BBC puts 3D projects on hold after Doctor Who anniversary

News Louisa Mellor 5 Jul 2013 - 09:30

At the end of this year, the BBC is taking a three-year break from developing 3D projects...

We were at the posh BBC launch when it was announced that the Doctor Who anniversary special was to be available in 3D, and the reaction, it's fair to say, wasn't one of unabashed excitement. Polite applause greeted the news, but put it this way, it wasn't exactly the talk of the evening.

That lukewarm response appears to tally with the national interest in watching 3D broadcast telly at home. Though the BBC has made a selection of programmes available using the technology, from Olympics coverage to spinny sequin extravaganza, Strictly Come Dancing, the take-up hasn't been great. In fact, the Radio Times cites that 3D coverage of the Olympic Opening Ceremony was only watched by around half of all 3D TV owners in the UK, and that's for a one-off event television spectacle.

The BBC's decision then, to curb 3D development for a period of three years from the end of this year, comes as little surprise. Kim Shillinglaw, the BBC's head of 3D, told the Radio Times, "Watching 3D is quite a hassly experience in the home. You have got to find your glasses before switching on the TV. I think when people watch TV they concentrate in a different way."

After the Doctor Who anniversary special and two minor programmes at the end of this year then, the Beeb is shelving its two-year 3D project. We can't imagine that news comes as, er, a crushing blow to many of you?

Radio Times

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Bye 3D. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

I always wonder if the people who complain about 3D are those who can't actually tell the difference. The internet hate for it is large, but I've not met many people who don't actually prefer the experience for a big cinema spectacular, and for many video games it's well worth the hassle of moving to 3D. And although with tecnology like Occulus on the way most gamers will soon have far preferable options, I still can't understand the hate. Indifference? Sure, it's not the colour revolution, it doesn't improve every viewing experience, but it improves one or two.

...that said, whilst I'm happy to have the DW anniversary in 3D the BBC aren't producing hollywood blockbusters - I really don't care if they abandon the technology. Outside of Dr Who there is little they produce that would benefit from the techology.

Pretty much everyone I know who goes to the movies hates 3D and will always go to a 2D showing. Myself and my partner cannot watch 3D for more than a few short minutes as it gives us migrains and makes us nauseus.

Several friends and I were disappointed we couldn't see Dredd at the cinema, and I'd dare to suggest that the reason for its poor box office performance was in part due to the lack of 2D showings.

This is in addition to the complaint that I have about it isn't really 3D anyway, it's an optical illusion and a poor one at that. The eye just doesn't percieve depth that way. Don't get me wrong, I love optical illusions, I have books on them at home and even have some hanging on my walls.

This really sums up my views on people ranting about 3D. The number of people who can't easily watch it/ can't perceive are documented at around 10% but every time they get online it's "oh no it's not just me, it's EVERYONE, honestly". Now whether or not most of the people you know are indifferent about it is another matter entirely, as I stated I rarely feel it's worth investing the effort myself. But actively hate? It seems unlikely.

Given that 3D was single handedly was responsible to a number of very strong cinema going years (and commissioning of some very poor movies cashing in on this fact) I would dispute your reasoning and I would say it was more obvious factors like an 18 certificate and a lack of marketing.

Also I really can't begin to explain the stupidity of the "it's not 3D" complaint. Your eyes are not present in the third dimension, for all intents and purposes they receive two images, not two holograms, two 2D images. So when people say "it's not really 3D" I can't help but actually truly and generally despair at humanity.
The issue is that you can't bring distant objects into focus, but this is true of a 2D movie as well, you always have a focal point to concentrate on and trying to look at an area of the screen which was out of focus when the film was shot will only lead to, a very obvious headache. Is 3D perfect? No, is the lack of the ability to focus outside of what the director wants you to? Debatable (I would argue it's a problem for games, but beneficial to movies).

This isn't a push for 3D, I have no strong feelings about it's long term future outside of games (which as I say I feel have better options). I just got very sick of the way it's made out that everyone hates it, and that the people who pay the extra to see it in 3D can't possibly enjoy it, they must have had no other option (I've never found a movie where I didn't).

I can see 3D fine, but I really don't like it and would pick 2D showings over 3D every time

Someone has to say it don't they? We won't be seeing Andrew Scott in 3D then?

That's totally fair enough. It's the ranting, the "no one could possibly like and they're only going because they're forced to" that gets to be grating.

Clearly the 3D fanbois are in attendance. I stated a purely personal view, I didn't speak for "everyone". So, I'll depart this discussion.

I love my 3D telly. I hope they sell a 3D bluray of the Special.

