3D TV Introduction
For many of us, the mention of 3D brings back memories of those nausea inducing red and blue (cyan) glasses of the 1980s. 3D films were enjoyed for their novelty value, and of course, the novelty soon wore off.
This time around however, the big Hollywood studios are delivering a completely different 3D experience. New technology now creates stunningly realistic 3D images which create an experience so immersive that viewers feel they are becoming part of the on screen action.
The huge success of James Cameron's 3D science fiction epic, Avatar (taking over $2 billion worldwide) has cemented belief in the potential success of the new format.
Key to the rebirth of 3D is the introduction of alternatives to the old 'Anaglyphic' system which was prone to causing nausea in some and general loss of colour fidelity.
Alongside a new raft of 3D blockbusters, the likes of Samsung, Panasonic, LG and Sony are busy laying the ground work for a 3D standard for the home.
The big manufacturers introduced a wide range of 3D ready consumer products in 2010 with the new format really set to take hold in 2011. Sky have successfully launched a dedicated 3D TV channel to give extra dimensional viewing another boost. While Panasonic are generally credited with the introduction of the best 3D enabled Plasma TVs in 2010, as far as LCD is concerned, our readers have rated Sony 3D TV as overall top for design, performance and cost.
3D technology has actually been around longer than many of you might imagine. As early as 1894, the pioneering British film maker, William Friese-Green patented a process for 3D movies using a stereoscope.
Although the first taste of 3D for many of us was the 1983 release of 'Jaws', 1952 witnessed the first feature length 3D movie, 'Bwana Devil', followed in 1953 by the classic Warner Brothers 'House of Wax'.
With a few insignificant interludes, it has taken nearly a quarter of a century for 3D to once again propel itself back to the forefront of public consciousness. The cinematic release of 'Polar Express' in 2004 wowed audiences and more recently TV companies have signalled their intention to provide 3D TV broadcasts ... so why the renewed interest?
Well, in a nutshell, the technology by which 3D content is generated, stored and distributed has moved on dramatically and of course, the big Hollywood studios, TV companies and hardware manufacturers have spotted the opportunity to turn a profit.
Digital technology is making 3D a reality
The release of James Cameron's 'Avatar' along with 'Monsters v Aliens' and 'Ice Age 3' in digital RealD format signaled a renaissance in 3D. People may look back and recognize the period as the beginning of 3D's graduation into the mainstream.
The first 3D films were shot using analogue technology, requiring the use of two projectors which were difficult to install and maintain. Slight misalignment of these projectors degraded quality and could induce headaches and nausea in an audience. Digital 3D technology has now arrived, with the requirement for just one projector and a considerable improvement in quality.
The Blu-ray High Definition disc format has the capacity to store 3D films for viewing at a high 1080p resolution to each eye. There are in fact a number of 3D DVD releases out at the moment and that number is set to increase rapidly during the course of 2011. It is worth remembering that you will need a special 3D enabled Blu-ray player to watch 3D movies.
TV broadcasters see an opportunity in 3D
TV broadcasters have been enticed by figures suggesting that a movie shot in 3D generates an increase in viewer interest of between 20-30%. Improved bandwidth and technological infrastructure means that providers have the capacity to broadcast 3D TV on their existing platforms.
Broadcaster such as Sky and Virgin Media have realised that their existing infrastructure makes it relatively easy for them to broadcast 3D TV. Using their existing Sky+HD set-top box, subscribers can now watch a fully fledged 3D TV channel on Sky. Virgin Media have begun to introduce pay per view 3D material including movies.
Manufacturers will support 3D with compatible products
Manufacturers such as Sony, Panasonic and Philips have ambitious plans for 3D, with Sony developing 3D compatible products for their Bravia TV range, Vaio Laptops, Blu-ray and PS3 games console.
Although too costly for consumers in the short term, some of the big manufacturers have been working on 3D technology which does not require the use of special glasses. Samsung, Hyundai and Mitsubishi already have 3D enabled 'glasses free' 3D screens on sale outside the UK.