Can 'Jailhouse Heat' save 3-D?

You probably won’t see stars walking the red carpet for the première of “Jailhouse Heat 3D” later this month — if you’ll be watching at all — but the first fully-functional 3-D pornographic movie might just be the tipping point that pushes consumers to embrace personal 3-D.

Don’t laugh, because the adult film industry has been a factor in a lot of technology-based decisions over the years. Remember when VHS and Betamax were competing formats? Sony refused to let pornography onto Beta while the companies behind VHS let their tapes become open season. And we all know what happened: VHS crushed Betamax, even though in many ways it was an inferior technology. Pornography wasn’t the only factor in that outcome, but it was a significant driver.

The road to 3-D has been a really bumpy one in terms of major adoption by consumers. Despite a huge push from companies making 3-D gear, sales have been very slow, to the point where the format is in danger of disappearing.

It seems that although people generally are willing to pay an extra few dollars to see a movie in 3-D at the theater, they aren’t willing to spend hundreds or thousands of extra dollars to bring a 3-D TV into their home.

That could change somewhat with less expensive 3-D products such as the Acer HN274H, which the lab is reviewing for our special December holiday issue. But to get a true install base, you need a killer application, and 3-D pornography, as unlikely as it seems, might be it.

In the lab, we don’t expect to see news releases from the adult film industry, but after we got one about “Jailhouse Heat’s” use of 3-D, I talked with Ali Joone, the vice president of Digital Playground, which is producing the movie.

“We’re using the same rigs and technology that were used in the movie ‘Avatar’,” he said. “You can perform all the zooms and camera movements you want, and the computer controls keep everything in focus, so the result is an amazing and smooth 3-D experience.”

If you want to experience it for yourself, you need to have a 3-D monitor or TV. But Joone said he isn’t worried about the current install base for 3-D, though he expects that part of his job in marketing the film will be educating consumers about what makes for good-quality 3-D, which he says requires the types of camera rigs used in “Avatar.” In fact, he defines the world of 3-D as post-Avatar technology…and then everything else.

Joone’s been in the adult film industry for a long time, and says that high-quality 3-D has an impact. “Here at Digital Playground we’re exposed to adult material every day,” he said. “It’s normally no big deal. But when you see a high-quality adult film in 3-D, it really makes even us take notice.”

I’m not completely convinced that this new type of film will be the savior of a format that seems to be against the ropes this holiday season, even if Joone makes a compelling argument. But if by this time next year everyone has fully embraced 3-D for “other” reasons, well, you and I will know the truth.

About the Author

John Breeden II is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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