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CES: Vegas inducements and the future of 3D

Maggie Shiels | 10:45 UK time, Tuesday, 5 January 2010

January marks the biggest tech jamboree of the year as up to 5,000 journalists and bloggers head to Las Vegas to report on what will be hot in the world of consumer electronics in 2010.

Las Vegas

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the world's biggest event of its kind, with 2,800 firms large and small plugging around 20,000 products.

For weeks now, my inbox has been inundated by PR chicks and chaps trying to get people like me to commit to pen a few pars on the latest and greatest this or that.

Perhaps the modest inducements that have been used to entice me from the bosom of my BBC PC are a reminder that the economy is still not as robust as some would like.

I have been offered everything from massages to free breakfast and from booze to a game of poker.

The best carrot that has been dangled under my nose is an interview with Jeffrey Katzenberg, one of the most influential people in American cinema - along with another giant in a rather different film business, Ron Jeremy, who is apparently some kind of legend in the adult entertainment world.

Mr Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation, is one of Hollywood's chief evangelists of 3D - which looks like being one of the show's biggest topics. He has been quoted as saying "whoever gets into [3D] at the beginning... is going to profit most."

Scene from the film AvatarThe news this past weekend about the movie Avatar and its block-busting revenues seems to back up his claim. But there are sceptics who insist that 3D simply won't take off in the home.

Van Baker, a principal analyst at Gartner Research, told me that not everyone is comfortable with it and that the cost of the glasses could be an issue.

Sure, say the sceptics, you can buy the throwaway $2 versions you get at the movies, but that isn't going to cut it in the sitting room. We can expect to see a lot of higher-grade glasses on show at CES for a few dollars more than that - so the question is whether this is something a family of four will want to pay for?

Mr Baker also wonders whether, given the state of the economy, people will be willing or able to pay out thousands of dollars to upgrade their TV sets shortly after shelling out for high-definition TV.

Meanwhile, Mr Jeremy is taking part in the Mommy Tech part of CES which will showcase new gadgets, websites and technologies aimed at parents.

He says he wants to heighten awareness of internet safety among parents and to educate them how to prevent children accessing inappropriate material.

Mr Jeremy is taking part in a session called the Great Porn Debate and will square off against regular adversary Craig Cross, who set up xxxchurch.com, a non-profit Christian website that aims to help those who struggle with pornography.

Most people know that the Adult Entertainment Expo takes place in Las Vegas at the same time as CES, so these two gentlemen are going to be very busy this week.

The size and scope can seem obscene at first glance. With 1.7 million square feet of exhibit space, you need to be in the best condition of your life just to get around the place.

If there are any PR folks out there still looking to win me over, a golf cart and driver to help me get from one end of the show space won't guarantee that I write about your product - but it might save my poor feet.

Comments

  • 1. At 4:48pm on 05 Jan 2010, fathertedrules wrote:

    I'm slightly embarrassed to say that I held on to my 3D glasses after seeing Avatar at the cinema. They were fine for the film but the lenses are very flimsy and I'm sure it won't be long before they're too scratched to use. They also made me look like one of the two Ronnies.

    My TV is an ageing but still magnificent Panasonic CRT - I won't be buying an LCD or plasma until the standard definition broadcasts look as good as they do on my CRT. But the very idea of having to don the glasses every time I want to watch a 3D broadcast doesn't exactly fill me with joy.

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  • 2. At 4:55pm on 05 Jan 2010, SheffTim wrote:

    Given I now catch up with the majority of TV online, via services such as iPlayer, YouTube etc. is anyone talking about 3D screens for PCs? (The grail of course is screens that don’t require glasses; and there are companies trying to develop that capability.)

    One point that also strikes me is that the technological divide is becoming wider and wider. I know quite a few people that still have cathode ray TV sets and will struggle to afford to upgrade to digital when that becomes obligatory. Unless the price drops considerably current HD wide-screen kit will continue to remain out of their reach.

    Given I’m of an age where less and less TV output appeals to me I also can’t see any major reason to get excited about watching dull programmes in HD 3D.

    Given the rate that technolgy develops nowadays I can’t be the only one that sits back and waits to see if:
    a) The price drops considerably, or
    b) If the latest gadget X is going to be replaced by gadget Y in a couple of year’s time?

