2011's 3D developments and trends

Now that we're some way through 2011 and we have a number of important shows under our belt, we can begin to see more clearly what's happening within the 3D marketplace this year.

3D broadcast and pro gear

This year's NAB show in Las Vegas saw the tools available to programme makers and pro users become both more advanced and more affordable. While many programme makers have been using twin cameras mounted on a rig, manufacturers are now making pro-grade 3D videocameras available.

While these are primarily aimed at pro rather than broadcast use, cameras such as the Panasonic AG-3DA1 are even now being used for applications such as hand-held shots at sporting events.

As these kind of cameras become capable of better quality images and provide the full range of adjustments currently offered by twin-camera rigs, programme makers will be able to shoot 3D in a wider range of environments on smaller budgets, which should lead to more and broader 3D programming.

3D TV take-off

In early May, Laurent Abadie, Panasonic Europe's Chairman, said that he expected 3D TV to break through to the mass market this year. His remarks echoed findings from research by IHS iSuppli, which predicted 23.4 million 3D TVs will be shipped throughout the world this year. This would be a 463 per cent growth over 2010. It also predicts three-digit growth in 2012, with sales passing 100 million by 2014.

These predictions are based on new and improved promotional strategies, falling hardware costs and greater availability of 3D programming.

3D consumer cameras

More 3D-capable point-and-shoot cameras are becoming available at lower price points. We will start seeing people's holiday snaps in 3D. Consumer 3D camcorders are starting to come onstream, but at current high prices, the market will probably not expand until cheaper models become available. Possibly a trend for 2012, rather than 2011.

3D Gaming

The Nintendo 3DS is the watershed in 3D gaming, moving from tricked-out high-end PCs to a compact go-anywhere console. Nintendo's 3D gaming device has been very well received, as have some of the games launched on the new platform. The 3DS doesn't require 3D glasses for its 3D games, and is a pointer to 3D games on 3D smartphones.

3D mobile

This year, 3D is going to make it on to your smart phone and into your pocket or bag. In May, LG and Wikitude announced that the world's first 3D AR (augmented reality) browser will be bundled with the LG Optimus 3D smartphone. In AR, detailed information is overlaid on the user's surroundings, including graphics and audio, captured by smartphone cameras and other devices.

The companies claim that the 3D browser will enable smartphone users to interact and engage better with real-time environments - in practice this means users can find out information about the environment around them and also access Wikipedia and Twitter. LG and Wikitude claim that the Wikitude 3D browser includes information in 12 languages about 100 million locations worldwide. The LG Optimus 3D is due to be launched in Summer 2011 in Europe, followed by other markets.

With so many media and marketplaces going 3D in 2011, consumer acceptance and take-up is starting to snowball. For 2012 and 2013, 3D will be demanded by consumers.

Roger Thornton is Head of Publicity at Quantel. The company develops innovative, world-leading content creation systems for broadcast, post and DI. Quantel products deliver at SD, HD, 2K, 4K and Stereo3D.

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