Avatar opens the 3-D window

By Ken Cummings

With James Cameron’s Avatar solidifying its grip as the #2 grossing film of all time (second only to Cameron’s own Titanic), doubts about his expensive 3-D gamble have been silenced. But Cameron isn’t the only big name to be investing heavily in 3-D technologies this year. A recent article from the Globe and Mail reveals that Discovery Communication Inc. and sports TV giant ESPN have taken a large financial risk in setting up dedicated 3-D channels, set for rollout as early as summer 2010.

These companies wouldn’t take such a risk if the technology weren’t available, affordable and practical. Not surprisingly, the current Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas has focused greatly on 3-D television set announcements by the industry’s largest players including Panasonic, Sony and Samsung. Partnerships are also blooming to ensure the success of new 3-D technology: Discovery with Sony and Imax; Samsung with Dreamworks and Technicolor. 3-D Blu-Rays are also reportedly on the way.

Television and Film are also not the only formats embracing 3-D. For over a year, graphics hardware producer Nvidia has produced a line of 3-D gaming glasses, though their technology is different from films. Lastly, Fujifilm has produced the FinePix Real 3D W1 digital camera which takes 3-D pictures that do not require special glasses (like the polarization lenses of television and film) to view. While the 3-D effect of these pictures is less pronounced than Avatar’s, Fujifilm is also offering a 3-D picture frame and (incredibly) a 3-D printing service.

With the financial blessing of industry giants finally coming together, 2010 may be the year when digital 3-D technology turns from novelty to standard feature.

 

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