|Avatar 3D Video Awesome. Really.|
|Saturday, 30 October 2010 13:24|
Avatar Producer Jon Landau blew me away with the 3D Blu-ray disk version of Avatar at the Waldorf. It's truly a "You are there" experience, almost as effective on a good 3D home screen as in the theatre. See it and you'll want to go buy a 3D TV. Three years ago, Jim Cameron made me a believer in 3D movies by showing clips at NAB. Now almost every major film is shooting for 3D. Wait until you see what Cameron does for Avatar 2. Landau talked of how he and Jim love diving in Truk Lagoon and to look for underwater sequences.
3D TV however is going almost nowhere, slowly. The audience isn't there. The set makers have been spending $100's on millions on promotion but people aren't buying. Producers and Directors love what they can do in 3D when they master it. Landau mentioned all the major directors want to shoot 3D but none believes the audience is large enough to cover the costs.
3D TV can cost almost twice as much as a normal shoot. Anthony Bailey of ESPN needs to send two full trucks and crews each time, a very expensive way to work. He's getting the budget because "his CTO believes ESPN needs to always be ahead and even on the cutting edge."
The more pragmatic management at CBS has only allowed Ken Aagaard of CBS Sports to do two events in 3D. Even those two wouldn't have been broadcast without special support from Panasonic. Discovery is launching a full channel with support from Sony.
Mark Hess of Comcast sees VOD as Comcast's primary 3D focus for the next several years. He was excited about how effectively the Comcast Media Center delivered the Masters Golf Tournament line around the world. All his HD boxes are ready for 3D. Just add TV set and glasses. But Glenn Oakley of Discovery Communications and his peers at DirecTV sounded notes of despair about the programs available. Both are creating fulltime, linear channels and it's obvious both are embarrassed by some of what they broadcast to fill the time.
3D production requires a totally different approach. "Motion pictures have to move" is the basic film school lesson but the opposite is true in 3D broadcasts. Too much motion or too many cuts distract the watcher and even cause headaches. ESPN directors are struggling to unlearn what they practiced for decades. The usual camera positions high up in the stadium don't work; the best shots come from a low angle, but that gets in the way of the people in the best seats. Steve Hellmuth of the basketball association is working with ESPN for robotic cameras that don't block the views. He doesn't want Spike Lee in New York of Jack Nicholson in Los Angeles to miss the action.
Avatar 3D - probably not available for another year - proved just how effective it can be. ESPN's Bailey warned about the flip side. "It's really, really easy to make bad 3D."