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3D TV has a tough road ahead, says James Cameron

'Avatar' director James Cameron says 3D TV has a future. But he cautioned that 3D movies and shows need to catch up with the hardware.

By Matthew Shaer / March 11, 2010

James Cameron, shown here at a Samsung event in Times Square, says that the immediate future of 3D TV is in live events such as baseball games or concerts.

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On Wednesday, the hip-hop group the Black Eyed Peas played a free show in Times Square, in an effort to gin up excitement for a new line of 3D TV sets manufactured by Samsung. But the Black Eyed Peas weren't the only A-list attractions on hand: Samsung also recruited "Avatar" director James Cameron to film the proceedings in 3D.

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Cameron, of course, is considered to be a major pioneer of 3D filmmaking, and his presence was meant to add some credibility to the whole 3D TV movement. As we reported earlier this week, Sony, Samsung, and Panasonic are putting some major weight behind 3D TV. Sony exec Yoshihisa Ishida predicted that 3D televisions would "liberate 3D from the confines of movie theaters," and Samsung said it will ship 2 million 3D sets in 2010.

For his part, Cameron advised consumers to be patient. "We've demonstrated that the 3D market is an extremely lucrative market and this is not a fad, this is not something that is going to go away," he said in an interview with USA Today. "It's going to be interesting because [3D] TVs are going to change things yet again. But the TVs are going to take awhile to catch up with the marketplace because there isn't enough content."

Cameron stressed that the issue had nothing to do with hardware – Samsung and Panasonic are already selling 3D-capable televisions. (Sony will put its first 3D set on sale in June.) People will buy these 3D TV sets "because they're future-proofing," Cameron said. "If they're going to buy a 55- or 65-inch monitor they want to make a decision that they're going to feel good about three or four years from now. But right now we've got a content gap."

He argued that the gap wouldn't be filled by movies, because films take too long to produce in 3D. Instead, Cameron said, viewers should expect to see a range of live 3D television – baseball games, for instance, are a natural fit. And live 3D TV isn't expensive to make. "Figure the cost of a production, whether a sporting event or music event, the incremental cost of shooting in 3D versus 2D is almost lost in the noise of that budget," Cameron said.

Mulling a 3D TV set? Let us know what you think in the comments section.

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