From the Guild
STATE OF THE 3-D BUSINESS
Helen Davis Jayaleth from HIS Screen Digest with pie chart showing $380 billion spent on entertainment.
State of the 3-D Business
A Report from the Third Dimension
story and photos by Ray Zone
The fourth annual installment of the 3-D Summit, sponsored by Variety and chaired by Bob Dowling, took place September 20-22 at the Hollywood and Highland complex with a series of addresses, panel discussions, 3-D clips and Q&A sessions. A number of exhibitors were also on hand to showcase 3-D gear, glasses, 3-D TV programming, 3-D TV technology, stereoscopic software, projectors and silver screens. It was combined with the second annual Mobile Entertainment Summit, which ran concurrently, with the third day dedicated to 3-D Gaming. With such an approach, the 3-D Summit attempted to live up to its billing as “The Global Business Event on Everything 3-D.”
After opening remarks by Dowling, the 3-D Summit typically begins with current research from IHS Screen Digest presented by Charlotte Jones and Helen Davis Jayaleth in a PowerPoint presentation with hard numbers documenting the proliferation of 3-D on various platforms. Here are some of those 3-D numbers:
As of September 2011, there were 30,000 digital 3-D screens worldwide. There were 8,000 at the end of 2010. These digital 3-D screens accounted for 64 percent of the international box office in 2011. Six 3-D movies accounted for $600 million worldwide in 2011 (a 67 percent increase internationally over 2010). In the next five years, China will install 17,000 digital 3-D screens. On average, 3.1 3-D movies are released every 30 days (up from 2 in 2010). By the end of this year, there will be 17 million 3-D TVs in consumers’ hands. Sixty-five percent of all TVs sold in 2011 will be 3-D-ready. There will be 31 dedicated 3-D TV channels by 2012. 3-D will help Blu-ray maintain a premium position. There are 100 3-D Blu-ray titles. Alternative content on 3-D Blu-ray is up 50 percent in 2011.
Richard Kroon from Technicolor, left, with his 3-D dictionary, and Bernard Mendiburu from Volfoni with his new book on 3-D TV and 3-D Cinema.
The opening keynote address was given by John Revie, senior vice president of Home Entertainment at Samsung Electronics. Revie noted that it was important for 3-D content makers to make the “trade off” in 3-D worthwhile to the consumer who, for the present, must wear 3-D glasses whether “active” (with electronically shuttering LCS glasses) or “passive” (with circular polarizing filters, to enjoy the stereoscopic content at home. Nevertheless, polls conducted by Samsung determined that 90 percent of consumers are satisfied with the home 3-D experience and that six million Samsung 3-D TVs will be in use by 2012. Revie also noted that standards for active glasses and compatibility from different 3-D TV manufacturers are rapidly being deployed.
One company, Volfoni, has introduced glasses for 3-D TV that are compatible with both active and passive displays. Bernard Mendiburu, chief technology officer of Volfoni and author of the new Focal Press book 3-D TV and 3-D Cinema, was on hand to promote Volfoni glasses and also appeared on a panel titled “How Will 3-D TV Programming Develop and What Does 3-D TV Mean for Entertainment?”
Fashion statements have also arrived in the world of 3-D glasses as the Polaroid Corporation introduced a number of sleek circular polarizing 3-D glasses, including styles in color and sizes that are made for children. Their rival is the EX3-D Eyewear company, with “RealD-certified” circular polarizing glasses, also offered in a number of stylish designs. The circular polarizing 3-D glasses can be used both with passive 3-D TVs and at the cinema––where it is expected that moviegoers, in an attempt to avoid premium surcharges for 3-D, will be bringing along their own glasses when they go to the 3-D movies.
Panelists from the I3DS “Power of 3-D” Session: Back row, from left, Craig Tanner, Ray Zone, Tim Pastore, Adam May, Chris Fiske, Jim Chabin; front, Joy Park and Rex Wong. Photo by Sharon Hays.
Two sessions on opening day were sponsored by the International 3-D Society (I3DS) and introduced by Jim Chabin, president of the society. The first was “The Power of 3-D” with presenters who included Craig Tanner, co-founder of digital Revolution Studios (DRS); Buzz Hays, senior vice president of 3-D Production at Sony Corporation; and Rex Wong, CEO of LiveContent Networks. Tanner showed clips from two DRS 3-D TV productions featuring extreme sports action that were highly exciting. Also projected were two short clips by Sekitani Takashi of Tokyo, Japan, featuring inventive hypostereoscopic imagery of liquid in a coffee cup and a hyperstereo timelapse with a “giant’s eye” view of urban Japan. Another international clip shown was My Dream, featuring the Disabled China Performance Troupe in a traditional dance, and was directed by Joy Park of Hwy 3-D.
The second I3-DS session was “3-D & the International Marketplace,” the panelists on which were Peter Koplik, president of Digital Cinema for MasterImage 3-D; Ashok Amritraj, CEO and chairman for Hyde Park Entertainment; Anthony Marcoly, executive vice president for RealD Cinema; Stuart Bowling from Dolby Laboratories; Bai Qiang, CEO for 3-D China Ltd.; and Andrew Stucker of Sony Digital Cinema Systems. The consensus among panelists established the importance of quality stereoscopic content to ensure market growth.
ESPN has a dedicated 3-D TV channel and installed a 3-D Sports Lounge in the Exhibits area of the 3-D Summit that showcased highlights from recent productions featuring soccer, golf and football. The 3-D TV market is currently being driven primarily with sports and music/concert content. Nature documentaries also currently make up a large portion of the 3-D TV content as well.
James Cameron, left, David Cohen, Vince Pace and Bob Dowling.
The most well-attended event of the 3-D Summit took place on the second day with a keynote session moderated by Variety’s David Cohen, who questioned Vince Pace and James Cameron, A.C.E., about their current activities with the Cameron/Pace Group, a 3-D technology provider to the industry. Cameron noted that with the highly volatile evolution of 3-D production toolsets, it makes much more sense to lease or rent equipment for 3-D filmmaking than to buy it.
In a matter of a few weeks, the production tools can get smaller, lighter and more sophisticated. The Cameron/Pace group took the first order for the new Alexa cameras, for example, to integrate them into their fluidly evolving 3-D production packages, which have been used on numerous 3-D movies and TV shows.
Stereographer Shannon Benna wears the dual 2K Silicon Imaging (SI) 3-D cams in a body holster design by Radiant Images.
Editors working on 3-D TV programs or features would find a “Disparity Difference” display available from Technicolor highly useful for correction of stereoscopic errors. Richard Kroon, vice president of 3-D Technical Services at Technicolor, was demonstrating the software as well as handing out copies of the “3-D dictionary” that he has authored for Technicolor and which will be coming out in an expanded version from McFarland & Company publishers early in 2012.
Ray Zone can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.