    Like many people I’ve been burned in the past by buying tech' that rapidly becomes obsolete in a matter of years.
    (Zip drives for example. Sob. I just hope Flash memory sticks are with us for a long time yet.)

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  • 3. At 09:21am on 06 Jan 2010, Tony Dwyer wrote:

    Like most people past middle age and many younger people, my eyesight is not great. I have to wear glasses all the time.
    I've seen Avatar twice. First in 2D and I thought it was wonderful. I chose to see it in 2D because I was unsure how I would cope with the 3D glasses over my own. A few days later, I took my grandson to see the film, this time in 3D. While I was somewhat impressed, I was a little disappointed. The detail and clarity was nowhere near as good for me as the 2D version. The glasses were uncomfortable to wear on top of my own specs.
    I suppose if 3D becomes prevalent, then custom prescription 3D glasses will find their way onto the market. They will no doubt cost an absolute bundle. Anyone that has to use prescription glasses knows that they are very overpriced in the UK. So specialist 3D lenses will rake it in.
    If the Holy grail of 3D TV without glasses is achieved, I might be persuaded to buy into the technology. In the meantime, I'll watch films at the cinema in 2D.

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  • 4. At 10:15am on 06 Jan 2010, nkkingston wrote:

    I've seen three films in 3D so far - Coraline and Avatar were worth it, and UP wasn't. Some cinemas are offering reduced price tickets if you hang on to your glasses and bring them with you when you next see a 3D film, though I keep losing mine.

    As someone who wears 'real' glasses, I have to admit I'm really hoping 3D is just a fad and will go away! Not only are the 3D specs a pain to balance further down my nose, but I always end up with a headache because the polarisation makes the room a little dimmer and I start getting eyestrain. So not only would I have to fork out for a new TV (count me amongst the CRTers), but I'd have to pay for laser eye surgery too!

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  • 5. At 12:01pm on 06 Jan 2010, Steve Lunn wrote:

    As someone who has to wear corrective glasses and I'm married to someone who is blind in one eye, I agree with nkkinston that I'm hoping it's a fad.

    To SheffTim, Samsung already have a 3D Monitor on sale in the UK the 2233RZ which works with some games.

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  • 6. At 1:25pm on 06 Jan 2010, Jason Wright wrote:

    Why do people who have trouble with 3D (mostly people with glasses) insist on trying to ruin it for the rest of us!
    Just because a small minority of people cant see it, or have problems with 3D it doesnt mean it shouldnt be used or developed for the rest of us. Colourblind people didnt complain about the invention of Colour TV did they?
    "As someone who has to wear corrective glasses and I'm married to someone who is blind in one eye, I agree with nkkinston that I'm hoping it's a fad."
    Why? Because you dont like it then why should anybody else get to enjoy it?
    3D will never replace the 2D option. You will always be able to see the movie in 2D, and can choose not to have 3D at home. Dont try to destroy what could be a lot of fun for the rest of us.
    I saw Avatar in 3D and thought it was absolutely amazing. Ive been longing for 3D for years. I hope that 3D is fully mainstream by the end of the year, I want 3D tv channels, 3D gaming and 3D movies. Why? Because life is 3D, its the natural state for human vision so why shouldnt vision based entertainment try to recreate that as closely as possible.

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  • 7. At 1:26pm on 06 Jan 2010, Axeman2000 wrote:

    I am also shortsighted but I usually wear contact lenses when going to the cinema for a 3D movie. On the one occasion when I forgot myself and wore specs it just ruined the movie.

    I agree that 3D prescription glasses would be the ideal solution but the price is likely to be prohibitive. There's also a bit of a chicken and egg problem in that home 3DTV is less likely to take off without a solution to the myopic viewers problem but conversely prescription 3D glasses are unlikely to be affordable or even available until home 3DTV takes off.

    I'm also dubious about how good home 3DTV would be given the relatively small field of view for a TV (even my 40" LCD) compared to a cinema screen. Avatar works so well in 3D because on a big screen with 3D glasses on it feels like you are there and there is nothing else in your field of view to distract you - it won't be like this in your living room.

