Archive for the ‘3D’ Category

Walter Murch on the demise of FCP

Chris Portal attended the Boston Supermeet of the Final Cut Pro Users and reports:

Walter Murch, a long time Final Cut Pro user, and editor of Apocalypse Now, The Godfather Part III, The English Patient, Cold Mountain, Tetro, among many other films, headlined the Boston Supermeet on Thursday October 27, 2011. It marked his first public appearance since the launch of Final Cut Pro X.

Hemingway & Gellhorn is his latest project for HBO, and is edited on Final Cut Pro 7. The film is a celebration of the tactility of film, yet a film that wouldn’t have been possible without the digitization of film. It uses archive material existing on a wide variety of film mediums, all with different grain sizes, in which actors are dropped in digitally, while trying to preserve the grain of the original element. The film takes you on a roller coaster ride diving in and out of this world, going into the grain and sprockets, and out into the digital world.

His Final Cut Pro project consisted of 22 video tracks and 50 audio tracks, combining sound elements ranging from 8 tracks of dialogue, to 24 tracks of mono and stereo sound effects with and without low frequency enhancements (LFE)!!

Another piece of the workflow was the integration of Filemaker Pro, which he uses to gain a different insight into his film. Using a dependency diagram of sorts, he associates every shot to a specific scene, what music and effects should belong to it, etc. It’s not a time line in any way, but more a view of all the relationships between your media assets.

As far as other equipment Walter used on the project, he used 2 Arri Alexas, outputting to codex materials. The codex downloaded into a ProRes 1280 LT, DPX “negative” (to do the final color timing), and H.264 with internet via PIX (to share assemblies with HBO). There were 5 editing stations, using an XSAN with 28 TB on XRaid running XServe.

There were 1862 shots in the finished film:

  • 482 visually manipulated
  • 227 visual effects
  • 255 repositioned or blown up

While there used to be a rule of not blowing up an image beyond 120% to avoid introducing noise and grain, with the Alexa footage, he was able to take the film and blow it up 240% without being noticeable.

He used FCP7, which he acknowledged may be the last time he uses Final Cut Pro. He considers many professionals to be at a juncture where we need to come to terms with what the software can do in the time the film is being developed.

Walter was in Cupertino when Final Cut Pro X was first dangled in front of a few editors. It was a beta version, and Apple highlighted things like 64 bit support. After that initial exposure to FCPX, he dove into making a film, and it wasn’t until June when FCPX was published that he revisited it. He quickly looked at it, and said he couldn’t use it, wondering where the “Pro” had gone. It didn’t have XML support which he depended on, the ability to share projects on a raid with people, etc. He was confused and wondered what was happening.

He wrote Apple a letter asking what was behind everything that was happening, especially since they had end-of-lifed the current version, as well as a list of things he needed. Like a report card children often get, without XML, Walter explained to Apple that FCPX “did not play well with others”. The lack of tracks was another killer for him. While he doesn’t really need to work with 50 tracks, he does need to leverage the ability to selectively raise or lower the levels very specifically.

Walter sees there having been a shift at Apple over the last 10 years. They have benefited from the professional market, and we all have made a lot of noise about Apple, but starting with the iPod, iPhone, and iPad, Apple has broadened out into a mass-market creature, wanting to democratize capabilities even further.

While Walter is encouraged by the updated FCPX version last month, he hasn’t used it on any real work yet, so he is cautiously optimistic (and still traumatized he says). “Do they love us? No…I know they like us….but they keep saying they love us??”

Things wrapped up with a Q&A, mostly comprised of questions attendees had submitted that evening prior to his talk. A few interesting ones were:

Q: When is it time to walk away from the work?

A: ”When you see dailies, that is the only time you are seeing the images for the first time. There will be no other time for a first. It is the closest you can get to experiencing what the audience will experience. It’s a precious moment. I will sit and watch the dailies in the dark, holding a computer where I’ll type anything the image makes me feel or think, in order to preserve that first moment. Doing so will help clear the fog down the road when you’re feeling you’re getting lost.”

Q: How do you know if a scene works or doesn’t?

A: ”A scene may work on its own, but not in the context of the movie. It can be very dangerous to preemptively strike a scene from a film before you’ve seen the entire film. You can say you don’t agree with where the scene is going, but you don’t know if in the larger picture it may still have a shot.”

Q: Is there one piece of advice you can impart to sound designers?

A: ”Always go farther than you think you can go. Try to bend the literalness. Literalness doesn’t light the fire in the audiences mind. Levitate the film. Ignite the imagination.”

Q: Thoughts on 3D?

A: ”In 2D, your eyes focus on the plane of the screen while they converge towards the plan of the screen, but when you have something coming out of the screen in 3D, you not only need to focus on the screen, but you also need to converge on the detail protruding out of the screen. The mind can do it, but we’re not programmed for it. It requires processing many frames before your mind figures it out, and by then you’ve missed information. It’s analogous to the moment when the fan on your computer starts up.”

Q: If you didn’t use FCP, where would you go?

A: “I’ve used Avid in the past, so I know it well. There are some very good things that Avid has, but I’m also curious about Premiere since I’m interested in technology.”

The End of the Line for Film Cameras

While the debate has raged over whether or not film is dead, ARRIPanavision and Aaton have quietly ceased production of film cameras within the last year to focus exclusively on design and manufacture of digital cameras. That’s right: someone, somewhere in the world is now holding the last film camera ever to roll off the line.

“The demand for film cameras on a global basis has all but disappeared,” says ARRI VP of Cameras, Bill Russell, who notes that the company has only built film cameras on demand since 2009. “There are still some markets–not in the U.S.–where film cameras are still sold, but those numbers are far fewer than they used to be. If you talk to the people in camera rentals, the amount of film camera utilization in the overall schedule is probably between 30 to 40 percent.”





