Though some might argue that stereoscopic presentations are their own special kind of cheese, this truly takes home 3D to another . . . dimension entirely. Comcast has announced that it will broadcast the annual Yule Log in 3D as a video on demand service. Folks who grew up in the New York City metropolitan area might be more familiar with the Yule Log broadcast than most. Started in 1966 on independent New York television station, WPIX, the Yule Log was simply a video loop of a log in a fireplace (the original film was shot at Gracie Mansion, the official residence of the mayor of New York City) with a rotating soundtrack of Christmas carols. According to Wikipedia, this was ” a televised Christmas gift to those residents of The Big Apple who lived in apartments and homes without fireplaces. This also provided time for employees of the TV station to stay home with their families, instead of working for the usual morning news program.” The Yule Log was generally aired on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day without commercial interruption (and this was back in the era of less-than-24-hour-television broadcasts and no infomercials). The broadcast was canceled in 1990, but brought back through write-in campaigns (and fan sites like TheYuleLog.com).
So what’s the draw? Certainly there is the nostalgia factor (especially for those of us from the New York area) as well as a huge kitsch factor. There’s also the promise of a more immersive experience with the Yule Log. But the presentation in stereo brings something both old and new into the mix. When the Log premiered in 1966, 3D movies were already passé, a gimmicky trick from the previous decade, by most accounts designed to counter the influence of television in the American entertainment arena by giving consumers something that they simply could not get at home. And yet today, with the far superior technology of digital stereoscopic presentations, 3D is coming home (some estimatesproject that total worldwide sales in 2010 will be around 4 million sets). Marketers have tried many different tacks to lure home consumers to the 3DTV party — 3D sporting events, 3D movies on Blu-Ray, and of course, 3D games. But now, by reimagining images from the past which were, even in their original form, low-tech at best, are content companies playing on consumers’ nostalgic heartstrings from the past to help sell a technology of the future?