back to article BBC abandons 3D TV, cites 'disappointing' results

The BBC will suspend its 3D TV transmissions indefinitely, citing poor demand among viewers – its last hurrah will be a Dr. Who anniversary special in November. "I have never seen a very big appetite for 3D television in the UK," said Kim Shillinglaw, the BBC's head of 3D. "After that we will see what happens when the recession …

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Shame as some of the natural history programs were excellent. There was an amazing three part one on plants.

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Weren't the natural history programmes from Sky?

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Facepalm

Yes they did come from one of Murdoch's beasts. Attenborough being involved threw me. Actually thinking about it what exactly will we be missing? Will watch Who the old fashioned way and may download the 3d version for the novelty later.

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Unhappy

Where's the ASA?

It's not 3D, it never was, it's just a '3D effect' but was never labeled as such. Why can't panel makers just make displays without 'Motion Blur' and 'Judder'? ARE YOU LISTENING? IS IT TOO DIFFICULT FOR YOU?

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Re: Where's the ASA?

The entertainment industry has always been big on hyperbole, unless 'the greatest movie ever made' really is a succession of step changes... Words are cheap, cheaper than making real 3d TV at least. ..

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Boffin

Re: Where's the ASA?

Well, it isn't trivial. There's an excellent research white paper from the bbc at http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/rd/pubs/whp/whp-pdf-files/WHP209.pdf which details the problems.

And yes, I do agree that ameliorating them would be much better than faffing about with stereoscopic technology of dubious value...

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Re: Where's the ASA?

You are forgetting the ad-man! what is simpler to say/ put on a giant display / get the stoopid public to remember????

ste..re..o..sc..o...pic... ???

3D !!

most cannot understand stereoscopic, or even pronounce it...

go google '3D' and see what you get!!

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Re: Where's the ASA?

"Why can't panel makers just make displays without 'Motion Blur' and 'Judder'?"

It's not the fault of the panel makers. The source material needs to be recorded at a higher frame rate.

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Unhappy

Re: Where's the ASA?

"Why can't panel makers just make displays without 'Motion Blur' and 'Judder'? ARE YOU LISTENING? IS IT TOO DIFFICULT FOR YOU?"

I'm afraid those 2 issues are the result of too much compression. Haven't you noticed how most HD TV displays in shops involve slooooowww moving content - a woman smiling serenely while some grass moves gently in the background , or some small waves breaking on a beach? There's a reason for that. As soon as someone puts the HD set on footie you notice the problem - the moving ball looks like so much snot moving across the screen and the run players legs are smeared out cartoon style.

Analogue TV (before all the studio and camera side was digitized) might have had worse resolution but its ability to capture motion was far superior to digital.

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Special glasses

They tried "3D" in the same old way, and it failed in the same old way.

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Re: Special glasses

They tried "3D" in the same old way, and it failed in the same old way.

Exactly. Whenever the entertainment industry is feeling a draught, they try to fix their problems with a technical solution. "3D" films were introduced in the mid 20th century to try to reclaim audiences that had defected to TV. It failed. The succeeding decades saw numerous technical gimmicks: Cinemascope, 70-mm, Todd-AO, Cinerama, and finally "3D" again. Nobody really cared much about any of them.

It's notable that many of the films that usually top polls are black-and-white and Academy aspect ratio. That's not to say that this combination would pull in audiences for new films, but it does demonstrate that content is what matters.

(+1 for quoting the Duke of Wellington.)

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Screens always seem to small

for decent 3D ruins the effect somewhat unless it covers your whole field of vision.

I remember dorky 3D glasses on my sega mastersystem... I thought it was cool....then

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Re: Screens always seem to small

Front row IMAX 3D, then..

Edit: 15/70 IMAX 3D.. of course.. the 1.44 ratio monsters..

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It was "stereoscopic", not "3D".

All you got was a single point of view (where the camera was located), if it were "True 3D", it would be like a hologram where you could look around the big hat in front of you. Of course making it holographic probably would have required LOTS of bandwidth and interesting display technology not yet invented (especially for full color), so it is a ways off.

