3D in focus for the entertainment industry

Written by Lluís Milá, Product Marketing Manager Professional Projectors 


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The incredible success of Avatar: The Way of Water is just one of the factors that has put 3D back into focus for the entertainment industry. Incredibly, the movie has already scaled the heights to become the third-highest ever grossing movie – knocking Cameron’s own Titanic one rung down the ladder. The ability to see the world of Pandora in 3D has been cited as one of the driving factors behind its huge success. 

Away from cinema, major theme parks are already using headsets and high tech glasses to provide virtual and augmented reality experiences but, although thrilling for a short ride, these experiences are limited in some ways. They only allow each participant to experience the ride alone and commercially the headsets are expensive to deploy and maintain. The holy grail is to be able to provide an immersive 3D experience without complex headset technology that will allow participants to share their experience with friends and family.

Interestingly, it has been reported that Disney has recently patented its Virtual World Simulator that could use projectors to create a 360 degree immersive world. In many ways the projection technologies are already there to bring this concept to reality but it may take a little time for the computer processing power to catch-up.

3D growth projected

But Disney’s move certainly underlines the fact that 3D is here is stay and the numbers back it up. The global 3D technology market is expected to reach €703 billion by 2030, up from €171 billion in 2020, and growing at a compound annual growth rate of 16.3%, according to Allied Market Research. As well as growth in the healthcare, defence and other industrial sectors, it is the Entertainment industry that is expected to spearhead this development.

Varied applications

However, it’s not just cinema and theme parks where this type of 3D projection is having an impact in the Location Based Entertainment industry. The Big Swing Golf franchise, for example, has built its indoor golf centre success on the realistic quality of its projection-based simulators. 

They quickly realised that most indoor golf centres were aimed at casual fun – rather than at those that wanted to improve their game. There was a gap in the market for a serious golf simulator experience and it worked. Full Swing’s systems are favoured by some of the biggest names in golf, including Tiger Woods and Jason Day.

The Full Swing Golf simulators have a technology edge, combining a high-speed camera for club head metrics with 3D infrared tracking of the ball’s flight and superb projection visual quality. It relies on Panasonic PT-VMZ50 WUXGA laser projection for its display requirements.

"We needed to find a projector that was just as happy projecting in a 4:3 aspect ratio as it was a 16:9 aspect ratio. It’s getting harder to find a projector that doesn’t impose some image loss when you do that. This is important to Big Swing Golf’s residential installations. If the space is a little cramped, then 4:3 will be preferred. In those cases, you need to find a projector that has the same image quality: same brightness and doesn’t lose a lot of resolution along the way. The laser light source is also a powerful development for Big Swing Golf, especially in its franchised golf simulation lounges, where the projectors can be running 18 hours a day, seven days a week. The Panasonic units are 5,000 lumens, which is great, and we wouldn’t want to compromise on that. Previously, we were swapping out lamps every year and it was bad for business — tedious, and sometimes they’d go wrong at the worst possible time."

Making the right choice

It’s clear that 3D projection will have a role to play in many areas of entertainment over the coming years – from our next big blockbusters and rides at theme parks to smaller location based entertainment venues such as the sports simulators, museums and exhibitions. 

The key will be choosing the right 3D projection technology to meet the need. That’s why Panasonic has produced its latest paper Putting 3D into Perspective, the 3D Tech Guide for Location Based Entertainment. Download it now here.

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