The Power of Location-Based Settings for AR/VR Experiences

During a CES 2018 panel, specialists in bringing AR and VR outside the home talked about the social value that location-based venues bring to the experiences. “If you want proof that people like to get together, CES is the proof,” said Fake Love director of new business Jared van Fleet, whose company was acquired by The New York Times. “It’s inconvenient to come here, yet people do it every year.” Fortune 500 companies ignore AR/VR at their peril, added Hollywood Portfolio founder/managing director Mariana Danilovic, who moderated the discussion. Continue reading The Power of Location-Based Settings for AR/VR Experiences

FoxNext Pursues Mobile Gaming With Aftershock Purchase

FoxNext — the gaming, VR and theme park division of 21st Century Fox — is making a move into mobile games with its purchase of Aftershock, a mobile games spinoff of Vancouver-based Kabam, itself purchased by South Korean gaming company Netmarble. With studios in Los Angeles and San Francisco, Aftershock is developing a massive multiplayer mobile strategy game around the blockbuster movie “Avatar” in partnership with director James Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment and 20th Century Fox. Aftershock reportedly has two other game titles in development. Continue reading FoxNext Pursues Mobile Gaming With Aftershock Purchase

Festival to Screen Ang Lee Film in 3D, 4K at High Frame Rate

On October 14, director Ang Lee’s “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” about young American war heroes, will have its world premiere at the 54th New York Film Festival. During the festival, the movie will screen in a 300-seat theater specially configured to show it as Lee intended: in 3D, 4K UHD at 120 frames per second. Few (if any) commercial theaters in the U.S. are technically capable of projecting the movie as it was shot and no such film has ever been screened publicly. Sony Pictures Entertainment will release the film nationally on November 11. Continue reading Festival to Screen Ang Lee Film in 3D, 4K at High Frame Rate

‘Aliens’ Panel to Stream from Comic-Con via YouTube Service

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment will be at Comic-Con International in San Diego this week celebrating the 30th anniversary of James Cameron’s sci-fi thriller “Aliens.” According to Variety, “Fox is for the first time using YouTube’s new mobile live streaming service to let the original cast of the movie talk to a global audience.” Streaming the Saturday panel will mark the first time a Hollywood studio uses the service. The panel will feature Cameron, producer Gale Anne Hurd, and actors Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen, Paul Reiser, Michael Biehn and Carrie Henn. The “Aliens” 30th anniversary limited edition Blu-ray and digital release will be available September 13. Continue reading ‘Aliens’ Panel to Stream from Comic-Con via YouTube Service

Ang Lee’s ‘Long Halftime Walk’ to 4K, 3D, 120 fps Filmmaking

Filmmaker Ang Lee gave a keynote talk at NAB 2016 with editor Tim Squyres and production system supervisor Ben Gervais about the path to creating his upcoming feature “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” which was shot in 3D, 4K, at 120 frames per second. An 11-minute clip from the film ran all afternoon, drawing long lines and buzz. No theater can currently show the movie the way it was shot, but Lee says his curiosity and passion for storytelling led him to explore these formats, which create a compelling immersive experience. Continue reading Ang Lee’s ‘Long Halftime Walk’ to 4K, 3D, 120 fps Filmmaking

Many Exhibitors and Studios Remain Wary of Screening Room

The first quarter of 2016 has brought some upbeat news to the movie industry, including the hits “Deadpool” and “Zootopia” which created a 12 percent uptick in box office compared to the same quarter last year. More long-term problems — stagnant attendance and the lure of Internet content — still threaten the bottom line. But what many exhibitors are really worried about is Screening Room, the brainchild of Napster co-founder Sean Parker, which offers first-run movies at home, at the same time they debut in theaters. Continue reading Many Exhibitors and Studios Remain Wary of Screening Room

SIGGRAPH 2015: Virtual Production, Cousin of Virtual Reality

At SIGGRAPH 2015, Autodesk executives David Morin and Ben Guthrie described virtual production, its relationship with virtual reality and some newly released tools from their company to aid in the process. Virtual production began with Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings,” got a bump of recognition with “Avatar,” and has been used on many films since. According to Morin and Guthrie, the process, which lets filmmakers create virtual worlds in-camera and composite CG and live action on set, is achieving momentum. Continue reading SIGGRAPH 2015: Virtual Production, Cousin of Virtual Reality

