Monday, April 23, 2012

Two Geeks, One Interview

Convincing The Tech Guy That 3D is Unstoppable

I attended NAB (National Association of Broadcasters Convention) in Las Vegas last week.  While there I was interviewed by Leo Laporte on TWiT Netcast (minute 44) on the topic of Legend3D and the future of 3D in general.  Like many of my fellow geeks, I’m a longtime fan of Leo and a regular listener. His weekend show, "The Tech Guy" on KFI reaches millions of listeners nationally and he has a strong international following as well.  My primary interest in meeting Leo was to address his extreme pessimism over the viability of 3D in theatrical and home entertainment.  During our conversation, I found it particularly interesting that Leo admitted having strabismus (crossed eyed or wall eyed) that would naturally limit his perception and appreciation of 3D in feature films.  He further admitted that he had to concentrate to see stereo in 3D theaters.  I explained to Leo that if he has to concentrate in order to perceive stereo in a 3D movie, it likely takes away from his whole entertainment experience.  Bottom line, it’s no wonder Leo Laporte is not particularly enamored with 3D entertainment.

In my previous blogs, “People Who Hate 3D Movies Should Have Their Eyes Examined” and “How Hugo Gave One Neuroscientist The Gift of Stereo-Vision,” I specifically address Leo’s condition of strabismus but the primary message is the fact that no two people experience 3D in quite the same way and that common optometric corrections for nearsightedness can seriously limit stereo perception.  In the posts I assert that many film critics who are negatively biased against 3D or who say that 3D added nothing to a particular film might have vision problems that limit their stereovision. I can relate as I too had a problem with partial stereo-blindness; however, through proper optical correction I was able to achieve perfect stereovision.

During the interview, some of the fellow geeks in Leo’s very active chat room commented that they were not convinced by my argument.  Of course, I wouldn’t expect Leophiles to put forth anything other than Leo’s party line.  But that’s what makes this argument so challenging and enjoyable. If you understand the current position and strategy of the consumer electronics industries, you’ll understand that 3D is inevitable and unstoppable. Product turnover in the category of home entertainment is totally dependent on 3D moving forward and 3D is expected to be standard on cell phones, tablets and laptops.  Increased resolution will not sell new TVs and bigger TVs will no longer entice consumers.  Something radical is needed to continue fueling growth and 3D is as radical as it comes.

I must admit that when Leo mentioned that he did not like wearing glasses while watching 3D, I had to laugh as I looked at him sitting across from me wearing corrective glasses.  It’s amazing how jaded people are about wearing glasses in a theater during a 3D movie yet many of them wear glasses all day long including when they are at home watching TV or in a theater.  Many also wear sunglasses for the purpose of cutting down brightness. I believe it’s a mob mentality when it comes to negative feelings about the glasses. People hear that it’s a negative so they naturally assume it’s a negative.  In my blog, “Engaged in 2D and Immersed in 3D” I discuss how 3D glasses can actually enhance the 3D movie experience.

There was a great deal of 3D at the show including many 3D camera rigs as well as 3D editing and conversion software. There were also several glassless displays exhibited. While there was a considerable amount of 3D technology at the show, there was a lack of emphasis specifically on 3D, as Leo noted.  I saw this as a critical stage in the adoption of 3D. This was a professional show and it’s clear that 3D is now well integrated within the general offerings of various companies.  On the other hand, if you attended CES this year you’ll understand that 3D was inescapable. It was everywhere you looked at CES.

At the tail end of the interview, Leo suggested having me on his show for a healthy debate on the viability of 3D. He reiterated that suggestion on “The Tech Guy” last Saturday and also suggested to Scott Wilkinson that he have me on his show, "Home Theater Geeks" to discuss the latest in 3D technology and entertainment.  I welcome both opportunities to get the word out that 3D is here to stay. To quote Cameron, “the 3D toothpaste will never go back in the tube.”