The thing is, 3D quite clearly isn't "all the way there" as a technology or it would be a bigger part of the landscape by now.
It's benefited from it's largest push ever backing some quite good technology,and 3D is still seen as something threatening to "break in" but never quite managing. It hasn't taken much hold in TV, and it certainly hasn't made any significant breakthroughs in gaming with Nvidia and AMD substantially downgrading their development with 3D tech to the extent they may as well have mothballed it altogether. Things like the Occulus are still in development and havn't been proven one way or another yet.
It's only in cinema with it's successful marketing as an "event" status where this push has made any significant in-roads and even at that the adoption years down the line isn't exactly where the studios once wanted it to be.
So there is something quite clearly "wrong" with 3D in people's minds for it to be "complained" about. Maybe it's that the tech still hasn't got round to not giving a lot of us sore heads when watching 3D. Maybe it's just the unneeded hassle of the glasses interfering with our relationship our TVs. I don't know what it is. But it's something more than just a bunch of people hating on something they don't understand.

Well you struck on an important term "hating" on it, that's what the internet does - and it's documented that a fraction of people either can't perceive it or have nasty sideffects. But is that fraction is less than 50% then dual screenings still make sense.

I think I said before, I don't think it makes sense for TV, I don't even feel inclined to watch a film on my TV in 3D - but I usually prefer the experience at the cinema.

Otherwise you largely just re-itterated my point that 3D is for event performances (such as the 50th anniversary of Dr Who) - that's not a reason to hate on it. It is what it is.

Aw Boo! I've been enjoying watching Wimbledon in HD 3D. I would have watched the Olympics in it too, if I'd had my tv back then. Poor show BBC! Think there was a definite lack of patience there for people getting new 3D tvs. And Not everybody has the Sky 3D channel to watch. :(

I was going to join the debate between Alex and Guest but it got a bit long and heated, so I'll put my tuppence-worth here instead.

I love films, I go to the cinema a lot and I enjoy a movie for its direction, lighting, cinematography and overall production as well as just its story, acting, etc. I'm not professing to be any kind of expert, but my point is that I care about my movie-going experience a lot. And I will always choose to watch a film in 2D over 3D given the choice. The 3D aspect of it, when done well, can be engaging, but in no way does it outweigh the things that are lost. The significantly lower brightness, the washed-out colours and the loss of lighting subtlety just make 3D an irritation for me. My feelings on that subject seem to be in line with those of Oblivion director Joseph Kosinski, who stated that the same problems with 3D were amongst his reasons for not shooting Oblivion in 3D, but opting to feature IMAX instead.

I've only seen a couple of 3D programmes on 3DTVs and never been impressed, and I've always expected it to be a fad that would pass. I'm not saying the BBC's decision proves me right, but it certainly doesn't prove me wrong! That opinion was also reinforced by the striking lack of 3D technology at this year's CES, in contrast to recent previous years - an absence so marked that several industry journalists who were there wrote about it.

Well this is good news. 3D's a big ol' waste of time, it's style over content. Especially for TV. And it's certainly a waste of money for a state funded broadcaster. Let Sky waste their money on this kind of rubbish.

Having said that, this did make me laugh:

"Watching 3D is quite a hassly experience in the home. You have got to find your glasses before switching on the TV"

That's just so, so much hassle...

I'm with you Guest. The only time I've tried watching anything in 3D I ended up with a huge headache afterwards that didn't go away all day.

We'll presumably never get much TV filmed in 3D, so if it was ever rolled out as standard it would all be dodgy retrofitting with tiny little occasional bits poking out.

I think 3D has a bigger future in gaming than on TV, at least with gaming there's a point to having that extra dimension.

i think you find that those who actively hate something shout the loudest about their hate,whilst those who like something tend to stay silent and just get on with their day,you tend not to complain if you like something,so basically you get the 10 % shouting "WE HATE 3D" and the rest of us just on with life

Ive bought quite a few 3D films on Blu Ray,but i tend to watch them say as a treat and most of the time just watch the 2D version

same here,and i think thats where the technology works the best,for one off events or films,its not something i would ever expect to become the norm,but i do think the BBC are making a mistake as they are supposed to be broadcast leaders(pushing TV Tech forward via their R and D department) not followers to the likes of Sky,but in this age of austerity and cutting back i kind of expected it

I just want to know how they are handling the 3d special, will it just be aired in 3d on tv, I heard it was going to be in cinemas, will that be true in the usa too?

Alex - Sorry, but you're in the minority. The percentage of people opting to see the 3D version of a film over the 2D version has been dropping for a number of years. I know very few people who would choose 3D over 2D, and every piece of anecdotal evidence I read, whether from film critics or fans, points in the same direction. The statistics that the BBC are basing this decision on are just another nail in a coffin that's sliding rapidly towards the grave. The fad is waning.

