Will Blu-ray Make You Want More 3D?


My Bloody Valentine 3D on Blu-ray came out this week, with the traditional glasses

Blu-ray Disc Assoc. is the latest to push the 3D format, following Hollywood studios, display manufacturers and PC developers attempts at bringing 3D into the home.

May. 22, 2009 — by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

U2, Monsters vs. Aliens, My Bloody Valentine, Chuck, the BCS National Championship, NBA All-Star Saturday Night—can you name the common theme? If you said, “They’ve all been filmed and broadcast in 3D,” then you win the grand prize. OK, maybe no prize, but it does mean that you’re up on the latest video trend.

We’ve come a long way from 20th-century campy sci-fi 3D movies, as anyone who’s attended an IMAX 3D showing can attest to. Yes, we’re still wearing glasses to get the full experience, but we’re being treated to 3D more and more these days. Is it still just a fad, or more of an experiment at this point, or do consumers really want it?

The Blu-ray Disc Association is trying to hammer home 3D a little further. It announced this week that it is going to work on implementing a standard for the format—something that wouldn’t be relegated to the red/blue “anaglyph” technology we’re used to. You’ve probably seen the commercials for My Bloody Valentine’s coincidental arrival on Blu-ray this week.

“Blu-ray Disc is the ideal platform for bringing 3D technology to mainstream home entertainment,” the BDA said in a statement. “The format has been widely embraced by consumers, and the 1080p picture quality and overall experience have become the standards against which all other high-definition delivery platforms are measured. Blu-ray Disc’s capacity, flexibility and incomparable picture quality coupled with the activities of the BDA’s 3D task force sets the stage for a 3D home entertainment specification that establishes another industry standard and enables an in-home 3D consumer experience unmatched by any other delivery mechanism.”

Television manufacturers are have been hopping on the 3D bandwagon with the development and sales of “3D-ready” HDTVs. At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, 3D was everywhere, with companies such as Panasonic, Samsung, LG and Sony showcasing new models; while Florida’s football championship victory over Oklahoma was beamed live in 3D to the show audience. In the spring, Mitsubishi, which had already been selling 3D-ready DLP (Digital Light Processing) rear-projection televisions, announced a slew of new sets featuring the technology and ranging from 60 to a whopping 82 inches.

For even larger screens of a dedicated home theater setting, companies like Stewart Filmscreen and Da-Lite on the screen side, and JVC and Projectiondesign on the projector side have demonstrated products that support 3D. Stewart’s front-projection Silver 3D and several rear-projection screens as well as Da-Lite’s 3D Virtual Grey materials, for example, make the prospect of 3D on a super-large home theater screen an inviting one.

“In the past, the gimmick aspect of 3D was in the forefront, but this has changed as the power of computers has changed our world, including what can be done with images,” says Mark Robinson, director of manufacturing at Stewart. “3D is more pervasive than ever. We’re providing 3D displays for medical imaging, for oil and mining interest, and, of course, for cinema. In cinema, content is king and the skilled storyteller is rewarded; in animation 3-D is the new gold standard. The creative people are excited about it … the polishing of the story line with 3D is essential to move forward successfully.”

That’s where Hollywood will need to be as innovative as the manufacturers in keeping the 3D momentum going. DreamWorks, which released Monsters vs. Aliens, announced that starting this year it would produce all of its movies in stereoscopic 3D technology (the traditional layered image approach) throughout the process rather than add it during post-production. Live-action feature Avatar from Titanic director James Cameron is expected to hit IMAX and commercial cinemas this December, capping a year that will see more than a dozen 3D releases.

The hard part may be bringing that Hollywood magic to the small (or not-so-small) screen. So Blu-ray seems to be getting serious this week with its task force announcement. There’s already been a casualty of promising technology—last summer, Philips unveiled “2D-plus-Depth” to enhance Blu-ray discs for 3D viewing in a non-glasses manner, but the company ended up shuttering that division in April.

A handful of 3D titles have been released on Blu-ray for your HDTV viewing pleasure—such as The Polar Express, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and My Bloody Valentine. Reaction has been a mixed bag judging from online user reviews, as commenters have found the 3D video effects everything from dazzling to headache inducing. Don’t expect live sporting events telecast in costly 3D production to your HDTVs quite yet, though, but you can bet on seeing more special cinematic showings after this year’s BCS championship and NBA All-Star successes.

From Blu-ray.com, a couple of comments on The Polar Express in 3D. And remember, these are from positive reviews of the 2D version:

—While the 2-D version is great, the 3-D version seems like a half-hearted effort I really struggled to get through the film and its very doubtful if I can ever watch it again in 3-D. 3-D once again is a great idea yet to be fully realized.

—I never owned any version of The Polar Express, but decided to go with the 2-D/3-D version….thinking the 3-D would be cool…...THINK AGAIN…you feel the depth perception but you still most of the time see double….after 15mins, I was getting a headache….so I switched to the 2-D version…. So here is the breakdown…. 2-D version VIDEO - 4.0 stars, 3-D version VIDEO - 1.0 stars. Buy at your own risk….cool gimick…doesn’t work.

Not withstanding all of the impending movie and Blu-ray releases, perhaps 3D’s biggest foot in your home’s door will come through video gaming. There’s a reason Mitsubishi has teamed with home theater PC (HTPC) maker Aspen Media Products and visual graphics developer Nvidia to demo the 3D solution—PC gaming is the most readily available and easily transferable 3D content out there.

Nvidia’s GeForce processors can convert many standard PC games to stereoscopic 3D—it’s been tested with more than 350 games, so there’s plenty of variety—so the combination of HTPC and 3D-ready HDTV is a powerfully immersive one. Add some surround sound to that 82-inch high-def TV, and you’ll feel like you’re right on the battlefield playing that first-person shooter game. And yes, you’ll still need the glasses.

So are you ready for more 3D, or have you heard enough already?

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