3D TV vs. 3D Cinema

I previously wrote about the trend in 3D cinema and why Hollywood will never give up experimenting with three-dimensional technology (and I also wrote about the potential for 3D cinema to tap into the videogaming marketplace). The primary reason, in my opinion, was to offer an experience in the movie theaters that consumers cannot get anywhere else. Well, television is jumping into the 3D game. The New York Times technology columnist David Pogue had a good article yesterday reporting on the 3D TVs that will come our way soon.

Pogue deftly explains some of the reasons why 3D television might have a challenge catching on to mainstream audiences. Personally, I do not think 3D movie theaters have anything to worry about from the perceived threat of 3D television.

First, home entertainment systems, no matter how elaborate, cannot compare to the jumbo-sized, arena-seating IMAX-type environments. Those mega-screens are multiple-stories high, resulting in a fully immersive experience for the moviegoer. You cannot replicate that in your average home. Even expensive home systems with the largest TV screens do not reach those levels of magnitude.

Second, when people go to a 3D movie, they are a captive audience. They receive their glasses, they go to their cushioned seats, the lights dim, the surround sound starts, and the motion picture begins. At home, most people watch television much more casually with constant distractions. It is unrealistic to expect TV viewers to wear expensive 3D glasses or sit in a certain exact position for the duration of the broadcast to get the full three-dimensional effect.

Pogue makes excellent points about the cost of the new 3D TVs and glasses (and manufacturers expectations that consumers will upgrade their High Definition televisions yet again) as well as the challenges when a lot of friends and family gather to watch a TV program together. The technology still has a long way to go. Until then, the film industry seems to have nearly perfected the 3D experience.

But if 3D proves to be a financial boon for Hollywood, drawing more people back to the theaters, then the television industry will also do its best to find a way to compete, despite the hurdles. It will be interesting to see what develops.