I’ve Always Thought 3D Was a Fad and The Studios and Manufacturers are Starting To Agree With Me

Jul 25 2010

“3D is a waste of a perfectly good dimension and Hollywood’s current crazy stampede toward it is suicidal,” says  Roger Ebert.  Despite the fact that 3D is in it’s third rendition of the “It” thing,  studios, hardware producers, and domainers are still getting caught in the 3D trap.

I remember when I was younger I went to see the movie King Solomon’s Mines in 3D.  A terrible movie that only had to be seen because it was in 3D.  Was it cool? It was.  It was fun to have a stick point out of the screen, I admit it.  My Dad had the same feeling when he saw it as a kid for the first time.  He said it was OK but he liked a good movie more than a movie driven by special effects.  I told him “this is different, the technology has come a long way”  Fast forward 25 years

Here we are again.  3D is all the rage.  Every movie HAS to be delivered in 3D.  Unfortunately 95% of the movies are re-created in 3D only to get the higher ticket price.  It’s a financial move, not a technical move.   Avatar was obviously the film that drove the craze. The difference is Avatar was created IN 3D FOR 3D and truly was a new technology.  To replicate this takes hundreds of millions to do right. Studios have chosen to go the cheaper route and convert their movies.  The process is expensive but quick.    The resulting converted movies are of lesser quality and by the time the “shot in 3D” technology becomes cheaper, viewers may have gone away.   Here are a few more reasons why 3D won’t become mainstream.

The Glasses.  Nobody likes to wear special glasses. We’ll do it for a special occasion but we’re less likely to wear them every time we watch television. AND you can’t watch 3D without them.  Nothing like a technology that needs a 99 cent add on to make work.

We want depth and clarity but it doesn’t have to be 3D.  In my opinion 4K video is much more likely to be a part of everyone’s home than 3D.  You hardly hear about it because there isn’t much hardware for it but if you’ve been to a trade show and seen it, it’s very nice and certainly an improvement.

The people that actually want 3D televisions is low.   The market is much lower than the Internet lets on.  I have no data to back this statement up but a 3D television in not anywhere near the top of my tech wants and that is the same for most of my tech loving friends.  The rest of the world is just now transitioning the rest of the their big Tv’s over to flat screens. They’re not about to switch over to 3D very soon.

It makes people sick. The movies are made for you to concentrate on one area of the screen and if your eyes leave that point to study any other part of the screen, it makes you nauseous.  I love looking at the background and beauty of a well shot movie.  On one hand they can create an even more beautiful picture using 3D but you can’t enjoy it long.

3D movie revenue is falling like a rock.  From an article in The Telegraph

When Avatar came out, 71 per cent of Americans who went to see it on opening weekend – often the peak moment for a new release – opted for a cinema showing the 3D version. In March, when the animated fantasy How to Train Your Dragon was released, 68 per cent of the audience chose to see the film that way.

But by May that figure for Shrek Ever After was down to 61 per cent. At the beginning of this month only 56 per cent saw The Last Airbender in 3D, and a week later the proportion fell even lower, to 45 per cent, for the newly-released animation Despicable Me.

The figures have provoked an anxious debate within the film industry, which had previously hatched plans to convert popular films on its backlist – everything from the Star Wars trilogy, to Harry Potter, to the college pranks of Jackass – into the cinematic style du jour. Studios are already working on at least 24 brand new films in the expensive format for release next year. Now some fear that the “3D bubble” has already burst.

While I’m not saying that 3D is going away, what I am saying is that it is not going to be the next big thing.  It is the big thing this year and will continue to be a special event, but not an everyday occurrence.  If you hand registered your 3D domains then you really have nothing to lose,  but those paying big money for those domains are not going to fare as well.  In my opinion, now may be the time to sell 3D domains because 3D is about to peak in the next 12 months.  Audiences have been there, done that and their spending is starting to show they’ve had enough.


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16 comments

  1. Evan

    I agree, and 3D gives me headaches, though companies are rolling out glasses free 3D products in 2011.

  2. Shawn Garbett

    On the subject of getting sick, I saw a 3D IMAX movie last year. The next day I went blind. Had to to take all kinds of crazy meds to get my vision back. Doctor said it induced an optical migraine. You can keep the 3D.

