Flat Screen

FOB:Flat ScreenLooks like advertisers are facing an awkward step into the third dimension. At IBC2008 - the international video trade schmooze-fest that recently wrapped in Amsterdam - TV vendors and producers were agog over 3-D production. Gear-makers like Samsung and Hitachi were on hand pushing their new 3-D TVs. Hollywood production shops were out in force, hyping the several-dozen 3-D films due out in 2009. And there is talk of live simulcast 3-D events in movie theaters by the end of the year: The NBA is already producing the All-Star game in 3-D.

"1080P HD sets were pretty much a done deal at the show," says Ken Kerschbaumer, editorial director of the Sports Video Group, a New York-based research and consulting firm. "3-D is now where the industry is going."

But here's the rub: Who'll step up and buy this 3-D technology? The current 2-D HDTV rollout is hardly a home run. With the analog TV shutoff set for February 2009, major problems still loom: Early digital TV testing shows some viewers can't receive digital signals. The soft economy is amping up consumer interest in lower-cost, off-resolution 720P sets. There is a growing niche in cheap so-called XDE (extended detail) disc players. And the real killer is the fact that high-definition production for TV ads will be lucky to be 10 percent of all the ads made.

That means, as hot as Bono or LeBron might be, it's going to be some time before anybody sees any of these stars in a third dimension.
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