IMAX Chief Richard Gelfond Helps Answer Your FAQ About 3-D TV


Shortly after James Cameron's 3-D behemoth Avatar flapped its mighty wings past the $350 million mark, three entertainment leaders announced that they were joining forces to create the first full-time 3-D television cable channel in American history. The groundbreaking news came this week from Discovery, IMAX and Sony at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, sending ripples of excitement and waves of confusion through 2-D television connoisseurs. Fortunately, Movieline has compiled a list of questions and answers, with help from IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond (who even discussed the controversy surrounding those "fake IMAX" screens) to strengthen your understanding of the newest tri-dimensional telly.

So just how long has IMAX been batting around the idea of a television channel before announcing it this week?

I'd say that we've been looking at ways to migrate our brand into the home for the last year but this specific venture we've been talking about for the last three months or so. The broader point I want to make though is that we've been looking at different ways to use our brand in the home and there are other irons in the fire. This is just the first one we announced.

When can we expect that the channel will be ready for start-up?

It will probably debut in 2011.

What kind of programming will the new channel offer?

Mostly science and nature shows culled and up-converted from Discovery's and IMAX's libraries. In the future, the companies hope to license television rights to 3-D feature films, music videos and game-related content while shooting new shows in 3-D.


Does this mean that I'll have to get a new television, because I just got around to upgrading to an HD TV?

Yes. Television manufacturers are banking on the transition to 3-D sets to boost sales as much as the transition from black and white to color did. This week, Sony, Panasonic, LG and Samsung unveiled their 3-D screens and revealed that their upgraded televisions should be available to everyone mid-2010. [The TV pictured at left is a Samsung 3D LED 9000.]

I'm scared to know much will one of these fancy-schmancy TVs set me back?

It's hard to say but of the limited 3-D boxes on the market today, Reuters prices a 42-inch set at $1,000 (compared to a 42-inch LCD for $600) and a 50-inch set at $2,000.

If I'm paying $2,000, does that mean I'm at least going to be able to watch Seinfeld re-runs, Jersey Shore and other regular programming in 3-D?

Also hard to say. According to Tech Digest, the television above was pitched as being able to convert 2-D content into 3-D immediately, whether it be broadcast or disc, but it's unclear whether all 3-D televisions will allow you to see Snooki's fist fly toward you and what quality that on-the-spot conversion will be.

Will I have to wear those geeky glasses?


Yes and no. You will have to wear glasses for the 3-D effect but a company called Gunnar Optiks, which specializes in digital glasses, is developing a line of stylish, high-quality eyewear that will be available during the summer of 2010 for the low low price range of $89 to $149.

Does anyone know if you'll have to pay extra to get the channel in your home?

It's undecided whether it will be basic cable or pay.

Will IMAX have a hand in producing some of the network's programming?

We'll definitely play a role in two ways. For part of the content, we'll be converting part of the 2-D library into 3-D. I wouldn't say producing but I'd say that we'll be helping with the 3-D technology because we've been in 3-D for 25 years so we understand a lot about how to set up the shots, what kinds of cameras to use and how to light it. So I think we'll play a role in making the content look good.

Didn't I hear something about a 3-D sports channel too?

Yes. Disney-owned ESPN announced that they are developing ESPN 3D for a June 11 start-up. The network's first program will be the World Cup soccer match and will continue with over 85 live sports events this year, going dark whenever the company does not have content.

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  • CiscoMan says:

    I can certainly see a market for a Discovery 3D and ESPN 3D channels, but given the trend among networks and the big cable channels toward cheap, fast reality TV, I really wonder how long until they dive into the pool. A tent-pole event film like Avatar is one thing. But is CBS really going to shell out millions to convert production of How I Met Your Mother to 3D? And now consumers have to upgrade again and buy glasses that have smaller viewing angles than 2D, so there's a serious chicken-egg thing happening, too.
    Obviously, these points aren't lost on the IMAX folks, but I'm gonna say a decade until this expands beyond a niche, and I'm taking the over.

  • Anomyous says:

    I am not getting a 3-D TV because my husband cannot watch 3-D, and I am sure as hell not getting a TV he can't watch.

  • Thank you so much for putting this out here.

  • tamara says:

    I am really looking forward to the evolution of 3D TV. It's obviously in its infancy, but it will be interesting to see how it will progress over the next few years.