3D is the most vexing of display technologies. It promises to draw the viewer into a movie, and at its best the format is inimitably stunning. But, 3D has also been used and abused so many times that people have lost trust in it. What just a few years ago was considered the must-have feature of the future became so obsolete, 3D is not even offered on TVs anymore.
Granted, movie theaters still offer 3D screenings. However home viewers who want it have to either use a legacy TV, or a projector. Furthermore, 3D is not even supported by Ultra HD Blu-ray. Streaming services have embraced 4K and HDR with enthusiasm and have not looked back. Meanwhile, at recent AV trade shows mentioning it elicits chuckles (at best).
For a while, I thought the advent of 4K TVs would finally make 3D shine, both figuratively and literally. After all, 4K TVs can utilize polarizing filters and display full 1080 to each eye using passive technology. This is the most comfortable way to watch 3D because the glasses required are light, inexpensive, don’t require charging, and there is very little loss of brightness. And for a couple of years, that’s exactly how it was… a beautifult thing. That is, until support was eliminated by all major TV manufacturers.
I also thought there is hope for glasses-free 3D, I had a chance to review an early prototype and found the effect convincing and thought it was just an iteration or two away from being revolutionary. But I don’t think there’s much funding for that sort of product development at this time, and products that would’ve made it a reality did not materialize.
But if there’s one thing that’s true about pictures popping out of the screen, it’s that affection for the effect is cyclical, and it has staged comebacks in the past. Disney, which has just purchased 21st Century Fox and with it 20th Century Fox studios, already creates quite a few movies that are released in 3D, and it now owns the Avatar franchise. As everybody who follows the world of AV knows, Avatar is what was responsible for the rush to adopt the format. And when the first Blu-ray players supporting the format came out, Avatar was the disc to have.
Unfortunately for those theaters, it took James Cameron a decade to get around to making his sequel. Granted, he is actually making four sequels and working with a billion-dollar budget, that’s a long time and as it happened, 3D for the home came and went in that time.
So the question is, will movies in three dimensions make a comeback? Will TV makers ever reintroduce it? Or will VR carry that load for home viewers in the future? I does not seem as if Virtual Reality systems have adequate resolution, or offer sufficient comfort to think that’s going to happen. Whatever the issues were with glasses, big heavy goggles are worse.
Anyhow, I can’t predict the future, but with this poll we can all give it a shot anyhow. Do you think 3D for the home will make a comeback?
Here are the choices:
1. 3D at home will never come back
2. 3D is cyclical, it will return
3. Who needs 3D when you’ve got VR?
Click this link to go to the forum post and vote in the poll: