3D Tutorial Video: Peter Jackson Discusses Production of The Hobbit

  • Director Peter Jackson’s team has created a fascinating 10-minute video covering all aspects of shooting a 3D feature (cameras, frame rates, concept art!, costumes, make-up), using “The Hobbit” as the case study.
  • ETCentric staffer Dennis Kuba adds that this is the fourth in Jackson’s “Hobbit” production videos, this time with a focus on their 3D production. Dennis points out some of the highlights:
  • They are using two RED Epics in a 3ality rig which uses a mirror to replicate a human’s interocular. Both the interocular and the convergence can be altered as they shoot. They also have a camera rig for a crane and a handheld rig. Jackson doesn’t feel that 3D is restricting or changing his shooting style. Interestingly, they are shooting at the same speed as 2D.
  • They are shooting at 5K resolution and 48 fps. Jackson says the effect is “like looking into the real world.”
  • The RED camera “tends to eat color” so they add even more color.” The final film will be graded down to get the right amount of color. For the characters, they found that they needed more red in their makeup otherwise they would appear yellow.
  • This is the first film where the pencil and charcoal concept art is being done in 3D.

Film Fades to Black: How Close is Hollywood to Going All-Digital?

  • Creative COW asks if film is getting ready to fade to black: “While the debate has raged over whether or not film is dead, ARRI, Panavision and Aaton have quietly ceased production of film cameras within the last year to focus exclusively on design and manufacture of digital cameras. That’s right: someone, somewhere in the world is now holding the last film camera ever to roll off the line.”
  • “The demand for film cameras on a global basis has all but disappeared,” says Bill Russell, ARRI VP of cameras. “If you talk to the people in camera rentals, the amount of film camera utilization in the overall schedule is probably between 30 to 40 percent.”
  • While film may not be dead, it is most certainly on the decline. Digital production is on the rise, and for those still interested in shooting on film, used cameras are available.
  • “Almost nobody is buying new film cameras,” says Aaton founder Jean-Pierre Beauviala. “Why buy a new one when there are so many used cameras around the world?”
  • Stereoscopic 3D production may also be “accelerated the demise of film” says Beauviala, since it is “a nightmare to synchronize two film cameras.”
  • Russell predicts that film will eventually disappear, although the exact date is unknown. Phil Radin, executive VP of worldwide marketing at Panavision suggests the timing will be decided by the availability of resources. “Film will be around as long as Kodak and Fuji believe they can make money at it,” he says.

Disruptive TV Trends: What is the Future of the Business of Television?

  • Amsterdam’s annual IBC event offered a number of potential TV game-changers earlier this month, suggests TVNewsCheck. These include cloud-based or service-oriented architecture (SOA) applications for capturing, producing, processing and distributing digital video and audio; IT-based playout (channel in a box) tools that could potentially make broadcast playout more affordable; and 3D technology likely to be deployed for the 2012 London Olympics.
  • Also on display were technologies “aimed at making 3D production more affordable and compatible with standard 2D operations.”
  • Cloud services were at the forefront since broadcasters are now challenged by having to support an increasing number of distribution platforms.
  • Vendors discussed the fundamental concerns about cloud-based architectures, “notably content security, access to content, collaboration, bandwidth and workflow continuity,” reports TVNewsCheck.
  • In a related article from GigaOM that analyzes shifts in traditional television, venture capitalist Habib Kairouz writes that the TV industry is poised for some significant changes due to a number of upcoming trends: TV anywhere and anytime will catch on; the rise of the Internet-connected TV and interactive programming; and personalized advertising.
  • The article suggests that content owners will benefit as MSOs, IPTV providers, and others compete with one another. MSO’s are hedging their bets by purchasing both traditional and interactive content, while TV manufacturers are looking to build Internet services into their low margin businesses. We should watch for new entrants to increase the disruption in this space.

International 3D Initiative: U.S. and Korea Sign Pact, Pledge Cooperation

  • Members of the International 3D Society from South Korea and the U.S. announced they would work together to advance 3D technology through joint development, production, marketing and distribution.
  • The signing ceremony took place at DreamWorks Animation last week.
  • As part of the agreement Sony, Disney and DreamWorks Animation will cooperate with Korean companies such as Korea Telecom, EBS and Skylife in an international effort to boost 3D adoption.
  • “A second agreement was signed between the two I3DS chapters and the Korea Radio Promotion Association to encourage educational programs and exchanges,” reports Variety. “Dr. Doo Hwan Choi, chairman of Korea’s I3DS chapter and CTO of Korea Telecom, which co-sponsored the ceremony, said the society’s educational programs will provide the kinds of opportunities and program development required by the burgeoning business.”

