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All About 3D - Part Two

Andrew Oliver discusses the problems of selling the 3DTV format and the need for standardisation in the industry

In the first part of our interview with Andrew Oliver, the chief technical officer of Blitz discussed in detail the costs and challenges of developing internal 3D technology.

In this second part published today, Oliver explains the problems of competing 3DTV formats and the need for standardisation, and how the shift into 3D should be able to help create more emotionally engaging games.

GamesIndustry.biz Do you think it's easier to sell the 3D experience to gamers? It strikes me that the general public is beginning to get fed up with the increasing rate of change in technology and the pressure to trade up.
Andrew Oliver

I definitely think so. For the next few years, as it comes in, we've all got to be wearing glasses, and that's a fundamental blocker to an awful lot of people. I would say that these [current] glasses are rubbish, and I've seen newer, better glasses - once it gets to mass market the glasses will look pretty swish, there's no worries there.

But two of the TV manufacturers I've talked to - actually three - have prototypes of TVs that don't need glasses. At the moment they're experimental, they have problems, but that's the next way... but that's five years down the line. The visual quality just isn't quite there yet, how you get the image through the TV.

So there'll be another wave - but the fact is, the electronics industry is driven by change. Not quite as extreme as the mobile phone, where there's a new handset per person every year, but for the TV it's about every five years - it's almost in line with consoles, frankly.

GamesIndustry.biz But the reason why phone technology is acceptable is because most people get them on contracts and perceive they're not really paying for it... A TV is a bit different, especially if you just got a new HDTV a couple of years ago.
Andrew Oliver

Well, you don't have to upgrade, it's a choice. You might be happy with the TV you've got.

GamesIndustry.biz In the current economic climate, do you feel it's maybe wiser to hold off on trying to sell to the mainstream?
Andrew Oliver

I think it'll be slower than expected, and I think that cinemas, certainly a couple of years ago, were all pretty gung-ho about making 3D movies. A few kicked off a few years ago, but then the cinemas wouldn't go to the new digital projectors that were needed because of the economic downturn. So that's caused the cinemas to have a very slow uptake because they don't want to spend all the money out - and a lot of buying digital projectors, which are about GBP 80,000, is about going to the bank for financing, telling them 3D movies are coming... The banks aren't so sure about lending money now, and they'll say "Who's to say this 3D stuff is going to happen anyway?"

So because everybody's been a bit slow, Hollywood's also been a bit slow to make them - it's slowed everything down, but it's gotten to a point where it's going to happen.

HDTVs took off significantly faster because they were flat - flat screens came in at the same time. If you have a 32" tube TV and somebody asks you if you want to buy an HD tube... it's still a big, bulky tube, and nobody would have bothered. People 'get' flat.

But I'd argue that, apart from flat, going to standard definition to HD is a smaller change than from HD to 3D - if you show the layman on the street a flat panel with SD and HD, most people aren't going to know the difference. Although there's a slight complication in that some screens have upscaling... anyway, assuming it doesn't. But you see 3D and you say "Bloody Hell" - it's sci-fi stuff, what we all imagined years ago.