or converter boxes. So even though the digital TV takes up less bandwidth while providing HDTV, which makes it a better product, not everyone was on board. But according to the wisdom of Mike, just because something has moved on to better format it is not better because not everybody has adopted the idea.

Now if you re-read my previous post you will notice that I indicated that there was a better option but that not all consumers had come on board yet, which is what I have had to explain to you, Mike, again. I think everybody else understood, but not you.

Now to turn the tables a bit. Please explain to me why a physical DVD or Blu-Ray disc is better? Come up with say 3 things that make it better than downloading the same movie. Ok, go, chum!

August 24 2009 at 7:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Harry J. Friedman

One big genre was not addressed. I am not a big sports fan, but imagine sporting events broadcast in 3D. That is a market.

August 24 2009 at 10:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Butters, you do realize that not everyone has broadband correct? And you insult people like it is the consumer's fault without realizing that in some regions it is not economically feasible to receive high speed internet connections. Many cable companies refuse to run a line that is going to service one house, actually, you could probably change that to all cable companies. This whole "the disc is dead" is foolish. Maybe eventually, but not until high speed internet is as common place as electricity is in homes.

August 24 2009 at 10:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Christopher's comment

Christopher, The point is that there is really no need for DVD's.

Hard drives are getting bigger, internet speeds are getting faster. Whether you have very high speeds or not doesn't take away from the fact that you soon will. It is just a matter of time.

You are the only one in these comments that used the term "the disc is dead". I said the days of physical disc are numbered. They will still be around as long as the movie studios push them and consumers buy them.

However. just think about it. Why buy a movie on a disc that only plays on a DVD player and/or a computer when you can download the movie and play it on any media device. You don't have to go to the store if you don't want to. No waiting for your netflix movie to turn up in the mail. It just makes more sense. Why is that so difficult to understand?

August 24 2009 at 12:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Butters's comment
Every Critic

"It is just a matter of time." ---

That's like saying there's no point in buying a phone because "it's just a matter of time" before it becomes obsolete.

"The point is that there is really no need for DVD's....." ---

I completely disagree that DVDs are not needed. Until an 85 year-old with cognitive impairment or someone with developmental disability can access streamed/downloaded content as easily as they can press-and-play, you bet physical media is needed.

You are assuming that physical media's capabilities have been tapped out, which is untrue. You are also forgetting that physical product is A LOT easier to sell than cyber content. Disney knows that "unlocking the vault" every few years and putting "Bambi" back on the supermarket shelf for impulse buyers is a lot more effective than making it ubiquitous on iTunes.

February 04 2011 at 3:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

I think the main drawback is that 3-D as it exists now makes a significant portion of the population (including me) sick as a dog. I tried to watch Coraline because a friend mistakenly bought tickets to the 3D showing and I spent the next hour in the theater bathroom. And I am far from alone. Close to half the people I've asked about it say that 3D movies cause nausea or headaches. The parts of the movie I saw before I got sick, looked great but it's not worth it.

August 24 2009 at 10:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm not interested in the format of what I watch, I'm interested in the content. I switched to DVD purely for the extras, which I love and which are worth paying more for (though it helps that they also take up less space). I prefer 2D animation to 3D (I think 3D looks weird, quite frankly) but I'll watch either if the story is interesting. I won't stop using discs no matter how much I download because one day the computer will up and die and I don't want to lose all my stuff (as my brother recently did).

CDs and DVDs were successful because they enhanced the content - CDs by allowing people to skip between tracks, DVDs with extras (and similar skipping between TV episodes).

I agree with you Jason. Most of us, who don't know that much about technology and just want to enjoy watching film and television, do not care about 3D, or Blu-Ray or any of it. Show us interesting and exciting stories, in whatever format, and we'll watch them. If there is a way to do 3D without glasses, maybe we might be interested, but to be honest I doubt anything is going to make a huge impact unless it's actually a holodeck.

August 24 2009 at 7:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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