Of course getting the Porn industry involved usually leads to advances in consumer pickup, but I'll leave that to another discussion.

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Re: It was "stereoscopic", not "3D".

Lightfield displays* have been invented for true 3d images, they're just beyond realistic mass-market manufacture and there's no content whatsoever.

* if implemented in an artificially ideal capacity they would capture every ray of light that hits a plane — recorded as colour plus direction — and reproduce those later. So it's the rays of light that are reproduced, not a projection (or two projections) of them; you're free to focus for yourself, to tilt your head however you want, etc. They're achieved that with an array of micro-lenses in front of an image plane, so at each point that would be a single pixel on a traditional screen is a lens and which of the inner pixels you see depends on the angle between your eye and the lens. But that means multiplying up the panel resolution by a very large number and then producing and aligning the microlenses with sufficient quality.

The Lytro camera does this in reverse, which is why its photos can be refocussed after the fact and also why they're so low resolution compared to the output of ordinary 2d sensors.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It was "stereoscopic", not "3D".

+1. Literally in this case.

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Re: It was "stereoscopic", not "3D".

》 if it were "True 3D", it would be like a hologram where you could look around ...

I think that's what that new nvidia gaming thing is about, you turn your head, the image follows in stereoscopic glory. Headsets look somewhat dorky, but good immersive experience.

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Re: It was "stereoscopic", not "3D".

It's binocular at best (for the reasons already given). The best 3D effects are achieved with a moving camera e.g. an aircraft flying over mountains. For that you don't need any special technology.

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FAIL

Re: It was "stereoscopic", not "3D".

Um, unless you have a number of cameras arranged spherically around a given point of interest capturing the subject simultaneously, the image captured - whether using a lightfield camera or not - will always be from the point of view of the camera.

Lightfield cameras have no greater application in 3D than stereoscopic cameras. The only advantage they would give is the ability for the viewer to adjust the focus at the time of viewing, rather than it being set by the director/cinematographer in a way intended to direct the attention of or evoke the emotion in the audience. In other words, completely subverting the artform.

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Re: It was "stereoscopic", not "3D".

"Lightfield displays* have been invented for true 3d images, they're just beyond realistic mass-market manufacture and there's no content whatsoever."

I believe you're referring to integral displays. There are two problems with them. First, the microlenses require too high a precision for mass production (the effect is lost with imperfections). Second, it has a very narrow effective viewing angle.

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Re: It was "stereoscopic", not "3D".

I think that's what that new nvidia gaming thing is about, you turn your head, the image follows in stereoscopic glory. Headsets look somewhat dorky, but good immersive experience.

I think you'll find that's already been done, VR* anyone?

*TBH I thought VR should have been given another go in the PS3 generation, as the number crunching would have been a bit better than the Virtual Boy of old. Maybe with the PS4?

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Re: It was "stereoscopic", not "3D".

Oculus Rift.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It was "stereoscopic", not "3D".

"if it were "True 3D", it would be like a hologram where you could look around"

Reminds me of some guy commenting about how he watched Top of the Pops as a teenager, and used to try to get a better view of the womens' cleavage by squinting down at the screen from above.

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Bod

Re: It was "stereoscopic", not "3D".

"Lightfield cameras have no greater application in 3D than stereoscopic cameras. The only advantage they would give is the ability for the viewer to adjust the focus at the time of viewing, rather than it being set by the director/cinematographer in a way intended to direct the attention of or evoke the emotion in the audience. In other words, completely subverting the artform."

Which is the core problem of "3D". People can find it difficult to watch because the focus is controlled but the brain wants to focus on what its looking at. This is far less of a problem with a flat 2D image even if that itself is focused on particular points of a real world scene.

I find it nothing more than a curiosity like the old stereo ViewerMaster. They were interesting but very unreal as elements float around the scene disjointed at different depths. I get the same effect with 3D on my TV and then as motion is involved there's horrible points where you can no longer focus your eyes on something moving close by and go cross eyed.

