3D TV was ahead of its time
And now it's coming back, sort of
Say you're a home theatre enthusiast who feels like watching Avatar: The Way of Water on your carefully assembled high-end setup. You could just stream it on Disney+, sure, but you probably have concerns about the bitrate. Your best bet for pure image quality is going to be the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc. But what if you want to watch it in 3D, as James Cameron intended?
Well, as a home theatre enthusiast, your TV probably doesn’t support 3D — virtually no models released in the past five years do. Even so, The Way of Water did get a 3D Blu-ray release. In fact, you can't buy the UHD Blu-ray in some regions (including Japan) without getting an extra 3D disc in the box as well. And this isn't just because of Cameron's obsession with pushing the format; the same is true of every recent Marvel and Star Wars movie. Other recent blockbusters like Dune and Jurassic World: Dominion also received 3D Blu-ray releases.
I am all for niche formats, but this particular situation is sort of odd considering you straight-up have not been able to buy compatible 3D TVs for several years. Even 3D-capable Blu-ray players are hard to find beyond niche, expensive models. For example, the PlayStation 3 and PS4 played 3D discs; the PS5 does not.
Studios are still making 3D content and releasing it to consumers. The hardware to play it at home, however, no longer exists in the market. I don't know why these 3D Blu-rays are still being printed or who they're actually for. But I do think it's worth revisiting 3D video as a mainstream concern.
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