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Sony Shows Off 3D Tech Center

David Drzewiecki, a director of photography, shows off beam splitting 3D camera technology.

By : Chris Tribbey | Posted: 05 Feb 2010

CULVER CITY, Calif. — It’s not just about making 3D. It’s about making great 3D.

That’s the working theme at the Sony 3D Technology Center at Sony Pictures Studios, which was unveiled Feb. 5. First announced at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the center offers 3D courses for various professionals, including film directors, cinematographers, live event producers and game developers. Individuals get hands-on training with 3D techniques and equipment to help them produce movies, sports, TV and games.

“This was born out of the belief that making 3D is easy, but making good 3D is hard,” said Chris Cookson, president of Sony Pictures Technologies and chief officer of the center.

Buzz Hayes, SVP of the center, said the mission is to make sure everyone knows how to make high-quality 3D and not put 3D content out there that may sour people on the experience. The March 5 release of Alice in Wonderland will be the eighth 3D film that Sony Pictures Digital Productions’ studio Imageworks will have had its hand in making.

“You can fatigue an audience very quickly if you do it wrong,” Hayes said. “We don’t want the technology in front of the story.”

The training varies depending on the profession. For example, a cinematographer will work more on 3D concepts and pre-visualizations, while a director will work more on storytelling using 3D. For live event training, figuring out where to place the cameras is emphasized.

“I saw the train coming down the tracks,” said Steven Poster, president of the International Cinematographer’s Guild, about the need for the Sony 3D training center. “We have to train our members. The wisdom of creating a program like this … is a real boon to the industry, I think.”

Parts of the program are more physiological than technical, such as reminding filmmakers that the general distance between peoples’ eyes is 2.5 inches. That’s important in helping to determine how far part spacing should be between the two cameras used for 3D content.

“One of our biggest challenges is keeping the shows fresh and interesting, changing the show without changing the game,” said Harry Friedman, executive producer of “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune.” Those shows were the first in syndication to go high-def, and among the first to try on 3D.

Translating 3D content for the home for the new 3D HDTVs introduced at CES should be easy, Hayes said, since the sizes of the TVs don’t vary much and people generally sit a defined distance from the TV.

Chris Fawcett. VP of Sony Electronics’ home audio and video group, said Sony decided to go with active shutter glasses for its 3D HDTVs — as opposed to passive glasses — because “this is what allows for full, 1080p full HD picture.”

Above all else, the 3D tech center is about making sure the 3D everyone puts out is of the highest quality possible, Hayes said. We live our lives looking at the world in 3D, and there’s no reason our entertainment shouldn’t be the same, he said.

“It seems like the people who complain about it are adults who haven’t experienced it,” he said.


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