Inside Look at NFL 3D HD Production

Next week, the NFL, 3ality Digital, and Crosscreek Productions will broadcast a 3D HD version of the Dec. 4 game between the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders that will prove the validity of using existing 2D production vehicles and signal paths for 3D.

“From a league perspective, we could do big events using this technology,” says Glenn Adamo, NFL VP of Media Operations and Broadcasting. “This is a starting point, and, if successful, 3D HD will increase the fan’s entertainment experience.”

If all goes as planned, viewers in movie theaters in Los Angeles, New York, and Boston will feel as though they’re right on top of the action. Producer Steve Beim and director Bob Levy, as well as some of NFL Films’ top camera operators, will cut the seven-camera shoot in Crosscreek’s Voyager 8 2D truck. Camera rigs with two Sony HDC-1500 cameras with Fujinon 22x lenses will cover the action from six locations at field level, with a seventh located higher up on the 50-yard line to provide a sense of place (the longer shot flattens the 3D effect). Another rig will have a Sony HDC-950 portable camera, and a Cunima ultra-compact HD camera will also be tested.

“We spent a lot of time trying to ensure that each shot will make people watching the production go ‘wow’,” says Adamo.

3Ality Digital’s TS-4 rig with dual Sony HDC1500 cameras side-by-side

Cameras will be controlled through a stereoscopic platform controller that will allow convergence operators in the trucks to ensure compelling 3D images are captured and delivered, along with metadata, through Telecast SHEDs and fiber to Voyager 8. Camera signals then go into a proprietary 3ality stereoscopic image processor that automatically balances out the cameras and fixes minor errors.

“Vertical offset between the two camera images is what makes 3D difficult to watch,” says Steve Schklair, founder and CEO of 3ality Digital. “Our system uses auto alignment and image analysis to adjust the positions of the camera. It is accurate enough to allow shots captured using a long lens to vertically match up perfectly.”

WIGE Media’s Cunima microcameras as part of 3Ality’s TS-3 rig using beam splitters for close-ups

The two 720p/60-fps signals from the cameras on the rig are then muxed into a single 720p signal that can be cut in Crosscreek’s 2D truck without the need for 3D-capable production gear. “The multiplex turns the 3D signal into a 2D signal so that standard production switchers, routers, EVS units, and graphics can be used,” says Schklair. “We also don’t have to worry about having two transponders, satellites, and then reclocking the image at the theater, which is just not viable.”

The multiplexed signal is then encoded and sent via satellite to theaters where 3ality Digital decoders will then turn the 2D signal into a 720p/30-fps signal for viewing at the cinema. Because 3ality Digital’s technology removes the need for the production unit to be outfitted with 3D projection monitors and have everyone wearing glasses, the company believes 3D productions become much more viable and cost-effective. Even the convergence operators, who are in charge of controlling the 3D effect, will not watch on 3D monitors (although one will be available for quality control). “They will see metrics related to the depth on a 2D screen so they can keep the depth fairly consistent so that, when there is a camera cut, there isn’t a big change in depth,” explains Schklair.

“You always hear broadcasters and producers discuss putting the fan in the game,” says Adamo, "and that’s why I’m excited, because 3D will eventually allow the game to come into a viewer’s living room."

A compelling 3D experience begins with proper camera placement. “Framing is critical to depth of field,” says Adamo. “You can’t be too close; otherwise, you lose the 3D effect.” Likewise, you can’t be too far away.

That’s why a sideline cart, with a camera on a platform about 15 feet off the ground, will play an important part in the production. It will be used for tight game coverage, with shots framed a little wider than usual from that position. Legendary camera operators Donnie Marks and Hank McElway will lend their expertise alongside two others from NFL Films and operate handheld cameras. “On the low-angle shots, the convergence operator will be more aggressive in driving the 3D effect,” says 3ality producer Ted Kenney.

The NFL Network’s existing Vizrt graphics package from Reality Check will be used during the game. “We don’t need things coming off the screen so the graphics will be less than 1% in front, or even behind, the screen,” says Kenney. “Our goal is to make the screen seem to fall away.”

Four years ago, the NFL did a 3D experiment during the Super Bowl, but the evolution of 3D equipment will make this production a much different experience. “The software aligns the lenses and carries the alignment through the whole zoom range,” says Kenney. “It maintains pixel-for-pixel accuracy and also allows for quicker setup and the ability to fit this production into a standard production unit.”

Kenney, who worked on 3ality’s production of the U2 3D movie, says that Levy’s experience as both a sports director and an entertainment director will help viewers feel as though they’re on the field. “We’ll be able to give the fans different perspectives, like putting them in the front row of the end zone,” he adds.

While this production will be completely separate from the NFL Network 2D broadcast, which uses 27 cameras, eventually, a 2D version could be derived from the 3D version. The challenge is that 2D viewers are used to seeing plays from a myriad of angles, whereas the 3D viewing experience requires fewer camera positions because the viewer needs a sense of place in the stands.

“We’ll see whether or not the 3D coverage can translate into 2D,” says Adamo. “It’s like the difference between a long-form feature and short vignette.”

There is little doubt in the potential of 3D, especially with 3D-capable consumer displays expected to be a major theme at this year’s consumer-electronics show. For now, though, 3D HD is a theater-only experience.

“Sports in 3D is more viable in theaters, but how well does it play on the big screen?” says Schklair. “And how do you buy a beer in a movie theater?”

By Ken Kerschbaumer, Sports Video Group

3D Technology Update for Display Professionals

Advancement of state-of-the-art stereoscopic display technology continues to push the field of consumer home displays into new performance parameters. With a rapidly growing content base, 3D Displays enter into far-reaching mass-production agreements that are effectively & successfully changing the industry's make-up.

More information:

3-D Transforming Tentpoles

Within five to seven years, I expect all movies out of Hollywood to be in 3-D," Jeffrey Katzenberg predicted at the recent 3DX conference in Singapore. "In sound, we've gone from vinyl to 8-track to cassette to CD to digital," the DreamWorks maven said. "The flat-screen movies of today are the equivalent of vinyl records."

If so, when it comes to live-action tentpoles, it seems as if most of Hollywood is still clinging to their turntables and LPs. Stereo 3-D is the rage in animation, but there have been no announcements of a Batman, Spider-Man, Pirates of the Caribbean or other existing or potential franchise in 3-D, other than James Cameron's epic Avatar for Fox.

Few studios and production companies have publicly embraced 3-D. But many are quietly investigating the format as they plan future tentpoles, wondering whether Cameron's film will do for 3-D what Toy Story did for computer animation.

The most obvious concern about 3-D is the unexpectedly slow transition of theaters to the d-cinema projectors it requires. Disney, though, is committed to 3-D, has several stereo titles on its slate and isn't waiting for more theaters.

For the Mouse House, says Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Group prexy Mark Zoradi, the first question is, "Would this picture take advantage of 3-D?"

"I think you have to have the visual need for it," he says. "I wouldn't expect to see a big, epic drama in 3-D or a straight comedy in 3-D." He is in sync with many in the industry who see 3-D as an event-film format, as Technicolor was in the 1930s.

Tentpoles are, however, event films, so the fit seems natural. Yet Walden Media's exec VP of physical production, Doug Jones, who oversaw 3-D pic Journey to the Center of the Earth for the shingle, warns: "In production, you have to have one (picture) as a learning curve."

So far, only Cameron and his Avatar cohorts are on that learning curve at the tentpole level.

"3-D has to be demystified," says Avatar's producer, Jon Landau. "You have to make sure the filmmaker is comfortable with it. I think there are now enough opportunities where people can go out and test the equipment."

That kind of testing is accelerating at technology vendors such as Pace Technologies, 3ality Digital and RealD. It isn't just the filmmakers who need a comfort level, though. Many are asking about the added cost, especially for pics with lots of visual effects.

"It's the backend where everybody's having a hard time, and there's no standard way to do things," Walden's Jones says. Stereo means making the movie twice -- once for each eye -- so, in visual effects, labor-intensive tasks such as rotoscoping and compositing must be duplicated.

Stereo pioneer Vince Pace routinely tells potential customers for his 3-D technology that going stereo adds roughly 20% to the negative cost of a movie. Jones, for his part, estimates that on a film with a lot of digital visual effects, the format brings a 20%-30% overall budget jump.

With tentpole budgets already in the $250 million range, that's a lot of extra cost, with no proof yet that a blockbuster like Iron Man would earn any additional money in 3-D. Many point to Avatar as the moment of truth for live-action 3-D. If it is a smash, others will follow. Then competitive pressures may make Katzenberg a prophet, because if Warner goes stereo with Batman, for example, how long can Sony keep Spider-Man flat?

By David S. Cohen, Variety

3-D Runs Risk of Overhype

Amid the buzz about 3-D as the future of cinema, there's already some backlash, notably from critic Roger Ebert and L.A. Times blogger Patrick Goldstein, who've been skeptical about its creative potential. Some in the 3-D community have worried that when an expensive 3-D release flops, as some inevitably will, the industry will sour on stereo. Avatar producer Jon Landau says the key is not to count on 3-D to sell an otherwise weak picture.

"Technology does not have to live up to the hype; storytelling does," he says. "If you do not make a good movie, you could be in black-and-white, you could be in mono, it does not matter. People are not going to go."

Disney's Mark Zoradi says there is a risk of overhype, but echoes Landau: "If a movie fails in 3-D, then it probably would have failed in 2-D as well. You would go back to the script and the overall story. If a movie fails in CGI, you wouldn't say it should be done in 2-D."

The bottom line, Landau says, is: "I think we are beyond the blame game as it relates to 3-D. History has proven to us at the recent box office that 3-D works and people are seeking out that experience."