Mary Pickford on the beach about 1916 with film movie camera

At New York City rental house AbelCine, Director of Business Development/Strategic Relationships Moe Shore says the company rents mostly digital cameras at this point. “Film isn’t dead, but it’s becoming less of a choice,” he says. “It’s a number of factors all moving in one direction, an inexorable march of digital progress that may be driven more by cell phones and consumer cameras than the motion picture industry.”

Aaton founder Jean-Pierre Beauviala notes why. “Almost nobody is buying new film cameras. Why buy a new one when there are so many used cameras around the world?” he says. “We wouldn’t survive in the film industry if we were not designing a digital camera.”

Beauviala believes that that stereoscopic 3D has “accelerated the demise of film.” He says, “It’s a nightmare to synchronize two film cameras.” Three years ago, Aaton introduced a new 35mm film camera, Penelope, but sold only 50 to 60 of them. As a result, Beauviala turned to creating a digital Penelope, which will be on the market by NAB 2012. “It’s a 4K camera and very, very quiet,” he tells us. “We tried to give a digital camera the same ease of handling as the film camera.”

Panavision is also hard at work on a new digital camera, says Phil Radin, Executive VP, Worldwide Marketing, who notes that Panavision built its last 35mm Millennium XL camera in the winter of 2009, although the company continues an “active program of upgrading and retrofitting of our 35mm camera fleet on a ongoing basis.”

“I would have to say that the pulse [of film] was weakened and it’s an appropriate time,” Radin remarks. “We are not making film cameras.” He notes that the creative industry is reveling in the choices available. “I believe people in the industry love the idea of having all these various formats available to them,” he says. “We have shows shooting with RED Epics, ARRI Alexas, Panavision Genesis and even the older Sony F-900 cameras. We also have shows shooting 35mm and a combination of 35mm and 65mm. It’s a potpourri of imaging tools now available that have never existed before, and an exciting time for cinematographers who like the idea of having a lot of tools at their disposal to create different tools and looks.”

Do camera manufacturers believe film will disappear? “Eventually it will,” says ARRI’s Russell. “In two or three years, it could be 85 percent digital and 15 percent film. But the date of the complete disappearance of film? No one knows.”

From Radin’s point of view, the question of when film will die, “Can only be answered by Kodak and Fuji. Film will be around as long as Kodak and Fuji believe they can make money at it,” he says.

Neither Kodak nor Fuji have made noises about the end of film stock manufacture, but there are plenty of signs that making film stock has become ever less profitable. The need for film release prints has plummeted in the last year and, in an unprecedented move, Deluxe Entertainment Services Group and Technicolor–both of which have been in the film business for nearly 100 years–essentially divvied up the dwindling business of film printing and distribution.

Couched in legalese of mutual “subcontracting” deals, the bottom line is that Deluxe will now handle all of Technicolor’s 35mm bulk release print distribution business in North America. Technicolor, meanwhile, will handle Deluxe’s 35mm print distribution business in the U.S. and Deluxe’s 35mm/16mm color negative processing business in London, as well as film printing in Thailand. In the wake of these agreements, Technicolor shut its North Hollywood and Montreal film labs and moved its 65mm/70mm print business to its Glendale, California, facility; and Deluxe ended its 35mm/16mm negative processing service at two facilities in the U.K.

“It’s a stunning development,” says International Cinematographer Guild President Steven Poster, ASC. “We’ve been waiting for it as far back as 2001. I think we’ve reached a kind of tipping point on the acquisition side and, now, there’s a tipping point on the exhibition side.”

“From the lab side, obviously film as a distribution medium is changing from the physical print world to file-based delivery and Digital Cinema,” says Deluxe Digital Media Executive VP/General Manager Gray Ainsworth. “The big factories are absolutely in decline. Part of the planning for this has been significant investments and acquisitions to bolster the non-photochemical lab part of our business. We’re developing ourselves to be content stewards, from the beginning with on-set solutions all the way downstream to distribution and archiving.” Deluxe did exactly that with the 2010 purchase of the Ascent Media post production conglomerate.

Technicolor has also been busy expanding into other areas of the motion picture/TV business, with the purchase of Hollywood post house LaserPacific and a franchise licensing agreement with PostWorks New York. Technicolor also acquired Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp., expanding their North America footprint in Digital Cinema connectivity to 90 percent. “We have been planning our transition from film to digital, which is why you see our increased investments and clear growth in visual effects and animation, and 2D-to-3D conversion,” says Technicolor’s Ouri. “We know one day film won’t be around. We continue to invest meaningfully in digital and R&D.”

Although recent events–the end of film camera manufacturing and the swan dive of the film distribution business–makes it appear that digital is an overnight success, nothing could be further from the truth. Digital first arrived with the advent of computer-based editing systems more than 20 years ago, and industry people immediately began talking about the death of film. “The first time I heard film was dead was in 1972 at a TV station with videotape,” says Poster, ASC. “He said, give it a year or two.”

Videotape did overtake film in the TV station, but, in the early 1990s, with the first stirrings of High Definition video, the “film is dead” mantra arose again. Laurence Thorpe, who was involved in the early days of HD cameras at Sony, recalls the drumbeat. “In the 1990s, there were a lot of folks saying that digital has come a long way and seems to be unstoppable,” he says.

The portion of the film ecosystem that has managed the most complete transition to digital is post-production.

According to Technicolor Chief Marketing Officer Ouri, over 90 percent of films are finished with digital intermediates.

But the path to digital domination has also taken place in a world of Hollywood politics and economics. A near-strike by Screen Actors Guild actors, the Japanese tsunami and dramatic changes in the business of theater exhibition have all contributed to the ebbing fortunes of film. Under pressure, any weakness or break in the disciplines that form the art and science of film–from film schools to film laboratories–could spell the final demise of a medium that has endured and thrived for over 100 years.

