Can nature documentaries boost 3D take-up?

Meerkats 3D
Meerkats 3D: If you look really hard you can see the film crew blending into the background

It's become a standing joke within my household that my wife 'can't see' HD pictures; unless, that is, they are the truly spectacular images shown in high-end nature documentaries.

Although sport and films are often named as the big influencers in terms of telly tech – the reason we upgrade to the latest screens and set top boxes – documentaries cannot be discounted as a key reason behind wanting better.

When I first got an HD television it wasn't the football that I showed off but the rolling Attenborough-voiced wonders on the BBC HD channel, and it seems likely that I was not alone in wanting to show off my TV's new features with animals.

With 3D still battling against the perception that it is a gimmick, it is interesting to see that the headlining films and sports offerings served up are increasingly being served up alongside animal features.

From Flying Monsters 3D – an Attenborough-voiced documentary around past creatures – to a brand new release on Sky 3D called Meerkats 3D, the power of the cute, fluffy and often vicious and fascinating worlds of creatures are bringing increasing reasons to sign up for a new television.

Meerkats - comparing the kalahari

Meerkats 3D is an interesting offering; served up by a number of major names including National Geographic, Sky 3D, Oxford Scientific Films, Principal Large Format and Cambridge University.

The story and indeed the topic are familiar; even before they became a central pillar of the market comparison advertising scene, meerkats were proving to be a hugely popular fare for UK television with a series of documentaries.

That familiarity is well served by the addition of 3D, and the unavoidable conclusion/pun that this documentary literally adds another dimension to a well-trodden path.

Keeping an eye out for 3d film crews

Following matriarch Clinky and her family in the Kalahari Desert is immediately immersive, which means that the 3D serves as a nice addition rather than the principle focus – something that it is vital to showing 3D as something other than a gimmick.

It's all to easy (and frankly a little patronising) to suggest that nature films are attractive to a female audience who would not be swayed into backing a new television purchase to watch premiership football or 3D films.

The truth is that by broadening 3D content away from sport and movies into a massively popular documentary arena (as well as the Arts), the potential audience that want to be viewing the content grows rapidly.

And with the filming and understanding of modern 3D growing on a daily basis – the quality of the content is improving fast. It might not be quite where the manufacturers want it to be right now – but 3D is beginning to poke its furry nose through the screen of gimmickry.

Meerkats 3D will be shown on Sky 3D on 16 October at 8pm, with a 2D version simulcast on Nat Geo Wild.

Patrick Goss

Patrick Goss is the ex-Editor in Chief of TechRadar. Patrick was a passionate and experienced journalist, and he has been lucky enough to work on some of the finest online properties on the planet, building audiences everywhere and establishing himself at the forefront of digital content.  After a long stint as the boss at TechRadar, Patrick has now moved on to a role with Apple, where he is the Managing Editor for the App Store in the UK.