How naive was I to think that 3D TV still had a chance? To be fair, I didn’t think it did, but when a large company says they’re going to start investing heavily, I begin to doubt.
It was October, 2012 when I filed the following report:
Could we finally see more 3D content? Four months ago, we wondered whether we had reached the end of the road for 3D. Since then, there has been almost no new 3D content on any of DIRECTV’s 3D channels. Now, there may finally be a little good news for those who spent the extra money for a 3D-capable TV. According to our friends at engadget, the companies behind 3net, one of the first full-time 3D channels, has started their own studio to produce additional 3D content.
All we can say is, it’s about time. 3D hasn’t been a hit in the market, and there are some good reasons. No matter who you are, you’re not going to look cool with 3D glasses, and a good percentage of people get headaches after wearing the glasses for several hours. Some televisions show 3D content at a reduced resolution, and after all 3D doesn’t add a whole lot to a comedy, concert or even news program; the technology is really best for sweeping outdoor vistas and special effects extravaganzas.
But… content is king. People don’t watch TV for the effects, they watch because there’s compelling content. And, at the end of the day, there haven’t been too many really great 3D programs… maybe you loved Avatar but there isn’t a whole lot memorable this year.
What makes good 3D programming? Taking 3D from a gimmick to a must-have requires good use of the 3D technology. Shooting arrows at the audience ten times an hour gets boring, fast. On the other hand, there’s no reason for 3D if all the action takes place in a living room. Hopefully 3net studios will find a way to use 3D judiciously for its best effect.
As far as I know, 3net studios never produced a single program. The whole 3net venture closed up shop in 2014 and the rest of the world didn’t even notice. Most major TV manufacturers stopped making 3D TVs for the mass market around the same time and honestly I haven’t viewed any of my 3D content in years. I recently retired my 3D Blu-ray player when it started getting wonky and I saw the cost to replace it.
At this point…
it feels like it’s been a million years since that failed experiment in 3D TV. I replaced my 3D TV in 2016, after not using it for years. We saw some 3D releases in theaters for a while, but when theaters began to close in 2020, it seems like that was the end for 3D as we know it.
But, I completely expect it to come back again. After all, 3D had a big splashy debut in the 1950s, only to disappear. It came back for a bit in the 1980s when they figured out how to do it in color. And then, it disappeared again. 3D television was going to be all the rage, and well… it wasn’t. But despite the development of glasses-free 3D in about 2014 (a technology which never got to wide release) 3D still didn’t make it.
Today, you can watch 3D videos using a VR headset, and who knows. That may turn out to be a thing. So far, those devices haven’t had the market penetration that they could have, so it’s hard to know.
At some point, someone will figure out how to do 3D well on a phone. There are already some devices that will do it, but it’s not very convincing. But it’s just a matter of time. Someone will figure it out and then the next 3D revolution will start. Will it finally take off? Gotta say… don’t know. Don’t care, either.