Two Icons of Film above Technicolor’s new Hollywood H.Q. and below Kodak’s Rochester H.Q. built in 1914

Until 2008, the bulk of TV productions and all feature films took place under SAG jurisdiction, which covers actors in filmed productions. In the months leading up to the Screen Actor Guild’s 2008 contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, SAG leadership balked on several elements, including the new media provisions of the proposed contract. Negotiations stalemated. Not so with AFTRA, the union that covers actors in videotaped (including HD) productions, which inked its own separate agreement with AMPTP.

“When producers realized they could go with AFTRA contracts, but they now had to record digitally, they switched almost overnight,” recalls Poster. Whereas, in previous seasons, 90 percent of the TV pilots were filmed, and under SAG jurisdiction, in one fell swoop the 2009 pilot season went digital video, capturing 90 percent of the pilots. In a single season, the use of film in primetime TV nearly completely vanished, never to return.

The Japanese tsunami on March 11, 2011, further pushed TV production into the digital realm. Up until then, TV productions were largely mastered to Sony’s high-resolution HD SR tape, but the sole plant that made the tape, located in the northern city of Sendai, was heavily damaged and ceased operation for several months. With only two weeks worth of tape still available, TV producers scrambled to come up with a workaround, leading at least some of them to switch to a tapeless delivery, another step into the future of an all-digital ecosystem.

The third, and perhaps most devastating blow to film, comes from the increased penetration of Digital Cinema. According to Patrick Corcoran, National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) Director of Media & Research/California Operations Chief, at the end of July 2011, “We passed the 50 percent mark in terms of digital screens in the U.S. We’ve been adding screens at a fast clip this year, 700 to 750 a month,” he says.

He notes that the turning point was the creation of the virtual print fee, which allows NATO members to recoup the investment they have to make to upgrade to digital cinema. (Studios, meanwhile, save $1 billion a year for the costs of making and shipping release prints.)

To take advantage of the virtual print fee, theater owners will have to transition screens to digital by the beginning of 2013. “Sometime, in 2013, all the screens will be digital,” says Corcoran. “As the number of digital screens increase, it won’t make economic sense for the studios to make and ship film prints. It’ll be absolutely necessary to switch to Digital Cinema to survive.”


Can the continued production of film stock survive the twin disappearance of film acquisition and distribution? Veteran industry executive Rob Hummel, currently president of Group 47, recalls when, as head of production operations, he was negotiating the Kodak deal for DreamWorks Studios. “At the time, the Kodak representative told me that motion pictures was 6 percent of their worldwide capacity and 7 percent of their revenues,” he recalls. “The rest was snapshots. In 2008 motion pictures was 92 percent of their business and the actual volume hasn’t grown. The other business has just disappeared.”

Eastman Kodak, Chris Johnson, Director of New Business Development, Entertainment Imaging, counters that “I don’t see a time when Kodak stops making film stock,” noting the year-on-year growth in 65mm film and popularity of Super 8mm. “We still make billions of linear feet of film,” he says. “Over the horizon as far as we can see, we’ll be making billions of feet of film.”

Yet, as Johnson’s title indicates, Kodak is hedging its bets by looking for new areas of growth. One focus is on digital asset management via leveraging its Pro-Tek Vaults for digital, says Johnson, and another is investigating “asset protection film,” a less expensive film medium that provides a 50 to 100 year longevity at a lower price point that B&W separation film.

Kodak has also developed a laser-based 3D digital cinema projector. “Our system will give much brighter 3D images because we’re using lasers for the light source,” says Johnson. “And the costs of long-term ownership is much less expensive because the lasers last longer than the light sources for other projectors.”


As more than 1 million feet of un-transferred nitrate film worldwide demonstrates, archiving doesn’t get top billing in Hollywood. Although the value of archived material is unarguable, positioned at the end of the life cycle of a production, archivists have unfortunately had a relatively weak voice in the discussion over transitioning from film to digital.

Since the “film is dead” debate began, archivists fought to keep elements on film, the only medium that has proven to last well over 100 years. “Most responsible archivists in the industry still believe today that, if you can at all do it, you should still stick it on celluloid and put it in a cold, dry place, because the last 100 years has been the story of nitrate and celluloid,” says Deluxe’s Ainsworth.

He jokes that if the world’s best physicists brought a gizmo to an archivist that they said would hold film for 100 years, the archivist would say, “Fine, come back in 99 years.” “With the plethora of digital files, formats and technologies–some of which still exist and some of which don’t–we’re running into problems with digital files made only five years ago,” he adds.

At Sony Pictures Entertainment, Grover Crisp, Executive VP of Asset Management, Film Restoration and Digital Mastering, notes that “Although it’s a new environment and everyone is feeling their way through, what’s important is to not throw out the traditional sensibilities of what preservation is and means.
“We still make B&W separations on our productions, now directly from the data,” he says. “That’s been going on for decades and has not stopped. Eventually it will be all digital, somewhere down the road, but following a strict conservation approach certainly makes sense.”

Crisp pushes for a dual, hybrid approach. “You need to make sure you’re preserving your data as data and your film as film,” he says. “And since there’s a crossover, you need to do both.” LTO tape, currently the digital storage medium of choice, is backwards compatible only two generations, which means that careful migration is a fact of life–for now at least–in a digital age. “The danger of losing media is especially high for documentaries and indie productions,” says Crisp.

Hummel and his partners at Group 47, meanwhile, believe they have the solution. His company bought the patents for a digital archival medium developed by Kodak: Digital Optical Tape System (DOTS). “It’s a metal alloy system that requires no more storage than a book on a shelf,” says Hummel, who reports that Carnegie Mellon University did accelerated life testing to 97 years.

“Though reports of its imminent death have been exaggerated, more industry observers than before accept the end of film. “In 100 years, yes,” says AbelCine’s Shore. “In ten years, I think we’ll still have film cameras. So somewhere between 10 and 100 years.”

Film camera manufacturers have walked a tightrope, ceasing unprofitable manufacture of film cameras at the same time that they continue to serve the film market by making cameras on demand and upgrading existing ones. But they–as well as film labs and film stock manufacturers–clearly see the future as digital and are acting accordingly.

