Canada Lacks a 3D Television Presence, When Will a Canadian Broadcaster Step Up?

The 2012 Summer Olympics will be broadcast in 3D by the American NBC with over 200 hours of day delay coverage according to Diane Woods, the Vice-President of 3reedom Digital, a 3D post-production facility at the Screen Industries Research and Training Centre (SIRT) on Monday. Woods has had her documentaries featured on the National Geographic, Discovery, and APTN to name a few.

The Drum reports that the United Kindgom based BBC will also be broadcasting the games in 3D.

To date, the only 3D television productions ever made in Canada have been the Queen in 3D by 3D Camera Company, and two Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts. Before you buy your next TV, a 4K one as explained here over a 3D one, consider that Canadians in general watch quite a bit of American programming and there are several broadcasters that are doing 3D in the United States like ESPN, Xfinity, National Geographic, and even YouTube. 

However, there are no reports of any Canadian broadcasters doing any 3D shooting in the near future and no word on whether Olympic broadcasting rights owner CTV will be licensing out any of the 3D coverage from their American and British counterparts or whether any of the broadcasters will attempt to gain access to US 3D content to put on Canadian television sets.

The reason for so little 3D on television to date is due to the fact that when directors shoot 3D they have to shoot it for a particular screen- whether that be IMAX, general cinema, television or other mediums. 

3D is widespread in the motion picture industry where it has gained enormous popularity among directors after the blockbuster film Avatar, but is ineffectively used across the industry for the most part due to director inexperience. 

Conversion technology according to those on the Stereoscopic 3D Production Seminar panel is inadequate and as a result there is a difference between good 3D and bad 3D. Great 3D examples are movies Hugo and Avatar but most will tell you that their 3D experience otherwise has been unsatsifactory. For the most effective 3D experience, it must be shot for the medium. 

Jonathan Barker, the CEO of SK Films, a company he created with IMAX co-founder Bob Kerr said during the panel that you need to understand why you are using 3D, to what effect in order to engage the audience, converse in the technical language, and that his only serious advice was to be prepared to live in hell and to pay for it. 

That’s because 3D production is super expensive so you have to stick within the budget allocated for a 3D shoot and have clear goals and ambitions you want to accomplish otherwise directors are going to learn an expensive experimental lesson. 

Posting 3D can cost around $80,000/minute according to Bill White of 3D Camera Company and that the technology isn’t right for every story. 

However, 3D does increase distribution opportunities especially in the motion picture industry as companies like Cineplex Odeon show movies in both 2D and 3D. It’s an extra setting and showing in theatres for movie producers to make money sometimes pushing box office numbers beyond what it cost to make the movie. 

It’s just important to do it right no matter how expensive because 3D can be a painful experience for the viewer if done wrong and may pose a health risk. But if done right, that health risk is more or less eliminated and can improve memory retention and educational learning for certain subjects like geometry, physics, geography and more.

The cost of producing 3D was made affordable by the DCI (Digital Cinema Initatives) which was launched in 2002 for directors, and as 3D gains more popularity via the Olympic showcase of the technology in sports perhaps this will help drive sales as the cost of the many different consumer 3D equipment available eventually comes down due to volume purchased.

It’s just only a question of when in the next few years will 3D will finally go mainstream for consumers.