What 3D TV’s Hype Cycle Can Tell Us About Our Current Tech Trends
Betting it all on a big tech trend can lead to a humbling experience
“3D is here to stay. HD is here to stay. Film is dwindling,” award winning director of photography Gary Baum told our seminar. Baum, who’d won Emmy’s for his work on Mike & Molly and Will & Grace knows the tv industry very well and believed that 3D TV, the kind you need to watch with a special TV set and powered glasses, was going to be the future.
At the time, I was all in as well. I’d seen the tech with my own eyes and planned on investing in a 3D camera. I was one of those annoying posters pushing the 3D TV trend. Best to be on the ground floor! My confidence was boosted by Gary during my fellowship at the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences Faculty Seminar in 2011.
The seminar took place during an incredible transition in television. This was back when web television had started its own awards show, streaming and OTT were becoming more commonplace, and big bets were being placed on new technologies like 3D TV.
At the Las Vegas National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Convention a year previous, over a dozen manufactures featured 3D cameras. I snapped a photo of Panasonic’s “affordable” 3D camera priced at $20k. When I posted it on Facebook, I underestimated the reaction from my friends. The post drew the ire from my film colleagues as well as many of my students. Even some friends who came out of the woodwork to tell me I was betting on the wrong horse. I was positive they were all wrong.
Avatar was in 3D! Jackass 3D was in 3D! Academics were holding panels! Everyone was making something 3D! How could Gary and I be wrong?
Needless to say, Gary and I were wrong.
3D TV was both a technology and a storytelling feature, though sometimes it seemed like a solution looking for a problem. One Jackass 3D reviewer wrote that only 30% of the movie really ever relied on its 3D features. Arguably, the majority of Avatar viewers watched that film in 2D.