HPA Tech Retreat: Execs Look at Innovating the Big Screen

The annual HPA Tech Retreat, presented by the Hollywood Post Alliance, kicked off in Indian Wells on Tuesday. The February 9-13 event will feature more than 45 sessions, 75 roundtables, 100 speakers and 30 new product demos. “The Big Screen” was the week’s first panel. It focused on projection tech, and the promise of HDR, with a look at the potential of Dolby Vision. Panelists included NATO’s John Fithian, Todd Hoddick of Barco, David Keighley of IMAX, and Curt Behlmer of Dolby. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Execs Look at Innovating the Big Screen

WSJD Live: James Cameron on Virtual Reality and Cinema

Speaking at the WSJD Live global tech conference in Laguna Beach on Wednesday, filmmaker James Cameron discussed how his upcoming “Avatar” sequels will be influenced by virtual reality, noting that he now directs his cast using VR headsets and is increasingly involving CGI designers more closely during the scriptwriting process. While he does not anticipate his three films to be viewed on VR headsets, Cameron envisions a future in which VR devices will impact how audiences experience movies. Continue reading WSJD Live: James Cameron on Virtual Reality and Cinema

Aging Hollywood Movies to get 3D Makeover: Will Audiences Respond?

  • Hollywood is moving to convert its previously-released blockbuster hits into 3D. James Cameron is spending a year and $18 million to convert “Titanic” to 3D; “Star Wars” and “Top Gun” are two others in production.
  • “Like a bunch of aging starlets, some older blockbusters are undergoing major cosmetic enhancement to prepare for their comebacks,” reports Los Angeles Times.
  • Disney recently spent $10 million on the 17-year-old animated feature “The Lion King,” whose surprising box office success during the last few weeks may lead to additional conversions.
  • “For studios, it’s easy to see why spending $10 million or so to render a beloved film in three dimensions holds appeal: There’s a built-in fan base,” suggests the article. “But there are risks too: As the number of 3D films in theaters has ballooned, American audiences have become more selective about which ones they deem worth the premium ticket prices.”
  • Software improvements have made 3D conversions less expensive and, as a result, makes the prospect more difficult for Hollywood to resist.
  • Yet despite its big-name public champions such as Cameron, George Lucas and Tony Scott, there are still those who remain skeptical. The 3D conversion “undercuts the quality of the film and the verisimilitude of the film,” believes Wheeler Winston Dixon, professor of film studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “It’s to re-direct it and destroy it. This is a poor idea artistically and a poor idea financially.”
  • Either way, the movement is underway and we should expect to see more 3D “makeovers” of older films in the near future.

Disney and James Cameron to Bring Avatar to Theme Parks

  • Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Worldwide has announced a deal with filmmaker James Cameron and producer Jon Landau to bring “Avatar”-themed lands to its parks.
  • The first attraction is expected to start construction in the Animal Kingdom of Orlando’s Disney World by 2013.
  • Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment will consult with Walt Disney Imagineering in the design and development of the attractions, which will eventually be built in Disney’s international locations as well.
  • “The parks will not only play off the huge hit movie which dominated the box office for months in 2010, but also benefit from the release to two more movies now in pre-production,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. “Cameron has announced plans to release those movies at Christmas 2014 followed by the second at Christmas 2015.”
  • “‘Avatar’ created a world which audiences can discover again and again and now, through this incredible partnership with Disney, we’ll be able to bring Pandora to life like never before. With two new ‘Avatar’ films currently in development, we’ll have even more locations, characters and stories to explore,” said Cameron. “I’m chomping at the bit to start work with Disney’s legendary Imagineers to bring our ‘Avatar’ universe to life. Our goal is to go beyond current boundaries of technical innovation and experiential storytelling, and give park goers the chance to see, hear, and touch the world of ‘Avatar’ with an unprecedented sense of reality.”

Four Theories on the Decline of 3D Cinema: Lessons for Revival?

  • In 2010 Hollywood studios released what Slate refers to as “a run of record-smashing, premium-priced blockbusters: ‘Avatar,’ ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ ‘How to Train Your Dragon,’ ‘Clash of the Titans,’ ‘Shrek Forever After,’ and ‘Toy Story 3’ — a half-dozen 3D movies that earned more than $2 billion in domestic sales.”
  • However, while the new generation of 3D cinema showed initial box office promise, the next wave of 3D movies have grossed significantly less than their 2D versions.
  • Slate takes a compelling look at some of the reasons 3D has recently become less popular with theatergoers and, in the process, provides information that could help revive the format.
  • Theater chains, for example, raised their prices for 3D screenings by 20 percent or more, while the 3D trend was already showing signs of decline. PricewaterhouseCoopers has suggested that 3D could revive if the chains limited their premium to a couple of dollars.
  • Some film studios applied 3D “purely for the profit motive,” as James Cameron has been quoted. Films were converted to 3D instead of being produced in 3D from the start, a technology “cheat” that some believe led to viewer disappointment.
  • Additionally, shrewd consumers may not always feel that the 3D experience is worth the extra price, especially if the 3D is designed to be unobtrusive. Film critic A. O. Scott pointed out this is “one of the pitfalls of that format, which is that if the 3D is unobtrusive enough that you don’t really notice it, you may as well forego the disposable glasses and the surcharge that comes with them.”
  • And the final theory offered by Slate involves “hack” filmmakers who have applied 3D to a string of bad movies, which may have been the same reason 3D died in the 1950s.
  • It’s interesting to note that on the heels of the Slate article, a 3D re-release topped the box office this past weekend. An enhanced version of Disney’s “The Lion King” earned $29.3 million (with 92 percent of the gross from 3D screens). This is the third time the 1994 film has been widely screened in theaters, but the first time a 3D version has been available. Was earning more in weekend ticket sales than the other three newcomers combined the result of nostalgia or the first-time availability of a 3D version?