By David S. Cohen, Variety

3-D Industry Needs Quality Control

3-D, unique among movie formats, holds the seeds of its own destruction. Technically poor 3-D, or even 3-D that's too aggressive and separates the right- and left-eye images too widely, can be painful enough to induce a long-term aversion to 3-D.

"This is what happened in the '50s and '80s," says helmer Eric Brevig. "It was the uncomfortable 3-D that killed it."

So the entire industry has a stake in maintaining quality control.

Brevig says, "You need standards like the broadcast standards, (with) the right-eye and left-eye image having a certain amount of parity, unless it is for a creative effect."Brevig adds that something like the current THX certification would be a good idea.

3-D pioneer Vince Pace goes further: "I feel the best resolution will be some sort of rating system that measures the separation of the images and says, 'This can be harmful to the eyes.' If it's an R-rated movie, people know there's language and nudity. It would be nice to see someday that we had something like that for 3-D so someone's not subjected to extreme disparity."

By David S. Cohen, Variety

3-D can Have Adverse Health Effects

Back in 1997, several hundred Japanese schoolchildren suffered seizures watching an episode of Pokemon that had brief intervals of flashing lights. The strobing was only a fraction of the 60 Hz refresh rate used in today's 3-D shutter glasses. Still, Japan's NHK won't broadcast in 3-D until it completes a minimum five-year study on whether it could trigger latent adverse health effects.

Tom Randolph, CEO of Kerner Technologies, worries hardcore 3-D gamers might fall prey to seizures and recommends shutter-glasses makers increase their refresh rates to a minimum 120 Hz. But Randolph says if your eyes aren't feeling distress, chances are your brain isn't either. "I think watching 3-D for two hours is safe, even on a red-blue anaglyph. And people who don't feel good are smart enough to walk out."

By Robyn Weisman, Variety

Industry Tries to Avoid another Format War

3-D homevideo is set to make a splash next year, with manufacturers coming out with rigs that use two competing styles of glasses and even some that don't need glasses at all. Samsung has sold as many as a million "3-D-ready" flat-panel sets that need active shutter glasses. Hyundai is selling LCD sets that use polarizer glasses in Japan, and JVC is expected to unveil a similar set for the American market at next month's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Steve Koenig, senior manager of industry analysis at the Consumer Electronics Assn., says he expects 3-D technologies to be a significant portion of the CES. These competing proprietary systems, which use different types of glasses, seem to augur the onset of another format war, but several industry experts view 3-D homevideo formats as following the more peaceful transition to digital TV. Koenig says CEA is partnering with the industry to develop standards for 3-D content.

"We're starting to investigate a codec (software coder-decoder) for encoding and transmitting that would be agreeable to all types of physical 3-D display methodologies," Koenig says. "It will be similar to DTV standards, so it won't matter if it's LCD, plasma, rear-projection and so on."

Meanwhile, studios want 3-D homevideo to help them recoup the costs of making stereo pics, 40 of which are already slated for release through 2011.

The situation "will ultimately force (a combined distribution method) that allows somebody to go pull a Blu-ray disc off the shelf or download a 3-D HD version, buy a pair of glasses, have a 3-D-ready TV, and see 3-D versions of movies in the living room," says Doug Darrow, brand and marketing manager at Texas Instruments, which makes the DLP chip used in Samsung's and Mitsubishi's rear-projection 3-D systems.

But this consolidation on the distribution side doesn't force consumers to choose one 3-D system or the other. RealD CEO Michael Lewis, whose company makes both types of glasses, points out that Blu-ray discs have enough room to run both an active-glasses and a polarized-glasses version from a given disc.

Also, Darrow points out that consumers may favor a different format for 3-D homevideo than for theatrical viewing. "In the home, you can probably afford a pair of $50 shutter glasses. It's something you keep like the controller on a game system," Darrow says. "In the movie theater, it's probably better to have disposable eyewear, and you can put something in front of the lens of the projector and then have the cheaper glasses."

By Robyn Weisman, Variety

China is Getting Serious about 3D

I am writing this from Korea, where I just had the pleasure of attending the 3DIT conference held at Kwangwoon University in Seoul. It was a one-day event with a variety of speakers and a small 3D exhibition area.

There were three high level takeaways for me:
1) China is getting very interested in 3D and has formed a new association to start to coordinate development activities.
2) I became aware of an even broader scope of 3D activities worldwide.
3) The maturity of advanced integral imaging, electronic holography and other advanced 3D imaging/display techniques is richer than I had imagined.

One of the speakers at the event, Flight Lee, is the Vice-Secretary General of the newly formed China 3D Industry Association (C3DIA), which will be under the supervision of China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. In his talk, he outlined a rather ambitious plan to bolster all aspects of the 3D infrastructure.

Key aspects included:
- Control of the industrial standard of 3D displays
- Control of mobile phone operator licenses and 3D services
- Control of the broadcast bandwidth for 3D services
- Control of the TV channel licensing for 3D broadcasting
- Control of the Internet and contents for 3D gaming and video delivery
- Setting 3D technology direction and policy
- Control of government funding for 3D R&D

In addition, R&D activities have already begun, which will focus on cooperation between industry, academic, research and government organizations. This is government planning in all its glory, and depending upon the amount of capital committed and the aggressiveness of the organizers, it could have a big influence on the market.

Other talks at the event described 3D activities at universities, consortiums, associations and institutes from around the world. I was aware on many of these activities, but certainly not all. In all of these areas, except for the U.S., broad government funding supports many of these activities. These projects are far too numerous to delineate, but one project stood out the 4-year 3DTV program, which concluded recently in Europe. This program involved dozens of companies and Universities and spawned more than 350 published papers. More than a dozen follow-on projects have since been initiated with real commercial products and technologies expected. Add to this, similar efforts in Japan, Korea and Taiwan, plus now China, and it is clear that investment and momentum is building for 3D.

The third major takeaway was a greater appreciation and understanding of some of the more advanced forms of 3D display and image capture. Yes, many of the displays and image capture methods described remain rather crude by stereoscopic display standards - and it will still be many years before we see commercial electro-holography systems, but the pieces of the puzzle are coming together. As interest in 3D accelerates and more attention is paid to these next-generation systems, we will begin to see some pretty amazing systems in the not so distant future, I think.

The conference was composed of academic 3D display and capture experts who did a great job of providing an overview of global activities and status. I was the only real business or commercially-oriented speaker in the crowd, but I am glad I was invited to attend. There are rich and fertile innovations occurring in these labs, universities and institutes, and others in the commercial world would benefit from more awareness of this activity. European and Asian countries get this for the most part, but I am not so sure U.S. companies do. Maybe we should take a page from this playbook.

By Chris Chinnock, DisplayDaily

LG Plotting 3D TVs for 2009

3D TV is still something of a pipe dream for us mere mortals. But the realm of donning the silly specs in your front room appears to be moving closer, with an LG Korean exec telling me today that the company was planning to release a 3D TV in late 2009.

Talking today at their Digital TV development lab, Kim Jaeryong said, "Maybe we'll try launching one or two 3D TVs into the market in 2009. By late 2010, I think you'll see a lot, with 2011 being a big year for 3D TV."

It all sounds pretty neat and futuristic, but chances are it won't be the dawn of watching 50s horror movies, 3D–style, in your front room. 3D TVs remain costly and a niche product.

However, with Sony already promising to beef up classic Disney titles into 3D, we could yet be watching animated creatures making a lunge for our faces come the end of the decade.


AccessIT to Change Name to Cinedigm

Access Integrated Technologies announced that it will be changing its name to Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp. (Cinedigm). The Company is the global leader in providing the technology and services that enable movie theaters to convert to digital cinema exhibition. This conversion allows for significantly expanded possibilities for big-screen theater-based entertainment, including live performances and events in 3-D.

The Company's new name and identity is designed to better represent the Company's leading position in the new paradigm in cinema entertainment made possible by its technology and services. The change also corresponds to the Company's leading industry role in digital cinema and continued expansion of its footprint with the next 10,000 screens that the Company expects to bring online with its unique nationwide satellite platform.

"It's time that we had a brand that more accurately captures the real promise of what we offer," said Bud Mayo, the Company's Chairman and CEO. "Our platform takes the movie-going experience beyond cinema, allowing studios, theatres and content-creators to enhance and expand the kinds of content they can provide to consumers."

Mayo continued, "We have successfully brought true digital cinema to over 3,700 screens in the U.S. and are preparing to almost triple that number over the coming few years. Digital cinema is a terrific opportunity for the industry and enables a wonderfully improved experience for consumers, so we are very excited about what's ahead for our business and industry."

The Company will seek approval by its stockholders of the new corporate name at its next stockholders' meeting in September 2009. Until such approval, the Company will maintain its corporate name but also do business as Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp. and will use the brand name Cinedigm. The Company's subsidiary, The Bigger Picture, will also be changing its name to Cinedigm and will be known as Cinedigm's Alternative Content Distribution group. A new stock symbol that will better reflect the Company's name is expected from NASDAQ shortly. Until such time, the Company's stock symbol will remain (AIXD).

About Cinedigm
Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp. is the global leader in fulfilling the promise of digital cinema. Its ground-breaking technology platform helps exhibitors, distributors, studios and content providers transform the consumer movie experience -- by expanding theatrical features to include not only movies but also live 2-D and 3-D performances such as sporting events, concerts and gaming. The Company also enables theatres to create exhibitions and advertising opportunities targeted to specific audience groups and locations thereby offering new revenue opportunities for these venues. Cinedigm's leading digital cinema platform and one-of-a-kind satellite delivery operations support more than 3,700 theatres across the United States with over nine million digital showings of Hollywood features to date.

