Archive for the ‘3D’ Category

Denver is calling VFX veteran Doug Trumbull

The Hollywood veteran who oversaw special effects for science fiction classics such as “Blade Runner” and “2001: A Space Odyssey” wants to build a next-generation movie studio in Denver, a project that could change the way films are made and put Colorado on the map for big-budget productions.

At Douglas Trumbull’s proposed digital virtual studio, 3D and effects-driven films could be shot entirely on stage in front of a “green screen,” using patented technology such as a “zero-gravity” camera.

Virtual worlds of infinite forests and alien planets would be incorporated into the production in real-time via computer graphics.

Trumbull, a recipient of a lifetime achievement Oscar for his technical wizardry, calls filming on location with physical sets a “dying art.” He said the virtual process — with the ability to test and perfect shots using inexpensive stand-in actors — could cut production costs by more than 50 percent.

“I’m proposing a whole series of iterative live-action performance rehearsals of your entire screenplay, which could be shot in a couple of days because you have no sets, no props and almost no crew,” Trumbull said during a recent presentation at the Colorado Film School in Denver.

Trumbull, 68, visited Denver to solicit investments and scope metro-area locations for a multimillion-dollar project that was dreamed up a decade ago but is still in the early stages of development. Though private investors and venture capital officials attended the presentation, none have publicly expressed interest.

The studio could be a boon for a state that has long struggled to attract major motion film productions, which officials attribute to the lack of financial incentives.

“It could be a real game changer for Colorado,” said Kevin Shand, director of the Colorado Office of Film, Television & Media. “Right now, we’re just not competitive because of the incentives out there. We have everything else production companies need. We have the crew, we have the talent, we have the infrastructure, but we don’t have the money component.”

Trumbull presented the virtual studio idea 10 years ago to major film companies such as Warner Bros. and Columbia.

“Nobody called me back,” he said. “It was seen pretty unanimously as a twisted paradigm shifter that threatened their entire business model.”

He has since tweaked the pitch, proposing to couple the studio with a film production business unit to be backed by a hedge fund or venture capital to the tune of $100 million or more.

“Pixar makes their own animated films from ideas generated within their company,” Trumbull said. “I think we can adapt the Pixar business model very effectively and apply it to live-action production.”

He said there is no shortage of science fiction and fantasy material to fill the pipeline of content.

“There are a lot of pent-up movies out there in Hollywood that got budgeted by the major studios and rejected because they were $150 million,” Trumbull said. “They would’ve been happy to spend $65 million.”

Trumbull, who lives on a 55-acre farm in Massachusetts, said he’s interested in building the studio in Denver because of the quality of life and high-tech workforce, pointing to the presence of companies such as Ball Aerospace and RealD. The latter develops 3D technology for theaters and has a research hub in Boulder.

“This is the first time I’ve made this pitch to anybody since I made this pitch in Hollywood 10 years ago,” said Trumbull, creator of the “Back to the Future” simulator ride, which had a long run at three Universal Studios theme parks.

For the virtual studio, Trumbull envisions a circular stage housed in a two-story, 15,000-square-foot building, with a state-of-the-art camera as the centerpiece.

“That camera is weightless and almost mass-less and can be grabbed and moved anywhere around the stage,” he said of the camera, which he has used to film short features.

The studio would feature an automated lighting grid that could be preset and programmed in advance. To limit financial risk, Trumbull wants the studio constructed in a way where it could be turned into an office building overnight. “If we fail, this is not a dog,” he said. “This is not a white-elephant building.”

Ed Kramer, a professor of visual effects and computer graphics at Regis University’s film school, said the concept won’t replace the traditional method of filmmaking

“But if successful, it’s going to vastly reduce the cost and much of the need for location work,” said Kramer, who worked on special effects for movies such as “The Mummy” and “Twister.”

Shand of the Colorado Office of Film said the virtual studio could help Colorado land major movie productions.

“This facility, because of the way it’s going to be structured, overcomes the financial incentives that other states offer,” Shand said. “It can be as beneficial or more beneficial to film in Colorado than it would be in some other states.”


