Sony teaches BBC how to do 3D

It has come to light that the BBC is running 3D workshops to get its camera and production teams geared up for the big 3D boom that everyone’s expecting, and they are being chaired by a man called Buzz Hays, who is executive stereoscopic 3D producer at Sony’s 3D Technology Centre.

As Sky gets ready to launch its 3D-ready channel this October, announced today, Old Auntie we suspect is rushing to keep head-to-head in the 3D race. Keeping in mind that it will be the licence payer, again, forking out the dosh. 

But why is everyone so keen to push 3D? All the manufacturers and vendors have been chugging away 3D panels on the factory floors and there is an excess waiting to be shipped. Those with a vested interest in pushing 3D want to get rid of their panels and plug the oversupply gap. As opposed to Sky’s channel, which is funded privately by Murdoch’s monopoly, it’s the public that will be paying through the nose to make sure the BBC has 3D programming.

And it’s a win-win situation for Sony to get involved. Sony is one of the leading manufacturers of 3D technology and it’s got fingers in every pie of the market. Sony popularised its own Blu-ray format, which is seeing 3D adoption. Sony manufactures Blu-ray players. It manufactures televisions and its Playstation 3 console has been made 3D ready with a recent update. 

Not only that, Sony makes its own 3D content too, across all formats. It is in cahoots with studios and has its own studio to push 3D films, which will eventually go to Blu-ray, and then, for the blockbusters at least, eventually have their own games. On the Playstation 3, perhaps.

Panasonic is similarly involved in its own Japanese domestic market, with its own studios and recently announcing that it will make all of its large screen tellies 3D enabled. This is an effort to push the format that will benefit the most as well as making it a de facto leader in the domestic market, because it’s flooding it.

We talked to Goksen Sertler, senior research analyst in advanced TV at She told us that the big players weren’t selling enough of their high end, large panels because the average consumer wasn’t too bothered. Then 200Mhz and 400Mhz displays came along, 3D capable, and everyone started paying attention – to sell 3D kit in the high end space leads to huge revenues. 

For Sony, running workshops with Aunty’s Plaice is not a directly money growing venture. But if it successfully manages to train up Aunty’s staff and continue to whip up enough excitement it’s a total win win. The format that will bring in the most cash for Sony will be funded and it’s advertising for Sony’s expertise as well. If people buy 3D enabled kit due to the 3D push, either from the Beeb or Sky or any broadcaster or retailer, it will directly benefit Sony.

And typically the way things work for the European  consumer is, if your neighbour has it, you’re going to get it eventually. The message, the money and the technology all spreads.

In terms of broadcast, Sertler says, there will never be a condition so that 3D will be continuously shown. The average end users, in Meko’s opinion, will never be watching three or four hours a day of 3D content, it’s more of an immersive experience to prepare for. Maybe two or three hours in a week at max.

This would be the ideal way to view 3D telly, because according to the experts, there’s a definite risk of eye strain, headaches and discomfort through continuous viewing, albeit temporary. 

Though they will be temporary effects, Geoff Roberson, Professional Advisor at the Association of Optometrists, told TechEye about the way 3D works with eyesight: “The risk of the dissociation of the two eyes is that some people, with an underlying weakness with the muscular system that coordinates the two eyes and ensures they work together properly, may find they experience some discomfort such as headaches and/or eyestrain, or possibly some double vision as a result.” 

John Lee, President of The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, told us: “Approximately two to three percent of the population can’t see 3D because of early onset squint, or an eye problem that develops later in life – and you need good vision in both eyes to be able to see 3D”

While Gary Kousoulou, an optician, is still skeptical about the long term effects repeated 3D viewings may have on eyesight: “There is still a lot of research that needs to be put into this to ensure we get a clearer picture of the effects of 3D. However, I wouldn’t recommend putting 3D glasses on any child under 8 as their muscles are still developing.”

It would seem that, as with most things, the companies behind the 3D push aren’t thinking about user experience. They want to offload their excess supplies and flog new kit and accessories to the masses.