Will film die? Seen in one way, it never will: our cinematic history exists on celluloid and as long as there are viable film cameras and film, someone will be shooting it. Seen another way, film is already dead…what we see today is the after-life of a medium that has become increasingly marginalized in production and distribution of films and TV. Just as the last film camera was sold without headlines or fireworks, the end of film as a significant production and distribution medium will, one day soon, arrive, without fanfare.


NATO Slams Sony for 3D-Glasses Charges

Reuters reports:

The National Association of Theater Owners slammed Sony Wednesday for its attempt to pass off the costs of providing 3D glasses on moviegoers and exhibitors.

The trade organization labeled the move “insensitive” given the economic woes gripping the country.

“Sony’s actions raise serious concerns for our members who believe that provision of 3D glasses to patrons is well established as part of the 3D experience,” NATO said in a statement.

NATO said Sony was reneging on a prior agreement to pay for the glasses.

But Sony spokesperson Steve Elzer said NATO gets it wrong.

“NATO’s statement that it has been ‘understood’ that distributors would always bear the cost of 3D glasses is incorrect, because there never has been any such agreement,” Elzer said in a statement. “In fact, we have been speaking with people in the industry for a long time about the need to move to a new model, so this certainly comes as a surprise to no one in the business.”

Elzer said that the studio invited theater owners to engage in a “collegial dialogue” with  about the issue at ShowEast next month.

Shares of RealD, the 3D movie company, dropped nearly 15 percent to trade at $10.42 on Wednesday after Sony announced its plan.

Sony has told exhibitors that starting in May with the release of its pair of 3D tentpoles, “Men in Black III” and “The Amazing Spider-Man,” it will no longer pay for the rose-tinted spectacles.

It wants exhibitors to work out the cost with moviegoers.

In it’s statement, NATO said press reports indicate that Sony wants audience members to buy their own glasses, but in reality, the studio wants to move the expense of providing glasses off their own balance sheets and doesn’t particularly care if the cost is borne by theater owners or ticket buyers.

At a cost of about 50 cents per ticket, 3D eyeware can eat up $5 million or more for a movie that grosses over $100 million.

Moviegoers pay a premium of around $3 for 3D films, and that extra gravy is then split between theater owners and studios.

In 2009, Fox tried a similar gambit with the release of its third “Ice Age” film, but bowed to pressure from theater owners and abandoned its efforts to push off costs.

NATO said that theater owners had agreed to take on the expense of overhauling their theaters for 3D movies with the understanding that distributors would handle the cost of providing glasses.

“Any changes to that understanding must be undertaken through the mutual agreement of both sides of the business,” NATO said.

NATO closed its missive with a warning. The group told Sony that the disappointing numbers for its premium video on demand trial with DirecTV — in which the studio and others offered movies to renters eight weeks after their debuts and over the fierce objections of NATO — was evidence that exhibition needed to be on board with any fundamental business changes.

“Sony would be well advised to revisit its decision,” NATO said.

Sony again delivers with 3D Head-Mounted display

Technology giant Sony has unveiled a head-mounted display that takes the wearer into a 3D cinema of videos, music and games.
Future vision? The HMZ personal 3D viewer is being targetted at people who prefer solitary entertainment rather than sitting in front of a television with family or friends

Resembling a futuristic visor, the £480 ($800) device is worn like a pair of chunky goggles and earphones in one.

Officially unveiled in Tokyo today, the HMZ – which stands for head-mounted display – is equipped with two 0.7in high definition organic light emitting diode (OLED) panels and 5.1 channel dynamic audio headphone

Nintendo’s Virtual Boy, a 3-D wearable gaming machine that went on sale in the 1990s, bombed, partly because of the bulky headgear required as well as the image being all red.

Sony’s latest product is far more sophisticated, delivering an experience that is as immersive as sitting in one of the best seats in a cinema.

It is not recommended for people 15 years old and younger because some experts believe overly stimulating imagery is not good for teenagers whose brains are still developing, according to Shigeru Kato, a Sony vice president.

On the plus side, consumers are growing more accustomed to 3D these days, with the arrival of 3D TVs and game machines.

The HMZ uses Sony’s own OLED screen, a relatively new kind of display that relays superb image quality and colour, compared to the more prevalent liquid crystal and plasma displays used in laptops and flat-panel TVs.

Mr Kato said the major challenge had been making a very small display without compromising image quality.

The HMZ is set to go on sale in Japan on November 11; a U.S. and European release could come as early as Christmas.

The HMZ – which stands for head-mounted display – displays footage that is crystal clear.

It is equipped with two 0.7in high definition organic light emitting diode (OLED) panels and 5.1 channel dynamic audio headphone.

The gadget enables the wearer to experience cinema-like viewing, equivalent to watching a 750-inch screen from 20 metres away,

The music video on display at a Sony showcase for reporters in Tokyo was of a Japanese singer and was so clear that it felt like peering into a dolls house in which a real-life tiny singer is moving.

It seems unlikely that most people – or even technology enthusiasts – will want to buy a product that involves sitting alone and wearing a little helmet.

For this reason, the HMZ might not be Sony’s long-awaited answer to Apple’s iPod or iPad, but just another quirky device packed with cutting-edge technology that is headed for a limited niche following.

Nintendo’s Virtual Boy, a 3-D wearable gaming machine that went on sale in the 1990s, bombed, partly because of the bulky headgear required as well as the image being all red.

Sony’s latest product is far more sophisticated, delivering an experience that is as immersive as sitting in one of the best seats in a cinema.

It is not recommended for people 15 years old and younger because some experts believe overly stimulating imagery is not good for teenagers whose brains are still developing, according to Shigeru Kato, a Sony vice president.

On the plus side, consumers are growing more accustomed to 3D these days, with the arrival of 3D TVs and game machines.