3D Television Net plans ambitious slate

The 3D joint venture between Sony, Imax and Discovery unveiled a large and exclusive slate of first run series of original programming and acquisitions. Tom Cosgrove, President and CEO made the announcement of native 3D programs that willl air 24/7 when the channel launches in 2011.

The channel will feature one of the most extensive libraries of 3D content in genres that are most appealing in 3D, including natural history, adventure, theatrical releases and IMAX movies.

The series and films announced today are (in alphabetical order):

Original Series

Abandoned Planet

Explore the strangest places on earth — entire cities now completely devoid of all humanity.  This series of one-hour programs sheds light on why people have abandoned the places they once called home and what happens after they leave.  Produced by Flight 33 Productions.

Africa in 3D

From Gannet Island and its 100,000 seabirds of the same name sharing one giant rock, the 60,000 flamingos at Kamfers Dam, the Luangwa River and its 30,000 hippos and much more, this series of one-hour programs captures the richness and diversity of the world’s second-largest continent.  Produced by Aquavision Television Productions.


China’s beauty is little seen, often hidden and always surprising.  This hour-long series studies the thronging cities, epic vistas and spiritual heartlands of this huge and mysterious nation in stunning 3D.  Produced by Natural History New Zealand Ltd. (NHNZ).

Jewels of the World

This hour-long series gives viewers unprecedented access to UNESCO’s ‘World Heritage’ sites, where the planet’s natural and cultural gems are catalogued and protected, including:  the historic sanctuary of Machu Picchu, Peru; the Temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia; and the Grand Canyon National Park in the United States, among others.  Produced by Natural History New Zealand Ltd. (NHNZ).

Exclusive U.S. Premieres

Attack of the Giant Jellyfish (Discovery)

This hour-long program explores the myths and realities behind the global explosion of deadly jellyfish, including the giant Nomura, whose strength and size makes them capable of capsizing boats and wreaking havoc on the high seas.  Produced by Story House Productions.

The Haunted (Discovery)

Using infrared cameras and sensitive recording devices, a paranormal team investigates true, chilling and terrifying stories of animals and their owners who are experiencing the unexplainable.  This one-hour program is produced by Picture Shack Entertainment.

Into the Deep 3D (IMAX)

This IMAX special takes audiences on a spectacular three-dimensional exploration of the undersea world. Using the IMAX 3D camera in its underwater housing for the first time, this film captures unique marine life and magnificent underwater vistas.

Magnificent Desolation:  Walking on the Moon 3D (IMAX)

Through the magic of IMAX 3D, narrator Tom Hanks takes viewers to the lunar surface to walk alongside the 12 extraordinary astronauts who have been there to experience what they saw, heard, felt, thought and did.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (Sony)

Inspired by the beloved children’s book of the same name, this animated 3D feature follows inventor Flint Lockwood and a brainy weathergirl as they attempt to discover why the rain in their small town has stopped, and food is falling in its place.

Monster House (Sony)

A suburban home has become physically animated by a vengeful human soul looking to stir up trouble from beyond the grave, and it’s up to three adventurous kids from the neighborhood to do battle with the structural golem in this comically frightful tale.

Wookie in 3D

Lucasfilm has announced that it’s giving all six “Star Wars” movies another re-release, this time in 3-D. “The Phantom Menace” will be first on the slate, with a release due in 2012, Variety reports.

The company has been hinting for several years that it might do 3-D versions of the saga, and the recent boom in 3-D films led to the announcement late Tuesday (Sept. 28).John Knoll, the visual effects supervisor for Industrial Light & Magic, is overseeing the conversion and tells Variety that “It’s not going to look like [other 3-D conversions] we’ve seen in the past.”

“Getting good results on a stereo conversion is a matter of taking the time and getting it right. It takes a critical and artistic eye along with an incredible attention to detail to be successful. It is not something that you can rush if you want to expect good results. For Star Wars we will take our time, applying everything we know both aesthetically and technically to bring audiences a fantastic new Star Wars experience.”

