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Ultra HD, curved screens push 3D out of the spotlight

Patrick Budmar | May 27, 2014
Smart TV manufacturers remain upbeat about 3D, but analysts find no interest in the technology

"So the momentum built up by Avatar slowly ebbed away as new movies didn't quite capture the market's imagination."

Lack of demand
TV manufacturers may continue to promote 3D as a feature on Smart TVs, though after half a decade since its introduction, O'Donovan said the feature has not successfully transferred to the home TV market.

"Most TVs designed and sold today use multimedia processors that are 3D capable, as these are the de-facto technology inside the TV," he said.

"So TV manufactures can legitimately say 3D TVs are selling well because it's not that easy to buy one that isn't 3D."

Even if every TV seems to have the functionality, Gartner has found 3D in TVs is not a buying decision for most consumers.

"3D is not being driven by consumer demand, and the fact that most 3D pay-TV services are showing subscriptions decline and some have closed down, one can see that demand is falling away," O'Donovan said.

Besides what O'Donovan describes as the "lack of great 3D content" for Smart TVs, there is also the complexity of requiring a new TV, Blu-ray player or a subscription to 3D TV services to access any 3D content in the home.

The 3D glasses themselves were not quite the same as those found in the cinema, requiring batteries, costing more and using a one size fits all design.

Turning to the classics
Together with TV manufacturers, film studios are showing their faith in 3D by continually releasing new films in the format.

Some are even mining their back catalogue and converting 2D films into 3D for re-release on Blu-Ray, leading to questions of whether it is a legitimate response to market demand.

O'Donovan said attributes this trend to movie studios "always looking to maximise their revenue streams."

"If the movie was originally made in 3D, such as Gravity for example, then they will make it available on Blu-ray in 2D and 3D," he said.

"The 3D version costs more, although there is no technical reason why it should."

O'Donovan said the 2D to 3D conversion of older movies has so far been "hit and miss" in terms of 3D quality, particularly for original live action footage.

"For cartoons it's a lot easier, but trying to re-sell the same movie again can be uncertain, as Disney proved when it stopped converting its classic from 2D to 3D," he said.

So instead of seeing the conversion of 2D movies into 3D as a response to market demand, O'Donovan said it is simply the film studios attempting to "make more money on the back of classics."

"However, as Disney decided, this doesn't always prove to be cost effective," he said.


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