Read more:

Tennis Anyone? U.S. Open gets a boost with 3D courtesy of Panasonic and CBS

Panasonic just announced plans to work with CBS Sports and the United States Tennis Association (USTA) for a 3D broadcast of the 2011 US Open Tennis Championships.

This will be the second consecutive year that the three will work together on the event. Last year’s 3D production snagged a 2010 Emmy Award for technical achievement. However, this year, the coverage will go beyond the Arthur Ashe Stadium to include matches from Louis Armstrong Stadium as well.

Panasonic will produce 3D versions of all of the Arthur Ashe Stadium matches that are broadcast in HD on Labor Day Weekend, as well as on Finals Weekend, which runs September 9-11, 2011. The company is also planning a bit of expanded 3D coverage, which will include new, 3D-specific positions that are covered by ten 3D broadcast cameras and a high-speed 3D replay system.

The 3D broadcasts will use a separate production team and equipment from the traditional HD broadcasts of the tournament. During the event, Panasonic will use a pre-production model of the upcoming 3DP1 handheld Full HD 3D professional camcorder to capture match and grounds coverage. The 3DP1 is expected to launch later this fall. For overall court coverage, they will incorporate the same 3D broadcast camera shadow rigs designed by the Cameron Pace Group that were used last year.

“Working with our partners CBS Sports and Panasonic, we once again expect to be a leader in presenting our sport to fans in breathtaking new ways,” said Harlan Stone, the USTA’s chief business and communications officer. “Last year we saw the impressive production values for 3D television and now, by including Louis Armstrong Stadium and expanding our distribution, we are bringing this innovative new look to the sport to more people than ever before.”

If you’re planning to be part of the action, make sure to stop by the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Panasonic will offer 3D public viewing galleries, using the latest large-screen VIERA Full HD 3D TVs. Besides coverage of the event, visitors will also get to see some of the latest Blu-ray players and Panasonic’s VIERA Connect technology in action, with Skype, Facebook and Twitter demos. The Panasonic “Experience Amazing” 3D exhibits can be found on the ground level of Louis Armstrong Stadium, at the Panasonic 3D Gaming Center within the SmashZone, and at the Panasonic VIERA Connect booth in the South Plaza in front of Court 10.

Besides on-site event coverage, Panasonic plans to engage attendees using the FourSquare program for a scavenger hunt. Prizes, such as a Panasonic Full HD 3D Home Entertainment system, will be awarded. The full details on this promotion will be announced at a later date.

If you can’t make it out, you can catch CBS Sports’ 3D telecast of the 2011 US Open on DIRECTV’s n/3D Powered by Panasonic network, which can be found on channel 103. Comcast will also offer the broadcast coverage to Xfinity 3D subscribers. There could be additional providers announced soon, with Best Buy and other retail outlets also showing some of the 3D coverage in stores. Otherwise, you can find 3D action streaming live on the website.

Panasonic will use a pre-production model of the 3DP1 handheld Full HD 3D professional camcorder to capture some of the 2011 US Open.

3ality swallows the competition with purchase of Element Technica

Marking a major shift in the 3D production technology arena, Burbank-headquartered 3D technology developer 3Ality Digital has acquired Los Angeles-based Element Technica, which is best known for it 3D camera rigs.

The deal, a combination of cash and equity, is valued at “several million,” according to 3ality CEO Steve Schklair.

Once competitors in this young market, the combined businesses will now operate as a powerhouse under the moniker 3Ality Technica. 3Ality has provided 3D production gear for such upcoming features as The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Great Gatsby, Jack and the Giant Killer, and The Amazing-Spider Man; and Element Technica’s rigs were tapped for movies such as Prometheus and Oz: The Great and Powerful. The companies have also made inroads in 3D broadcasting; 3Ality has been working closely with Sky3D in the UK, while Element Technica rigs were used for such events as the 2010 FIFA World Cup and 2011 Wimbledon tournament.

in the 3D arena, 3Ality Technica’s most notable competitor is Cameron Pace Group, the 3D production technology developer and supplier founded by James Cameron and Vince Pace. CPG’s Fusion 3D rigs have been used on movies including Avatar, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. In broadcasting, its technology has been tapped for projects including the NBA Finals, The Masters golf tournament, and it will be again used on this year’s 3D coverage of the US Open tennis championship.

Earlier this year, Clearlake Capital Group made a majority investment in 3Ality. At that time, 3ality’s Schklair told The Hollywood Reporter that the investment would allow the company to grow its research & development, expand service, and cover planned acquisitions.

With the acquisition, Element Technica’s two partners, Hector Ortega and Stephen Pizzo, become senior vps of 3Ality Technica.

The Element Technica staff will relocate to 3Ality’s Burbank headquarters, which recently took on additional space.

Plans are to continue to offer both 3Ality and Element Technica 3D rigs and their additional gear. With the acquisition, the company gains in house manufacturing and design capabilities, and expanded R&D.

Element Technica rigs have already been integrated with 3Ality’s popular Stereo Image Processor (SIP).


MasterImage 3D and Rightware present glasses free environment for 3D stereo displays

MasterImage 3D’s Cell-Matrix Parallax Barrier display provides Rightware the ultimate environment to showcase their ground-breaking Kanzi UI Solution for Autostereoscopic 3D

Computex, Taipei, Taiwan – June 2, 2011 – Rightware Oy, the leader in 3D user-interface (UI) technology, and MasterImage 3D, Inc. the leader in autostereoscopic 3D (AS3D) display announce a strategic partnership to offer the best out-of-the-box AS3D solution for immediate deployment. The combination provides device manufacturers a fast lane for creation of the most intuitive autostereoscopic 3D design for mobile, consumer and automotive devices. A demonstration is available at MasterImage 3D’s booth at Computex 2011 (Hall 3, G0766).

