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The Last Word? I Don’t Think So.

By October 23, 2008March 24th, 2020Editorial

By Neil Schneider

A few days ago, I read an article by Dr. Jon Peddie. Dr. Peddie is credited as being a pioneer in the computer graphics industry and is currently best known for the reports put out by his Jon Peddie Research firm. His work is very credible and he is a well respected individual.

Most recently, he wrote an article for Veritas et Visus entitled “Last Word: 3D to be, or not to be…” In it, he criticizes the viability of stereoscopic 3D technologies and – between the lines – suggests that our industry is in Fantasyland with our market expectations with quips like “we, happy consumers, will do just about anything we are told”. In reference to the technology’s former problems, he remarks that “today’s promoters and supporters tell us, yell at us, that that’s all solved now”.

It saddens me that the whole article was a blurred wash of our industry’s hopes and dreams, and I’m convinced that Dr. Peddie was more doubtful of the actual merits of 3D rather than the industry requirements to make 3D work.

He begins his over-enthused oatmeal tone (yes, I can be sarcastic too) with “The powerful people cite the inevitability of this new wave…just as talkies replaced silent film, and color replaced black and white, and multi-channel sound replaced mono, 3D will be the way we watch all, not some, but all movies in the future, and that future is rushing towards as giant studios like Disney and Dreamworks commit to 3D 100%,” Dr. Peddie writes.

I consider MTBS a valuable resource for credible information, and we are not a razzle-dazzle marketing ploy that gets consumers to buy technologies with over the top evolutionary promises. I don’t recall yelling at people or forcing ideas down their throats. If we yell, it’s only because it is frustratingly difficult to convey what is meant to be seen.

After his remarks about 3D cinema, he says “right behind them, or maybe in synch with them, are games, PC games to be exact. PC games, modern PC games, come with a built-in advantage, they are already constructed in 3D, so getting them to display 3D vision is easier, or so we are told – there is that little issue of refresh rate and 60Hz LCD displays, but not to worry, that will all be taken care of.”

What’s this about “or so we are told” in reference to the ease of getting games to be S-3D compatible? His sarcasm is deafening. I guess he isn’t aware that modern S-3D equipment has very little to do with 60Hz LCD displays. Our future is more dependent on faster refresh rate 120Hz LCD, Plasma, and DLP panels mixed with modern LCD shutter glasses (e.g. NVIDIA), and novel dual (e.g. iZ3D) and interlaced (e.g. Zalman) panel solutions based on polarized glasses.

Speaking of glasses, “There are five choices of glasses. That’s three too many. We can have two types, one for movies and one for PC and TV, but not five. Before 3D is the defacto entertainment standard, it first has to get some – standards that is.”

I think Dr. Peddie needs to get some – analysis that is. Clearly, here is a man who went to business school with Henry Ford who said “the customer can have any color he wants so long as it’s black”.

A few months ago, we interviewed Dr. Robert Cailliau, the Co-Developer of the World Wide Web. Paraphrasing his remarks, he explained the benefits of standards in that it is very convenient to be able to plug the same headphones unit into every stereo in the house. I agree with the value of this.

I can completely see standards as far as the delivery of content from the TV station to the television, or from the movie house to the Blu-Ray Disc. However, the relationship between the 3D display and my eyes is fair game. As a customer first, I want to be able to buy the technology and eyewear that suits my needs. I don’t care how the 3D is accomplished as long as it works, it is comfortable, and it is safe.

I would be very concerned if someone was trying to standardize the way S-3D was displayed on the screen because that would stifle technological progress.

Let me take this further. I think it is pure foolishness to suggest that standards will define or determine business success or viability. If I standardized the soda bottle, would that guarantee my sales? No! I need to have something in that bottle that people want to buy. 3D is no different.

Our number one priority has to be capturing the interest and imaginations of traditional 2D entertainment consumers. 3D cinema is doing just fine without standards. 3D Gaming is doing just fine without standards. At home consumer 3D cinema – not as much – but standards isn’t their biggest challenge. Determining the willingness for viewers to wear 3D glasses while watching movies is.

Dr. Peddie finished his melancholy commentary by giving some praise to 3D sporting events, and ends with a single sentence of wisdom about the believability of content inside the screen rather than the forced pop-out experience. Then his “final word” ends…thankfully.

It is upsetting that this wasn’t a credible analysis of our developing S-3D industry, especially from an esteemed analyst like Dr. Jon Peddie. It was instead a forced editorial filled with pointless pot-shots and baseless posturing. I would go so far as to say that Dr. Peddie’s summary was written with a disdain for the 3D technology itself, and shrouded it with the illusion of analysis.

That said, his article did draw attention to a factor we need to be more wary of. During my trip to the 3D Film and Interactive festival in Cocoa Beach, Florida, I saw a commercial for “Dish Network: Turbo HD”. During the commercial, there was an announcer talking about their new Turbo HD sales package, and at the same time, comedian Frank Caliendo comes on dressed to look like a mocking William Shatner thinking it was about “3D”. In pure over-acting Shatneresk bravado, he talked about how 3D was incredible and that he can be inside and outside the screen, eventually begging to be touched by the other announcer. You can see it here:

I am left asking myself this question: when did 3D jump the shark from being looked at as a serious story based technology enhancement, and instead became a joke in TV cable commercials? While Dr. Peddie’s article was by no stretch of the imagination the final word on 3D, perhaps his tongue in cheek 3D pot-shots are a symptom of a much larger problem of how 3D is being perceived by the general public even before they put their glasses on?

Clearly, some proper analysis needs to be done. Monday is going to be a major day for our industry…watch for it. In the meantime, post your thoughts on this editorial HERE.

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