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  • 8. At 3:22pm on 06 Jan 2010, miner49er wrote:

    If we're going to wear glasses to watch 3D at home, why bother with a screen? Have the technology built into spectacles, and wirelessly feed the image for each eye directly to the wearer's L+R lenses. For the 'full screen' cinema effect, just hit the light switch...

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  • 9. At 3:30pm on 06 Jan 2010, Steve Lunn wrote:

    Jason,
    I'm not trying to spoil anyone's entertainment. I enjoy the cinema as much as anyone and had one of Cineworlds Unlimited cards for nearly 2 years, my concern is when films start to come out in 3D only. Yes it hasn't happened yet, but I can forsee in the not too distant future that 3D will be norm and 2D will be optional.
    Do I think my comments will stop that? No, I'm just expressing my opinion like everyone else.

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  • 10. At 4:11pm on 06 Jan 2010, Jake25 wrote:

    This debate about the annoyance of 3d glasses is irrelevant when you consider that phillips have ALREADY developed a 3d tv which does not require the viewer to wear glasses. This is the future. 3d cinemas/home television that can show both 2d and 3d content without the use of glasses. Problem solved! (look up dimensional studios, its the name phillips are working under). With Avatar finally showing what 3d is capable of (i agree UP was not that bigger showcase for 3d) i can see the next few years being exciting times.

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  • 11. At 5:25pm on 06 Jan 2010, Daev Roehr wrote:

    Amusingly, many of the negative comments against 3-D video parallel the 1950's arguments against stereo: Cost of upgrades, unnatural perspective causes headaches, new technology needs new media...
    History again repeats itself. Again. :-)

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  • 12. At 5:45pm on 06 Jan 2010, Waylander101 wrote:

    To all the nay sayers, I wear spectacles all the time and thouroughly enjoyed watching Avatar in 3D.

    I'm really looking forward to 3D TV and gaming. Only hope I'm not priced out of it.

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  • 13. At 6:10pm on 06 Jan 2010, Greg Garriss wrote:

    While not exactly a new concept ( stereo photography is over 100 years old ), the successful deployment of "3D" always comes back to marketing the human interface. I own 5 pairs of stereo glasses using 5 different technologies, none of which ever became mass audience popular for moving pictures. Let's see where this goes with a big marketing machine behind it. If it does take off, cost for a decent ( stylish ) pair of viewing glasses should be fairly low since they're essentially just polarized sunglasses with a minor modification.

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  • 14. At 7:20pm on 06 Jan 2010, Lee wrote:

    As a person with sight in only one eye the 3-D effect is moot. Add all the folks with serious vision problems and corrections and the market of the older generation shrinks considerably. 3-D requiring external assists (glasses) will always fall into the gadget category and have limited life.

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  • 15. At 00:29am on 07 Jan 2010, Bill Cumming wrote:

    Avatar was the first Movie I have seen in 3D. At the moment 3D will be a bit of a fad, untill they get around the "scene change" issue (when the scene changes you're eyes have to refocus, if there is a lot of that in an action cut scene it will cause most people discomfort.)

    Unless they can ensure all the scenes in a fact cut action sequance happen within the same focus range, 3D in Action Adventure Movies, will just be used as a gimmick.

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  • 16. At 09:53am on 07 Jan 2010, Craig-Disko wrote:

    SheffTim, I'm a bit confused about your comment "I know quite a few people that still have cathode ray TV sets and will struggle to afford to upgrade to digital when that becomes obligatory". The digital switch-over doesn't mean spending £500 replacing your CRT set, it just means spending ten quid on a freeview decoder. Similarly, as it's unlikely 3D will ever become mandatory for TV broadcasts there will be no need to upgrade your TV as the option will always be there to watch a broadcast in standard 2D.

    On another topic, as far as I can see 3D in cinemas is a money-spinning gimmick at best, a blatant rip-off at worst. Why exactly are we paying extra to see a film in 3D? Because a) the film industry argues that it costs more to film in 3D and b) cinemas complain about the cost of upgrading to digital 3D projectors.