It basically doesn't work and is unnatural. Entirely opposite to what they try to sell it as. "ah but 3D is so much better because it's like real life!"... but that's the point, it isn't!

It was a fad in the 50s to boost audiences. It's the same fad now.

As a footnote... nothing wrong with 3D TVs though. They're generally the better panels for 2D ;)

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Re: It was "stereoscopic", not "3D".

"As a footnote... nothing wrong with 3D TVs though. They're generally the better panels for 2D ;)"

That's why I have one - the 3D capability, the "smart" features, and even the speakers are of little interest to me but I couldn't get an equivalent quality screen / image processor without them.

That said I did watch Life of Pi in 3D and it was fun - I'll do the same for the Dredd film. It's quite an entertaining gimmick.

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Re: It was "stereoscopic", not "3D".

"Um, unless you have a number of cameras arranged spherically around a given point of interest capturing the subject simultaneously, the image captured - whether using a lightfield camera or not - will always be from the point of view of the camera."

An ideal light field camera captures every ray of light hitting a surface as direction + colour. An ideal screen would reproduce those rays. So the hypothetical reproduced image is the same as looking through a window at the original scene.

I don't know about you, but I would consider the view through my window to be 3d, even though it doesn't project anything into my room and I can't move it.

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Cinema

"When people go to the cinema they go and are used to doing one thing"

Umm let me see.. Texting, chatting to their mates, having a slap up junk-meal, going on facebook, kicking the chairs in front. Oh yeah, and sometimes they might watch the film.

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@ElNumbre Re: Cinema

Yes.

Hence the Wittertainment code of conduct. http://www.bbc.co.uk/5live/films/code_of_conduct.jpg

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Re: Cinema

You missed out translating for the person with them as the person with them doesn't speak or undetstand English(well in Glasgow anyway)

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Holmes

I should have added

"Hello to Jason Isaccs"

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I must be going to the better cinemas here...

I haven't had the chair kicking problems in years. Or chatty people. At most, someone might be checking their phone but seeing that requires me to actually stop watching the movie and look down, as the angle in which seating is set means that the forward row is at your feet instead of being in front of you.

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About Time!

I genuinely don't know anyone who likes 3D films, hever mind TV. No doubt the companies will bring out stats to "prove" that there is demand, but that's only because there isn't a choice. Last time I went to see a film the only 2D showings were during the day - all the evening ones were 3D. The time before the 2D one sold out very quickly, and we were left with lots of choice for the 3D showings before and after.

The sooner the cinemas follow the BBC and scrap it the better! Maybe try again in a few years when it works without glasses, works well off-centre (3D looks terrible if you aren't in one of the few seats in the middle), and when it can do rapid motion of things in 3D without breaking up.

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Re: About Time!

Dave, I'm with you. I have at times decided not to visit the cinema because there were only 3d versions of the film I wanted to see. We used to have truly good films at the cinema. It has now evolved into mostly cgi cr4p. What's worse than that... cgi cr4p brought to you in the wonder of 3d.

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Re: About Time!

You can get a pair of 3D -> 2D glasses to make it tolerable in the meantime. They just have the same polarisation in both lenses.

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Re: About Time!

I asked a chap from a film distributor about shrinking audiences for 3D against growing audiences for 2D. He managed to blame austerity measures and cinema's pricing structures for this. Basically he said that people have less to spend and 2D ticket prices were lower than 3D ticket prices, so people were viewing 2D.

Hilarious isn't it how nearly every business tries to excuse their failures by blaming the economy in general or austerity measures specifically. Stereoscopic 3D had always been a novelty that reared its head every few years. Trying to push it into the mainstream was pure folly.

When it comes to TV I'm glad the beeb have dropped it since it seemed ridiculous for the licence fee to fund something that could only be afforded by the well off. It's good for the licence fee to fund minority interest programming which simply would not get made by commercial TV. It's ridiculous, however, for the BBC to fund something that is already getting plenty of investment in the commercial arena.

