Saturday, January 29, 2011

2010: Year of 3-D?

Though a few years before 3ality’s digital systems’ proprietary 3-D system had manage to make 3-D movies and other 3-D related visual extravaganza popular again, can 2010 be called Year of 3-D?

By: Ringo Bones

Even though Hollywood movie moguls may beg to differ due to 3-D movies’ failure to raise box-office earnings for much of 2010, for those of us closely following 3-D related press releases, it is still valid to conclude that 2010 is the “Year of 3-D”. Back in March 9, 2010, Jeffrey Katzenberg of DreamWorks Animation had collaborated with Samsung to use their New York exhibition at the time as a launching pad for their 3-D animated DVDs. Sony also rode the people’s “wave of interest” on anything 3-D at the time due to the runaway success of James Cameron’s Avatar.

Then came last year’s 2010 IFA exhibit which IFA director Jens Heitheker says that will be dominated by everything 3-D. IFA did became a major high-profile platform to promote anything 3-D – make that digital 3-D. From 3-D still and video cameras aimed at consumers. After being fascinated by the myriad of 3-D still and video cameras in the 2010 IFA exhibition, one can be forgiven for not knowing that D.I.Y. 3-D photography – albeit the analog / film-based sort – was already invented 180 years ago and was a rage during the Victorian era, as opposed as a newfangled consumer item in the 2010 IFA. Like Panasonic’s HDC-STD750 3-D capable hand-held stills / video camera which is primarily a 2-D camera with an attachable 3-D lens to make it into a 3-D capable one – though its 1,200 US dollar MSRP makes it only a hand-held 3-D stills / video camera for the well-healed masses.

Then came last year’s 3-D network TV broadcast by ESPN, Virgin Media and Sky which launched their first 3-D TV broadcasts aimed at those already having 3-D capable domestic flat-screen TVs. Unfortunately, 2010 failed to become the year of domestic 3-D TV because high prices and a lack of quality 3-D broadcast content have made domestic 3-D TVs almost stillborn. Add to that the slower-than-average penetration of 3-D capable wide flat-screen TVs in the home because buyers tend to buy new TVs only when their old one gives up the ghost. Those HD-capable wide flat-screen TVs bought 4 to 5 years ago are still going strong. Even my Sony CRT-based 14-incher from 1989 is still alive and kicking, which my current girlfriend jokes that my “Room / Porn TV” is a few years older than her.

So does 2010 pass muster as the “Year of 3-D”? Well, given that most home entertainment technologies launched during an American recession – i.e. Pacific Microsonics’ HDCD and Sony’s Super Bit Mapping system both used to make Redbook CDs sound better (like analog) later became a brisk money-maker and still with us despite being introduced during the Bush Senior era recession. And despite high prevailing unemployment around the world, the steadily rising gains on Wall Street will eventually trickle down to the masses in boost our buying power (we hope) so that we can indulge our curiosity of everything 3-D – in 2011.