3D – a passing fad?

A new report into 3D technology
 Rod Butler

Banner image: The Fifties in 3D, 1951, Flickr Commons/National Archives UK


3D technology is not a new concept, but it has enjoyed resurgence lately in both the home theatre and cinema markets. I was quite sceptical about its future until one of our interns, Kelly Lynn Archer, carried out research that challenged my perspective.

Kelly reported that advances in technology have removed the need for cumbersome 3D rigs on film shoots, along with the extra crew necessary to operate them. Also gone are the days of complex calculation to ensure quality 3D effects; the new professional Panasonic camera calculates and corrects the convergence point on the spot and all in the camera. Sony expects to sell 100 million 3D televisions around the world over the next three years, and by the end of next year (2011) more than half a million 3D sets may be sold in Australia.

The Nine Network, SBS, and WIN have completed a two month trial of free-to-air 3D programming that ran recently in Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney, Wollongong, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. ACMA is expected to publish the results of these trials in the near future. The pay television platform has already embraced 3D technology with the world’s first 3D channel launched by Korea Digital Satellite Broadcasting in January 2010. Foxtel Australia is scheduled to launch a 3D channel this year.

Gaming technology is set to go 3D in the next five years (it is speculated that the Wii2 will be 3D). Most importantly for the home theatre market, Toshiba is planning to release its first ‘glassless’ 3D televisions in time for Christmas, but this technology is still in its infancy, and the sets are expected to be small and very expensive.

The success of films such as Avatar (2009) indicates broad audience acceptance of 3D technology, but the next two years will prove whether this technology will be able to retain its place in the mainstream market. I have to say that, despite the way I feel about sitting in the lounge room wearing funny looking glasses, this time I think 3D is here to stay.

Kelly compiled a report into 3D technology during her internship at the NFSA last year.

Download: 3D Technology Report 2010