Is the iPad and GarageBand Changing the Face of Music Production?

  • Apple’s iPad is becoming a production tool for both professional and amateur musicians.
  • One band, The Ultramods, produced their recent album in two weeks using only GarageBand on the iPad.
  • Damon Albarn’s hip-hop project, Gorillaz, combines real vocals and instruments with synthesizers using a collection of apps including Korg iELECTRIBE, Moog Filatron and FunkBox Drum Machine. According to Pocket-lint: “It perfectly illustrates the convenience of being able to lay down tracks on a device, while on the move, with no access to a desktop computer or studio.”
  • Accessory brand Griffin’s PR director, Jackie Ballinger explains the benefits of tablets for musicians: “Technology, like the iPad enables musicians to become mobile without losing quality, now people are able to make music anywhere without limitations and without substantial costs. With the iPad and relevant apps a less costly alternative to recording studios and instruments, aspiring musicians have the opportunity to produce professional recording using solely these means.”
  • The article points out that Apple’s GarageBand is the top-selling music app on the iTunes store, and with “iPad prices starting at $499, along with the $4.99 for the GarageBand, that puts the basic cost of The Ultramods’ album production at just under $505.”

Hollywood Invited to Test Drive MIT/NASA Stereo 3D Camera Rig

  • Community partnering initiative School Safety Summit, established by Colorado State Senator Steve King, has announced that a new 360-degree 3D motion picture camera rig developed at MIT under two NASA contracts is being tested by Colorado education leaders and community partners.
  • The panoramic rig is also available for Hollywood experimentation. According to the press release: “The Summit’s 3D Task Force invites filmmakers and 3D TV producers worldwide to join the experiment and develop scriptwriting and directing approaches that take full advantage of the 360-degree stereo 3D experience made possible by the new system.”
  • The press release adds: “Participating industry leaders will have a first look to evaluate applications in theatrical and home entertainment, special events, education, and enterprises that would benefit from omnidirectional robotic vision and depth perception as well as an unprecedented level of image and sound processing.”
  • The stereoscopic system synchronizes multiple cameras to create a “high resolution, wide field of view image database from which images can be combined in real time.” Image blending technology collects data wirelessly and generates an “extended panoramic view in which the combined images form a full circle, or movie cyclorama. Images can also be combined so that the cycloramic view extends upwardly or downwardly to create a continuous, unobstructed, omnidirectional image that extends a full 4 pi steradians.”
  • The inventors cite applications ranging from the control of robots on planetary surfaces to the control of firefighting drones to event filming and dramas that place the audience at the center of the story.
  • For those who may be interested, sign up at www.3DTaskForce.org for an orientation kit and schedule.

ESPN Takes a New Approach to 3D Production

  • Variety reports that ESPN remains enthusiastic about 3D technology, despite its slow adoption (and AT&T’s recent decision to drop ESPN 3D from its U-Verse TV service).
  • ESPN is pushing its 3D effort by focusing on combining 2D and 3D production (nicknamed “5D”), which the network says brings costs down substantially. 2D/3D production includes slower cutting and more use of robotic cameras. As the production crews gain more experience in shooting sports beyond HD, the equipment, camera placement and general approach continues to improve.
  • “Some innovations created for 3D have even made it over to the 2D side,” reports Variety. “For example, 3D cameras need to be closer to the action than 2D cameras, so the high 50-yard-line shots that are a staple of football coverage are problematic. To get closer, ESPN put a 3D camera on a 22-foot mast on a small vehicle that goes up and down the sideline.”
  • ESPN stands by the technology, explaining that Twitter feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. And some play-by-play announcers have even indicated they don’t want to go back to watching 2D.

Motion-Capture Technology Improved for Shooting Exteriors

  • Twentieth Century Fox’s “Rise of The Planet of The Apes,” premiering next month, made extensive use of performance capture techniques in its exterior shots.
  • Visual effects house Weta Digital, that developed motion capture techniques for “Avatar,” considers this the next step in the technique’s evolution.
  • “Avatar” was shot largely on enclosed sound stages, while “Rise” shot motion-capture performances on exterior sets.
  • Weta Digital created a portable performance capture rig teamed with special LED markers placed on the actors, enabling the production to take place in broad daylight.
  • “It was like the final step of mixing live-action and digital filmmaking,” explains senior visual effects supervisor Joe Letteri.
  • Actor Andy Serkis, a veteran of several performance-capture films, is developing a studio and academy to teach the technique, with the goal of making it more affordable and accessible even to lower-budget films.