Shame they didn't have the common sense to do the same with DAB. The BBC are expected by Ofcom and the government to push the uptake of digital radio when one of the stated aims of digitial radio was to make available more bandwidth for commercial radio. Wouldn't it have made more sense to give the money for that straight to the commercial sector? That way DAB could have lived or died based on the merits of the programming that the (then labour) government wanted on it.

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Anonymous Coward

and for my next trick

I'm going to reinvent...

wait for it...

...instant tea.

honestly, 3d moving imagery has been talked about for so long you couldn't even get a patent on it.

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Re: and for my next trick

Instant tea? What about coffee bags?

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FAIL

My glasses, my glasses, I've lost my glasses

3D won't stand any real chance until you don't need glasses to watch it. I'm thinking some kind of Star Trek 3D holographic technology or something, not the botched version of 3D we have today.

If you told me I could do away with my TV and just have a box that projects a solid hologram into thin air that has true 3D then I'd be sold.

Mind you I have coveted such a device ever since I went to an exhibition of holograms at the Trocadero in the mid 80's. Seemed so marvellous and futuristic and here we are over 25 years on and I still don't have a holographic TV in my living room.

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Gimp

Re: My glasses, my glasses, I've lost my glasses

That's because there are only two ways of achieving that:

1) Beam the image directly into your eyes. Personal viewing. Very difficult indeed.

2) Fill the room with some kind of *stuff* which the image can reflect off (e.g. a huge plastic slab with nonlinear optical properties)

No magic "you are my only hope" holograms projected by your set-top box in reality, no Sir!

Oh, I forgot:

3) Write the image directly into your visual cortex. Yummy, but even tougher.

In the end, holograms will be good for visualization and Personal Computing, but not so much for entertainment. Even for the pr0nz. I am not sure about watching a bunch of people seemingly having a go on my sofa.

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3d might take over if every uses http://www.xilisoft.com/3d-video-converter.html to convert HD porn to 3d and watches the movies on a normal tv after taking some LSD

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I don't think the Sky 3D offering will be around for much longer after those who had a 3D capable TV subscribed then realised that its just a gimmick and not worth the extra subscription fees

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Bod

Sky 3D

They've already changed it so you can watch it if that programme is on one of your subscribed channels rather than paying extra. Not that it makes me any more likely to watch it even though I have the 3D kit (glasses have barely been out of their box).

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Anonymous Coward

Oculus Rift

Perhaps the only real hope for 3D in the home is something like the Oculus Rift.

It certainly seems to have a bright future in gaming - whether it can make the transition from the bedroom to the living room is an unanswered question.

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Color.

"The then-CEO Sir Harold Stringer told us that 3D was going to be the most important technological change to TV since the shift to color..,"

I have seen any amount of brilliant cinematography in black and white films. There are numerous cases where, in both film and still photography, black and white/monochrome is more expressive and evocative than is color. The "shift to color' might be "the most important technological change" but as an artistic and creative change, the matter is more equivocal.

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Who is this Harold Stringer bloke?

Is he the brother of former Sony CEO Howard Stringer?

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"I have never seen a very big appetite for 3D television in the UK," said Kim Shillinglaw, the BBC's head of 3D.

So what idiot gave you the job of head of 3D then?

And why did the BBC waste so much tax payers money on 3D?

3D is a sham, or maybe a scam. Can't wait for the whole 3D phase to finish. Terrible idea, terrible implementation. A gimmick to fleece the public of more money.

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Don't worry, it will be back again

I'm not sure, but the current version is at least the 3rd version of 3D for theatres, and the 2nd for TV.

It's a fad again this time too.

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"And why did the BBC waste so much tax payers money on 3D?"

They probably didn't. They just rented the equipment from the manufacturers. That probably was fairly cheap compared the costs you have regardless of 3D or not.

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3D doesn't need the BBC

The 3D Queen's Speech wasn't produced by the BBC, but by Sky, the BBC only broadcast it. Furthermore, most of the footage wasn't shot as 3D, but was the result of post-production processing, and poorly done at that.

I think the sporting 3D broadcasts have been an interesting experiment, but only that, Despite wishful thinking by the naysayers, what the BBC has done for 3D is pretty inconsequential, and won't be missed.

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