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3DTV and its effect on TV, film and gaming
by Tom Acres
25.10.10

During my holiday to Florida a while back, I was handed the unexpected opportunity to try out the new technology that everyone's talking about: 3D.

Now, I've experienced it before in the cinema. I was impressed with its use in Avatar; depressed by its use in Clash of the Titans; and unimpressed with its use in Toy Story 3. I had little expectation when I noticed the TV in a Sony Store and thought about trying it out. I thought that a forty-six-inch screen was too small to give the effect. I thought the glasses would be a nuisance and dim the colours of the screen as they do at the cinema. I thought the 3D effect might be too much or too little.

Yet, against all my expectations, the first word that I came out with when I donned the glasses and switched them on was: "Wow."

The first use of 3D I got to experience was live sport, something which may not interest gamers much but something that certainly interested me. I was curious to see how live, fast moving images would be shown. I got a glimpse of football and American football, both of which were surprisingly incredible, and then golf (which, as much as I hate the sport, completely blew me away). The level of depth is simply astonishing; the layering effect as you see the golfer lining up a putt, with the wind blowing the flag in the background, is amazing.

I then got a look at a couple of film trailers for How To Train Your Dragon and Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs. They looked better than I remembered when I had seen them at the cinema, and I think that had a lot to do with the quality of the glasses. The Sony 3D glasses used for these TVs are of superb quality; they look and feel expensive but are perfectly comfortable and I forgot I was wearing them after a while. What impressed me most was that the brightness and clarity of the screen wasn't lost at all. Having seen Toy Story 3 in 3D and on a normal screen, the difference in clarity, brightness and colour definition was noticeable, as 3D usually badly affects those things. With 3DTV, though, these problems don't exist; the screen is beautiful 1080p HD and the glasses don't dim the screen at all.

Then the moment came. The moment I had been hoping for - a chance to try out some 3D gaming.

Having seen me say "wow" about forty times in the space of a few minutes, the store attendant asked me if I'd like to check out the PlayStation 3 in 3D. He took me through into their 'theatre room' at the back of the store, and booted up a game of Motorstorm: Pacific Rift in 3D.

The effect was simply incredible.

The mud coming off the track from the wheels of the vehicle flew out at me, and the depth of the effect made the feeling of overtaking an opponent even more thrilling. The crashes and wreckages were even more incredible, with the close-up and slow-motion angles really aiding the 3D effect.

The effect 3D is having on films has already been felt, and with the approach of 3DTV becoming available all across Europe and the US, I think it's going to be big - bigger than HD was when that first came out, anyhow. The technophiles that I know always said, and some still do say, "I can't see any difference". With 3D, that reaction just cannot be possible, as it's impossible not to see the difference.

How much were the best HDTVs when they first came out? I'm talking Sony BRAVIA models - the very best. Maybe £2,000? Expensive, yes, but the cheapest BRAVIA 3DTV due to be available at the end of September is £200 more. Add to that the 3D emitter for £50 and a few pairs of £70 glasses and you're probably looking at £2,500.

The thing is, as much as we accept HD as the norm now, the fact is that it still hasn't been widely adopted outside the gaming and techie markets. The biggest videogame console on the market, the Wii, doesn't even support HD. Yet their next handheld, which will no doubt be huge, is 3D. The PlayStation 3 already supports 3D, whilst the Xbox 360 will support the technology very soon with the release of Crysis 2.

The potential is just huge. Imagine the incredible depth of the tropical environments in Uncharted, or the stunning alien battles of Resistance. It sounds pretty good, eh? The immersion that could be provided by 3D in conjunction with PlayStation Move is very exciting indeed.

Apparently, at the moment, only 2% of Brits are interested in 3DTV. If everyone in Britain gets their arses down to their local Sony shop and checks them out, then I think that number could increase rather a lot. I'm making this prediction with confidence: 3D will have a quicker adoption rate than HD.

3D gaming is going to be huge.

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- Tom Acres

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