Whither 3D?

Australia has experimented with free to air 3D TV. Sort of, in fits and starts in limited areas. In 2010 we received some World Cup matches from South Africa, and some of the local football codes here. That’s it: sport and nothing but sport. And, then, only in the five mainland capitals and a couple of regional centres. And even that is now in indefinite hiatus.

Meanwhile Pay TV has come to the party with a real 3D channel. Called Foxtel 3D it offers, in the company’s words, ‘a mix of sport programs and live events from FOX SPORTS and ESPN’. So, more sport.

To enjoy something other than sport, we need to look to Blu-ray 3D, but this has been limited to only a handful of titles. Indeed, some of the Blu-ray companies seem to be positively anti-Blu-ray 3D, in their actions if not their rhetoric. Why else would Paramount be releasing the latest Jackass movie, which cleaned up at the box office in its 3D version, on two-dimensional Blu-ray?

Yes, in the box you get a 3D version, but it’s in the old fashion anaglyph 3D (ie. based on colour filters). And it’s on DVD. Paramount tries to talk this up as “classic 3D with … old-skool blue and red 3D glasses”. Paramount, at least, must believe that high def 3D penetration is still too low to warrant the higher quality delivery format of Blu-ray 3D.

Fortunately that isn’t the case with some of the other companies. While the 3D version of Toy Story 3 still seems to be some way off, Disney is releasing the new Tron: Legacy in Blu-ray 3D format, and has the well received fairy tale animation Tangled due for Blu-ray 3D release in May. Roadshow Entertainment has recently released on Blu-ray 3D both Piranha and Cats and Dogs 2: The Revenge of Kitty Galore. The latter in particular is dreck, but with 3D content so rare, now’s the time for companies to pull in sales on the basis of 3D alone.

Universal has joined the party with a rash of titles: Coraline, Despicable Me, Step Up 3 and the IMAX Oceanic triple-pack (Ocean Wonderland 3D, Dolphins and Whales 3D, and Sharks 3D), and is hoping to have Hop out later in the year.