Source: Cinedigm

Kerner Tech Ready for Revolution

Despite a contracting marketplace, Kerner Technologies CEO Thomas Randolph is lining up partners all over Hollywood for a revolution in imaging. Armed with a laptop and software called "Phloto," Randolph has begun making licensing agreements with entertainment companies for a patented technology that turns still photos into moving images.

Kerner has already struck licensing deals for Phloto with Marvel and Fuji Film, among others, and more entertainment companies are pursuing it with an eye toward making video production cheaper and easier. Phloto fills the gaps between still images to create full-motion video. Unlike other "keyframe animation" software, it creates that video instantly, so it can be used for Web streaming.

"With Phloto," said Randolph, "user-generated video content can be created solely using photos, which go like butter through the Web because they require relatively no bandwidth."

Phloto video can also be made 3-D with the touch of a button, so Phloto expects to be the first home software for stereoscopic user-generated video. Phloto is based on FrameFree, a high-tech imaging system Randolph brought to Kerner when he joined the company. FrameFree records pictures as math instead of video frames.

Randolph unveiled FrameFree earlier this fall with a Marvel Studios licensing deal tied to the DVD release of The Incredible Hulk. Fans could upload their own photos to Marvel's website and watch their own face morph into the Hulk. Now Marvel and Randolph are discussing other uses for the technology. Marvel Studios marketing and distribution consultant Tom Sherak said, "This is in its infancy, but it has the potential to change a lot of things.

"Marvel has 5,000 comic titles that are stagnant on the page, and (Randolph) came to me and said, 'What if I told you I could make these comics move, and that what it takes animators years to do, I can do in a matter of seconds, at negligible cost?' "

Though Randolph wouldn't name specific deal partners until pacts close, he said he is in "exclusive negotiations" with a major music label that wants its developing musical acts to use Phloto to make videos very inexpensively, using a still photographer instead of a film crew.

One deal in the works is with a major sports league to exploit its archive of photographs; another is with a social-networking site that would allow users to design sophisticated presentations of photos.

And after making a deal with the Tokyo-based CelSys Animation, Randolph is in discussions with Hollywood animation companies. Randolph said CelSys found it a big time-saver. "Instead of hand-drawing every frame, you push a button, and it quickly draws 60 frames."

The FrameFree/Phloto software family has become a top priority for Kerner, which began as the physical effects division and operating stages that George Lucas spun off from Industrial Light & Magic in 2006. Despite the global economic downturn, Randolph has, in recent months, struck deals including strategic investments from Taiwan-based Wistron Corp., which supplies PC motherboards for Acer and Dell, and from Kevin Duncan of Duncan Oil. Three Japanese companies, Toppan Printing, CelSys and Fuji Film, have struck Phloto deals. Computer-maker Acer has pacted for it, and Randolph said he is negotiating with one of the largest computer-makers to bundle Phloto with its PCs. The first pacts are expected to be done by year's end or early 2009.

Sherak said, "I worked on Beowulf, watched Bob Zemeckis take things to the next level by solving the problem of not having the character's eyes move. This does something similar, and it can be a game-changer in our business."

By Michael Fleming and Davis S. Cohen, Variety

Panasonic Proposes Blu-ray Disc Standard for 3D Imagery

Panasonic Corp of Japan has disclosed the submission of a proposal to the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA), for a Blu-ray Disc standard to store three-dimensional (3D) imagery formed of left-/right-eye two-channel full-High Definition (HD) images (1,920 x 1,080 pixels). It is also considering submitting a proposal for a High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) standard capable of transmitting 3D imagery. The BDA hopes to begin formal discussion on the standard proposal before the end of 2008, with commercial adoption probably in 2010.

There are two reasons why Panasonic moved to propose a standard ahead of other firms: to avoid the same sort of futile standards war that occurred with next-gen Digital Videodiscs (DVD), and to prevent patent conflict related to 3D imagery standards.

US film companies are beefing up their film production stances, preparing to handle the 3D images they hope will provide massive revenues; at the same time they are developing packaged 3D media for the home to create a new revenue stream. This trend has stirred up considerable activity in the background, with many companies scurrying to have their own proprietary 3D imagery standards adopted by the BDA. According to Masayuki Kozuka, general manager in charge of Storage Device Strategy, AVC Networks Company of Panasonic, “Standards wars, patent monopolies and the like would seriously interfere with the widespread adoption of any 3D image standard. We developed a standard based on existing technology, specifically designed for easy acceptance.”

Standard Technology
And, in fact, the technologies proposed by Panasonic for 3D imagery storage, transfer, etc, all utilize existing standard technology. Image encoding uses the two-channel encoding function implemented in Moving Picture Coding Experts Group Phase 4 Advanced Video Coding (MPEG-4 AVC) H.264. The second channel stores only the data different from channel one, holding the increase in data volume to about 1.5 times. The HDMI standard is used to transfer data from the player to the television, with left- and right-eye images alternated in single-field (single-frame) units. “All we have to do is define a flag to identify image data, equipment and other elements supporting 3D imagery. We really don’t need any other major changes,” explained Hiroshi Miyai, director, High Quality AV Development Center of Panasonic.

Panasonic is not planning to standardize the techniques for displaying 3D imagery. At CEATEC Japan 2008, the company exhibited a 103-inch plasma display panel (PDP) television displaying 3D pictures. It featured dual drive integrated circuits (IC) to achieve a high 120 frames/s, and modified phosphors to shorten plasma emission rise/fall times.

By Naoki Asakawa, Nikkei Electronics Asia

Looking at the Future in 3D

If the "wow" factor is a guarantee of success, Spatial View will be huge. The interior of the company's Front St. headquarters is crammed with electronic devices – flat-panel plasma televisions, PCs, video-game monitors, fixed-image monitors and hand-held devices – all projecting images, animations and videos in three dimensions. Instead of being overwhelming, the illusion is intriguing. It makes one wonder why everything isn't in 3D. Spatial View chief executive Beat Raemy is planning for the time when everything will be in 3D.

"It's a natural progression, first we had black-and-white images, then colour, then high-definition and next will be 3D; we see in 3D, so why is our media 2D?" he said in an interview. "It might not be here tomorrow, but it is coming."

That's why Raemy's in the business of making 3D easier. Spatial View's primary industry is designing and manufacturing devices that allow existing products to display 3D images, animation and videos – without the use of those pesky cardboard glasses. Spatial view is offering a new twist on very old technology. Stereoscopy – the concept of showing each eye a slightly different image to produce a 3D effect – was invented in 1840. The concept became faddishly popular in movie theatres in the 1950s with the advent of disposable glasses with blue-and-red lenses that allowed each eye to see a slightly different image. Since those early days, 3D has come and gone in mainstream media and has shown some success recently; this year's Journey to the Center of the Earth grossed more than $101 million (U.S.) in Canada and the United States despite middling reviews.

"3D is coming; Samsung has already sold more than 2 million 3D-ready TVs and the Americans are building 3D-capable cinemas as fast as they can," said James Stewart, president of Toronto-based Geneva Films, which has worked extensively in 3D. "There's even a TV network in Japan that broadcasts in 3D part of the time and James Cameron's next film, the $250 million Avatar, will be in 3D."

But people have always complained about the goofy glasses. That's why Spatial View has eliminated the need for them. The company has developed clear filters that fit over the top of an existing video screen to separate the images, so each of the viewer's eyes receives a slightly different image.

"People aren't aware that you can get the same sort of experience on a flat-panel display without wearing glasses," said Brad Casemore, Spatial View's vice-president of business development. "This is an issue that we're tackling with our industry partners – the likes of NVIDIA, IBM and Adobe."

"It started back in Germany, a professor friend of mine developed the concept, but he knew nothing about business," Raemy explained. "So, we bought it from him and started Spatial View."

Although some R&D is still carried out in Dresden, Germany, Spatial View's world headquarters is located in Toronto and it has recently opened offices in Halifax and San Francisco. The company employs about 30 people worldwide.

"They are on to something very good," said Stewart. "What's happening in the 3D world is happening very quickly and they are at the front."

And the company's research continues to be forward thinking. Spatial View has developed software that allows a PC's built-in camera to track the viewer's eyes in order to adjust the picture so the 3D effect is optimized. That evolved into a two-camera system that tracks the users' fingertip, allowing it to be used as a video-game controller. "It's still in development," said Raemy. "But we do play with it a lot in the office."

Spatial View also currently offers a variety of wholesale products adapted to fit over standard PC monitors for PCs from manufacturers including Dell, HP, Sony and Lenovo. The screen slides on to the monitor to display content in 3D and slides off for normal display. The same can be done for commercially available TVs and laptops. While Spatial View products are already available on shelves at Mediamarkt – a large European electronics retailer – Raemy hopes to convince PC makers to bundle his products with theirs.

He has his eyes especially fixed on Apple Inc., a company he said consumers associate with innovation. "We're going to Macworld with a strong presence," he said. One thing he'll want to show off is a small overlay the company has developed for the iPhone that "gives the man in the street 3D capability in his hand," said Raemy. He's convinced Stewart. "As a filmmaker, I wondered who'd want to watch something on such a small screen," he said. "But the iPhone is actually driving the market; its tech is so good and it's hooked into your credit card the way a TV never could be – it just makes it all so easy."

But Spatial View is not limiting itself to consumer applications. Pharmaceutical sales representatives often have to carry cumbersome models with them because of the three-dimensional nature of molecules. "We're talking with some of them to replace those models with 3D-capable laptops," said Raemy.

He has also received interest from the oil and gas industry – "everything they do is in 3D," he said – as well as the automotive industry, which uses 3D when it comes to rendering and designing new products.

Raemy realizes Spatial View will only go as far as the content allows it to. And he's depending on younger consumers to drive that by creating new ways to use the technology.

