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Toy Story 3: Kid-tested, Grandmother-Approved 3D

Friday, July 09, 2010

Posted July 9. 2010 by Jennifer Davis
Last week, I loaded the kids, nieces, and Grandma up to go to see Toy Story 3 in 3D.  The small theater in their hometown in West Texas only had only 3D auditorium, outfitted with RealD® and a Harkness® silver screen. 

 

Grandma had never seen a movie in 3D and was pretty apprehensive.  She was convinced that she’d have a horrible experience based on previous car sickness episodes and what she had heard from my aunt, who literally got sick after Avatar.  We got to the theater early, so that I could find her a seat in the optimal spot for viewing.  We settled in to the row for the show to start.  I must say the kids looked adorable in their petite-sized glasses (which I was thankful for, as not all theaters offer them).  The show started soon enough and once the preview for “Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole” started, I had my four-year old on my lap.

 

Toy Story 3 is a cute story with too many sub-plots to outline here.  It introduces us (and the aisles at Target) to a whole new cast of merchandisable characters.  My least favorite was probably the Ken doll (voiced by decidedly un-metrosexual Michael Keaton), who vacillated between shrewd cruelty and bubble-gum perkiness, but what can you expect from a toy that Mr. Potato Head called an “accessory.  A walking handbag.”  The movie had a scary part when…okay, I won’t spoil your fun, but when I asked my daughter what she liked about the movie, she did tell me that she liked “all of it…except for the lava.”

 

At the end of the movie, Grandma was fine.  The eyes took a bit of adjustment, but she seemed no worse for the 3D wear.  The 3D was pretty subtle (adding depth not in-your-face antics) and didn’t really take away from the story (as it has been known to do).  The kids probably would have enjoyed the movie just as much (and probably my preschooler might have enjoyed it more) in 2D, but it was a fun family outing that kept us out of the muggy Texas heat and allowed us all to play one last time and say our good-byes to some of the most beloved movie characters of all times.

~Jennifer B. Davis is all about technology innovation and is a customer advocate, business executive, mom, and loves her job as Runco’s VP of marketing.

The Promise and Problems of 3D

Friday, May 14, 2010

Posted by Jennifer B. Davis

First, I cannot write about 3D without saying that we at Runco are very excited about 3D and how important it will be to the industry in 2011. The only concern I have is this: similar to what has happened every 60 years or so, the industry’s early efforts to commercialize in-home 3D are so poor that they poison the well and keep 3D from catching on the way that it could. The reasons for poor 3D reproduction in the home are many and can range from poor implementation, compatibility problems with the variety of “standards” that are bracing for war in the market, to the lack of real content in the market to take advantage of developments in technology.

I experienced a wild situation recently that illustrates this perfectly as I watched a few friends set up a new 3D television that they had bought from a big box store (their first mistake, I must say). Excited by the prospects of 3D, they bought a television, new Blu-Ray player, and got ready with their glasses. They sent someone to pick up DreamWorks’ “Monsters vs Aliens” in 3D Blu-Ray Disc to play. They had asked the blue shirt (or were they green?) and came back triumphantly carrying a disc labeled boldly as “3D.”

Only one problem: this disc was formatted in anaglyph 3D. The same blue-red glasses that were popularized in the 1950s (the last time the well was poisoned). They were set up to watch anaglyph 3D with LCD active-shutter glasses (or, more accurately, “safety goggles”). The overhead conversation included the following highlights:

“Do you see 3D?”

“Oh, be sure to turn on the glasses. The power button is on the top. Not the top of the TV the top of the glasses.”

“I think I see something.”

“Why is it so blurry?”

“I think something is wrong.”

Wrong indeed. If you visit a big box electronics store, a movie rental store (if your town still has one) or do a quick search on Amazon.com for “3D Blu-Ray” you will find lots of anaglyph titles that you can buy…and are unwatchable on any television and incompatible with other products on the market dubbed “3D.”

While someone else went to get a new Blu-Ray, another hooked up a laptop to see if some 3D games or YouTube videos could be viewed, but, naturally, these all use another, different and incompatible format of 3D.

Well, back to our heroes. That second trip to the store (this time to buy a 3D starter kit that included the only released title and two additional sets of glasses for just less than $400) did the trick. But other problems remained as evidenced by the comments:

“Oh, I see it now. That’s cool, but it’s still blurry. Especially on those door jams or other things that are fixed and straight. Why aren’t those in 3D?”

“Are you supposed to see the glasses flashing? When I move my eyes, I can see them blinking.”