Both companies have leadership positions shaping cutting-edge glasses-free 3D experiences and providing ready-for-business solutions for their customers. In this alliance, MasterImage 3D’s patented Cell-Matrix Parallax Barrier uses a “cell gap” approach enabling the brightest, sharpest glasses-free 3D experience with the widest viewing angle. This barrier was recently announced in their latest 3D CELL reference tablet based on Texas Instrument’s OMAP™ 4 platform technology. Rightware focuses on the software aspects and has released the world’s first commercial AS3D user-interface software solution for embedded devices, using their celebrated Kanzi UI Solution.

“This partnership means device manufacturers can have access to the latest autostereoscopic 3D software and hardware from one partnership. We’ve been working closely with MasterImage 3D and we’re extremely excited about the quality of their cell-parallax implementation,” said Tero Sarkkinen, CEO of Rightware. “Device manufacturers are aggressively including AS3D in their new offerings, seeking ways to provide real consumer value and differentiate through enhanced 3D design.”

For device manufacturers, this partnership means faster time to market with the most compelling hardware and 3D user interface solution. This consumer-friendly 3D navigation can intuitively showcase the variety of 3D applications that will spark the growth of a next-generation mobile 3D ecosystem—from 3D movies, games, apps, video and user-generated content.

“One of the most thrilling contributions to the 3D content ecosystem is dynamic and interactive visual navigation,” said Roy Taylor, Executive Vice President and General Manager at MasterImage 3D. “Rightware is an inspired pioneer in introducing new consumer experiences and their Kanzi 3D UI running on barrier really showcases the beginning of an incredible industry.”

About Masterimage 3D Inc.
Masterimage 3D Inc. is a 3D technology company that provides pioneering solutions for theaters, mobile devices and gaming. With digital 3D cinema systems installed over 60 countries, Masterimage 3D is a fast-growing digital 3D system supplier, offering audiences the clearest, sharpest 3D experience while providing exhibitors with a compelling ownership-based pricing model. The company invented, patented and mass-produced the cell-matrix parallax barrier, the leading 3D technology for auto-stereoscopic mobile display. It enabled one of the world’s first glasses-free 3D mobile phones and is in development for devices in 2011. Its 3D camera ASIC empowers users to create 3D content. Founded in 2004, the company is privately held and headquartered in Hollywood, with offices in the UK, Tokyo and Seoul. More information:

About Rightware
Rightware® is the market leader in 3D User Interface technology, serving mobile, automotive and other embedded industries with its Kanzi® solution for rapid 3D user interface design and deployment. Rightware has introduced the world’s first stereoscopic 3D (S3D) user interface solution. Rightware also develops industry leading system performance analysis tools. Rightware’s renowned product portfolio includes the Basemark® product family for various benchmarking purposes, plus 3DMark® Mobile for OpenGL ES 1.x and OpenGL ES 2.0, VGMark® for OpenVG 1.x, and SPMark® platform benchmark for Android, MeeGo, Symbian, Windows Mobile, Linux and mobile Java. Rightware is headquartered in Espoo, Finland and has offices in Shanghai, Beijing, and Palo Alto. More information:

3ality Digital forms strategic partnership with RED Digital Cinema Education

3ality Digital and RED Digital Cinema Partnership Kicks Off With S3D Production Classes and Presentation at REDucation

Burbank, CA. – June 1, 2011 – 3ality Digital, world leader in advanced technologies to empower creative digital stereoscopic 3D (S3D) acquisition, and RED Digital Cinema announced today a Stereoscopic 3D partnership, which launched during the recently completed REDucation sessions on May 24-28 at RED Studios Hollywood. 3ality Digital will be the primary 3D partner for RED Digital Cinema, and together the companies will train professional and aspiring filmmakers on how to create clear and pristine 3D images using the same equipment as elite Hollywood directors like Peter Jackson and Bryan Singer.

“The biggest tent pole movies shooting on the planet right now, like The Hobbit, are all shooting S3D on EPIC and 3ality Digital,” said Ted Schilowitz, Leader of the Rebellion at RED Digital Cinema. “The teams at RED and 3ality Digital have been working together for years behind the scenes. Now is the right time to take that relationship to the next level and integrate education components for the community.”

As the primary stereoscopic 3D partner for RED, 3ality Digital lent its technology, currently being used in feature films such as The Amazing Spiderman and Jack the Giant Killer, to REDucation’s 3-day introductory session May 24-26, as well as during the advanced classes May 27-28. The REDucation Open House included a screening of S3D content produced with 3ality Digital technology. Attendees also experienced special presentations from RED including the latest “Tattoo” EPIC Reel shown in 4k.

“S3D is here to stay and choosing partners at the forefront of the technology that really grasp what true, high-resolution cinema and S3D are all about is essential for business and for the community,” said Steve Schklair, CEO of 3ality Digital. “Educating filmmakers and getting RED and 3ality Digital technology in their hands at events like REDucation is a crucial step towards accelerating and facilitating S3D content production and ultimately consumer adoption.”

The ongoing partnership will also include collaboration at the Camp RED youth summer program August 1-19, where the new partners will provide young filmmakers with training in S3D production. Students ages 9-15 will shoot their own S3D films at RED Studios Hollywood during the week-long day camp sessions, including an exclusive, behind-the-scenes trip to 3ality Digital Studios.

About RED Digital Cinema
Red Digital Cinema is the brainchild of Jim Jannard, founder of Oakley, world-famous manufacturer of sunglasses, sports apparel and personal electronics. Mr. Jannard is a self-professed lover of all things photographic, having amassed an extensive photographic collection, as well as having been a shooter for most of his life. His search for the perfect video/film camera was never satisfied and proved to be the inspiration behind creating the ultimate full motion camera. His desire was to create a camera that matched the quality of, and processed images similar to, the very finest digital still cameras…. but at motion picture frame rates.

