Steve Schklair, 3D Apostle

Pausing for a smoke as he lurches frenetically from one 3D panel or presentation to another, 3ality Digital Systems CEO Steve Schklair was a particularly upbeat fellow today. Despite the economy’s general woes, after all, his chosen discipline -- stereoscopic motion picture technologies -- is booming and hot right now, and is, in fact, a major and important theme at NAB this year. Plus, interest in Schklair, his company, his projects, and his company’s new products is high right now.

In fact, after decades in the field, Schklair now finds himself in the position of being a technology manufacturer. It was necessary to start selling the company’s technology, Steve told me.

“The 3D industry is not an industry if only 2-3 companies are making content,” Steve points out. “We’re pushing hard to get theater owners to build more 3D rooms, but it’s not a business with only a few companies. We knew it was critical for the growth of the industry that there be professional quality broadcast and feature film camera systems. There are those out there, very high quality. So we are starting to sell ours because we are getting calls from all over the world to shoot 3D. But if we are the production company, our shipping bill is $50,000, and then you bring the crew, house them, and that is before you have shot anything. So it is critical that people on other continents have access to this gear directly.

“And the other thing that is also critical is the stereoscopic image processor, the SIP box. So many people are selling camera systems, and in combination with the image processor, they at least have a chance to align the thing and have quality 3D.”

Thus, 3ality is selling its SIP technology, cameras systems, and other tools, and Schklair says it is worth it to him because, in the long run, “if this is to be an industry, everyone has to have access to the technology. That way, as a filmmaker, I can pick and choose the projects I want to do (himself). We can’t do these projects all ourselves, after all.”

Schklair also suggests that the 3D industry that he is helping to build, despite the economic downturn, is on what he calls “an upswing and is a good place to be right now from a business point of view” when you consider it started from near zero just two years ago. Thus, he’s one of the more positive guys you will find cruising NAB this week. He’s very pleased with the success of Monsters Versus Aliens is rooting for Jim Cameron’s Avatar and is hopeful that stereoscopic production could become, sooner or later, a standard production methodology for just about every genre of motion picture including, yes, even the prototypical My Dinner with Andre example.

“There isn’t a film you can conceive of in 2D that wouldn’t work better in 3D,” he states proudly. “Even a dialogue piece like My Dinner with Andre. You can compress or expand space between characters, you can convey to the audience more about what the characters are feeling by using the depth. It can be done very naturally, so you don’t get poked in the eye on every shot. It’s a tool for storytellers to convey to the audience emotions the filmmaker wants you to feel at any given point.”

By Michael Goldman, Digital Content Producer