3D: How to make it work - 3DTV as it stands
In the UK TV market, Sky has jumped ahead of the movie industry in terms of producing 3D content. Each week, it features hours of sport, movies and arts as part of a colossal investment in the new medium, bringing armchair viewers everything from Swan Lake 3D to Leeds Rhinos’ rugby league games.
Despite this effort, recent forecasts from Informa Telecoms and Media suggest that 3D TV will still be considered a “novelty” for many years to come. Informa puts this down to the expense of sets, the glasses factor and the resistance of viewers to really engage with the limited content currently on offer.
There are currently about 150,000 3D tellies in UK households. Informa says that will rise to 11m by 2016, but fewer than half will be used to actually watch 3D. Sales will be driven not by the desire from viewers to be 3D Ready, it says, but by manufacturers packing the tech into all new sets; 3D by default.
One thing that certainly needs to change before home 3D becomes more popular is the expense of the glasses. Television has always been a more social communal medium than film, with viewers interacting with each other as well as what’s on screen. For that to happen with 3D, everyone watching has to have specs on – and prices of £60 per pair, escalating upwards quickly, do not make that easy.
To combat this, Sky kick-started its 3D assault by showcasing the tech in hundreds of pubs, each equipped with LG tellies that use passive 3D tech, which means much cheaper specs. However, even with Sky giving the glasses out for nothing, according to one landlady, patrons weren’t too enthused by 3D.
“No one’s bothered really,” says Helen Langley, who runs The Beacon in Shrewsbury. “When I ask customers if they want it in 3D they just say no, leave it in HD. We still have one 3D TV set up, but no one watches it.
“People want to come down to the pub to socialise with their friends, have a pint and watch the football, but when it’s in 3D they say they have to concentrate too hard.”
The BBC has also recently made its first real foray into the market by broadcasting the Wimbledon tennis finals in 3D through Sky, Virgin, Freeview and Freesat.
However, according to Danielle Nagler, the BBC’s head of HD and 3D: “We’re at a very early point in the technology’s development. Very few people have 3D in the home and 3D production is very expensive. It’s still not clear whether this is something that’s going to be a television fad or the long-term future.
“The move from HD was a much more obvious upgrade for viewers. Does 3D really make things more real? We have a responsibility to not throw lots of money on something that could be pretty peripheral in the long term.
“At the moment I think there is very little understanding of what an audience actually wants to see in 3D as opposed to what is currently being offered to them in 3D.”
The BBC says it has no plans to trial shooting a drama in 3D and that any further tests will be done to appeal to the widest possible mainstream audience.