TV is not what it used to be. Arguments about repeats and originality aside, for the past decade or so, the World Wide Web has been quietly working away in the sidelines taking over the helm as the unsung and unofficial captain of the airwaves.
File sharing and piracy have chipped away at the profitability of the major studios and TV programmes can be easily found on line through official channels (excuse the pun) such as the BBC i-player and 4OD in the UK, and unofficial ones which shall remain nameless. The web has also taken over the music market with downloads exceeding physical sales for the first time. The recession has not helped, with commercial television struggling to attract advertising revenue and so not being able to commission new dramas and features.
So, where does this leave the industry?
Obviously it cannot continue as it is. Something has to be done to prize the money out of the hands of the viewers and attract them back to the cinemas or in front of the “goggle box”.
Anyone who has been lucky enough to see Avatar in stunning 3-D will have had a glimpse of the future of entertainment. The film (it’s more of an event really) has quickly become the fastest grossing film of all time, establishing director James Cameron as the master of the motion picture. It has created a world so stunning and so real that cinemagoers become more than just voyeurs to the lives of others, they can actually submerge themselves in the movie, touch the characters, feel the presence; something that watching a grainy low definition bootleg copy filmed from the back row of a cinema can never provide.
Avatar is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the first 3D feature; recent offerings include “Monsters v Aliens” and “Friday 13th”, but it is by far the best. There was an attempt to resurrect the genre of the 3D film in the 80’s with studios churning out everything and anything they could in 3D, especially if it was the third film in a franchise. “Jaws 3”, “Amityville 3” and “Friday 13th Part 3” all had 3D versions released. But the advent of the home video and other restraints laid the 3D film to rest for a while. It was only resurrected in the past couple of years and has proved an added pull for the cinema-going public.
A few weeks ago, major players in the home electronics world unveiled 3DTV, the next generation of viewing.
Some argue that it has come too close to the roll out of HD, but with the output of 3D films more than quadrupling in 12 months, there will be a market for them in a year or two, provided the cost isn’t restrictive. However, unlike the promised holographic projections that boffins and sci-fi geeks have been dreaming of since the year dot, this technology still relies on good old fashioned glasses. (Because of this, I wish to claim the origin of the use of the term “goggle-box” (as it relates to 3D TV) to be mine!)
As a viewer I find this both exciting and upsetting. Exciting because new breakthroughs have made the technology available again and exposed me to such delights as pick axes and spit balls; but upset because I, not so long ago, shelled out for an all singing and dancing HD TV and now find that it will be obsolete in a couple of years.
Unless someone comes up with a 3D up-scaling DVD player.