Passive 3D TV's Dominance Next Big ‘Threshold’ in Home 3D Adoption, Cameron Tells NAB
CONSUMER ELECTRONICS DAILY
TUESDAY, APRIL 12, 2011
LAS VEGAS — Though there’s a "content gap" in the availability of 3D programming that has not kept pace with shipments of 3D TV sets, the problem will soon sort itself out if networks and producers are "enabled" to do what they do best, but to do it in 3D, film maker James Cameron told the NAB Show Monday in a keynote. Cameron is no fan of active-shutter 3D TVs, he said, and when passive sets become a dominant product over active 3D TVs, that will mark the next big "threshold" in home 3D adoption.
CE makers "brought out all these wonderful sets," and that "created a content gap," Cameron said. "We had the sets, we had the approval of the public, they loved the look of it, but we weren’t able to supply the content. The broadcast industry couldn’t supply the content quickly enough. The few hours coming out of the movie business per year, even though that’s going up, it’s still not going to be enough to feed that hungry mouth."
Amid this content gap, "we also don’t have a widely scaled adoption of 3D sets that ought to justify the expenditure to close that gap," Cameron said. "It’s the same type of the chicken-and-the-egg problem we had in the movie business for years really." Studios didn’t want to pay the extra money to shoot a movie in 3D because there weren’t enough cinema screens, and theater owners refused to put in 3D screens because there wasn’t enough content to justify it, he said: "We got over all those hurdles, and the same thing is going to happen in the broadcast business."
As for his view that passive large-screen 3D TVs will be the next threshold in consumer acceptance, Cameron said: "Instead of having a few-hundred-dollars-a-pair of active glasses, making sure they’re all charged up and are they working and are they switched on, there’ll be a bowl of disposable — we like to say recyclable — cheap plastic glasses that work very well in decoding the image to the left and to the right eyes. If you’re having a Super Bowl party, you’ll have a bowl on the coffee table, and if the kids sit on a pair of glasses there’s no major scold, just a minor scold. And that’s going to accelerate adoption of 3D into the home. Of course, the content is going to have to rise rapidly to meet that."
In the long run, high-quality, full HD, glasses-free, large-screen 3D displays "that have multiple viewing angles" will have a revolutionary impact on home 3D acceptance, Cameron said. He thinks they’ll make their mark in three to five years, he said. "This is the point where the curve is going to go ballistic," he said. "I would caution anyone in the broadcast industry to be ready when that happens. At that point, I think, the people who are first and foremost the leaders of content creation are going to be the winners in the overall marketplace."
In a Q-and-A, Cameron said: "What we really need to be doing right now to grow the market of 3D to the home is to enable producers and networks to be able to do what they do, but to do it in 3D, so we can close this content gap." To promote that, he and cinematographer Vince Pace on Monday announced the formation of the Cameron-Pace Group. The two have been "ad hoc partners for 12 years in the development of 3D camera systems," and now have decided to formalize their relationship, Cameron said. 3D content creation is "a jigsaw puzzle out there," Pace said. The industry has abundant "component levels," but lacks "a good platform for putting it all together," Pace said. There’s now "a rapid growth phase in 3D," Cameron said. "Collectively," he and Pace "have a transformative vision of where this is going," Cameron said. The new company will develop "the tools, methodology and alliances to make 3D pretty ubiquitous in 10 years," he said.
Anything that the Cameron-Pace Group can do "to allow people to move into the 3D space is going to have an impact on the home and Blu-ray 3D market," Cameron told us. "I think there can be shorter films, documentaries and other types of films that can be shot in 3D that will have greater sales value because they’ll have disproportionately large life of marketability because of the dearth
of content," he said. "People buy their spanking new 3D monitors and their new gorgeous Blu-ray 3D players and they look and say, ‘16 titles?’ There just aren’t that many discs available." Film makers who have "the courage" to author a 3D movie, even an inexpensive one, for release on Blu-ray 3D "are going to enjoy an afterlife that’s disproportionately large for the title until everything equalizes."
Sanctum, a 2011 adventure-drama that Cameron executive-produced in Australia, proves "you can do world-class 3D without spending $100 million to make it," Cameron said. It took $23 million to make Sanctum and the film grossed $70-75 million worldwide, he said. "It was world-class 3D in terms of the aesthetic value of the 3D, and it was shot with the same cameras that we shot Avatar with. So I think the more we can promote people moving into creating 3D content, the more it’s going to help the [Blu-ray 3D] format." — Paul Gluckman