We'll remember 2010 for a lot of reasons. The iPad. The bacon thing finally got old. Teabaggers. And it was the year Hollywood and electronics tried to drag us into another dimension: 3D got big.
It invaded cinemas - it seemed like every other blockbuster begged you at the end of the trailer to see it in 3D. It starting working its way into our homes, as the first 3DTVs became affordable. Gaming went 3D too, in a manner of speaking, with every console pushing into three-dimensional space with motion controls. YouTube. Magazines. Even porn.
3D makes an alluring promise: a entirely new level of sensory immersion. Not simply truer-to-life fidelity with more pixels, like higher definition, but a controlled near-hallucination that literally screws with our mind. It's what game designers and entertainers have been driving toward since the beginning of their craft. It's hard not to nerd out over the idea, and the technology that can make that happen suddenly becoming sorta-kinda affordable and available. It's a little slice of sci-fi dreams like the holodeck made real.
Then there's the cynical side. It's all a money grab. TV and gadget makers need newer, flashier technology to sell en masse, now that HD is ubiquitous. Hollywood needs to squeeze every dollar it can out of ticket sales, now that they bank on a few pictures a year to make billions of dollars to subsidise the rest of the industry.
Oh, and 3D right now? It's not that great. You need stupid glasses. It's a pricey add-on. It doesn't always work. And exceptional 3D content is a rarity. Most of it sucks. And that problem is already potentially ruining 3D.
I was really hoping Tron: Legacy would be the next big evangelist for 3D, since there hasn't been a glorious poster child for it since Avatar. Sitting in the IMAX 3D theatre, the whole time I kept thinking how nothing popped in 3D, no matter how badly I wanted it to. Don't get me wrong, Tron: Legacy is visually lush. The technoscape is gorgeous and impressive. But you don't need to see it in 3D.
We really want to be excited about 3D. We're convinced that it could be incredible. So that's what this week is about: Exploring our hopes and dreams for 3D, but with a heavy dose of two-dimensional reality.