"There are plug-ins for Flash that allow you to create in 3D," he said. "Kids these days are used to creating much of their own content and they want to create in 3D, watch in 3D and play in 3D."

Stewart maintains the 3D content market is still in its infancy, but is about to take off. "Once they start watching live sports and live news in 3D, people will not want to go back," he said. "They'll want everything to be in 3D."

By Jerry Langton, The Star

Coming at You! NFL Looks at 3-D

With sports fans still getting used to their high-definition television sets, the National Football League is already thinking ahead to the next potential upgrade: 3-D. Next week, a game between the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders will be broadcast live in 3-D to theaters in Los Angeles, New York and Boston. It is a preliminary step on what is likely a long road to any regular 3-D broadcasts of football games.

The idea is a "proof of concept," says Howard Katz, NFL senior vice president of broadcasting and media operations. "We want to demonstrate this and let people get excited about it and see what the future holds."

The several hundred guests at the three participating theaters Dec. 4 will include representatives from the NFL's broadcasting partners and from consumer-electronics companies. Burbank, Calif.-based 3ality Digital will shoot the game with special cameras and transmit it to a satellite. Thomson SA's Technicolor Digital Cinema is providing the satellite services and digital downlink to each theater, and Real D will power the display in the theaters.

This isn't the first time the NFL has participated in a 3-D experiment. In 2004, a predecessor company to 3ality filmed the Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers. When Sandy Climan, 3ality's chief executive officer, shows the footage, "people crouch down to catch the ball," he says. "It's as if the ball is coming into your arms."

Technology has advanced considerably since then, and now makes live transmission possible. Boxing in 3-D, Mr. Climan says, particularly "raises your blood pressure."

Real D, which has rolled out 3-D systems in 1,500 theaters around the world, has long advocated the transmission of live events to theaters in 3-D. "We look forward to giving fans of live events the opportunity to feel like they're in the front row," says Michael Lewis, Real D's CEO.

Some live events, including opera broadcasts and circus performances, already pop up on screens at theaters across the country. Next week's demonstration will also include television displays, to show what might one day be available in homes. While 3-D television sets are already available in stores, mainly for the handful of DVDs available in 3-D, the industry is still working on technical standards for 3-D. That process raises the possibility that 3-D TV sets purchased today might not be compatible with programs aired in a few years' time. Just as in theaters, home viewers must wear special 3-D glasses.

By Sarah McBride, The Wall Street Journal

Thread comes out of 'Button'

An aborted screening of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button last week has raised concerns within the film community over digital projection. On Thursday night at the DGA Theatre in Los Angeles, Paramount held the first major industry showing of Button, David Fincher's widely anticipated drama that is expected to be one of the season's big awards contenders. But about 25 minutes into the film, the image froze, the film stopped and the house lights went up.

Claudio Miranda, the film's director of photography, announced that there was a problem and rushed to the projection booth, where a 2K digital-cinema system was being used to screen the film. Forty-five minutes later, after a few false starts, Miranda returned to say that the show would not be going on that night.

There was a problem with the digital server -- which had been rented for the screening -- that resulted in the absence of the color red from the projected image, giving the film a washed-out look. The screening was rescheduled for Saturday on the Paramount lot, where, with Fincher and Miranda in attendance, the projection went off without a hitch.

The Thursday screening, though, was not an isolated incident. There have been other snafus at recent digital screenings of Che and Quantum of Solace. If digital systems can break down in settings like the Button screening, where the industry is putting its best foot forward, a number of those present asked what might go wrong as digital cinema rolls out to local multiplexes. Will the projectionist know that something is wrong? Will he or she know what to do about it? And if a system is unable to play a film, what will be the response of audiences who paid to see the latest blockbuster on its opening weekend?

"We are currently in a phase in d-cinema equipment development where there is a lot of fine tuning going on with the hardware and software," said d-cinema consultant Walt Ordway, who served as chief technology officer for studio consortium Digital Cinema Initiatives.

Jerry Pierce, chair of the Inter-Society Digital Cinema Forum, pointed to Projection Configuration Files, which are loaded into the projectors to interpret the data in order to put the right contrast/color on the screen for a given movie.

"There have been many conversations involving theater owners that are having trouble teaching projectionists and operators how to set up and maintain digital cinema systems, including PCF set up," Pierce said, adding that the ISDCF is exploring better training and the elimination of PCFs as a variable in the system.

"Film is not without the possibility of technical failure, but the digital cinema side has more opportunity for absolute failure," added Loren Nielsen, principal at Entertainment Technology Consultants.

Said Pierce: "It's hard to make anything foolproof. We have a complicated system in terms of security, color and configurations. It works really well most of the time, but on the occasions that it doesn't, it can be a disaster."

By Carolyn Giardina, The Hollywood Reporter

Katzenberg: 3-D Vision Goes Beyond Animation

It's a 3-D world, and Jeffrey Katzenberg thinks it's time to reflect that on the big screen -- and not just in animated films. "In five to seven years, all films, regardless of budgets or type, will be made in 3-D," the DreamWorks Animation boss said here Wednesday during his keynote at the inaugural 3DX Film and Entertainment Technology Festival.

"3-D is how we see, how we take things in. It's natural," Katzenberg said. "This is not a gimmick, it's an opportunity to immerse the audience, to heighten the experience." He added that the migration to 3-D will happen on all screens, including mobile phones and laptops.

Jeffrey Katzenberg looks at 3-D technology at the 3DX festival

Katzenberg was joined by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Group president Mark Zoradi and others in stressing the industry's commitment to 3-D as the future of film. Moviegoers' early response is clear, Zoradi said, citing the success of such 3-D titles as Chicken Little and Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert.

"Consumers clearly prefer 3-D if they have a choice," he said, adding that 3-D films could bring in two to three times the business of a 2-D release.

Zoradi touted his studio's new five-picture deal with Imax, which will kick off with Robert Zemeckis' A Christmas Carol in November 2009, adding that the slate could involve projects from Tim Burton and Jerry Bruckheimer, though no details were disclosed.

Producer John Landau, now working with James Cameron on Avatar, said that 3-D would "do for cinema what stereo did for the audio industry." All the film industry has to do is "demystify" 3-D for consumers, whose perception of 3-D may be of "gimmicks on B films" and "theme parks that forced things off the screen," Landau said.

Zoradi's presentation Wednesday included the first public screening of 3-D footage from Beauty and the Beast (originally released in 1991), which Disney is re-rendering for a 2010 release, as well as Disney's Tron 2, set for 2011 or 2012.

The addition of Beauty and the Beast brings Disney's number of digital 3-D releases for 2009-10 to 11, with another six to come in 2011. This would give Disney more than 50% of all 3-D releases during the next three years; 11 of those would be animated.

"The biggest barrier (to 3-D) is not product, it's the installed base of digital cinemas," Zoradi said.

Katzenberg predicted that 35%-40% of admissions for March DWA release Monsters vs Aliens will be for 3-D. For a film coming out 15 months later, he envisions 80%-85% of admissions for the company's next Shrek installment to be for 3-D.

Stressing the technical advances that made the latest incarnation of 3-D different from past efforts, Katzenberg said 3-D "will bring people back to the movies who have stopped going."

"This is not my father's 3-D," he said. "There's no ghosting, no eye strain and best of all, you don't throw up. Throwing up is not good for anyone's business."

All agreed that 3-D's ability to immerse audiences in the film is the key.

"There is nothing more immersive than 3-D," Landau said. "On Titanic, our goal was to use visual effects to make people feel part of the film. With Avatar, we're using technology to transport people to another world."

Katzenberg said that theatrical digital 3-D represents a "unique opportunity for cinemas" to create an experience that consumers could not get at home, "and it will be many years before they can."

Among the reasons cited was the fact that light diminishes the quality of the image.

"The only place in the home to replicate this is in the coat closet ... and I would not want to spend two hours there watching a movie," he said.

By Janine Stein, The Hollywood Reporter

NICT Develops 3D Color Electronic Holography for Moving Subjects

A Japanese institution developed a color electronic holography that enables to take 3D images of moving subjects in normal lighting conditions without using a laser light or a darkroom and reproduce them. The technology was developed by the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT). The holography is based on the integral photography, which shoots subjects in normal lighting conditions by using a video camera with a fly-eye lens composed of a number of microlenses. The same fly-eye lens is used to display 3D images.

Real-time 3D display

In order to produce a color hologram with the existing methods, it is required to shoot the subject separately with red, green and blue laser beams. Therefore, it has been impossible to shoot moving subjects, and it has been required to use a darkroom for shooting. With the new technology, a video image of a subject is shot in normal lighting conditions. And a hologram is made from the video by high speed computing. The hologram is displayed on LCD panels provided for each of the RGB colors. Then, the holographic images on the panels are reproduced with laser beams and synthesized so that a color 3D video can be displayed in real time. At present, the size of the reproducible image is only about 1cm because the holography has a small 3D viewing angle of 2°. NICT aims to quadruple the size to approximately 4cm within the next three years.

Shooting and reproduction systems of color electronic holography

By Masao Oonishi, Nikkei Microdevices

High Definition TV Owners Ready for 3-D TV

A recent online survey conducted by Quixel Research found that three-fourths of consumers have seen a 3-D movie with 3-D glasses and nearly 75 percent would recommend a 3-D experience to family and friends. The TV display market research firm has just published a new study called “3D Displays for Mainstream Consumers,” featuring a online opinion study of more than 750 HDTV owners on 3-D technology.

“3-D has been around for a long time but has not really penetrated the home or personal display markets,” stated Tamaryn Pratt, Quixel Research principal. “Our study shows that over half of the consumers surveyed are interested in a 3-D display at home and a significant group of the sample expects to see a home offering in the next one to two years. With consumer adoption of HDTV well over 50 percent, this is great news for manufacturers looking for the next big thing.”