You're the only person I've ever come across either online or in real life that has felt moved to defend 3D so strongly. Your position baffles me - I would love to be able to see whatever it is that you see! (And no I'm not one of those people that can't see the 3D effect.)

BBC should just use those funds to make more Doctor Who episodes in a year. Longer story arcs please.

Yeah, I don't normally watch Wimbledon on tv, but the curiosity novelty value of seeing the semi finals/finals in 3D perked my interest, and I've really enjoyed it. Felt like the next best thing to being there,
which I definitely wouldn't have been able to afford this year. So
disappointed in the BBC for being like this, I mean I know they're
cutting back and all, but still.. :(

I actually like 3D when it's well done. I've seen a few films in 3D, but just a few of them seemed to have a good 3D. I don't know if it has to do with the 2D/3D option or if the directors just don't care, but most of the time it is completely irrelevant. So, if they took it out, I wouldn't really mind. I think it is a nice visual feature IF you do it well, which most directors just don't.

It's not so much the 3D itself I am annoyed by, but more the fact that many 3D available films have effects that were obviously put in to show off the 3D, rather than to enhance the film. When it is then watched on DVD at home in 2D, these effects are lost. That is a waste. They ought to focus on making a good film, rather than 3D effects.

Jamie stop and think about your argument for a moment. The percentage of people opting to see a 3D film... the more expensive experience, has been dropping. Tell me, what is the example to counteract this? By now DVD had replaced VHS, there is a Playstation 3 in half the homes in Britain, why is DVD still the dominant format? It's cheaper.
The same argument applies to games, it's not that interest reduced, but people switched to cheaper alternatives. So when I said I don't bother most of the time, how does that put me in minority?

Every piece of anectdotal evidence you read? I won't address that point, I'm going to credit you with some intelligence.

And in what part of my argument did I defend it "so strongly" as you put it, there seems to be very agressive approach to shouting down anyone with anything remotely positive to say.
So I reitterate my question, what part of:
"This isn't a push for 3D, I have no strong feelings about it's long term future outside of games (which as I say I feel have better options). I just got very sick of the way it's made out that everyone hates it, and that the people who pay the extra to see it in 3D can't possibly enjoy it, they must have had no other option (I've never found a movie where I didn't)."
Is defending it "so strongly".

What part of my position baffles you, I have good depth perception, always have. I can watch a black and white movie and it doesn't bother me, I can watch a 4:3 old TV show, it doesn't bother me, I can watch a DVD in SD, it doesn't bother me, and likewise I won't avoid a movie if it's shot only in 2D, I'll simply opt for the best viewing experience possible when going to the cinema. It's not a position that should tax your brain.

Hobbit in 3D worked far better on my TV than in the cinema and there weren't any brightness issues. It will remain.

3d - Its distracting not immersive. I saw Avatar in 3d and pretty much decided that If this was the high water mark of 3d, I wasn't going to subject myself to it again. Its not just the distracting thing- its the lack of light when you are wearing the sunglasses. Brilliant idea, charge more for a substandard experience. The only friends I have who have expressed positive feelings about 3d are the ones with little kids who seem to like it.

If the gloominess and distraction wasn't enough to put me No to 3d camp , the fact that it killed Dredd and the chance of a sequel would have done it . I travelled well over an hour to get to see it on one of only 2 screens in greater London that had it in 2d. Have 2 multiplexes and an old arts theatre within 10 minutes walk from the flat. Many friends of mine would have gone to see it but didn't because it was only available in 3d near them. The distributors got greedy trying to gouge an extra few quid for the 3d gimmick and they killed the film at the box office doing so.

I don't get headaches. Just annoyed by the pointy pointy darkness.

Does anyone kow if there will be 2d cinema showings - 'd love to see it in on a big screen but ....

1) Your grammar is appalling

2) Your opinion about immersive vs distracting is subjective and yet stated as fact.

3) If you go to a half decent cinema they're supposed to increase the brightness in compensation for the reduced intensity per eye

Pointy point darkness?

Welcome to the internet, you've fulfilled the two major cliches with points 1 and 2.

1) Yes, my grammar is appalling - well spotted and pointed out - Perhaps this make you feel superior and win you lots of friends. Perhaps not.

2) Yes, I omitted saying "my opinion is". Again ,well spotted. I'm sure that everyone else must have been totally confused by my statement. Thankfully anyone who enjoys 3d can breathe a sigh of relief now they have read your clarification of this matter.