New Industry Report to be Released: Suggests 3D Format Safe for Kids

  • The American Optometric Association, the Consumer Electronics Association and the 3D@Home Consortium will issue a report entitled “3D in the Classroom: See Well, Learn Well” that will promote 3D in the classroom. The report, endorsed by James Cameron and Jeffrey Katzenberg, also makes the case for 3D eye exams.
  • The AOA has been taking issue with a position by some companies to recommend that 3D not be used for children younger than 6 years of age.
  • In response to Nintendo on the 3DS, for example, they responded, “Since vision develops from birth, it is crucial to uncover the type of vision disorders that may interfere with Nintendo 3D viewing at an early age. Accordingly, children younger than 6 can use the 3DS in 3D mode if their visual system is developing normally.”
  • They also dispute the recommendation against prolonged 3D viewing, as there is no medical evidence to support this.
  • “While professionals like Technicolor’s 3D guru Pete Routhier note that poorly made 3D can cause eye strain, headaches or nausea, the AOA report notes that discomfort caused by stereoscopy is not innate to the format,” reports Variety. “In fact, pain associated with 3D can often be an indicator of a problem with the health of the viewer’s eyes.”

New 3D Consultancy: the Cameron-Pace Group

At the 2011 NAB show in Las Vegas, filmmaker James Cameron and 3D production expert and cinematographer Vince Pace discussed their newly-formed company, the Cameron-Pace Group (CPG), aimed at promoting 3D production and streamlining its processes with the FUSION 3D camera and workflow packages.

According to the company’s website: “CPG’s expansion will include proven solutions for 3D productions worldwide including industry-wide 3D advocacy, driving innovations in technology, and delivering products, services and creative tools for filmmakers and broadcasters in ways never addressed or witnessed before.”

Headquartered in Burbank, the company already has 53 employees. “Our goal,” Cameron said at NAB, “is to banish all the perceived and actual barriers to entry that are currently holding back producers, studios and networks from embracing the 3D future.”

Broadcast Engineering reports that upcoming CPG projects include the ESPN X Games 17, the NBA Finals, and feature films such as Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon, The Three Musketeers and Martin Scorsese’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

For more information, the Cameron-Pace Group company overview is available in PDF format.

Directors, Producers Join NATO in Concern Over Premium VOD

We recently reported that a new premium VOD service from DirecTV was in the works that would make movies available in the home shortly after their theatrical release.  The Hollywood Reporter now says 23 industry leaders — including Peter Jackson, James Cameron, Michael Bay, Michael Mann and Kathryn Bigelow — have thrown their support behind the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) by signing an open letter in opposition of the new distribution model.

NATO is running the letter this week in Variety at the same time the new VOD service — dubbed Home Premiere — is launched (the first available title will be Sony’s “Just Go With It”). According to DirecTV, new movie releases will be available in 1080p HD for $29.99, months before they are available on Netflix, DVD or Blu-ray. THR reports that theater owners are threatened by this proposal and what they see as a disruption to a proven distribution model. The directors and producers who signed NATO’s letter do not believe a premium VOD service will solve slumping DVD sales, and could negatively impact the platform release patterns of specialty films and lead to additional piracy issues.

“As a crucial part of a business that last year grossed close to $32 billion in worldwide theatrical ticket sales,” the letter states, “we in the creative community feel that now is the time for studios and cable companies to acknowledge that a release pattern for premium video-on-demand that invades the current theatrical window could irrevocably harm the financial model of our film industry.”

Related THR story: “7 Key Questions Surrounding DirecTV’s Premium VOD Service Controversy” (4/19/11)

Related Bloomberg story: “DirecTV Starts Premium Film Rentals at $29.99 for 48 Hours” (4/19/11)