Some of the key findings in the study include the following:
- 3-D product awareness: 75 percent of respondents have had a 3-D experience and 73 percent said that they would recommend 3-D to friends or family.

- 3-D interest/purchasing: Close to half of those surveyed are interested in watching 3-D at home, with younger respondents, as well as those who had seen a 3-D movie recently, even more interested than the overall sample.

- 3-D timing: More than one-third of those surveyed expect 3-D TV within one to two years. Almost half cited that they have a high preference to receive 3-D content via their cable/satellite provider while Blu-ray Disc was their most preferred method.

- 3-D opinions: 3-D is not a gimmick or fad for most surveyed. Both positive and negative opinions are provided; respondents describe 3-D as an image or experience with depth, which is realistic and lifelike. It is an immersive and improved way to experience a movie or game.

- 3-D glasses: While glasses are a distraction, it was not enough to hinder consumers’ interest in a purchase. Several sub groups will pay more for a 3-D TV without glasses, but even a 3-D experience with glasses is something consumers are interested in for the home.

- 3-D movies and games: More than half of respondents agreed that 3-D makes movies and games more enjoyable, with gamers finding the 3-D experience slightly more enjoyable than the overall sample.

Quixel is selling a copy of the report at or by contact Pratt at (503) 699-5133 or

By Greg Tarr, Twice

'Christmas' for Disney, Imax

Disney and Imax are back in business together, inking a five-picture deal that commences a year from now with Robert Zemeckis' 3-D holiday release A Christmas Carol. The Mouse House -- the market leader in 3-D -- has been noticeably absent when it comes to exploiting Imax screens, choosing instead to play its digital 3-D titles in conventional theaters only.

Relations between Disney and Imax grew strained after the two partnered on Fantasia 2000, which celebrated the 40th anniversary of the acclaimed animated feature. But the ongoing shortage of conventional 3-D screens, plus the success of other Imax studio partnerships, provided an opening for Disney and Imax to come together once again.

The five-picture deal was announced in Singapore, where Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Group prexy Mark Zoradi and Imax toppers, along with other studio execs, are attending a 3-D conference.

"Disney's commitment to 3-D is great for Imax moviegoers, and dovetails ideally with our strategy to build a slate of top-quality movies from the best filmmakers that lend themselves to the Imax format," Imax Filmed Entertainment chair-prexy Greg Foster said from Singapore.

Zemeckis' Christmas Carol, a reworking of Charles Dickens' classic tale toplining Jim Carrey, opens Nov. 9, 2009.

By Pamela McClintock, Variety

Viewing Revolution Poised to Hit the Big Screen

While the world waits for the great thaw in credit markets, Hollywood executives are paying particularly close attention to the efforts of bankers at JPMorgan. Backed by commitments from film studios and equity from Blackstone, the bank is preparing to raise debt of about $1bn to fund the installation of digital systems in up to 20,000 North American cinema screens. Assuming it succeeds, the financing will become a turning point in the entertainment industry because it will pave the way for the mass adoption of 3-D cinema, a one-time gimmick that has become a consistent, premium-priced crowd-puller.

Hollywood has assembled a pipeline of new 3-D releases, but needs the digital screens if the films are to achieve their full potential. But the studios are confident the financing will succeed and trigger a transformation which some say will be as profound as the addition of sound in the 1920s and the introduction of colour in the 1950s.

“It is the next great revolution ... it will be as important as those other changes,” says Jeffrey Katzenberg, chief executive of DreamWorks Animation, which released the Shrek series. His company is at the forefront of the 3-D push. Walt Disney, Universal Studios and Fox Filmed Entertainment have made similar bets on the new technology.

All DreamWorks Animation films will be released in 3-D starting next March with Monsters vs Aliens. Disney has six 3-D films out in the next 14 months: the first, Bolt, an animated movie, comes out in November. Fox will release the animated Ice Age 3 next summer and follow up in early 2010 with Avatar, a live-action 3-D film from James Cameron.

The attraction of 3-D is clear. Judging by the success of films released in the format this year, such as Disney’s Hannah Montana movie, audiences are willing to pay a premium for the experience.

“It makes about 3.5 times what the same theatre would do with a 2-D film,” says Dick Cook, chairman of Walt Disney Studios.

The company set the bar high when the 3-D Hannah Montana earned more than $30m in its opening weekend from only 700 screens – a tiny fraction of the 37,000 2-D screens in the US.

“Audiences crave something new,” he adds. “Digital 3-D gives us the opportunity to take the entire theatrical experience and make something unique.”

But as with 2-D, the success of 3-D films will ultimately depend on their quality, says Richard Greenfield, an analyst with Pali Research. “It’s all about content. A bad movie will still be a bad movie in 3-D.”

Still, the studios supporting 3-D say it can enhance storytelling. Fox is making a big investment with Avatar, which has a budget above $220m. It is banking on James Cameron, who ushered in a new era of special effects in 1992 with Terminator 2, to work his magic again.

“3-D in the hands of a master like James Cameron is an entirely new level of cinematic craft,” says Jim Gianopulos, chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment. “Anything that enhances the audience’s ability to immerse itself in the story is a tremendous opportunity for the filmmaker.”

The success of Avatar will partly depend on the number of 3-D-ready screens available by the time of its release. There are about 1,300 3-D screens in the US at the moment but thousands more could be configured once funding is secured for digital conversion. The cost – about $70,000 per screen – will initially be borne by the US cinema chains that are part of the Digital Cinema Implementation Partners consortium, which has enlisted JPMorgan to raise the money. Walt Disney, Paramount Pictures – which distributes DreamWorks Animation films – Universal Pictures, Fox and Lionsgate, have signed up to the DCIP plan and are sharing the financial burden of conversion.

The savings they generate from the new digital systems will be used to pay off the loans taken out by JPMorgan. Once screens are converted, exhibitors will then need to license a 3-D projection system, such as a Real D or Dolby, but the studios will not need to make additional capital investment.

Yet with credit markets in effect closed, it is unclear when JPMorgan will do the financing. Mr Katzenberg says he is confident in the bank’s ability to complete the deal. “It is arguably the strongest bank standing.” He predicts there will 2,500-3,000 3-D screens in the US by the end of 2009. When Shrek Goes Fourth is released in summer 2010, he expects there to be 7,500 US 3-D screens. By then, up to 85 per cent of the company’s US ticket sales will come from 3-D screens, he says.

With DVDs and high-definition TV sets, the home entertainment experience has gone through its own revolution, adds Mr Katzenberg. “But the theatre experience hasn’t really changed for decades. 3-D is a gigantic shot in the arm for the industry.”

Coming soon to your living room
Hollywood rarely speaks with one voice, yet the studios that make up the film industry are in broad agreement about the potential impact of 3-D. But while a consensus has emerged on the benefits 3-D can bring to animated films, the jury is out on the impact it will have on live-action movies.

“The issue with 3-D is that the property has to make sense,” says Scott Sherr, senior vice-president of digital cinema operations at Sony. “The industry doesn’t yet have a clear vision of the future of 3-D for live-action, but we do know that it makes sense for animation.”

Jeffrey Katzenberg, chief executive of DreamWorks Animation, says the technology will eventually be used in all films – live-action as well as animation. “If we look back to the transition from silent film to sound, five years later there were no silent films being made. And if you look back from the transition from black and white to colour, five years later all movies were being made in colour.”

He also anticipates 3-D making its way into the home. “Over the years it will transition into every device that we use to watch content.”

Sandy Climan, chief executive of 3eality Digital, a 3-D production company, agrees. He expects to see early 3-D applications for home use unveiled at January’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Mr Climan is most excited about what the technology could ultimately do for sports broadcasting. The technology has already been tested with boxing and “puts you right in the ring”, he says.

Sales of high-definition TV in the US were soaring before the recent slowdown in consumer spending, partly because HD TV sets have greatly enhanced the experience of watching sport on TV.

“These new TVs are 3-D ready,” says Mr Climan. “HD is a stopping-off point on the way to 3-D.”

Military solution to viable projection
When Michael Lewis, the chief executive of Real D, began thinking about how to create a viable 3-D projection system for cinemas, he turned to Stereographics, a company that designed 3-D applications for Nasa and the US military.

“Their products were used with the Mars rover,” he says. “You don’t want to drive a $500m vehicle off a cliff because you can’t see in 3-D.”

After licensing Stereographics software, Real D eventually bought the company so it could create its own 3-D projection system. With Shamrock, the private equity group chaired by Roy Disney, an early investor in Real D, Mr Lewis’s company has become a key player in a fast-expanding industry. Real D technology is used on 1,500 screens globally and the company has contracts to install another 5,000, once those cinemas install digital systems.

Like the studios producing 3-D movies, Mr Lewis has patiently waited for the big cinema chains to convert to digital. He says the recent agreement between the consortium of the biggest US cinema chains and five of the biggest Hollywood studios, was “huge” for Real D.

“Now this deal has been completed it gives the content producers and distributors confidence that there’s going to be a platform for their 3-D investments,” he says.

He says 3-D is attractive even with only a limited number of screens available for distributors. “Walden Media’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth in 3-D was expected to make about $50m at the box office and it made more than $100m,” he says. Repeat business is an important factor with 3-D, he adds.

“That’s one thing we have lost in the movie business, when I was a kid I would go and see a movie three or four times.”

By Matthew Garrahan, The Financial Times

Get Your Glasses: 3D Poised to Take over Movies

If Dreamworks Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg is right, you'll soon be out shopping for the latest in designer glasses. 3D glasses that is. Hollywood studios such as Dreamworks, Walt Disney and 20th Century Fox are betting 3D will finally become the next big thing in film, luring moviegoers to the theater with advancements in a technology that first caught viewers' attention in the 1950s.

