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3D Everywhere

"Dog with 3D glasses," photographer unknown, no date. Collection of A. D. Coleman.

“Dog with 3D glasses,” photographer unknown, no date. Collection of A. D. Coleman.

We’re moving rapidly toward a 3D digital environment — “stereo for your eyes,” to quote Mitsubishi’s slogan. What seemed like a sidebar just a few years ago has begun to push its way toward a front and center position in the electronics industry, which clearly hopes that consumers will take the bait. Several formats and numerous manufacturers now compete with product lines of screens, glasses, even a no-glasses alternative: Mitsubishi, Vizio, Spectral,Azuna, realD, many more.

If what some in the industry call “3D everywhere” has in fact arrived for film, video, and animation, it’s surely here also for still photography, conceivably via the same technologies as just mentioned for both presentation and reception of the images. What this will mean in the long run I can’t say, but if true it’s a transformational moment for still imaging, at least as much so as the shift from analog to digital.

Prompted by new products I saw premiered for the press at several spring 2011 tech expos, I began a series of posts contemplating the possibility of “3D everywhere” as a reality. Conceivably this represents nothing more than a passing fad. Indeed, some readers of this blog chastised me for taking it seriously, even accusing me of jumping on the 3D bandwagon. If they’re right then it will peter out, as fads do, and I’ll wind up with egg on my face for paying close attention to it. Wouldn’t be the first time. On the other hand, it may take hold, providing us with the spectacle of those naysayers chewing on their headgear.

"Haunted," 3D movie posterAs I now attend such tech expos regularly, I plan to return to this topic periodically, considering not just the industry’s innovations but the public response to these developments. Here are the posts so far:

I’ve Seen the Future, and It’s In 3D (d) — 7/10/11. In which I conclude this first round of scrutinizing the state of the art of 3D, and explain why a critic chooses to attend tech expos in the first place.

I’ve Seen the Future, and It’s In 3D (c) —  7/7/11. In which I provide some historical background on the intermittent efforts to achieve 3D still photography, starting with the stereo viewer of the 19th century.

I’ve Seen the Future, and It’s In 3D (b) — 7/4/11. In which I continue my extrapolations from the massive investment by the consumer electronics industry in 3D systems and the film industry’s revived interest in 3D movies. With sidebars on touchscreens, miniaturization, and the accessorizing of accessories.

I’ve Seen the Future, and It’s In 3D (a) — 7/1/11. In which I report on CE Week — Consumer Electronics Week, organized by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) — in Manhattan, during the week of June 21, weighing the high-profile presence of varied 3D options and the relationship between 3D and the touchscreen.

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