One thing the new versions won’t contain is more playing around with the original trilogy’s visual effects. “Star Wars” mastermind George Lucas updated a number of effects shots for the 1997 re-release of “Star Wars,” “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi, »


3D Arcade Games emerge in Japan

SI Electronics has announced it is developing an arcade board that will support 3D displays – wait for it – without the need for wearing any 3D glasses.

The news comes during a time when manufacturers are showing off their prototype tablets, some of which are 3D, at the electronics fair, IFA 2010, in Berlin.

The board was originally announced at the AOU Amusement Expo and will use a new internally developed processor. According to SIE the processor will allow glasses-free 3D displays and still output full HD visuals while retaining a small footprint and low cost.

A video of this new arcade board will be shown at the Kaga Amusement booth at the Amusement Machine Show in Tokyo, Japan, on Thursday.


3D Entertainment and Technology Festival is free to the public

The 3D Experience, New York’s first Annual 3D Entertainment and Technology Festival, today announced the presenters lineup for the Executive Forum. To kick off the three day event, key industry leaders and professionals will converge at the AMC Empire 25 Theaters in Times Square on Sept. 24 for a day packed with informative keynotes, presentations and panels encompassing the full spectrum of the 3D industry.

“The Executive Forum brings together industry pioneers and newcomers to take the pulse of the rising 3D industry and learn to navigate the ever-changing entertainment and technology landscape,” said Nino Balistreri, managing director for The 3D Experience. “3D has altered the way consumers experience digital content and will continue to push the limits of creativity. The 3D Experience will be an incubator for enduring partnerships and new revenue opportunities.”

The inaugural Executive Forum features a dynamic lineup including an all-industry address by Phil McKinney, vice president and chief technology officer, HP, followed by presentations from Ken Venturi, chief creative officer & EVP, National CineMedia, Robert H. McCooey, Jr., senior vice president of new listings and capital markets, NASDAQ OMX, Richard Gelfond, CEO, IMAX, Jim Chabin, president, International 3D Society, and David Beal, president, National Geographic Entertainment. These key industry veterans will cover the emergence of 3D in recent years, its financial impact, how to take advantage of its robust growth and thrive in this exciting, uncharted territory.

3D technology experts and industry creatives from Samsung, LG, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, RealD, 3ality, 3D Eye Solutions, Legend 3D, Motorola, Technicolor and more will delve into a broad range of topics including home entertainment, broadcast, video games, sports, post-production conversion of 2D to 3D, 3D’s future in advertising and filmmaking. Of note, Adweek’s award-winning advertising critic, Barbara Lippert, will moderate “Getting Ahead of 3D for Advertising Professionals,” a panel geared toward marketing and advertising executives who are experimenting with 3D technology. In addition, IMS Research’s Anna Hunt, principal analyst, will present on “The Elusive Consumer and Expectations for 3D in the Home.”

The 3D Experience Executive Forum attendees will be offered unparalleled networking opportunities through the NASDAQ Opening Night VIP Reception presented by LG, VIP film screenings, dinner reception and the highly-anticipated 3D TV Test Drive. For the latest more information on the speaker lineup and panels, please visit: Speakers.

The Executive Forum is targeted at industry professionals, but The 3D Experience will engage entertainment enthusiasts and general consumers alike by simultaneously presenting the 3D Consumer Showroom at the Discovery Times Square Exposition from Friday, Sept. 24 to Sunday, Sept 26. Hosted by Best Buy, the Consumer Showroom will be free and allow visitors to interact with a myriad of 3D products from 3D TVs, gaming systems, home theatre accessories and more. Showroom hours are Friday, September 24, noon-8pm; Saturday, September 25, 10am to 8pm; and Sunday, September 26, 10am to 6pm. To enrich the festival weekend, AMC Theatres Empire 25 will feature screenings of classic and recent 3D blockbusters. For an up to date schedule of screenings, please visit:

About The 3D Experience
The 3D Experience is committed to creating large-scale interactive programs that bring together leading minds, leading products and leading experiences. Event Partners for The 3D Experience include NASDAQ OMX, Best Buy, National CineMedia, IMAX, AMC and Discovery TSX. Sponsors include LG Electronics USA, Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America, Inc., 3ality Digital, Panasonic, NVIDIA, AT&T, Northern Lights Entertainment, 3D Eye Solutions, BodySound Technologies, Texas Instruments, RealD, 3DMedia, Jump 3D, Hello Charlie and Passmore Lab. Supporters include National Geographic Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Red Bull Records, IMS Research and International 3D Society. The 3D Experience is produced by e5 Global Media, a diversified company with leading assets in the media and entertainment arenas. For more information and to register for The 3D Experience visit Connect with The 3D Experience on Facebook at and Twitter at

Did Exhibitors screw the pooch when they jacked up ticket prices for 3D?

Adding a few bucks may seem like a modest increase to admissions, but will moviegoers always be willing to pay a premium once 3D becomes standard fare?  It reminds me of a time when the record companies got overly zealous in raising prices for CD’s as the new format began to replace vinyl.  Napster came along and the rest was history.

UPDATE 5.20.10

The Wall Street Journal talks about a new milestone in ticket prices – “The $20 ticket (for Shrek 3 in Imax 3D) may prove to be a psychological barrier too steep for some moviegoers to overcome, but the industry appears ready to take the risk, especially in the wake of a string of 3-D blockbusters, from “Avatar” to “Alice in Wonderland.” 3-D movies accounted for the vast majority of last year’s 10% jump in domestic box-office sales. That figure is likely to climb even higher for 2010.”

UPDATE 7.14.10

Richard Greenfield, analyst with BTIG Research in New York, argues that theater operators and studios risk alienating increasing numbers of moviegoers from the 3D format by charging high ticket prices.

In a survey of 2,600 consumers, Greenfield found that 77% of respondents believe the average $4 premium for a 3D ticket (compared to 2D) too excessive, including about 37% who said they would not pay extra to see a movie in 3D. More than 80% of respondents said they had seen a 3D movie.

Greenfield conducted the survey in advance of the July 15 initial public stock offering (IPO) for Los Angeles-based RealD, which licenses 3D technology to motion picture exhibitors, in addition to its side-by-side technology (allowing for 3D images to both the left and right eye) to stream content into a single channel to any 3DTV.

RealD offers theater operators free 3D upgrades to existing digital projectors in exchange for a 40 cents to 50 cents license fee per moviegoer, according to Greenfield. The studios and RealD subsidize the cost of theatrical 3D glasses.

“It is pretty clear from the [respondent] comments that they are not happy with the movie exhibition industry and are clearly differentiating between paying ‘up’ for movies like Avatar vs. less exciting, lower quality movies,” Greenfield wrote.


UPDATE: 7.21.10

Fewer and fewer moviegoers are making the 3D choice when they plunk down their money at the box office.


Update: 8.15.10

The Financial Times weighs in the continued viability of the 3D marketplace based on the recent crop of dud releases:

It was hailed as the great saviour of the film industry, but since 3D technology propelled Avatar to a record-breaking $2.73bn box-office haul, fears are growing that Hollywood is endangering its profitable new format.

“The studios and theatres are overpricing 3D films and there’s too much of it out there,” said Richard Greenfield, an analyst with BTIG Research.

“They are converting all of their movies into 3D without any regard to quality.”

A US ticket for Cats & Dogs, which was panned by critics, cost up to 50 per cent more than Christopher Nolan’s Inception, which was released in 2D recently to great critical acclaim. Yet Cats & Dogs cost less to make thanInception and was only converted into 3D after production had finished.

“Why should releasing a film in 3D and having the audience wear 3D glasses cost more?” asked Mr Greenfield.

The studios have packed their release schedules with 3D films: Tron: LegacyThe Green HornetMegamind and Yogi Bear are lined up for the coming months, whileAvatar will be re-released in 3D at the end of August.