"In five to seven years, all movies will be made in 3D," Katzenberg said at the start of an inaugural four-day 3D festival in Singapore. "Everyone will have their own glasses. It will become a fashion statement."

Disney, which plans to produce 17 movies in 3D over the next three years, is looking to promote the technology around the world by helping to subsidize the conversion of screens to digital, and then to 3D - a process that will costs billions of dollars.

"There's been a tremendous investment in 3D," Disney Studios Motion Group President Mark Zoradi said. "We really believe in this medium."

The 3D film technique works by creating the life-like illusion that the images are three dimensional, instead of the 'flat' images normally seen on movie screens and TV. Movies shot in 3D can still only be shown on about 1,400 of the 30,000 screens in the U.S., and just 700 abroad. Theater-owners have been reluctant to invest in the changeover, especially in the midst of a global economic slowdown. Dreamworks had initially expected to show its next big 3D animation Monsters Vs. Aliens on 5,000 screens next year, but it will be viewed on less than half that amount.

"The rest of the world is about 12 to 24 months behind the U.S. in getting digital installed," Zoradi said.

Singapore, which has committed to hosting the annual 3D festival until at least 2017, hopes to become a leader of 3D media in Asia. The government of the wealthy Southeast Asian city-state is investing $10 million over the next two years to fund 3D projects, production, post-production and training facilities. "We'd like to be in a nice position when all this takes off, and we see it taking off very quickly," said Lee Boon Yang, minister of information, communications and the arts.

The evolution of 3D technology over the next 20 years could eventually lead to movie theaters that show holographic films, Katzenberg said.

"In sound, we've gone from vinyl, to 8-track, to cassette, to CD, to digital," Katzenberg said. "The flat screen movies of today are the equivalent of vinyl record. This is the beginning of an extraordinary change in how all video is experienced."

By Alex Kennedy, The Associated Press

$10m Fund for 3D Media

Singapore's Media Development Authority (MDA) is setting up a $10 million fund to support upcoming 3D projects, including content, production and training initiatives over the next two to three years. Announcing this on Wednesday at the inaugral 3DX: 3D Film and Entertainment Technology Festival, Dr Lee Boon Yang, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, said the fund will "help local media companies gain a presence in the 3D content market, build a cluster of 3D professionals and develop more 3D expertise in Singapore".

He added that a piece of land has been earmarked for media infrastructure at One-North - an integrated development for research and innovation spread over 200 hectares. This will be a private-public endeavour. "The Government will provide the basic infrastructure and private developers will be invited to build and operate the media support facilities. We believe there will be growing demand for such facilities from international content creators," said Dr Lee.

There has been a resurgence of 3D technology in the last two years, with major Hollywood studios churning out a slew of titles, from Journey To The Centre Of The Earth 3D, to the upcoming Bolt by Disney, Monsters vs Aliens by Dreamworks Animation and James Cameron's Avatar.

The 3D format projects two simultaneous images, one for each eye. When viewed through a special pair of polarised eye glasses, the footage seemingly solidifies and pops out of the screen at the viewer.

With other countries jumping on the 3D bandwagon in terms of TV broadcast and home entertainment, the potential for the technology is tremendous, said Dr Lee. "I believe it will not be long before 3D becomes pervasive in other spheres such as sports, military training, medicine and digital advertising," he added, and this warrants new investments in R&D, content production and dedicated 3D solutions.

His vision was exactly the one shared by the Hollywood guests of 3DX, which included Dreamworks Animation CEO, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Walt Disney Motion Pictures president, Mark Zoradi and IMAX Corporation's president, Gerg Foster. They were part of an entourage of Hollywood bigwigs, who includes actor Brendan Fraser, here to present 3D to the 700 attendees from around the world.

In his keynote address, which included a presentation of two previously unseen clips from next March's Monster vs. Alien, Mr Katzenberg reiterated Dreamworks Animation's stand on the format, in that all new movies from the studio will be in 3D. "Within the next five to seven years, I expect all movies out of Hollywood to be in 3D," said Mr Katzenberg.

But the various Hollywood luminaries pointed out that the problem lies in converting movie halls around the world to be 3D ready. In the US, the studios have committed US$1 billion to convert 20,000 cinema halls to the digital format, a precursor to 3D.

"Internationally, the world is 12 to 24 months behind but with new movies being released, 3D will be rolled out," said Mr Zoradi, but most of the cost will be borne by the individual exhibitors.

The same goes for Singapore said Mr Chistopher Chia, CEO of MDA, as the $10 million fund is mainly for content and will not be used to upgrade local halls. But with 14 per cent of local halls already in digital format, Singapore is on its way.

Thanks to the festival though, movie viewers here will be one of the first to view 3D movies, as at least five halls here will be 3D ready. Aside from the 3D rollout of Bolt, re-releases of Journey To The Centre Of The Earth and Beowulf are slated in the next few months. The catch though is that ticket prices for 3D screenings, at $14 each, will cost more than the normal $9.50.

By Sherwin Loh, The Straits Times

'Beauty and the Beast' Going 3-D

Belle, the Beast and all the dancing silverware in Beauty and the Beast are getting a 3-D makeover. Producer Don Hahn and directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale -- the filmmakers behind the 1991 feature -- are using the film's original computer files to create a new Disney digital 3-D version, which will be released in 2010.

Appearing at the 3DX Festival in Singapore, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Group president Mark Zoradi announced the movie's 3-D transformation, which will be the 11th 3-D feature that Disney is set to release in 2009-10. Re-rendering the film is expected to take 10 months and will be handled in-house at Walt Disney Feature Animation, headed by Sara Duran-Singer, senior vp worldwide postproduction.

"By going back to the original animation files, which have been carefully archived for 17 years, and using the separate background, effects and character animation elements, we're able to come up with a fun and unique 3-D experience for existing and new fans of the film," Hahn said.

Disney's digital 3-D lineup for 2009 includes Jonas Brothers 3-D Concert Movie, to be released on Feb. 27; Disney/Pixar's Up (May 29); G-Force, from Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer Films (July 24); the newly re-rendered Disney digital 3-D debut of Disney/Pixar's Toy Story (Oct. 2); and A Christmas Carol, from Robert Zemeckis (Nov. 6), starring Jim Carrey in multiple roles.

In 2010, the studio will roll out a 3-D version of Toy Story 2; Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, starring Johnny Depp; Toy Story 3, from Disney/Pixar; Rapunzel; and, from Touchstone Pictures, Step Up 3.

By Gregg Kilday, The Hollywood Reporter

Alioscopy's Stereo Display for Production and Post

As display providers work through the possibilities of showing 3D content on small screens, French technology provider Alioscopy is trying to distinguish itself in the media-and-entertainment market by offering tools and services to help content creators create material to be shown on the company’s autostereoscopic (meaning no glasses required) screens.

Unique technology, which Alioscopy is hoping to license to interested parties, is behind the company’s 3D solution. The Alioscopy display (named for developer Pierre Alio) uses eight interleaved images, or camera “views,” to create the 3D effect. To display all eight views on a 1080p device, the company employs a special interleaving routine that assigns a different camera view to each of three subpixels of an RGB pixel, displaying the eight cameras in sequence all the way across a single horizontal line on the LCD screen. On the next horizontal line down, the views are shifted by a single camera. (The first line would begin with camera 1 in the first red subpixel, the second line would begin with camera 8 in the same position, the third line with camera 7, and so on.)

This results in a configuration where each camera view runs down the screen diagonally, instead of vertically, and the lenticular lens that’s affixed to each Alioscopy display is built to match that unusual diagonal layout. It may be difficult to visualize, but the point is to retain some horizontal resolution — which would normally be reduced to one-eighth of the total 1920 pixels available — by settling for reduced resolution on the vertical axis. (The screen must be an LCD screen because the system requires a horizontal subpixel layout.)

Among the applications Alioscopy sees for its technology are 3D previsualization, VFX production, and even on-set monitoring for 3D productions. Alioscopy provides scripts for standard 3D animation packages such as 3ds max, Maya, and Autodesk XSI that create a total of eight virtual cameras and render all of the views, as well as a real-time shader that works with interactive software solutions. The company is also working on tools to interface with standard compositing software. The goal is to promote a glasses-free 3D post environment for working on stereo content ranging from videogames and feature films to interactive digital signage applications.

3D videogames — casual games for digital signage, for example — can also be created using Alioscopy technology. According to Pia Maffei, Alioscopy director of operations, the system works with the Ignition game engine from Applied Ideas as well as the OGRE 3D rendering engine.

By Bryant Frazer, StudioDaily

Find the Right Focus

Underscoring the growing global interest in 3-D, both for theatrical release and in the home, 3Ality Digital CEO Steve Schklair told attendees at the 3rd annual AnimfxNZ Symposium held at the Wellington Convention Center how his company recently lensed an episode of NBC's Chuck in the 3-D format.

3Ality Digital -- the company behind the musical documentary film U2 3D -- handled the special episode of the spy comedy series, set to air Feb. 2, the Monday following the Super Bowl. Plans to distribute glasses to consumers are under way.

The exec offered his perspective on the prospects of 3-D in the home. "The good news is there are at least two million 'stereo-ready' sets in the U.S. market waiting for stereo content," he said. "The bad news is the market has moved away from rear projection TVs, so that will eventually go away." But he added that new options for 3-D TV are on the way. "The home market is moving forward because there is starting to be content in the market."

In New Zealand, 3-D is starting to make inroads: There are believed to be seven 3-D-ready cinema screens currently installed. Production is already taking off, with James Cameron's Avatar (slated for a Dec. 18, 2009, release by Fox) in production at Peter Jackson's Wellington-based Weta and Tin Tin awaiting start of production.