“I still can’t see 3D. Oh, I need to turn the glasses on? How do I do that?”

“I think the on-the-fly 3D [converting 2D to 3D automatically ] looked better than this movie.”

“What happens when my kids lose or sit on these glasses and they break?”

Overall, I was pleased by the mostly positive (albeit brief) reaction to the product, as it reflects the patience that early adopters might give the medium until the best-in-class solutions are released and content is readily available. My experience this past week does illustrate the state of the industry and how easy it will be for consumers to get confused and have a horrible 3D experience.

As always, I advise you talk to your Runco dealer about the roadmap for 3D in your home. I’d advise you to not rush into an incomplete solution, but look forward with us to the Runco approach. Just like we did with CineWide and with light-emitting diode (LED) technology, we’ll be remarkable and uniquely innovative, and you want to be a part of the revolution against bad 3D.

Note: Although I will never tell you where I was when I witnessed this circus show, I can tell you it was NOT at a Runco dealer or showroom. Our dealers know better.

~Jennifer B. Davis is all about technology innovation and is a customer advocate, business executive, mom, and loves her job as Runco’s VP of marketing.

New 3D TV Warnings - why 3D isn't ready for PrimeTime (yet)...

Tuesday, May 04, 2010By guest blogger John Sciacca of John Sciacca Writes...

The technical juggernaught that is 3D might just have met its first roadblock with how its being used on the mass-market TV's that are now available. Samsung released news a few weeks ago with instrcutions titled "Viewing TV using the 3D Function."

Let's just say that not all the news out of 3D land is puppy dogs and rainbows. It turns out that beyond all the other hoopla that the current application of 3D is causing, you can also possibly enjoy:

* An epileptic seizure!  Or, even better, a stroke! What's that you say? You've never had a seizure and it doesn't run in your family? So now you think you know more about seizures than 3D, do ya? Samsung says, "Even those without a personal or family history of epilepsy or stroke may have an undiagnosed condition that can cause photosensitive epileptic seizures." So, keep your emptied-to-buy-a-3D-TV wallet handy to cram into the mouth of any guests or family members that start trying to bite their tongue off. (Note: If tongue biting is voluntary due to watching a crappy movie hyped for 3D, use wallet at own discretion.)

* Regular TV = perfectly safe and responsible babysitter. 3D TV = wants to reprogram your kids A Clockwork Orange style. Samsung recommends that children and teenagers "should be closely supervised when viewing these images."

* I'm not saying that 3D will try and take your fetus and put it to work on a factory line, or that 3D thinks that old people should be sent to Carousel Logan's Run style or that you better be DAMN sure you get a full 12 hours before even thinking about watching Avatar. I'm not saying it, but this what Samsung said, "Pregnant women, the elderly, sufferers of serious medical conditions, those who are sleep deprived...should avoid utilizing the unit's 3D functionality."

* Think you'll just ward off 3D strokes and seizures with several tall, chilled glasses of your "magic juice"? Wrong! 3D preys on drunks with the same passion it has for babies, the old and infirm. "Those under the influence of alcohol should avoid utilizing the unit's 3D functionality." How much is too much? When should you know when to say when? 3D knows! And it is DYING to tell you!

* More awesome things these new 3D TV’s can cause! "(1) altered vision; (2) lightheadedness; (3) dizziness; (4) involuntary movements such as eye or muscle twitching; (5) confusion; (6) nausea; (7) loss of awareness; (8) convulsions; (9) cramps; and/ or (10) disorientation." I frequently have #5, 7 and 10---maybe I've been living my entire life in 3D. And they said you couldn't upgrade! Or perhaps 3D will enhance my already awesomeness?

* Now when I tell my daughter not to sit too close to the TV I can add, "OR YOU'LL GO BLIND!"

* No matter how stylish you think your new 3D active glasses are, don't ever, ever, NEVER wear them when not watching 3D TV. Doing so "may be physical harmful to you and may weaken your eyesight." Not to mention it will make you look like an absolute tool. Oh, and please remember these are not sunglasses or protective goggles. However, if you're willing to risk blindness, they would probably like sweet at a rave.

* Also, it turns out that the 3D experience is so crammed with awesome, that afterwards people will be unwilling or unable to immediately return to their pathetic, 2D existences. They might try and, say, pitch themselves off a balcony! To help curb these natural post 3D suicidal tendencies, Samsung advises, "DO NOT place your TV television near open stairwells, cables, balconies, or other objects that can be tripped over, run into, knocked down, broken or fallen over."

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