    My answer to those would be a) the extra filming costs are now neglible (a friend of mine quite rightly argues that when James Cameron's own Titanic came out it was by far and away the most expensive movie ever made, but I don't remember being asked to pay extra to see that) and for CG animated movies (which currently make up most of the 3D output) there is no extra cost at all. And as for b) let me point out that it's not up to the consumer to float the cost of cinemas upgrading their infrastructure.

    The 3D experience adds nothing to the quality of the film, which if it is expertly crafted and directed will offer just as rewarding an experience regardless of it's format. The floods of people handing over the extra cash are simply sending out the message to studios and cinemas that it's okay to rip us off because we're all mindless enough to do as we're told and keep up with the latest fad. I've seen numerous films in 3D including Up, Coraline and Avatar, and I can honestly say not one of them has been enhanced by the process.

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  • 17. At 10:44am on 07 Jan 2010, D wrote:

    I think 3D is a great idea for many and I am sure lots of people will enjoy it.

    Alas due to my eyesight [problems that cannot be corrected via laser or glasses 3D is lost on me and doesn't work at all. In fact all it does is cause blurring and double vision. I'm not complaining as many people love it and see it as the future.

    All I'm saying is I hope it isn't the only future. Without 2D, the way Sky and co are talking, I would have no television programmes to watch, no more trips to the cinema to enjoy and I would have to stop using PCs.

    Still it would mean a change of career from the IT Sector. Can't be all bad news then ;-)

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  • 18. At 11:05am on 07 Jan 2010, Joe Pritchard wrote:

    I think that it has a way to go yet before it becomes a widely accepted technology, but would love it to happen.

    The only problem for me is that I'm another one of the 'no stereoscopic vision' crowd for whom it will make no difference at all, unless the 3d technique used screws up the quality of image for normal 2d viewing.

    I'd be interested to know how many people are 'afflicted' with poor depth perception, and what percentage can still perceive 3d imagery.

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  • 19. At 4:18pm on 10 Jan 2010, Oll wrote:

    I've had no problems wearing the 3D glasses over my normal glasses at the cinima and at home, I supose it depends on the style of glasses you normally wear.
    perhaps clip on filters or films that can be stuck over a pair of glasses (if 3D becomes the norm otherwise you'd be wasting a spare pair of glasses) might be better for some people, or how about 3D contact lenses?

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  • 20. At 9:15pm on 10 Jan 2010, bbcadw wrote:

    I'm amazed so few people have woken up to the fact that 3D is not only a complete money-grabbing rip off by the Cinema Companies (costs are marginal and profits are off the charts) but a complete fad that will be gone before you can read the receipt on the shiny new 3D tv you felt compelled to buy. 3D was already tried back in the 1980's (I guess some people here are too young to remember) and was a complete flop. No-one wants to sit and wear plastic glasses for 3 hours and watch oddly coloured images move about in a totally un-convinving way. Even Avatar which has been hailed as the best 3D experience to date is WAY more enjoyable visually in the standard 2D version. 3D ONLY exists to take your money and offers no visual upgrade, except multiple annoyances.
    For anyone to compare this to the introduction of Stereo, is a complete joke. There is ZERO comparison.

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  • 21. At 8:10pm on 15 Jan 2010, Daniel Gardiner wrote:

    Around a year ago I saw Coraline 3D at Norwich cinema with my then 5 year old daughter. I was extremely impressed on just how far 3D had improved since the awful green and red cardboard glasses of the 1980’s. Admittedly today the downside is we have to wear glasses with polarised lenses. In the case of Coraline it slightly darkened the films colour. The director acknowledged that the 2D version gave a different slightly more colourful and vibrant experience.

    But nothing can take away the sheer immersive feel of 3D. I left the cinema a convert wanting to see every future film made in 3D if possible. Since then I have seen Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Avatar in 3D and have remained impressed. Whilst on holiday a couple of month’s back I also saw 3D demonstrated at a science and technology expo in Tokyo and watched stuff like U2 in concert on the latest showcased TVs. It was much more captivating, when for example, the camera panned over the crowd with their hands waving in the air. It really was the closest thing possible to being there.

    Being short-sighted I understand the shortcomings of wearing glasses. For now I wear contact lens that gets around the problem of having to wear 3D glasses over the top of prescription glasses. But how is this latest much improved incarnation of 3D be just a fad? People are happy to wear sunglasses on the beach and many motorists wear them on a sunny day whilst driving. For now they just need to improve the design of the £2 fashion crime ones that they currently supply you with at the cinema.