About 3ality Digital
3ality Digital is a pioneer and leading authority in stereoscopic 3D (S3D). 3ality Digital provides the film and television industry with camera platforms, stereo image processing systems and S3D image scaling technologies that are considered the “gold standard” for the production of compelling and immersive S3D entertainment. Whether for a feature film or live sporting event, its innovative technology empowers customers to stay in control of creativity when working with S3D.

Founded in 2000 by CEO, Steve Schklair, 3ality Digital has a reputation as an innovator in S3D, with its technology powering multiple live-action firsts. This includes: U2 3D, the first movie shot completely in live-action S3D; the first live S3D broadcast of an NFL game (Raiders vs. Chargers, December 4th, 2008, broadcasted to a select audience); the first live S3D sports broadcast available to consumers, including the 2009 BCS Championship Game, BSkyB’s landmark Manchester United vs. Arsenal soccer broadcast (January 31st, 2010), the first network hockey telecast ever produced in S3D (New York Rangers vs. Islanders, March 24th 2010 on MSG); the first S3D commercial broadcast during a Super Bowl (Sobe “Lizard Lake”); the first full episode of a scripted television series shot in live-action S3D (Chuck vs. The Third Dimension, aired on NBC on February 2nd, 2009); and first RED EPIC S3D Movie, ‘The Amazing Spider-Man.’

For more information, please visit

The Bloom is off the Rose: 3D market being reconsidered by the industry

We knew it would come to this.  My kids who are fairly tech savvy even sniff at the 3D glasses now.  They could care less and tell me that it’s just another way to charge more.  The post production industry is still hoping for a windfall when it comes time to retrofit the enormous back library of titles and present them in 3D.  I am very interested to see how Titanic does when it returns next spring in stereo.

This article by David Lieberman at

Investors are jumping on the anti-3D bandwagon as the weekend’s lackluster sales of 3D tickets for DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 2 seemed to confirm that audiences are fed up with the higher prices exhibitors are charging for the immersive visual experience. Shares of 3D technology company RealD were down 12% in mid-day trading to $27 — amounting to a 23% decline over the last two weeks. Even with the drop, RealD shares are up nearly 40% from this time last year. Investors appear to be more disenchanted with DreamWorks Animation, which is making all of its films in 3D. Its shares were off 3.3% at midday to about $24 — which is down nearly 20% vs this time last year. 3D tickets accounted for about 45% of Panda’s domestic box office revenues. By contrast, last year DreamWorks Animation’s Shrek Forever Aftergenerated 60% of its opening-weekend revenues from 3D, even though it was on 343 fewer 3D screens, Lazard Capital Markets analyst Barton Crockett notes. Wall Street’s most vocal critic of 3D — BTIG’s Richard Greenfield — reiterated his “sell” recomendation for DreamWorks Animation and lowered his 2011 earnings estimate for the company to $1.54 a share, from $1.81. The company’s movies “have not lived up to expectations and the global DVD market is in a free fall as consumers continue to shift from buying to renting.”

And the NY Times weighed in after the long holiday weekend:

Has the 3-D boom already gone bust? It’s starting to look that way — at least for American moviegoers — even as Hollywood prepares to release a glut of the gimmicky pictures.

Ripples of fear spread across Hollywood last week after “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” which cost Walt Disney Studios an estimated $400 million to make and market, did poor 3-D business in North America. While event movies have typically done 60 percent of their business in 3-D, “Stranger Tides” sold just 47 percent in 3-D. “The American consumer is rejecting 3-D,” Richard Greenfield, an analyst at the financial services company BTIG, wrote of the “Stranger Tides” results.

One movie does not make a trend, but the Memorial Day weekend did not give studio chiefs much comfort in the 3-D department. “Kung Fu Panda 2,” a Paramount Pictures release of a DreamWorks Animation film, sold $53.8 million in tickets from Thursday to Sunday, a soft total, and 3-D was 45 percent of the business, according to Paramount.

Consumer rebellion over high 3-D ticket prices plays a role, and the novelty of putting on the funny glasses is wearing off, analysts say. But there is also a deeper problem: 3-D has provided an enormous boost to the strongest films, including “Avatar” and “Alice in Wonderland,” but has actually undercut middling movies that are trying to milk the format for extra dollars.

“Audiences are very smart,” said Greg Foster, the president of Imax Filmed Entertainment. “When they smell something aspiring to be more than it is, they catch on very quickly.”

Muddying the picture is a contrast between the performance of 3-D movies in North America and overseas. If results are troubling domestically, they are the exact opposite internationally, where the genre is a far newer phenomenon. Indeed, 3-D screenings powered “Stranger Tides” to about $256 million on its first weekend abroad; Disney trumpeted the figure as the biggest international debut of all time.

With results like that at a time when movies make 70 percent of their total box office income outside North America, do tastes at home even matter?

After a disappointing first half of the year, Hollywood is counting on a parade of 3-D films to dig itself out of a hole. From May to September, the typical summer season, studios will unleash 16 movies in the format, more than double the number last year. Among the most anticipated releases are “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” due from Paramount on July 1, and Part 2 of Part 7 of the “Harry Potter” series, arriving two weeks later from Warner Brothers.

The need is urgent. The box-office performance in the first six months of 2011 was soft — revenue fell about 9 percent compared with last year, while attendance was down 10 percent — and that comes amid decay in home-entertainment sales. In all formats, including paid streaming and DVDs, home entertainment revenue fell almost 10 percent, according to the Digital Entertainment Group.

The first part of the year held a near collapse in video store rentals, which fell 36 percent to about $440 million, offsetting gains from cut-price rental kiosks and subscriptions. In addition, the sale of packaged discs fell about 20 percent, to about $2.2 billion, while video-on-demand, though growing, delivered total sales of less than a quarter of that amount.

At the box office, animated films, which have recently been Hollywood’s most reliable genre, have fallen into a deep trough, as the category’s top three performers combined — “Rio,” from Fox; “Rango,” from Paramount; and “Hop,” from Universal — have had fewer ticket buyers than did “Shrek the Third,” from DreamWorks Animation, after its release in mid-May four years ago.

