Stereoscopic Shortage: Where Will 3D Content Come From?


Even if you managed to smuggle Samsung’s outstanding 3D-ready LED 9000 series HDTV off the show floor today – and trust us, we’ve thought about it – you might have a tough time actually appreciating any of its fancy 3D features. As it stands, consumers have very few ways to go about buying, downloading or creating 3D content. But with a tsunami of 3D-equipped televisions on the horizon, that’s about to change. We’ve broken down the places you’ll go for your stereoscopic fix in the coming year.

ESPN-3D3D TV stations

As it stands, not a single station on the air delivers 3D content, but that will rapidly change in the coming months. ESPN, for instance, announced yesterday that it would launch a station dedicated to broadcasting live sporting events in true stereoscopic 3D. While it will only be active during these broadcasts, ESPN has a total of 85 on the roster so far, including matches from the 2010 FIFA World Cup. DirectTV and Panasonic also announced today that they’ve partnered to launch no less than three 3D stations this year. Two will offer linear content (with no control), while a third will actually operate on demand to deliver 3D content as you want to watch it. Sony, Discovery and IMAX have also teamed up to launch their own nature-theme 24-hour 3D channel, which could go live before the year comes to a close.

tri-vector2D Content Converted to 3D

Here’s one source of 3D you might not have expected: Some 3D televisions will actually generate their own 3D content from standard, lifeless 2D video. Toshiba’s top-of-the-line Cell HDTVs will use the company’s TriVector technology to bring your old movies to life, while Samsung’s 9000 series LED HDTV will perform something similar. Neither company has really detailed the gears behind the process, but we suspect it uses the motion of objects on a static background to separate them out onto different planes. We hope to get more of the nitty gritty as the show carries on, but for now, both companies claim it’s possible.

samsung_bcd-6900Movies Shot in 3D on Blu-ray

Perhaps the most obvious source of 3D content will come from movies that were always intended for the 3D format. Dreamworks will launch Monsters vs. Aliens, for instance, as one of the first 3D Blu-ray discs, a format that was only finalized in December. Despite the late standard adoption, Toshiba, Sony, Panasonic and Samsung all have plans for 3D Blu-ray players.

panasonic-3d-cameraShooting Your Own 3D Films

If you’re a movie producer looking to shoot your next big film in 3D, or just an aristocrat looking to make the most sophisticated home movies ever, you might want to keep your eyes on Panasonic, which showed off the world’s first 3D camcorder this year. It will launch this fall with a price tag somewhere around $21,000, and record directly to SD cards. Accidents on America’s Funniest Home Videos will never be the same.