It’s 3D Time

Posted By Ed Heede on April 08, 2010 12:00 am | Permalink
Well, it's NAB again where Las Vegas plays host to maybe the most obsessive media fest on the globe. I had thoughts of doing a quick NAB "check list" and there are obvious booths and companies to look out for at the show. Examples: although ARRI with its fine Alexa cam is not known primarily for post tools, there will be other exceptional participants at the ARRI booth I can't go into (under NDA). Black Magic with its recent acquisition of Da Vinci surely qualifies (NDA) as do others along the lines of HP, NVIDIA, Autodesk, et al. More to come as the show kicks open.

Aside from specific hardware, IO formats and such, for now I thought I'd touch on the obvious keynote for the show and its upshot.

It's practically a cliché to say that content and client needs drive cinema and post production. Under that flag, a range of development fronts impact the NAB tribe every season. Thanks to consumer appetite it's no secret 3D cinema has made the biggest splash for entertainment delivery since talkies and color TV. And if NAB is abuzz with the term, people throughout the production chain will be asking how and where 3d will affect their pipeline to the bottom line. As with any cultural sea change - confusion and opportunity will abound.

Of course, some are already suggesting 3D is only a mandate for epic projects a la Jim Cameron's "Avatar" - the seminal 3D coming-of-age event for the medium. That may be true for the short term. But I suspect even those that promote the 3D-for-epics argument don't believe it will hold water for long. (Some may call that denial). How long can it be before the audience wants 3D for smaller and more intimate indie projects? That window may be shorter than skeptics believe. After all, 3D is how human beings perceive and experience life. And once standards are nailed down for 3D home delivery, content not prepped for the look may be at a marked disadvantage.

Practical 3D for a wider filmmaking sector and its audience is another issue. And it's hardly an easy one. Experienced studio filmmakers down to indies don't necessarily like working in 3D (as an example, Alice in Wonderland was not shot in 3D but retrofitted in post to emulate it). Lack of standards and clumsy learning curves are just a few of the issues. There are cost outlays in time and technology with IO workflows under the added tax of a second HD or 2K (or 4K) stream for every project. Then there are older more familiar questions about how straightforward any of these tools will be for UI overhead, setup, etc.

Whatever the mix is at NAB, it's a safe bet providers that give clients and filmmakers the most transparent, easy and cost effective path to 3D IO will make the most of their market. Cost efficient tools to retrofit 2D into 3D will no doubt be critical and instant hits.

The long and the short of 3D?

The content audience wants the Full Monty and that says 3D is here to stay. It's more or less as simple and thorny as that.