  3. Tyler K. Rauman

    It is interesting that you mention that you *have* to wear glasses for 3D screens to work. . . and this is simply not true. Nintendo are planning on releasing the “3DS”, a handheld console that will have stereographic graphics that don’t require glasses. Also, a friend of mine who works for the Canadian National Film Board (NFB), has worked with a prototype for 3D flat-screen TVs that don’t require glasses.

    Also with the current “Real3D” technology, contact lenses could be used, and rumors are abound that Sony has them coming down the pipeline now.

    Just some ideas to mull over.

    Whether or not 3D is the next big thing or not, we will have to wait to see, but the technology is there, and it is easy.

  4. Jordan

    I got to try out a 3D TV in a Sony store, it was all top of the line equipment and very underwhelming. Nothing jumps off the secreen, it all just has greater depth like an old ViewMaster.

  5. Jason

    The glasses for the 3D televisions cost around $120…not 99c.

    I do agree though, 3D won’t last – unless it can catch on to add a wicked dimension to gaming.

  6. Keith

    Great article, and I’m with you all the way. Personally I think it’s just a phase and we are witnessing the ‘come down’, if you will.

  7. Nick

    I think the tech just needs more time to mature.

    3D is possible without glasses. Nintendo’s next handheld system will include 3D w/o the need for accessories. It’s a small screen, but still, getting that into mass production is a big step.

    There are full-size 3D televisions that don’t require glasses, but as far as I know, they’ve not moved past the prototype stage yet.

  8. Will Dearborn

    Take a film like Avatar even, which I saw in theatres in 3D. Not bad, not great either. Got it on Blu-ray (2D). Stunning is an understatement. The clarity, colors, details, focus, contrast, all which were muted and suppressed in 3D was all back and shining. Hollywood needs to take a lesson from Christopher Nolan’s book and invest in higher quality film stock rather than taking steps back with hurried and gimmicky 3D.

  9. James

    When I went to see Avatar and they said it was in 3D, I said “What…wasn’t that big like 2 decades ago…nah, we’ll see it in 2D.” Great move because without 3D it turns out Avatar was a POS.

  10. Andy

    I disagree.

    If you watch movies at high resolutions on some displays, they feel really fake, even if they involve no CG at all (because the focus is better than 20/20 vision, and close objects are often nearly as in focus as far). 3D makes it easier to watch action movies and make them feel real.

    Now, the reason why 3D isn’t that popular, is the same reason why cinema isn’t that popular these days. Movie storylines have met a new low. Too many movies are sequels of another these days, many movies rely on special effects, and many movies follow a formula.

    Consumers like to watch movies at home as well, rather than drive up to a cinema and be force fed ads, whilst kids eat loud bags of chips and make “whoa, wow, did you see that” noises (yes, at least 1 movie I was watching, I was getting very close to requesting they get kicked). Unfortunately, there is no way to buy 3D movies online though, and most of us HATE blu-ray/Sony, and aren’t willing to pay a rediculous amount of money for each disc.

    You can watch 3D without special glasses, but many of them still only have a few sweet spots, and they are too small display sizes. These will improve. I don’t think you can honestly claim wearing glasses to watch TV is a problem though (it’s only a problem when they cost $199, which some are). Seriously, the RealD glasses are uber cheap, and there are even glasses companies working on building them into their regular glasses.

    It isn’t a fad, just give it time for the technology to evolve. Smartphones were also once considered a fad too..

    Also, are you sure you are actually getting headaches watching things to 3D? This doesn’t sound possible. It may make you dizzy or motion sick maybe, but headaches physically aren’t possible.. Either way, dizziness is rare, and it’s something you can likely adapt to.

  11. David Fox

    I can’t watch 3D films, I have short sighted vision and when I wear the 3D glasses over my current glasses it feels like my eyes are being stabbed with pins until the point they start watering..

    Also for the fact that they charge the same price for a 3D ticket on a 2D ticket annoys me a lot.

