3D TV take-up is sluggish but a 3D iPad will change everything: James Cameron

Although legendary filmmaker James Cameron is proud of the impact his blockbuster hit Avatar had on driving the 3D TV revolution, he has admitted that the take-up of the technology in the home has not been as popular as he first thought.

Cameron, whose films include the two highest grossing movies of all time, Avatar and Titanic, told Appliance Retailer exclusively that 3D penetration in the home had become more about sports viewing than watching TV content or movies.

“It’s not progressing as fast as I thought it might, but it’s progressing very rapidly, and a large part of the revenue at the Cameron Pace Group, which is my 3D production technology company, is in television: mostly live sports – major sporting events all of the world are being shot in 3D – it gives it a sense of an event and it gives people a sense of being almost physically present and it’s something to get very excited about,” Cameron said.

The three-time Academy Award winning Canadian filmmaker was in Sydney today for the 2012 Australian International Design Awards.

While looking over the finalists, including the Deepsea Challenger Submarine that he used to plumb the depths of the Mariana Trench, Cameron predicted that while watching 3D on TVs might never reach saturation point, there was a bright future for his beloved technology in computing.

“The jury is out on whether people will adopt it just for general viewing until we get to glasses-free technology, and I think we’re right around the corner from that because the majority, by a slim margin, don’t take in most of their entertainment on that type of screen, it’s mostly on tablet and laptops.

“For tablets and laptops, it’s a very straightforward engineering problem to do it, to have good displays without glasses, and I think the next breakthrough will be something like an iPad that has glasses-free 3D display, and then you’re going to see an avalanche of 3D production.

“We’re a few years away from a screen that size,” Cameron said, pointing at Samsung’s Series 8 LED TVs, one of the finalists, “that can be viewed without glasses, and I think that when you put the glasses on it has to be something special: if you’re sitting down to watch a movie that you love, that you own on a 3D Blu-ray, or you’re sitting down to watch a major sporting event.

“It’s working very well in that area, it just hasn’t broken through beyond that yet.”

To bring such immersive sport content into the home, Panasonic is filming the upcoming 2012 London Olympics in 3D – we got a surprise response when we asked Cameron if this made him happy.

“No,” he replied, “because they should be using our technology!”

“We did a promotional tie-in with Panasonic that had to do with their 3D enabled TVs shipping with Avatar discs but we didn’t use any of their camera systems to actually shoot the film. I used a Panasonic handheld camcorder to line-up shots.

“I think that [promotion] was a little overplayed, if you will, because the impression was we used Panasonic cameras to shoot the movie – we didn’t – we used Sony cameras to shoot the movie.”

James Cameron, director of Avatar, Titanic, The Terminator and Aliens, checks out the Dyson finalists at the 2012 Australian International Design Awards.

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