"3-D came on us really quickly," said Aimee McCammon, GM of Peter Jackson's Park Road Post, speaking of its reach in the region. "Everyone is asking what 3-D is going to do to our production schedules."

Schklair said: "With Chuck we did a location move and 47 setups in one day. That was proof that it doesn't take longer to shoot if it is done right." He said that the show's regular crew worked with 3Ality technicians on the episode. The team also was able to view what was being shot in 3-D on-set. "It integrated seamlessly," Schklair said.

Habib Zargarpour, senior art director at Electronic Arts in Los Angeles, said, "On the games side, the question is what is the standard format in the home going to be for people to start supporting 3-D."

Addressing the theatrical market, speakers noted that a transition to 3-D technology -- with the required digital-cinema installations -- has largely stalled.

"There are big plans to switch to digital cinema, but today nobody can access the funding," said Patrick von Sychowski, COO of Adlabs Digital Cinema in Mumbai. "The only screens that are getting converted today are maybe a couple of screens in each multiplex specifically for 3-D. ... You do not get half the benefits by switching half the screens or half the cinemas. You get twice the logistics, twice the problems."

Today, there are an estimated 1,300 3-D-ready screens in the U.S. and 700 in the rest of the world.

"If you are to have 4,000 3-D ready screens in the U.S. by December of next year, things need to be happening right now," von Sychowski said. "I think we will probably see a doubling of what we have today, but we aren't going to be close enough to make James Cameron happy.

"There aren't really any other major digital-cinema drivers," he added. "There isn't that much money to be saved from abolishing prints, if you consider the recoupment period for paying off the projectors."

Panelists also emphasized a need for quality 3-D production that will not give viewers eye fatigue, particularly as many viewers are still forming their impressions about the digital 3-D format.

"It scares me a lot to see companies spring up, screw two cameras together and say 'we are in the 3-D business,' " Schklair said. "Poorly made 3-D will rip your eyes out. SMPTE is looking at quality standards, but it will be years before that comes out. I look forward to the day when people who get a headache will say, 'That was a really badly made 3-D movie.' Right now they say, '3-D still sucks.' "

Looking beyond 3-D, sessions underscored the message that emerging technologies are ushering in new creative possibilities and democratizing filmmaking. What will be the result of this trend? "There will be a thousand shit films made -- and two really great films," Park Road's McCammon said during another session. "The key is having tools that can bring the filmmaker's creative vision to life," she said. "Technological change is happening on two levels. There is a really high end. The other end is making filmmaking more accessible. People with no money but amazing ideas can have different entry points for getting into film."

Organized by the New Zealand Games Animation and Visual Effects Trust, the confab also was presented with participation from the Visual Effects Society and Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. The event was set to conclude Monday with a screening of U2 3D at Park Road Post.

By Carolyn Giardina, The Hollywood Reporter

Broadcasters: Maintain the Wow Factor on HDTV

There are a growing number of broadcasters looking at transmitting in “full HDTV” (at 1080p 50-60hz) in order to differentiate their services over those from cable and in particular IPTV-based services.
“I am aware of several broadcasters who want to do it and I suspect there will be such deployments in the next couple of years,” says Tim Sheppard, Snr business & solutions development manager, at Cisco. Sheppard, along with Tandberg Television’s Noel Matthews and Harris Corp’s John Mailhot, were taking part in Rapid TV News’ Round Table on compression and distribution.

Sheppard added: “I believe we will see a small number of satellite players adopting 1080p at 50 or 60 fps but the first step is in production and contribution [of programming]. Today, there is very little space or production capability in 1080p-50/60 fps so this means a quite serious set of changes in production workflow, archive, editing and then the contribution side of things. There might well be some press announcements as far as distribution is concerned but [1080p] is not going to be a big business for the near future.”

Tandberg’s Noel Matthews (VP business development) said that while acquisition and the archiving of 1080p content was very important, there were other factors which would influence whether a broadcaster could launch a true 50/60 fps service. “Let’s not forget that for DTH services the number of [legacy] STBs out there is huge and I think we’re going to have to see changes in terms of contribution and studio workflow before we see a broadcast service.”

However, Harris Corp’s John Mailhot (GM, video networking grp) said that broadcasters were already preparing for 1080p ‘true HD’ services, and that the 1080p/25 fps services from Echostar and DirecTV were but the first step. “We are already seeing in the infrastructure business in the US where, when anybody is buying a new large scale router for their studio, it is now taken as a line item requirement that it will handle 3Gb. So this investment is already taking place right up to equipment for frame synchronisation and now 3Gb seems to be the capacity standard. In many cases, station bosses are making the investment as a ‘hedge’ against what might be required in the future.”

“There may be no concrete plans just at the moment but certainly for anyone building basic infrastructure they are making their facility 3Gb-capable. Beyond that, we will see this high-end image capture in football trucks and similar OBs, which will be especially needed if there’s an international feed going out for re-purposing. Take the SuperBowl where the producers know there’s going to be a very large 50 Hz audience as well as a 60 Hz audience. For them to adopt 1080p helps quite a bit.”

By Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News

RED Digital Cinema Announced a 3D Camera Rig

Interview with Howard Postley, 3ality Digital Systems - Part 2

Studios seem to be very careful about their 3-D releases in order to not hurt or disappoint movie-goers. Could bad content slow down or even break the 3-D wave?
Without question. Anything that causes the audience to think that 3D in the 21st Century is the same as what was made in the 1950s is bad. If the audience decides that 3D is just a gimmick or a passing fad or hard to watch or just another effect or just being used to try to compensate for other weaknesses then it changes from a positive to a negative and the wave will die out.

You also have to keep in mind that studios are careful for financial reasons, as well. 3D theatrical releases may do 3x the per screen revenue of the same release in 2D but those numbers do not translate to the home audience yet and that is where the money is made.

What are the main mistakes 3-D content providers should avoid?
I don't want to tell people what they should or shouldn't do. I will tell you some of the mistakes that we have made, however. The number one mistake we have made, and continue to make occasionally, is forgetting that 3D is not 2 times 2D. This applies to almost everything; composition, acquisition, post, distribution, infrastructure, etc. Let me give you an example. Since the market for 3D is smaller than for 2D, most productions start out thinking of a 2D "product" with a 3D add-on. Some take the opposite view and think about making a 3D product that they can pull a 2D version out of. These ways of thinking would be fine if the difference between 2D and 3D was just equipment, but it isn't. There are a lot of creative differences, as well. That isn't to say if you want a 2D version and a 3D version of something that you have to shoot two separate movies but you do need to plan for both, not just assume that one is a subset of the other.

Another somewhat different example would be a live football game. Here is a case where you can pull the 2D from the 3D cameras, but you don't just replace all of the cameras at each position with a 3D camera. The 3D camera angles that you'll want are different from some of the 2D angles and, generally, you don't need as many 3D cameras. Also, the pacing of the 3D show is different so you'll need a separate Director.

There are so many things in 2D that are well understood and seem like they should translate easily to 3D, but they don't. Things that seem, on the surface, to be relatively simple often turn out to be complex.

Regarding 3-D shooting, there are a lot of diverging opinions regarding interaxial distance settings, parallel vs. toe-in, depth of field, etc.? What would be your recommendations for a good 3-D captation?
My opinions on these topics really isn't relevant. I am not a cinematographer. I'm not qualified to shine Peter Anderson's or Steve Schklair's or Max Penner's shoes on this issue. What I can say, from a technical perspective, is that a lot of the diversity of opinions on these topics are based on the legacy technology of the past, not that of the present. For instance, one of the main arguments in favor of parallel shooting is that technique is far less likely to create excessive background parallax. In the days where one had to get out a calculator and a tape measure (or a laser) and setup these shots, that might be a significant factor but the tools of modern 3D production are so much more advanced that this kind of issue shouldn't be a factor at all. Camera controllers can monitor and manage this type of situation to prevent the problems and allow the focus to be on creative choices.

Which features did you need to implement in your camera rigs in order to make them really usable on the field?
What makes our rigs usable in the field is that they are fast and easy to work with. We have automatic alignment of cameras and lenses, automatic matching of zoom and focus, automatic protection against excessive parallax, and automatic correction of color wedges, geometry, keystoning, etc. The entire alignment process takes a few minutes. The 3flex SIP stereoscopic image processor constantly measures dozens of parameters about the rig, as well as synthesizing metrics about the stereoscopic image, and alerts the operator to those about which he or she should be aware. Everything is actively managed by the automated systems. It isn't a situation where you reset everything for every shot; the system is constantly adjusting itself. Over the course of a long shoot, especially an outdoor sporting event, environmental characteristics, such as temperature, will cause massive changes to the cameras. It used to be that someone would have to re-align the cameras in the middle of an event but that isn't necessary anymore. As for the rigs, themselves, ours are carbon fibre to make them very rigid but light weight. They are made to tight manufacturing tolerances. The motors provide high-torque but deliver it smoothly for high positioning accuracy.

Do your rigs need dedicated and trained shooting teams or are they accessible to any 2D operators?
When we shot at the SuperBowl several years ago, all of the 3D cameras that we used were operated by NFL Films cameramen who had never seen the camera systems more than a day before the game. Each of those cameras did need a 3D operator, who did need to be trained in 3D, however. Now, we have the ability to have a single stereographer manage the 3D settings of all of the cameras in a multi-camera shoot. We have some events coming up where we will use as many as 12 cameras but the 3D settings will be handled by one guy and those settings are creative choices that we wouldn't want to automate.

