Commentary

Accessible 'Avatar': The YouTube Generation Goes 3D

Over 40 million people saw "Avatar" in 3D at their local multiplex, the vast majority of them experiencing 3D video content for the first time, but certainly not the last. This summer has seen several more blockbuster Hollywood releases, including "Shrek 3D," "Toy Story 3D," and even the horror flick Saw 3D (complete with 3D blood splatters jumping out of the screen). Next year's slate will see most major releases (over 50) produced in 3D, and the exhibitors are aggressively rolling out 3D theaters in anticipation of a massive influx of goggle-eyed moviegoers eager for another dose of retinal parallax. And what pays for all this? Higher movie ticket prices: on average, 3D releases are charging $1.50 more per ticket.

Closer to home, in time for the holiday season, every consumer electronics manufacturer will be shipping 3D products throughout the home theater equipment chain, including 3D DVD and Blu Ray players, TVs, and glasses. In fact, the 3D consumer electronics bandwagon and the massive home theater upgrade it will demand couldn't have come at a worse time, as most of us have just upgraded to HD TVs from our old standard definition setup. But as a nation of early adopters, millions of us will be lining up at Best Buy to get the latest and greatest 3D gear.

Despite their ubiquity, movie theaters and 3D TVs are nowhere near as accessible as the high resolution, 3D-capable device you already own: your PC. Yes, there are hundreds of millions of 3D-capable devices all over the world perfectly able to display great 3D images and video, providing the viewer wears a set of 75-cent colored glasses. This of course provides an excellent opportunity for content creators everywhere to start shooting, editing, and uploading 3D videos that anybody can watch, adding substantially to the growing 3D content pool on sites like YouTube.

So much for the playback, but it's the creation of 3D content that is getting really interesting. Leading consumer digital camera manufacturers Sony and Panasonic have both announced 3D-capable cameras, with the latter introducing a 3D stereoscopic lens that will attach to many of its interchangeable lens cameras. Even the big photography guns Nikon and Canon are demonstrating prototype prosumer and professional 3D cameras.

Roxio has released 3D support in its popular video editing "Creator" product line, with direct import of 3D video and even a nifty feature that lets you create "simulated 3D" from video and pictures that were shot conventionally.

So, for a few hundred bucks -- including the 75-cent glasses of course -- you can get equipped with an entire 3D production studio, hit the streets, capture the world in 3D, and upload to the Web for all to see.

The next couple of years will see some further exciting developments, with dramatically clearer picture quality, more realistic 3D imaging, and even a 3D viewing experience that doesn't require glasses. Flat panel manufacturer Toshiba has already announced such a TV, with others expected to follow soon.

In-home 3D entertainment has been a tease since (quite literally) the 3D peep shows of the '60s. Now, its time has come.

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Editor's Note:  We mistakenly left out about a third of yesterday's Video Insider story, "Unleash Long-Form Video For Web Consumption." To read the complete story, please click here.

1 comment about "Accessible 'Avatar': The YouTube Generation Goes 3D".
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  1. Thomas Siebert from BENEVOLENT PROPAGANDA, September 14, 2010 at 2:08 p.m.

    Saw 3D isn't out yet; I'm guessing around Hallowe'en, since that's been their M.O.

    Also: I've gone to check out a couple 3D TVs. Both times, it gave me a headache. I wear nearsighted glasses to begin with, maybe that's the deal, but if that's the case there are going to be a lot of potential customers who won't want it.

    3D in the theaters doesn't give me a headache, so I wonder what the difference is.

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