“Kung Fu Panda 2” appears poised to become the biggest animated hit of the year so far; but it would have to stretch well past its own predecessor to beat “Shrek Forever After,” another May release, which took in $238.7 million last year.

For the weekend, “The Hangover: Part II” sold $118 million from Thursday to Sunday, easily enough for No. 1. “Kung Fu Panda 2” was second. Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” was third with $39.3 million for a new total of $152.9 million. “Bridesmaids” (Universal Pictures) was fourth with $16.4 million for a new total of about $85 million. “Thor” (Marvel Studios) rounded out the top five with $9.4 million for a new total of $160 million.

Studio chiefs acknowledge that the industry needs to sort out its 3-D strategy. Despite the soft results for “Kung Fu Panda 2,” animated releases have continued to perform well in the format, overcoming early problems with glasses that didn’t fit little faces. But general-audience movies like “Stranger Tides” may be better off the old-fashioned way.

“With a blockbuster-filled holiday weekend skewing heavily toward 2-D, and 3-D ticket sales dramatically underperforming relative to screen allocation, major studios will hopefully begin to rethink their 3-D rollout plans for the rest of the year and 2012,” Mr. Greenfield said on Friday.

Despite all the hype 3D at home stumbles

TV and film industries treated 3-D like any other premium tech, pumping it full of marketing dollars. Everyone lost money. Now they await a new generation of film directors to save them using the one thing money can’t rush: talent.

You could forgive them for thinking that selling 3-D movies and TV would be easy. Manufacturers and retailers banked on 3-D’s famous novelty; allegedly “good” films like Avatar; and gleaming new HD infrastructure to carry it all into homes. Instead, most of them lost money in Q1, prompting The Financial Times to declare 3-D content would be doomed to niches like gaming and sports.

Samsung has responded tepidly to the 3-D slump by bundling their TVs with a second pair of 3-D glasses for free. If the problem were solvable by marketing, retail price, or technology, the industry might have corrected its path already. But what’s missing isn’t so easy to conjure: good film-making.

Asked about mediocre 3-D TV sales, and Panasonic’s CTO Eisuke Tsuyuzaki echoes a common sentiment in the industry: the barrier is content. “What makes good 3-D TV is new 3-D services,” he says, “and we need to work with the content industry to do this.”

He’s talking about breadth. Panasonic has partnered with DirecTV to produce and manage content for a new 24-hour 3-D channel that will feature all genres of stuff, from sports to documentaries. Partners like DirecTV need a lot of “support,” says Tsuyuzaki, because producing video in 3-D is difficult. “You need a second crew, a second director, and new hardware,” he says.

But that’s not the real holdup, according to sources in Hollywood. Whatever 3-D bottlenecks once existed in the film and TV industry, they’re all but gone now, says Ted Schilowitz of RED Digital Cinema Company, whose menacing-looking Epic 3-D camera rigs are being used to shoot new blockbusters by directors like Peter Jackson, Ridley Scott, and Bryan Singer. “We’ve basically solved all the issues, and the cost wouldn’t even discourage a film with a tiny budget.” Schilowitz says one such film, an indie horror flick named Hellbenders, is being shot in 3-D in suburban New York this spring.

Intel, which makes most of the processors inside today’s 3-D TVs, says that another obstacle is distribution. “The only thing that’s standardized about 3-D is Blu-ray,” says Lance Koenders, the director of marketing for Intel’s digital home group. “What definitely isn’t standardized is how broadcast content and Web content is displayed in 3-D.”

So while TV-makers are bickering over technology standards, Koenders says, many are also hedging their bets, loading TVs with cheap 3-D systems that offload most of the cost onto battery-powered glasses with active shutters in the lenses. (This little strategy is also the reason today’s home 3-D glasses cost $180 instead of $10, like the 3-D glasses you get in the theater.) “These are the well-calculated risks of breaking a chicken-and-egg problem,” he says.

Consumers haven’t been impressed with OEMs half-assed 3-D systems, which has put the burden on Hollywood to make 3-D appealing. But Schilowitz says that the move to 3-D isn’t like the move to HD. High-definition TV was about improving infrastructure and picture quality. Three-D, by contrast, is an artistic tool. ”When you get right down to brass tacks,” says Schilowitz, “it’s an education issue.” He says most directors of photography in Hollywood haven’t internalized 3-D in their creative process, and it will take time before movie-goers begin discovering films that have innovated with it. “We’re starting to see some guys who are really talented with 3-D,” he says, naming directors of photography like Darius Walsky, responsible for Pirates of the Carribbean 4, and John Schwartzman, who is rumored to be using RED 3-D cameras on the next Spiderman film in 2012. “John [Schwartzman] has taken to it like a duck to water,” says Schilowitz.

Unfortunately for companies like Panasonic and Best Buy, Americans only invest in a new TV an average of once every 8.6 years. By comparison, making a new TV show or movie takes a few months or a year. So retailers and manufacturers will continue to get hung out to dry while Hollywood finds its way.

Manufacturers like LG and Vizio are hoping to speed things by produce “passive” 3-D TVs that forgo geeky, expensive battery-powered glasses in favor of more traditional-looking 3-D eye glasses. As more 3-D blockbusters hit Blu-ray and more TVs come bundled with passive 3-D, consumers might get around to trying it. But the real panacea–and it’s not a quick one–may be the proliferation of consumer 3-D cameras. “There is a huge appetite for people to make their own content in 3-D,” says Tsuyuzaki, whose company has produced one of the first consumer-grade high-def 3-D video cameras. At $800, Panasonic’s 3-D video camera could be cheap enough to get people experimenting.

“Most people that buy those consumer cameras will have no idea how to use 3-D,” says Schilowitz, “but then again, some people will. And one of them will become the next Steven Soderbergh.” Until 3-D’s savior is united with his film-making destiny, a billion-dollar chicken and egg problem rolls on.


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