What kind of metadata is produced by your rigs how is it used on live captations and post-production workflows?
There are two categories of metadata for us: the physical metadata from the cameras, the head and the rig, and synthesized metadata that is calculated by the image processor. Physical metadata includes things such as interaxial distance, convergence distance, zoom position, focus position, tilt angle, pan angle, etc. Synthesized metadata includes items like, depth range, average depth, center depth, focus match, zoom match, luma match, chroma angle match, etc. In total, we produce about 100 channels of metadata. All of that metadata is sampled or calculated several times per frame and is timecoded. In post, some qualitative metadata are used for things like dailies. Some positional metadata and depth maps are used for compositing and effects. Other metadata that characterize the shot are used for various compensations at presentation time.

What measurement and monitoring tools are you using to validate your 3-D shots on set?
Depends on the type of show it is and who is looking at it. We usually have a color critical monitor and a couple of 3D monitors, in addition to a variety of standard monitors displaying things such as disparity maps, qualitative analytics, etc. The 3flex SIP image processors have a suite of scopes in them, both the usual color scopes: waveform monitor, vectorscope, etc., except that they are for stereoscopic sources, as well as a variety of 3D geometry scopes. The qualitative metrics of the 3flex SIP tell us whether a 3D shot is valid and watchable on different screen sizes. It is the job of the stereographer to determine whether a shot is creatively valid.

How do you take into account the final screen size?
Typically we dial the ideal screen size into the 3flex SIP so that it will tell us about the shots relative to that screen size. This is one area where some of the metadata from the SIP are used to inform downstream devices how to handle different, generally smaller, screen sizes. Usually, when 3D is displayed on a smaller screen that for which it was intended, there are no issues with watchability. However, reducing screen size also reduces the amount of depth. It also tends to affect things like floating windows, maximum positive and negative parallax, parallax transition rates, etc. We have the ability to take those things into account and adjust them.

How to shoot when the same content is targeted to various screen sizes (theatres, home displays, mobile phones)?
In essence, this is sort of the same question as the previous one. The bottom line is that there isn't one screen size, even for theatrical release. I have to say that, right now, the mobile environment is quite challenging, both because of the small screen size and the relatively low resolution of those screens. 3D perception is dominated by the impact of parallax which is related to absolute distance, not pixel offsets. As you go down in screen size, you have to make more use of other depth cues, such as color, to recover the desired perception of depth.

Why traditional camera manufacturers didn't provide any 3-D equipment so far?
I think that, in terms of cameras, themselves, the market hasn't known quite what it wants yet. I think that the camera manufacturers will get to a point fairly soon where two cameras can be connected to each other and controlled as one camera. However, there are limits to that. You can't, for instance, simply paint two cameras together. The colors need to match, not the color parameters. Lenses, sensor positions, etc. all need to be balanced relative to one another. Could you make a single stereoscopic camera? Sure, there have been a number of them. Would such a camera deliver the range of capabilities that are needed? No one has delivered that yet. Certainly, one could make a camera with more resolution in one axis and move a lot of what is currently in a 3D rig into a lens or a lens adapter but I'm not sure that's really all that different from a camera rig today. You're going to have the same issues with lenses and positioning. You'd get rid of rotation issues but you'd lose significant positional flexibility.

Beyond cameras, this is a lot of new stuff. Frankly, new categories of things generally don't come from large, established companies with entrenched product lines, they come from small companies that are very close to the problem and adapt quickly. It isn't like a lot of the equipment that we use in 2D, beside the cameras, comes from traditional camera manufacturers anyway. From an equipment point of view, this is a very small industry.

What would be your recommendations regarding 3-D post-production issues (re-convergence, floating windows, color grading, etc.)?
I think that you're going back to that place of creative decisions that should be made by someone other than me. My caution in these areas is that there is far more disinformation about how these things should be done than there is correct information. Most of the information is opinion, not fact. We spent an inordinate amount of time on U2 3D "following the rules" of 3D before we realized that most of the rules were obsolete or wrong to begin with. I would also like to caution people that most of the tools out there for doing 3D post are fairly primitive. In the hands of an expert, they can achieve excellent results. For others, it isn't hard to make a single shot to cause so much eyestrain that the viewers won't be able to watch the rest of the movie. It can take only a few seconds of bad 3D before eye fatigue overcomes a viewer's ability to fuse images. It can then take tens of minutes before he or she can overcome that fatigue. Convergence adjustment is more than simply changing the separation between two images. Color provides depth cues in 3D so grading is vastly more complex than simply coloring one eye and then matching the other one two it.

The whole situation of 3D post sort of reminds me of the early days of desktop publishing. When first put together, a Macintosh, a LaserWriter and PageMaker occasionally delivered beautifully typeset pages. Far more often, what we got were high-tech ransom notes. In the case of DP, the new discipline got enough time to develop and mature.

Part 1 here

Doremi Cinema Inks Licensing Deal with Dolby 3D

Doremi Cinema announced its DCP-2000 JPEG2000 Digital Cinema Server has been approved as a licensee of Dolby 3D Digital Cinema, giving exhibitors even more options when screening 3D content. Doremi Cinema's DCP-2000 servers are installed in over 5500 screens to date worldwide. Because of its extreme interoperability, the DCP-2000 can support all the latest 3D technologies.

About Dolby 3D Digital Cinema
Dolby 3D Digital Cinema offers exhibitors a flexible and efficient 3D solution. The solution supports both 2D and 3D playback without the need for a dedicated 3D auditorium or a special silver screen. Dolby 3D uses the white screens already installed in theatres, which provide a more uniform light distribution and an exceptional viewing experience for both 2D and 3D content. Dolby 3D uses a unique color filter technology licensed from Infitec that provides realistic color reproduction and produces extremely sharp images. Additionally, Dolby 3D's glasses are reusable, reducing the need to reorder glasses and minimizing environmental impact.

Source: DCinemaToday

Interview with Howard Postley, 3ality Digital Systems - Part 1

Howard Postley is Chief Operating Officer/Chief Technical Officer at 3ality Digital Systems. Howard is responsible for research, product development, and overall operational management. He also designed and launched the first all digital 3D online post facility at 3ality Digital. For U2 3D, he was instrumental in the film’s production and post-production. Mr. Postley’s varied background includes writing for industry publications, and he has an installation of the most complex consumer multimedia product developed to date on display at the Library of Congress.

Could you please describe a typical 3-D live multi-camera captation?
For a football game, we'll have between five and 12 3D cameras (except for really big events where we will have more). Each camera is connected to the input of a SIP2100 (actually, we usually use the SIP2900, which handles up to nine cameras in one box). The SIP has a variety of outputs which are connected to the router of an OB truck and the different views are routed appropriately. We generally add two 3D displays in the truck and a stereographer to an HD truck. Depending on the type of show, we may also need to add convergence operators for each camera but, generally, we use our multi-camera management system to allow a single stereographer to control all of the cameras. We also commonly add a third 3D display outside of the truck for people to look at because otherwise they crowd into the truck and get in the way.

Beyond what we add, the operation is pretty standard. All of the HD gear is normal, as is the vision mixer, EVSs CCUs, etc. We generally shoot Sony HDC1500s but can accommodate other types of cameras. We can use either manned cameras or remote heads. The engineer needs a small amount of training for dealing with 3D. Likewise, the Director needs some experience there as well to make the pacing right.

What kinds of 3-D camera rigs are you using?
Our 3flex rigs, of course! We use a combination of beam-splitter and side-by-side rigs, depending on the shots that are needed. All of our rigs employ dynamic compensation to address mechanical imperfections of the cameras and lenses. In addition, the image processors take out whatever misalignment may be left, in addition to color wedges and keystoning.

Ours is the only system that can shoot and broadcast watchable live 3D. We can generally shoot as much faster than anyone else. We just finished shooting an episodic TV show doing up to 50 setups a day. Our systems auto align and output no alignment or color error. We can overlay graphics. We can freely cut between cameras without worrying about transitions because of the multi-camera management system. There are so many things that we do which are really hard. Not only in the rigs, themselves, but also in control and image processing electronics. It goes well beyond subjective claims, as well, as our systems track numerous qualitative metrics that to assure that what comes out is good 3D.

Have you got a preference between the three main 3-D digital cinema technologies available today (RealD, Dolby, LCS glasses)?
Each has its plusses and minuses. Personally, I have a hard time with the Infitec process because the colors are not balanced for me. On the other hand, I prefer the reduced ghosting. Faster projectors will help.

What is your feeling about the 3-D home market?
It is what will make or break 3D. It is where we are primarily focused. My worry is that the studios will push their 3D theatrical content to the home in anaglyph, in the very short term, which could ruin the whole industry. As such, we're going to work very hard to push a better at home experience to the market quickly. We have a variety of technologies that we can bring to bear here.

Which technological approach woud you choose for a common distribution 3-D codec targeted to the home (spatial compression, 2D-plus-Depth, delta information into video codec's user data or transport layer, etc.)?
2D+Z leaves a lot to be desired. Even Declipse isn't really great. The format really needs to be Left + delta Right + Metadata. We have a lot of metadata that we believe needs to be delivered to the receiver in order to maximize the viewing experience. I don't think that the particular format matters that much, actually. I don't think that there will be a real standard soon so the receivers will have to be flexible, which isn't that hard to do. I think 3D codecs/formats will be more like the web than TV, and that is good. People can improve them instead of getting stuck with something that got compromised by a committee of people with differing agendas.

What is your point of view about existing 3-D home displays (3D DLP, micro-polarization, 120Hz LCD, etc.)?
I like 3D DLP because it is inexpensive. I dislike it because it is U.S. only and people don't want rear projection. I like the quality of micro-pol. I dislike the cost of the film and the yield is far too low. 120Hz LCD, unless you're very clever, isn't fast enough for active glasses; you need at least 180 Hz. Laser, probably too expensive and really not that different from DLP. In general, I think we need passive glasses in the home but good actives are OK. It would be a big improvement if they improved the excitement angle of the receivers...

Part 2 here