  12. Timothy

    It’s generally a bad idea to extrapolate larger consumer behavior from personal experience and say “if I like it, surely everyone else will as well.” It’s a mistake that happens all the time, but there’s is one case where I will use my personal behavior to at least start the foundation for analysis — when I don’t want a new gadget or technology. Granted, sometimes I’m just not the target audience, but even then I’m usually able to remove myself from the process and say it might not be for me but others will love this. In the case of 3D TV, however, I think my lack of interest doesn’t bode well for the market.

    I’m surprised by figures, forecasts, predictions and prophecies all showing a rosy outlook for 3D TV beginning as early as this year, because I’ve seen most of the 3D offerings available and I have no plans to buy — not now and not anytime soon. I should be a part of the core demographic for 3D: I like TV, movies and video games. I’m am early adopter. I have reasonable disposable income. I’m not afraid of betting on the wrong standard. And yet, I’m not buying. Here’s why.

    Cost: I’m fortunate that cost isn’t the biggest inhibitor for me when I buy things, but I still do a cost/benefit analysis before I make a purchase. To really embrace 3D, I need a new TV, even though my current 1080p set is only a few years old and is wonderful. I’d need a new media player. I’d need glasses — lots of them, as there can often be five or six people sitting around my set. I’d probably want a new digital camera to take 3D shots. And of course, I’d need some compelling 3D content from somewhere. That’s already starting up to add into a significant cost proposition that takes it far out of impulse purchase territory.
    I just don’t see the value or wow factor that 3D brings to the table in its current format.

    Hassle: It’s not just the cost to move to 3D. It’s the hassle. Moving to HD was a breeze — you just plugged in a new TV and were wowed by immediately available content. My upscaling DVD player made existing SD content look better than ever. By contrast, just viewing 3D content is a hassle due to the glasses. They’re not cheap. They are gadgets in and of themselves, which means they require care and feeding, and everyone in the room needs a pair. Worse, I find 3D glasses very uncomfortable to wear for long periods over my regular glasses. The hassle alone of acquiring and viewing 3D content is enough to put me off.

    Benefit: The cost and hassle of 3D could easily be justified and rationalized if there was a superb benefit on par with the move to HD. For me, 3D is cool but at best gratuitous. It doesn’t change the visceral viewing experience for most of the content I’ve seen. I just don’t see the value or wow factor that 3D brings to the table in its current format.

    Someday technology will advance and 3D will be integrated into every screen. Standards will be deployed and the bulky and costly glasses will disappear. Content providers will figure out how to tell better stories with 3D that wouldn’t have been possible before. And if that happens before I do my holiday shopping this year, I’ll be on board. Given the low probability of that scenario, I’m going to pass for now. I expect many other consumers will as well.

    -thanks engadget

  13. Pico

    I agree as well. If all 3D movies were as great (3d wise) as Avatar, it *would* be the next big thing. But like most people, the 2nd 3D film I saw after Avatar was a severe disappointment. Nothing wrong with the film but the 3D was completely forgettable.

  14. Ed from htmlpress.net

    I agree about the 3D glasses… it could be annoying when you have to wear it all the time. Nintendo has developed a 3D game without wearing those 3D glasses though. I believe it’s due to be released soon. If this becomes a success and if the electronic giants can replicate this technology on the TV screen then it could be a game changer.

  15. Ebalance

    Personally I really hate 3D movies… 3D makes me feel ill and I hate having to wear something on my face! It’s SO DISTRACTING!!! The whole point of going to a movie is to get immersed in the story, and I can’t get immersed if I’m constantly adjusting some thing that’s on my face or wondering if something is going to pop out at me… So I feel 3D distracts more from a movie experience than adds to it. However, I think 3D could be the next big thing for video games. This is b/c video games ask more of the gamer in the first place. A gamer already doesn’t mind wearing something or holding something in order to play the game. They do that already… and probably the eventual product of this tech will be something like the holodeck… you know, total virtual reality world that you can enter and leave when you want to… like the way the internet is set-up in the show “Futurama.”
    But movie watching I think is something people will still want to do, especially people who prefer a slightly more gentle, passive experience. It’s like reading a book vs. watching a movie. People still read books… it’s not like movies killed the book industry… so I predict in the future we will have several options, but 3D I think will remain a fad… something reserved for a special show once in a while, and movies and TV will continue mostly without it…

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