Hollywood Digital Push Brings Together Technicolor and Deluxe

  • Technicolor Inc. and Deluxe Entertainment Services announced a new partnership for film print production and distribution, as the demand for film prints continues to wane.
  • According to the Los Angeles Times: “Technicolor will subcontract its 35mm film print business in North America to Deluxe,” while “Deluxe will farm out its 35mm print distribution business to Technicolor.”
  • Technicolor closed its North Hollywood plant earlier this year, and will soon close a plant outside of Montreal.
  • Technicolor will open a smaller facility in Glendale focused on producing prints for IMAX and other big screen theaters.
  • Plummeting demand for prints stems from theaters converting to digital projection; the transition has taken place in nearly half of the 42,000 screens in the U.S.

SMPTE Conference: The Need for Science Education in 3D Production

  • SMPTE recently held its 3D Conference for Media and Entertainment in New York City.
  • One significant outcome resulted from scientists who are studying how the brain processes visual images.
  • They suggest that Hollywood needs an improved academic understanding of stereoscopic 3D to avoid making viewers uncomfortable.
  • It was recommended that content creators and vision scientists get together to evaluate different demographics, 2D-to-3D conversion, potential harmful effects, eye fatigue and much more.
  • “The problem is that we’re looking at this from a top down perspective instead from the bottom up. With HDTV, it took us more than 20 years to get the science right. Here [with 3D] we’re starting with the screen and working backwards. That doesn’t seem right,” suggested Joseph Flaherty, senior VP of technology at the CBS Network.

The Future of 3D Looks Bright, According to New Studies

It should come as no surprise to our audience that industry opinions regarding 3D entertainment are mixed. Despite technological advancements we’ve seen in recent years to gaming, theatrical film exhibition, television sets, production processes and a variety of consumer products — a number of significant questions continue to spark debate: Glasses or glasses-free? Active or passive? Standard feature or gimmick? Strong or slow consumer adoption? However, a number of recent studies agree on one thing — the near future of 3D will see some tremendous growth.

In a report released this week, digital entertainment market researcher In-Stat predicts global 3D TV shipments will be up nearly 500 percent this year, compared with 2010. The report also suggests that all televisions with screen sizes 40 inches and above will soon be 3D-enabled. The In-Stat forecast is joined by another report from NPD Group subsidiary DisplaySearch that suggests 3D TVs will account for approximately one-third of all 120 Hz LCD sets in 2011. DisplaySearch also explained that 3D TV penetration will expand as the 3D feature is added to more basic models in upcoming years. Researcher IHS iSuppli adds that 2012 will be another year of triple-digit growth for 3D TV shipments.

“In a major recalibration effort, television brands are changing strategies this year following lukewarm response to 3D in 2010 when consumers balked at the high price of sets and the lack of 3D content,” explained Riddhi Patel, director for television systems and retail services at IHS. “In 2011, however, brands are marketing 3D not as a must-have technology but as a desirable feature, similar to the approach they have taken with Internet connectivity.”

This week’s In-Stat report offers the following numbers:

  • Households with 3D TV sets will eclipse 300 million in 2015.
  • In 2011 Europe will boast the most 3D TV unit shipments at just over 7 million.
  • By 2015 Asia/Pacific will have the largest share of 3D TV unit shipments at 32 percent.

Additionally, an industry survey recently conducted by crew booking and payroll company Media Services indicates that 3D is becoming a “predominant mode of production” — as nearly half of respondents indicated their businesses will emphasize 3D film and television production in the next five years.

The question regarding consumer adoption may soon be impacted by increased production numbers and lower prices from manufacturers (and if the shipment predictions above prove accurate, it may not matter). As CNET reports, “NPD found that 45 percent of people who won’t buy a 3D TV cite price as the barrier and 42 percent say its the special 3D glasses. But as In-Stat’s study has found, consumers may not have much of a choice. Vendors are continuing to add 3D capability, especially to bigger-screen sets. And if folks want bigger screens, they will soon get 3D capability whether they seek it or not.”

Related Below the Line post: “Study Reveals Shift to 3D Over the Next Five Years” (5/17/11)

Related Advanced Television article: “3D TV shipments up 500% in 2011” (5/6/11)

Related TV Technology post: “RealD, Samsung Partner in 3DTV Display Project” (5/17/11)

Related Engadget post (and videos): “Intel will mass produce 3D transistors for all future CPUs, starting with 22nm Ivy Bridge” (5/4/11)

Related PCMag.com article: “3D Transistors, EUV, and the Future of Chipmaking: Why it Matters” (5/6/11)

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