The excitement around 3D TV at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas did not appear to be influencing companies at the AVN-Adult Entertainment Expo taking place at the same time, despite the fact that the adult industry is often a first mover in new video technologies.

Electronics giants such as Sony and Samsung unveiled a range of new products for 3D home entertainment at CES, including ultra-thin-screen HDTVs and Blu-ray Disc players, in high hopes that consumers will snap them up this year.

The adult industry is taking a more cautious approach.

Some adult filmmakers are dabbling in 3D video, but most are moving slowly because of the higher production costs, the need for 3D glasses, and a belief that not enough people will buy 3D TV systems this year to justify the cost of making 3D movies.

"We're very excited to do 3D production, but we don't feel market penetration [of 3D TVs] has hit the level we need it to be in the home," said Rob Smith, director of operations at Hustler Video Group, in an interview in Las Vegas. "I'm hoping by the fourth quarter of this year it will be at the point where we can justify doing a 3D product," he said.

Adult filmmakers work on much smaller budgets than Hollywood studios, making 3D a tougher sell for them. They also depend more on the sale of videos, because adult cinemas have nearly disappeared in the US, whereas Hollywood can see an immediate return on a blockbuster 3D movie in the theaters and doesn't have to depend on video sales. In other words, the success of James Cameron's 3D movie Avatar, which has already grossed more than US$1 billion, is not likely to be replicated by the adult film industry any time soon.

Graham Travis, at the porn studio Elegant Angel, said 3D movies cost far more to make than the average adult movie, which costs around $25,000 to $40,000. "We would love to do 3D but it's just too expensive right now," he said.

3D makes porn pricey

Ali Joone, founder of Digital Playground, said 3D movies cost about 30 per cent more to make than traditional films due to the setup time, the need for two cameras and a more intricate post-production process.

3D glasses are also an issue, he said, because people don't want to be encumbered by eyewear when viewing a film. "I think the glasses are the barrier," he said.

But Joone believes the 3D experience is compelling enough that it will catch on in time. The sense of voyeurism is heightened by 3D, he said, and will make people feel as if they are in the room with the actors and actresses.

One of the first 3D adult films was the 1969 softcore movie The Stewardesses. The film was initially tagged with an X rating in the US and shown only in small cinemas in a few cities, but was later remade as an R-rated film for wider distribution om mainstream screens. It has been called one of the most profitable 3D films ever, because it cost only about $100,000 to make and grossed more than $27 million.

Few other adult 3D films have been made. But Lance Johnson, a producer at BadGirls in 3D, has been hard at work creating content for what he thinks will be a big market for 3D porn among home viewers. His company unveiled a complete home theatre system at the adult expo here that lets people watch 3D adult videos streamed from his Web site.