3D, we’ve all heard of it and many of us have experienced it in all its “glory”. But was it ever more than a fad? Did it really have a chance of being the “next big thing”? In a word, No! 3D is an interesting concept but it’s nothing new. It has popped up time and again over the years. Anyone remember those red and blue paper glasses from the ’80s? The way I see it, the whole 3D malarky was an attempt to generate more interest, turnover and finally profit from movies. It was painted as the next big thing, and all the film studios jumped on the band wagon to “moneyville”. The consumer is king though and will inevitably decide the fate of a new product or technology. In the case of 3D the people have spoken – 3D is a lame horse, time to put it out of its misery! Manufacturers and content providers are moving away from 3D. ESPN’s decision to terminate it’s 3D channel is a major nail in the coffin. TV manufacturers have more or less abandoned 3D too.Yes, most of them still incorporate the technology, but how many of them are still pushing it as the “must have” accessory? Pretty much none! Nope, now they’re all jumping on the 4K bandwagon hoping that it’ll be the next big money spinner. It’s too early to tell how that’ll go, but I’ll probably be blogging about that in a year or two!
Let’s look a bit closer at 3D. Why hasn’t it been the all-encompassing success that had been hoped for? Technically it works, but the implementation is flawed. It doesn’t take into consideration all types of viewer. For example, I wear glasses. Without them I wouldn’t be able to see the film. So, for me, and anyone else in my situation, there’s no choice but to wear the 3D glasses on top of the regular glasses. Believe me, it might be fun for 5 minutes, but doing that for the length of your typical film can get very uncomfortable. What about people who have certain visual defects or impairments such as Keratoconus? These may not be an issue when watching a traditional film but can have a profound and unpleasant effect when trying to watch a 3D film. “But a person lives in a 3D world” you might say. That’s true, but the effect used to create a 3D film is not the same as real life – and the brain knows that, even if you don’t consciously realise!These are primarily technical issues, and given time could be resolved. What has really spelt the ultimate demise of 3D is something more innate, something more “organic” in nature. Imagine a child with a new toy. At first, the child is enthralled by it, can’t leave it alone, and plays with it constantly. But then, over time, it becomes familiar, something run of the mill, something that doesn’t hold that initial “wow-factor” any more. 3D has more or less gone through the same cycle. At first it was all “wow, cool, look at that”. That initial buzz has died down now, the wow factor is gone. What the film studios need to realise and understand is that a great film doesn’t become great through the strength of its special effects. It’s the story that matters, the richness, it’s ability to engage the viewer, which will let a film go for the long haul. Special effects, such as 3D, should support the story, not try to be the main attraction. Gimmicks don’t last, good stories do. For this reason alone, 3D will never be the success the film studios had hoped for.