Proponents of 3D insist that it can be a powerful tool when used correctly. “It’s a tool for filmmakers and a premium entertainment experience for moviegoers,” says Rick Heineman, vice-president of marketing at RealD, which makes 3D projection systems for cinemas.

But other analysts say Hollywood is playing a risky game by betting on unwavering consumer enthusiasm for 3D – and for higher prices.

“The studios are guilty of short-term thinking,” says Brandon Gray, president of Box Office Mojo, which tracks film box-office performance. “They all jumped on the 3D bandwagon but they’re avoiding the real issue, which is their bankruptcy regarding storytelling.”


3D and Blu-ray are made for each other

3D and Blu-ray drive each other to market.

Carolyn Giardina’s article in Variety spells out a breath of fresh air for the Blu-Ray market:

Despite Sony’s victory over rival HD-DVD in the format war, Blu-ray has remained a format without a compelling value proposition. It delivers a better picture than DVD, but not dramatically better, and consumers have been moving toward the convenience of streaming rather than the quality of true HD on Blu-ray.

There’s one area, though, where Blu-ray seems to have the edge: stereoscopic 3D. In fact, 3D may put Blu-ray in millions more living rooms — and, in turn, Blu-ray may help drive 3D in the home.

Don Eklund, Sony Pictures’ executive Vice President for advanced technologies, recalls that during the format war with HD-DVD, critics said Blu-ray was over-engineered. Those advanced capabilities, however, have proven essential in giving the format an advantage in 3D homevideo, which requires storing and moving massive amounts of data. Blu-ray does this much better than Web streaming.

A single Blu-ray disc can hold an entire 3D movie at full 1080p HD resolution, and the players can pump that data to the screen with no problem. With Web streaming, the consumer doesn’t need a lot of storage space, but few broadband services have the speed to handle a dual load of 1080p video for the left and right eyes – required for 3D.

Eklund estimates a player must be able to handle 50-55 megabits per second (Mbps) for 3D with full HD for both eyes. An Akamai Technologies study pegged average broadband speed in the U.S. (including consumer, corporate and mobile) at just 3.8 Mbps. AT&T’s DSL maxes out at 24 Mbps.

Ahmad Ouri, chief marketing officer at Technicolor, believes Blu-ray has the edge for the foreseeable future. “It will be very difficult to stream a 50-gigabyte file, even if you have a high-bandwidth pipeline to the home,” he says.

Blu-ray launched in 2006, and the Blu-ray Disc Assn. (BDA) asserts that the format has reached more than 10% penetration, counting set-top players and the PlayStation 3 – ahead of where the DVD rollout was at a similar point in time.
Blu-ray stakeholders tout the format’s image quality and connected features, but Ouri says that “in terms of differentiating features for the consumers, I think definitely it will be 3D” that drives sales.

3D has also given consumer electronics firms, eager to sell 3D flatscreens, a reason to get behind Blu-ray.

“3D will likely become a standard feature on the majority of new HDTVs, and that will certainly support sales of Blu-ray,” says Lexine Wong, senior exec Vice President of worldwide marketing at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

With 3D cable and satellite still scarce, and terrestrial 3D basically nonexistent, Blu-ray is the most market-ready 3D delivery system available today.

Even with 3D, though, Blu-ray may have a limited window to make inroads. The FCC’s National Broadband Plan calls for a massive increase in Internet bandwidth to the home, enough to make 3D streaming practical, within 10 years.

That plan has driven another group into the 3D Blu-ray camp: broadcasters.

The broadcasting industry isn’t keen to surrender spectrum for wireless broadband – something the FCC plan asks them to do – nor are they eager to use all their bandwidth for 3D TV.


Panasonic releases DSLR 3D adapter lens

Panasonic has kick started the “First Year of 3D Era” thanks to the development of a digital twin-lens system that allows regular DSLR cameras to capture in 3D. Belonging to the LUMIX line, the new G Microsystem will be interchangeable, adding an entirely new dimension to traditional photography. Simple for the end user because of the flexibility of interchangeable lens cameras, this will provide  “instant 3D shooting, without distortion or time lag between left and right images.”

