Stephen S. Wu-- SL: Legal Writer, swu@ckwlaw.com, (650) 917-8045, 166 Main Street, Los Altos, CA 94022

Avatar Film May Drive Adoption of the 3D Internet

Over the holidays, I took the plunge and actually saw the Avatar film. I wrote my last post about the Avatar film after having read the dry text of articles trumpeting the pathbreaking nature of the film and its use of 3D to enhance the film’s special effects. Reading about the film and seeing the film are two very different things. Now having seen the actual film - in 3D - I can see the promise of 3D much more clearly. In fact, I now realize that not only will people want 3D technology to see existing 3D Internet spaces in 3D, it will drive people to demand that providers of 2D content create new 3D Internet applications.
The 3D technology adds quite a lot to the film, making it much more immersive. Of course, James Cameron’s vision of Pandora is immersive enough in 2D. But seeing it in 3D made the viewing experience entirely different from a normal 2D film. We may look back on the Avatar film as the definitive proof of concept for consumer demand for 3D technology.

Post-Avatar, the momentum is already building for mass adoption of 3D technology. News articles came out today to announce that ESPN and Discovery have plans to provide 3D entertainment to television subscribers this year. Discovery, Imax, and Sony plan to roll out a 3D channel in 2011. Click
here for an example of one of these articles. Television manufacturers are planning to sell 3D televisions this year. In fact, an article in CNN today describes how Toshiba plans to sell a television that converts any 2D content to 3D content in real time.

As I stated in the last post, with the rollout of 3D technology to consumers to allow them to see videos in 3D, people will want to see their 3D Internet applications in 3D. I have to imagine that 3D content companies like Linden Research and Blizzard Entertainment are developing a 3D viewing strategy for Second Life, World of Warcraft, and applications like them. Consumer demand will make such a strategy an imperative.

Having seen the power of 3D technology in Avatar, though, I now also realize that 3D will compel 2D content providers as well to adopt a 3D strategy, and they will need to do so sooner rather than later. And not only will people want to see 3D videos on video sites, they will want to explore 3D virtual worlds, and not just see static 3D video. Just as the Avatar film’s natural follow-on is the Avatar video game, allowing users to explore random places in the imaginary planet of Pandora, other 3D videos will create demand for 3D Internet applications.

In short, I see the Avatar film as accelerating the adoption of the 3D Internet. 3D viewing will drive interest in 3D online spaces. And 3D online spaces will become viewable in 3D and drive interest in viewing content in 3D. The two trends will feed each other, and our entertainment choices will be richer for it. Of course, more legal issues are sure to follow.

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