Julian Clover finds that the prospect of 3D TV is more realistic than he thought.
Now is probably not the time to fess up to my previous disregard of 3DTV. While being a keen supporter of high definition television I just couldn’t see the demand for its stereoscopic cousin.
My road to Damascus moment probably came last week at the DTG-organised 3DTV event in London. The room was full to bursting and the gentle reminders to check that I was still coming underlined the pressure on seats. Arguably such events just prove that there is a demand from the supply chain to sell their products; the real test will come later in the year when the promised 3D TV services make it to market.
Initially these will just be for public display; handing out 3D glasses to drunken football fans up and down the country may be asking for trouble, but with the cost of the specs down to just 65 cents a pair it will not be an expensive venture. The same goes for the ability to kit out the whole family with their own 3D glasses.
The majority of new TV displays are already HD Ready, so it is not that greater jump to think that in five years time, 3D might also be as standard. And unlike the HD sets that many watched oblivious to the need to connect up some HD content, you can tell pretty soon if you don’t have a 3D image.
That problem might also be about to solve itself. Sky’s announcement on Thursday morning that it was to phase out its standard definition equipment in favour of an HD PVR for all can also be regarded as n industry milestone. Although the Ukrainian operator MYtv is launching with HD capable receivers – the forward thinking decision was made even though the satcaster will not initially have any HD channels – my hunch is that it will take a while before any other European operators take similar decisions.
Back at the conference it was noticeable how far forward the production techqiues have come. Gone is the look of the children’s theatre or the feeling that the footballers are taking part in a high tech version of Subbuteo. Instead crystal clear images – the side by side system used by Sky is not strictly HD, but it’s close – and an increasing knowledge of what does and doesn’t work.
Sky can promise to deliver a weekly Premier League match on its Sky 3D channel because it has been doing just that since early in the season. The skillset being developed has made it clear that the shots used in standard and high definition, don’t deliver the same experience in HD – remember those long lingering stadium shots in Euro 2008. This brings in another problem, commentators, so much so that when the BBC experimented in 3D on the 6 Nations rugby it used its radio commentary rather than the TV feed so that viewers were told precisely what was happening.
There is still one flaw in the introduction of 3D: 2009 saw the greatest number of TV sets purchased in one year and with 14 million flat panels expected to be in situ by the end of 2010, do we really want to go through it all again.