Michael Brennan has been editor of Definition Magazine since 2003.
Current Editionfeb 2010 editorial3D Pot of Gold?
This issue is dedicated to a reinvention of an old and estabished process, 3D.
Well 3D itself hasnt been reinvented but a number of technologically modest yet strategic
impovements have occured within a relativly short period time to create a real breakthough
in both the production and display of 3D for cinema HDTV broadcasting and disc.
It is the interaction of quite disparate technology that has created an new opening for 3D,
and it is a challenge to make predictions of where high fidelity large screen production
and presentation is going.
If we take high fidelity presnetation in the whole it seems that the high end cinema and the
low end TV is meeting in the middle.
On one hand we have IMAX building more cinemas than ever before but with a reduced
screen size that can be descibed as IMAX “lite” rather than IMAX “max” .
Then you have the reduction of resolution in IMAX presentations by the use of HD
cameras rather than large format film.
A friends child complained that Avitar IMAX 3D was soft.
This is no surpris when you you consider that James Cameron used 1920x1080 pixel
cameras, so it is a tall order if youʼll excuse the pun to fill 40 ft of screen height with 1080
lines of image.
Cameronʼs production of the Titanic documentry was on the edge with similarly dubious
resolution. Perhaps due to the subject nature it was acceptable, but expectation have
moved on and audiences are becomming accastomed to high res dazzing HDTV displays
both on their computer and in their living room.
However there are no complaints about quality of Avitar 3D on a regular size screen from
patrons or distributors as 75% of box office takings outside of the USA have come from 3D
screenings and 3 of the top 10 grossing movies from last year were released n 3D.
So their is no question that 3D shot on digital cameras and projected digitaly has found
favour with cinema audiences.
The more surprising knock on the door comes from TV broadcasters hell bent on
Whilst it took many years for some networks to introduce HD the appetite to introduce HD
3D channels is carnavourous mainly due to falling revenues due to the two pronged attact
of the internet, stealing advertising dollars and audience.
Their is no proven, sound buisness case for introducing HD3D but with bandwidth
available and 3D TV screen technolgy becoming cheaper and more shopisticated it is a
reasonable gamble especially since broadcasters are running out of options.
It is not surprising then, that there is a hookup between Sony, Discovery and ESPN.
Sony is planning to push sales of 3D capable sets by encouraging 3D production.
Although the World Cup Soccer and London Olympics will be available in 3D it is not clear
if the public will, in the longer term pay the premium that will accompany the increased
cost in producing and broadcasting 3D HD.3D Pot of Gold?
It sometimes seems that TV production has polarised into low budget and no budget. The
great ideas are there but with less money to produce them than 10 years ago.
This cannot continue into the world of HD 3D without compromises. Of course the 3D
production compromises are rolling out, from software that promises 3D images from 2D,
camcorders with two lenses but only one imaging chip and cameras with two imaging
chips but only one lens.
None the less it is a rare moment in cinema history where a common process and
imaging technology is being adopted in both cinema and broadcasting.
For the last decade we have had wonderfull tools and abundant ideas to maximise High
Fidelity Production and with an audience willing and able to take delivery in the home, yet
there is a catastrophic fault in the business where there is apparently a lack of return on
the funds needed to exercise the full potential of what is on offer.
James Cameron has show the world that there there is a pot of gold at the end of his 3D
Rainbow even if the rainbow cost $400mm to make.
We hold our breath to see if his production values and success can scale to the small 3D
screen with on average one five hundredth of the budget....
If the overhyped and costly introduction of HD is anything to go buy weʼll risk turning a
lifeless shade of Avitar Blue.
Michael Brennan Feb 2010