Cameron-Pace Keynote – 3D Entertainment Summit
September 21-2011, 3-D Entertainment Summit, Los Angeles—James Cameron and Vince Pace described their efforts to promote more 3-D productions. The industry is growing from a revenue standpoint, but pundits are talking about a complete meltdown.
There is some concern that the studios may pull back, so Cameron-Pace is working to make the production processes easy and transparent. The industry needs more screens because there are too many 3-D releases for the market. In the US, 40 percent of the screens are 3-D digital, up from 20 percent three years ago.
Most industry approaches don't define 3-D very well. Someone needs to create tools to help reinvent the craft and push the business models. The industry needs to educate more filmmakers on 3-D techniques. Cameron-Pace is trying to support the craft with tools and technologies for al phases of production.
One problem for many creators is maintaining the standard 2-D crews and production flows, and adding a separate crew for 3-D. Besides resulting in a 75 percent duplication, this practice doesn't allow the director to concentrate on the 3-D aspects of the story. Many of the 3-D issues will be resolved when the broadcast industry takes on 3-D as a full time activity, and not just for special events and sports. The transition from 2-D to 3-D is about the same as the transition from black-and-white to color in terms of technologies and practices.
Big films are always better vehicles for stories because of the money invested. Small films are more intimate, but usually don't have the budget for any effects or new technologies. Small dramas will gain the most from transitioning to 3-D. The increase in emotion and details of the characters from 3-D provide an opportunity to change the viewing experience. Unfortunately, most directors are stuck in a 2-D mode.
3-D films can be watchable for hours. Avatar was conservative in the use of 3-D, so future films will go towards greater depth. Directors have to avoid gimmicks to make a good film. 3-D capture is the best for a 3-D project, but conversion is possible with a lot of effort and money. It takes a lot of people to create the many depth maps for every scene and the visuals need to be continuously adjusted.
The reason most conversions are so bad is the lack of time and effort and the fact that they are really only converting to 2.2-D. The conversion of Titanic to 3-D is going to take over 1 year and cost over $18 M which will result of about 90 percent of a full 3-D film. Conversions need creative decisions to get good effects. Sometimes you have to cheat the depth to make long lens settings work.
It is easier to shoot in 3-D and not sacrifice quality. The availability of various rigs and other capture technologies is good for the industry. Competition if good for everyone, because it drives the technologies, offers choices, and reduces costs. In any business, there is a technical and business focus. Competition should be in the technical areas, in areas like increased automation in the rigs. In the business area, they are in the leasing business, because the technology is changing too rapidly to keep up if you buy the equipment.
Cameron-Pace takes in the user's requirements and integrates them into a working system. The R & D needs to be centralized to gain the benefits of scale. For example, ESPN wanted to take the 3-D experience from X Games and use them in the Little League World Series. They found that the effects were distorted because the players are much shorter than the camera operators. Cameon-Pace created a new rig that located the camera under the arm in only 3 weeks, in time for the games. They provide solutions. By working with production companies, they push the methodologies and quality standards for everyone.
The next new films like Avatar 2 will be at a higher frame rate. Much of the badly authored 3-D and bad scenes are due to the low frame rate jitter. Moving to 48 or 60 FPS will eliminate a lot of the issues. The existing digital projectors can go up to 144 FPS, so it's possible without costs for conversion. The Red and Arri cameras are capable of capture at 120 FPS and some of the projectors can to 200. If the director doesn't have the experience, the choices in effects are too detailed.
3-D is here to stay. The movie business is adopting the technology, so now viewers need to figure out how 3-D is working for themselves. Cameron-Pace is an enabler and 3-D is just a way to make movies better. The market is healthy and production costs are going down and approaching those of 2-D. 3-D is moving into the home and is creating a large aftermarket for the studios.