Details remain scarce, no release date or pricing information was announced. We do know, however, that it will be compact in size, and will be released by this years end.


Is the tide turning against a 3D world?

In a recent article in the New York Times, Joss Wheedon and J.J. Abrams speak out against stereo filmmaking.

While Hollywood rushes dozens of 3-D movies to the screen — nearly 60 are planned in the next two years, including “Saw VII” and “Mars Needs Moms!” — a rebellion among some filmmakers and viewers has been complicating the industry’s jump into the third dimension.

It’s hard to measure the audience resistance — online complaints don’t mean much when crowds are paying the premium 3-D prices. But filmmakers are another matter, and their attitudes may tell whether Hollywood’s 3-D leap is about to hit a wall.

Several influential directors took surprisingly public potshots at the 3-D boom during the recent Comic-Con International pop culture convention in San Diego.

“When you put the glasses on, everything gets dim,” said J. J. Abrams, whose two-dimensional “Star Trek” earned $385 million at the worldwide box office for Paramount Pictures last year.

Joss Whedon, who was onstage with Mr. Abrams, said that as a viewer, “I’m totally into it. I love it.” But Mr. Whedon then said he flatly opposed a plan by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to convert “The Cabin in the Woods,” a horror film he produced but that has not yet been released, into 3-D. “What we’re hoping to do,” Mr. Whedon said, “is to be the only horror movie coming out that is not in 3-D.”

By year’s end, there will be more than 5,000 digital screens in the United States, or 12.5 percent of the roughly 40,000 total, easing a traffic jam that has caused 3-D hits like “Clash of the Titans,” from Warner Brothers, to bump into “How to Train Your Dragon,” from DreamWorks Animation, to the disadvantage of both.

Tickets for 3-D films carry a $3 to $5 premium, and industry executives roughly estimate that 3-D pictures average an extra 20 percent at the box office. Home sales for 3-D hits like “Avatar” and “Monsters vs. Aliens” have been strong, showing they can more than hold their own when not in 3-D.

A 3-D movie can be somewhat more costly than a 2-D equivalent because it may require more elaborate cameras and shooting techniques or an additional process in the already lengthy postproduction period for effects-heavy films. But the added costs are a blip when weighed against higher ticket sales.

Behind the scenes, however, filmmakers have begun to resist production executives eager for 3-D sales. For reasons both aesthetic and practical, some directors often do not want to convert a film to 3-D or go to the trouble and expense of shooting with 3-D cameras, which are still relatively untested on big movies with complex stunts and locations.

Filmmakers like Mr. Whedon and Mr. Abrams argue that 3-D technology does little to enhance a cinematic story, while adding a lot of bother. “It hasn’t changed anything, except it’s going to make it harder to shoot,” Mr. Whedon said at Comic-Con.

The crowds cheered, as they had in an earlier Comic-Con briefing by Chris Pirrotta and other staff members of the fan site, who assured 300 listeners that a pair of planned “Hobbit” films will not be in 3-D, based on the site’s extensive reporting.

“Out of 450 people surveyed, 450 don’t want 3D for ‘The Hobbit,’ ” a later post on the Web site said.

But in Hollywood, an executive briefed on the matter — who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicate negotiations surrounding a plan to have Peter Jackson direct the “Hobbit” films — said the dimensional status of the movie remained unresolved.

Asked by phone recently whether die-hard fans would tolerate a 3-D Middle Earth, Mr. Pirrotta said, “I do believe so, as long as there was the standard version as well.”

In his own family, he said, the funny glasses can be a deal-breaker.

“My wife can’t stand 3-D.”

Can 3D Bring This Generation Together?

I recently watched the Step Up 3D Trailer on line and was struck how dance may be best suited towards 3D photography. The subjects are moving yet can be photographed at close range.  The moves (unlike sports) are rehearsed.

Now it will be awhile before we can actually post something that plays back in 3D but in the short term we just need to use our imagination.  Isn’t that what using a 2D plane to create a 3D image is all about?

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