As the lights came up in the Imax theater, I watched some of the others around me reorient themselves, gingerly removing their giant 3D glasses and staggering to their feet. I’d been dying to see “Avatar,” and I hadn’t been disappointed. James Cameron had so fully immersed me in Pandora’s alternate reality that I was sorry to have to leave it. This year, 3D entertainment is coming of age in a very big way, not only in theaters, but in TV as well.
When HDTV rolled out, it brought consumers that much closer to having a night out at the movies in the comfort of their home. In 2010, 3DTV’s will be the next step. The Consumer Electronics Association estimates that 14 million 3D sets will role into homes this year. As for content, sports events will lead the way – ESPN has already announced it will be forming the first 3D Network.
Granted, I don’t expect to be producing 3D episodes of “Nurse Jackie” or “Bored To Death” anytime soon, but I know that entertainment tends to adapt quickly to the tools at hand, so eventually this innovation will impact my work. And I imagine that working with showrunners to get the images out their heads and onto TV in 3D will be challenging, to say the least, as well as incredibly rewarding.
I also expect 2010 to bring greater control for the consumer as to how they watch their chosen programs. Today, instead of choosing from four broadcast networks in order to watch shows in real time, we can use Tivo and other DVR systems to record a wide range of programming from over a thousand networks, and then watch those shows at a time of our own choosing.
Of course, the technology still has a way to go. One night last year, frustrated over the DVR glitches in a particularly compelling HD episode of “Lost,” I downloaded the episode on itunes, brought it into my iphone, and then hooked up the phone to our flatscreen HD monitor. The episode looked and sounded great, and all was solved for Chris and I, until I got a call and had to interrupt our show again! That week I bought us an Apple TV, a sleek little thing a fraction of the size of our bulky cable box. Now we can buy our favorite shows on itunes to be downloaded by Apple TV, and view everything in pristine HD, without glitches or scheduling mishaps.
For my money, I wish I could view all of our favorite shows this way. And according to recent studies, I’m not alone. As it turns out, many consumers would rather pay a premium a la carte fee for the selection of shows they actually follow, as opposed to paying a high monthly bill for a large bundle of cable programming they hardly get to watch. And I think (hope!) that we’re going to see evidence of this shifting paradigm in 2010. As a consumer, I long for this. As a producer, well, we’ll see what this shifting business model does to my budgets!
Photo Credit: nasa hq photo