Tuesday, October 04, 2011

3D TV a failed spectacle

I am notoriously bad at predicting trends.

You know those famous stories about the recording exec who turned down the Beatles, and the publishing director who canned the manuscript for Harry Potter? I'm like that. I remember hearing the Spice Girls in 1996 and thinking “One hit wonders”. I thought Friends wouldn't last the first season.

So it's with some trepidation that I declare my latest trend prediction: 3D television = FAIL.

I may be wrong about this (and indeed, history would prove that to be quite likely) but I just can't imagine people sitting down to watch their evening's telly wearing a giant pair of specs.

"Wow, this episode of Q&A is AWESOME!"
"It's like Tony Jones is IN the room with us!">

I have to wear glasses to watch television already and let me tell you, it's not fun – particularly when you want to lie on your side. Now they want me to put ANOTHER pair of specs on top? “Four eyes” never seemed so apt.

Not only this, but news this week revealed these battery-powered goggles will cost upwards of $150 each – despite the fact that they look exactly like the kind you can buy at the servo for about 10 bucks.

Multiply that for a typical family of four and you're up for at least $600 on top of the cost of the television itself just for everyone to watch re runs of Three and a Half Men together – albeit a version where Charlie Sheen's popped collar pops RIGHT OUT AT YOU (and whether that's value for money or not, I'll leave you to judge).

This leads me to the same question I asked when all those fancy LCD and plasma screen TVs came onto the market years ago – will people really pay more just to watch the same crap old shows in a slightly different format?

Of course, exponents of 3D TV will claim you won't get the same old shows. They say there'll be a whole new crop of amazing programs specially designed for the 3D experience, like Avatar the mini series and... er... Avatar 2 and... um... Cooking with Avatar? Avatar Idol?

Which is all good and well, but given James Cameron took 15 years to get the technology right the first time round it would seem we're in for a bit of a wait. In the meantime – assuming people start buying 3D tellies in earnest – it's likely the networks will just hire a bunch of techno geeks to render all their regular shows with 3D effects to fill the gap.

Here's hoping they start with The Biggest Loser – imagine THAT in glorious 3D! All the sweat, tears and chunder popping out from the screen as the contestants heave their way around the gym.

Or RPA – Joe gets his finger stuck in a can of beans and has it surgically removed RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOUR FACE!

Or Q&A – it'd be like having Tony Jones RIGHT THERE in your living room! WOW!

Thanks Mr Cameron, but while 20 to 1 is still on the air I think I'll stick to boring old 2D viewing – no one needs to see Bert Newton in that much detail.

This article first appeared in the Adelaide Sunday Mail's TV Guide on March 7, 2010.


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