3D Camcorders Fad or Next Big Thing?

Is it time to buy a 3D camcorder? Many say the technology is over-hyped. But there is strong reason to believe that 3D is here to stay for reasons I’ll get to shortly.

For the last sixty years or so, 3D has fallen in and out of fashion as frequently as the hemlines of skirts. Perhaps no period better evokes the golden age of 3D than the 1950s. During the 1950s over fifty 3D films were made and they weren’t all cheesy horror flicks. Actors such as Rita Hayworth, John Wayne and Grace Kelly all strode off the big screen and into the drive-in movie parking lot in full, glorious 3D. But sync problems with the projection system and the new wide-screen CinemaScope format ultimately led to 3D's decline.

Barack and Michelle enjoy a 3D flick
Barack and Michelle enjoy a 3D flick

3D Video Cameras

Recently, digital 3D has breathed new life into 3D. Gone are the red and blue glasses and the technology has advanced rapidly. Films such as Avatar have changed viewer’s sentiment toward the format and for the first time in decades nearly every major action film has been released in 3D and 2D simultaneously.

Arguably the most intriguing and exciting thing that has happened though is the 3D camcorder. If you have every seen pictures of the 3D shoots from the 1950s with their gargantuan cameras, you would understand what a technological marvel a handheld 3D camcorder is. Provided you own a 3D TV you can now bring family events, adventure vacations and even your video blog (thank you YouTube) into three dimensions in your very own home.

Criticism

There is no doubt that 3D camcorders work. I’ve seen this for myself. Some criticize that the only way to get the full 3D experience is to purchase an expensive 3D projector. This is to some extent true. A large screen does enhance the experience. But projectors will grow cheaper.

Others point out that some become motion sick when viewing 3D and that the cameras are difficult to shoot with. However, all these things will evolve and improve, perhaps more quickly than we imagined and here is why: the Apple Effect.

The Future

In December 2010 Apple quietly patented a technology that allows for the viewing of 3D without any glasses whatsoever. There are already other systems that provide similar experiences, but they tend to have narrow viewing angles. What is exceptional about the Apple technology is that the image will remain sharp even when a user moves his or her head. This will render images in a pseudo holographic format. Holography has long been the holy grail of 3D.

Some are forecasting that the iPad will be the first device to feature 3D. There is no way of knowing for certain whether Apple’s technology will match the rumors, but they have a pretty good track record so far. It might not be too long before we play 3D holographic games off our iPads and a 3D camera is built into every phone. The rapid popularity of HD demonstrates our hunger for realism in our content. The first company that can deliver, really deliver on the third dimension, will change 3D from fad to necessity. Apple just might be the one that does it.

Michael Sean Kaminsky is an author, video blogger and documentary filmmaker. His book Naked Lens: Video Blogging & Video Journaling to Reclaim the YOU in YouTube teaches readers to create online video in an entirely new way.

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