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Conference: 3D Good for Blu-ray

14 Jun, 2010 By: Billy Gil

CULVER CITY, Calif. — One thing was for certain at iHollywood’s 3D Next conference June 14: Not only is 3D here to stay, it's going to be good for Blu-ray Disc.

Market research firm IMS Research, in a survey of U.S. and Western European consumers, found that of 13% of respondents who planned to buy a 3DTV in the next two years, 62% also planned to buy a 3D-enabled Blu-ray player in that same time period.

“Consumers are thinking about content,” said Anna Hunt, principal analyst for consumer electronics at IMS Research. “They’re considering Blu-ray the method of getting the content.”

Eisuke Tsuyuzaki, CTO of Panasonic Corp. of America, said 3D in the home will be based on the merits of Blu-ray. He said 3D broadcasts won't necessarily be full HD 3D because of differing set-top boxes versus Blu-ray, which can show 3D in true HD off the bat.

“Blu-ray was designed as the best [HD] resolution in the home,” he said.

Juan Reyes, CTO of BluFocus, a testing and advisory service for Blu-ray, said that “as the technology progresses more and more, Blu-ray players will come standard with 3D capabilities.”

3DTV Projections

IMS predicts nearly 6 million 3DTVs will ship globally by the end of the year, with 75 million shipped by 2015.

Tsuyuzaki also said he believes 3DTV will cross the 2 million mark this year, surpassing the “laserdisc threshold,” in which “it’s not just one of those funky little niche products anymore.”

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) predicts 30% of HDTVs will be 3D-ready by 2013, and Tsuyuzaki predicted most new HDTVs produced would be 3D-capable by 2015 or 2016. He said consumers get bored easily and that a pent-up demand for something new would fuel 3DTV growth.

Tsuyuzaki revealed that large 3D screens are in the pipeline, with 85-inch, 103-inch and 152-inch 3DTVs in the works. He also said Panasonic was “more than happy to look at open standards” for 3D.

He added that glasses-free 3DTV was “theoretically possible” but that “from a production standpoint, it’s not a possibility within my working lifetime.”

Producing and Converting 3D Content

Tsuyuzaki said there are around 50 3D movies (not counting those from the 1950s and ’60s) in studio archives now, and that studios are looking at converting old movies to 3D.

Indeed, despite several panelists calling out Clash of the Titans as a less-than-perfect conversion, Bob Johnson, stereoscopic producer for My Bloody Valentine 3D, said studios “need to go down both roads” as far as both converting older films to 3D and new productions in 3D.

Brian Rogers, producer of the upcoming Godzilla, said escapist films work best in 3D, and that indies and dramas might not benefit from 3D, especially with increased ticket prices. Johnson added that independent horror and music productions work in 3D, as My Bloody Valentine 3D was a modest production that took in more than $50 million at the U.S. box office. Rogers said it depends on the director, too, saying, “Hitchcock would have been incredibly effective [in 3D].”

Tsuyuzaki and Steven Roberts, SVP, DirecTV, discussed their companies’ partnership in offering dedicated 3D channels through DirecTV, including ESPN 3D, which launched June 11 and is offered at no added charge on DirecTV and Comcast but is offered at a $10 premium through AT&T’s U-verse. The other channels that will be offered through DirecTV include a pay-per-view channel, a VOD channel and a linear channel with a variety of content. They said it was important to get 3D content out for free, and that there wasn’t enough 3D content currently to charge for it.

Tsuyuzaki said they’ll be looking at other content beyond sports, music and movies. He said genres that would appeal more to women were being looked at, such as cooking and home and garden.

“If you can imagine it [in 3D], we’re already talking to someone about it,” Tsuyuzaki said.

Michael Stroud, CEO of iHollywood Forum, said that TV represents “the beast that always needs to be filled.” With consumers paying a premium for 3D, they may not feel they’re getting their money’s worth without strong content, he said.

Panelists discussed problems with producing 3D for film and TV, such as “ghosting” (when two images are blurred, rather than seeming as one), and that shooting for 3D, with either two cameras side-by-side or using one camera with a beam splitter, has to be precise, and align perfectly.

“3DTV is a whole new medium,” said Bernie Laramie, producer of Aliens of the Deep.

Laramie and Sandy Climan, CEO of 3ality Digital, agreed that for now, only a handful of experts truly know how to shoot and edit in 3D. Climan said imprecise 3D has a cumulative effect that tires a viewers brain and eyes, since the 3D effect is achieved by a viewer’s brain combining two images, one shown to the left eye and one show to the right, as only image is shown at a time in stereoscopic 3D.

Panelists agreed that in the early days of 3D, production must be of the highest quality for consumers to maintain interest.

“It doesn’t take a lot of bad apples to spoil the whole bunch,” said Buzz Hays, SVP and GM for Sony’s 3D Technology Center.


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