3) I may be wrong in this but I think that a large amount of cinemas don't have projectors that can compensate for the huge reduction in of light - hence its a problem in a lot of places - perhaps even a majority.

"Pointy point darkness" - again,terrible grammar on my part . Fortunately, I imagine that the majority of people here who aren't trying to be unpleasant understood what i was saying.

"Welcome to the internet, you've fulfilled the two major cliches with points 1 and 2."

Thank you, sir. Its so good to be schooled by you. I have made a note. The correct behaviour on the internet is to be a grammatically correct, condescending ass. Nothing cliched about that , eh?

1) It makes your post harder to read. It's courteous to try for the benefit of the readers

2) It's not a matter of saying "in my opinion". Your opening statement was one of fact, rather than "I find 3D to be distracting rather than immersive". It makes for a less antagonistic and aggressive tone and doesn't take any longer to write.

3) Possibly so, but that's not a fault with the 3D

4) I genuinely have no idea what you mean by "pointy pointy". It's not an issue of grammar.

"Pointy pointy". Couldn't work that out as a reference to the tendency of 3d films to point stuff outwards towards the audience ? "darkness" ? Did you struggle with that too ? Come now, Alex, you were rude and now you are trying to justify it.

A more mature person might have just apologised when he was called on his ill-judged post . I see you didn't attempt to reheat your final put-down , so there may be some hope for you yet.

Who would work that out? Is it really the best method you can think of for describing a parallax effect? Since the entire screen is given the appearance of being moved outwards, not just the odd stick, even once I know what you were on about it didn't make sense.

You stated your opinion as fact, which is a very arrogant and aggressive thing to do. Maybe in your mind making a genuine criticism of your grammar is far ruder, but then were your tone more friendly and agreeable people would be less inclined to point it out.

You're a little troll Alex- go away now and let the grown ups play in peace.

I'm the troll? First you're aggressive, now you're insulting, and you're the one who responded to my comment in the first place... how can one go away from their own comment thread?
When I confronted you with what you'd done you did the internet equivalent of throwing a temper tantrum and throwing out insults. Very mature I'm sure.

Little Troll, my original post was not at all aggressive .

However, if you play the forum bully, occasionally someone will respond to you and call you on it.

This is a forum , I expressed an opinion.

You attempted to put me down by ridiculing my poor grammar and making a big deal about the way I phrased my opinion.

You then insulted me with this : "Welcome to the internet, you've fulfilled the two major cliches with points 1 and 2". A fact that you haven't gone back to in any of your little attempts to justify yourself - presumably because facing it will have to make you admit to yourself in trying to be clever and put others down that you made yourself appear a condescending ass.

I'm only wasting time with you now to see if its possible that you will man up and admit your behaviour instead of repeatedly trying to justify it.

This whole thing stemmed from you trying to put someone down to presumably feel better about yourself. I called you out on it. Live with it. Walk away now.

If by being clever you mean being correct, clearly and concisely demonstrating why your post was aggressive in tone and not backing down because you chose to throw an insult in my direction... then my word, would you believe that I don't have a problem with 'being clever'.

A "fact" that I haven't gone back to? Do you mean a sentence I haven't quoted? I haven't hidden from it, those are two internet cliches, you fulfilled both of them. Do you deny your original post was stated as fact, that the grammar was poor, or is mentioning either of these two things somehow taboo?

You tried to take an aggressive stance, you were put in your place. I called you on it. I would say "walk away now" but is that as another very aggressive statement fitting of a setting where a fight is implied I don't find it particularly becoming.

Bravo - you nearly took ownership of your insulting behaviour.

Its a good first step but it appears to be that you ignoring the fact that you were being insulting for no good reason at all.

Perhaps you really can't see this, In which case i suggest you ask a responsible adult to look at what you wrote, they might be able to help you.

You probably know one. In fact there might be one in your house. They the ones who go out to work and pay the mortgage/rent .

Numeracy not your thing? I pointed out that your FIRST post was aggressive in nature (you haven't denied that you were stating your opinion as fact), and as a consequence I am unconcerned with the tone of my response - as you become increasingly and increasingly aggressive you will note that I become less and less concerned with how you perceive the nature of my responses.

Don't know what's wrong with you, don't care to know. Didn't appreciate the tone of your first post, certainly don't appreciate the tone of your last one. I have absolutely no idea for whose benefit you believe yourself to be posting.

My dear Alex, This really is getting us both nowhere. I'm afraid we'll have to leave it here as my lunch break is over now and i have to go back to work. Its probably time for your afternoon nap. Enjoy the milk and cookies.

Best news I've heard all day. And you ended on a childish insult so as to reinforce my point. Thank you sir.


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