From the day that I saw Kenneth Kendall reading the BBC news on one in Kubrick’s 2001, A Space Odyssey, I wanted widescreen TV. Up until then, I’d no idea that the industry had domestic widescreen in its sights. But given the meticulousness of Kubrick’s research, I imagine that the notion was there on some technology giant’s wish-list, even if at the time it had to be faked with back-projection.
When the first sets came out, I wasn’t impressed. Looking at a zoomed-in letterboxed VHS of Star Wars on a demo TV in the basement of the Virgin Megastore, I remember thinking that the quality was significantly less than that of Super 8 anamorphic Cinemascope (yes, it does exist).
But I was at the head of the line for the first wave of integrated digital widescreen televisions, and then one of the first to bitch and moan about continuing DVD releases in the cropped 4X3 format called ‘fullscreen’. From this you may conclude I have more money than sense and I’d probably agree, on the basis that it wouldn’t take very much money to make it true.
The first time I saw a plasma screen – I think that was in HMV on Oxford Street. It was displaying a DVD of Alice in Wonderland. An indifferent made-for-TV version, but I was bowled over by the depth of detail and the warmth of the image. I waited until plasma sets became affordable and then spent three times as much as I needed to, just so I could go that extra mile and get hi-def.
High definition proved a bit of a damp squib. The increase in quality isn’t that great. Sometimes it’s barely even noticeable. But if HD acts as a brake on the efforts of broadcasters to lower their picture quality in order to cram in more channels, I’m still for it.
But 3D… this early adopter’s heart doesn’t beat any faster at the idea of 3D television at all. Despite an absence of product to display, and a lot of consumer ignorance over when and how they’ll get a 3D signal, 3D-ready sets are coming onto the market now. The launch is accompanied by this grim list of health warnings on Samsung’s Australian website.
Health issues aside – even shaky 2D camerawork makes me queasy, so God help me if Paul Greengrass ever gets his hands on 3D – I fear a Betamax moment coming for the industry. 3D will be great for gaming and that’s the angle they should push, with the occasional bonus of a sit-down-for, no-interruptions, phone-off-the-hook blockbuster. By pushing 3D as ‘the future of TV’, when we all know that for much of the time TV is a casual, on-in-the-room, passing-parade part of our lives, they’re pretty much sealing its doom.
And everyone looks like a twat in those glasses. I’m sorry, but it’s true.
A couple of posts back I mentioned that there were design changes in store for the blog. Well, notice anything? Thanks and credit for the supercharged overhaul with all its hidden wonders (it’s even iPad-friendly) go to Paul Drummond, whose web design services can be further investigated here. And a special thanks to Dave Young, whose HTML skills produced the site that served me so well for a number of years.
Now I’m told I have to go get my head around Twitter.
It never ends.