I’ve spent the day with Panasonic’s European marketing team and other analysts discussing the future of 3D. The debate ranged from technical issues such as passive v. active and full v. half HD, content production challenges, and marketing in-home 3D products to consumers.
Panasonic is a leading light in the drive to develop a 3D home video standard based on Blu-ray Disc technology. While nothing can yet be publicly announced it seems as though things are progressing well and that announcements should be expected in the not-too-distant future.
We were also given demonstrations of 3D content from a specially adapted BD player, on a Panasonic 103” plasma using active glasses. I had seen much of this content before
, although some new clips confirmed the system’s potential. Once again the Olympics material was most impressive, although Panasonic did not use some of the best clips I had previously seen.
The discussion of content production led to a debate around intraocular distance as a key determinant in viewer satisfaction at the 3D experience. It was suggested that since many of the now-familiar 3D movies have been targeted at the children’s market, that the 3D aspect of the movie has been tailored towards the smaller distance between children’s eyes rather than those of adults, and that this is one explanation why adults may see a less satisfactory 3D effect than children. If this is indeed the case, it would seem to be another barrier that the emerging 3D market will have to overcome, if certain pieces of content can only be viewed satisfactorily by certain age groups, or, more precisely, those with particular interocular characteristics.
Much of the discussion centered on competition between emerging 3D providers, not least broadcasters like BSkyB, which recently announced its intention to launch 3D content in 2010. There will inevitably by differences in the technology strategies across these different platforms, and the challenge for all players is to minimise the potential confusion which results.
This will be particularly vital in the area of 3D-ready TVs. As I indicated previously
, such products have not really begun to reach the European markets yet, unlike in the US. But when they do (expect European marketing to start in earnest in 2010) communication to consumers will have to be crystal-clear on which 3D content will play successfully on which 3D-ready TVs. Sky will surely be pushing its own “standard” and labelling, and that is likely to encourage others to tell their own stories. As I announced before
, Sky does not care about any 3D standards debate.
I’m not pessimistic about 3D in general. It will certainly penetrate home markets (TV, video, games) in various ways over the coming years. But the danger, as always, is that the opportunity will not be maximised if industry players focus on their own narrow interests rather than communicating clear, consistent messages to consumers.
Client Reading: Digital Media Devices Global Market Report