My latest flavor of Hatorade sincerely breaks my little geek heart- I can’t stand this “rebirth” of 3D technology.
Sure, 3D hasn’t actually gone anywhere since it was first introduced in the 1950’s, but now it’s making a legitimate push to make its way into our home theatre setups for the first time. Most paradoxical is my complete embrace of HD, though it shares many similarities with 3D- read on to see why 3D is not the tech for me.
3D and HD – The Similarities
HD and 3D had both had been around for years before being made into a staple of the home theatre environment. This means that both require(d) serious branding to get the public to notice. This explains why, when HD was still a luxury relegated to the highest of high-end setups, TV manufacturers and content producers (TV/Film/Video Game Studios, etc) shelled out big bucks to have “See The Difference” displays setup at major retailers around the country. I’m certainly no stranger to “pressure” from these companies, and I’ve been through it before- this is not a problem that I have with 3D.
HD and 3D both require special content streams and hardware (ever try watching standard 480i “upscaled” to your brand new HD set? Yuck!). Since I don’t live in an area where OTA (over-the-air) HD broadcast signals are a viable option, this meant that some sort of cable or dish solution was necessary to receive these streams, and usually for a premium “HD” charge. Additionally, early adopters were left with only a handful of channels to enjoy while the others waited for more subscribers before making the switch. All of that waiting paid off of course, as now you’d be hard-pressed to find a channel not broadcasting in HD. The same is/will be true of 3D, which is another issue I don’t have with 3D (thought I don’t blame you if you do- it costs a pretty penny to upgrade).
Oh, and both of their nicknames consist of “D” and another letter/number. In the interest of completeness, this also is not a problem I have with 3D technology.
3D and HD – The Differences
While both technologies had been around for years, only 3D had previously seen widespread adoption and dismissal as a “gimmick”. HD was simply not feasible in the home environment, as first the availability of technology and later the price of such a display technology served as barriers of entry. 3D has always been possible through the use of anaglyphic images (Yeah, I did my homework! Think dorky red and blue glasses); as a consequence, Spy Kids 3D on DVD was not heralded as a technological breakthrough. This in and of itself isn’t a huge problem for me, but you’re about to see why this is only the tip of the iceberg.
Similarly, while both require separate content streams, 3D can actually fall into two different categories- “true” 3D content filmed simultaneously by two cameras to simulate the different angles seen by two human eyes, and “converted” 3D content, which was filmed traditionally (single camera) and processed in a lab to give the appearance of 3D. Now, technically, HD can also be upconverted from a lesser source, but this is a non-issue for two reasons: the tech is so widely available in off-the-shelf DVD players, it’s hardly even an advertised feature of the hardware, and secondly, nearly all films of all time were always in High Definition- we were just never able to watch them in full resolution outside of the local cineplex. This is in stark contrast to 3D, as the only movie (I know of, anyway) that was conceived, filmed, and intended to be shown in 3D from creation to completion was “Avatar”. While “Avatar” was admittedly glorious in 3D, it is light-years away from processed garbage like “Clash of the Titans”, which not only didn’t need to be in 3D (apart from the studios making a couple extra bucks off my admission), but is far more often the case with new movies not called “Avatar”. This is a big problem for me, because it means Hollywood can pump out even more meaningless junk, sloppily convert it to 3D, and charge even more for it, without so much as putting in the effort to at least film the flick in 3D to start with.
FInally, while HD and 3D need new hardware, the hardware for 3d is not ready yet. Yes folks, this is my pièce de résistance, the crown jewel in my argument for not having friends over for 3D viewing parties- the STUPID GLASSES. I realize tech “exists” that doesn’t require the use of glasses, but it a) is nowhere near affordable, and b) doesn’t really exist- there is no standard set for glasses-free 3D viewing, and displays that offer this feature have serious problems no one has solved yet, like viewing angles (the 3D effect doesn’t work for anyone not watching at 90°). If I had to watch stupid glasses to watch HD, I’d still be using my original DirecTiVo box.
What do you guys think? Am I over-reacting? Do you also feel like 3D glasses are a form of punishment, not pleasure? Comments are always welcome below…