    I think the comparison of 3D to stereo is not unreasonable as both create a more spatial environment. Just my opinion but I think 3D is a bigger leap than the previous moves to colour, stereo and HD. Fast forward to the future, when you will not even need glasses, I expect anyone that still dislikes 3D will be able to turn it off in the same way now you can choose to listen in mono or even choose to watch something in black and white. But many will choose to leave 3D on if they want to be really entertained.

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  • 22. At 1:24pm on 19 Jan 2010, Tim wrote:

    Jason, I think you'll find the number of people in Britain who wear glasses or have some form of vision impairment is in no way a small minority! It's not spoiling your fun to want to have movies available for all and easy to watch. Remember, many of us that do wear glasses have perfect vision with the glasses on. Why should we be denied the experience because glasses make it awkward?

    3D films are currently just a gimmick. Yes they look fantastic. They are showpiece effects films with plenty of in your face 3D gimmicks to make it work. You have to wear 3D glasses which look stupid, and are uncomfortable or impractical if you already wear glasses. I have yet to come across a 3D film that go beyond just the visual effect and integrate quality drama, plot, characterisations. Current 3D films are just 3D for the sake of 3D, not great films that just happen to be shot in 3D.

    How many would go to see a quality period drama in 3D? Or even a "rom-com" or chick flick for that matter?

    3D isn't something to dismiss entirely but the current burning desire to shove 3D out there by the manufacturers is misguided. Once they have a 3D product that works at home without using 3D glasses and without having to sit still in a very specific location (as the current glassless 3D TVs require), don't make you cross eyed, queezy, or give you headaches, and yet still maintain the high definition and colour depth of 2D films, then 3D will possibly take off.

    However we've had some 50 years now of attempts to do 3D in the cinema and it's always been a fad. There are plenty of ways to do 3D photos, and yet why do we all still view them in 2D?

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  • 23. At 10:51am on 14 Jun 2010, Sepuku wrote:

    @Jason

    Glasses wearer here, and fiancee who is almost blind in one eye...

    I'm happy to go see films in 3D... In fact, I went to see Avatar in 3D 4 times... It was recorded/rendered in 3D, and that's how it was supposed to be watched...
    However - I have a real strong view on this after we chose to see Clash of the Titans in 2D after finding out that the film was recorded/rendered in 2D, and that the 3D conversion wasn't very good...
    I, like many others in the UK, work full time and weekends are spent visiting family, etc.
    When we tried to book tickets at our local cinema, we were disgusted to find that the only showing we could see of Clash in 2D, was at 3pm - no matter what day of the week you wanted to see it... However, if you were willing to watch in 3D, then you had the choice of any evening and at any time, as each showing was an hour apart - which basically meant they were showing the same movie on 2 different screens...
    Coupled with the fact that you are forced to pay an extra £3 on top of the price (no discounts if you brought your 3D glasses from Avatar with you), we refused to go see it.

    I do feel like 3D is being forced upon cinema goers, and to be honest, it has put me off going to the cinema - something which I used to do at least once a week for a good few years of my life...
    It'll be a LONG time before I buy a 3D TV, although my current TV is pretty rubbish and needs replacing... The next 3 - 5 years are going to be pretty big in TV evolution I think what with 3D (a gimmick in my view), OLED, etc being released...
    I'll be waiting to see what is available in a couple of years and base my decision on whats about then...

    Personally, I think the only time 3D will really take off where no one looks back, will be in the Star Trek holographic times!

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  • 24. At 5:24pm on 07 Aug 2010, farbstrahl wrote:

    <RICHPOST> "The 3D experience adds nothing to the quality of the film".<BR />Thats not conforms my experience. I watched some Movies in 3D and I plunge deep into the Movie. One time i watch in a 3D Cinema and there were some very interesting special effect. They tested some odours and on one rainy scene, the spectators were hit by some waterdrops. This was amazing :)<BR /><BR />I wrote an Article about that (but in german) on [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]</a><BR /><BR />I hope you like it. I thing the 3D TV think will change the behavior for watching tv. </RICHPOST>

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