04 March 2014

3-D is here to stay as it always has been

There is nothing new about the current downward trend in popularity / exposure of 3-D film.  3-D has been there from the beginnings of film: the first film camera built by the Lumiere brothers was a stereoscopic camera and the first photo cameras were even stereoscopic ones.  As is happening today, 3-D has known ups and downs throughout the history of film and photography.  It is a medium that is not going to go away - it never has because it has always captivated audiences and will continue to do so as long as humans have two eyes.

A modern Lumiere 3D camera: 4K


The now: 4K


4K is the current talk of the town and as a format it is a matter of Moore's Law for it to become a mainstream reality.  The doubling of computing power every year dictates the possiblility and therefore the assured technological drive to go up in resolution and framerate in digital cinema and television systems.  Eventually, prices of higher spec technology go down as chips are produced en masse with these higher resolution capabilities.  4K TV is an unavoidable format that will happen eventually as dictated by the purchase and replacement cycle of consumers - about every decade and a half as observed with the transition from SD to HD.  Yes, adoption speed of new technology has been going up exponentially throughout history but recession and growth cycles have remained steady since the introduction of the stock market.

The first commercial 4K Television channel has lauched: High4K, pretty much following the model of Sky3D and 3Net in that it is a subscription channel with endless reruns of the current limited number of 4K content, let alone the content licenced by High4K.  As the big networks switch to 4K - probably by compressing the image to death to get closer to HD bandwidths and also by sacrificing a few +1 HD channels - that unique market position will disappear. 

Youtube 4K
Don't forget the early adopted 4K abilities of Youtube; besides being 3-D enabled, Youtube is 4K enabled.  Bandwidth?  A huge issue.  The 4K content has to fit in HD bitrate limitations so the very reason for being 4K will be quashed.  The same thing goes for IPTV channels such as Netflix and Lovefilm.  4K on an HD shoestring. 

Of course the same goes for real-time TV-set upscaling of HD content to 4K: might as well keep that old HD screen.  Real, specialized post production 2K or 3K to 4K upressing is a different matter.  For the huge difference in quality between real-time and specialized upscaling, visit 4KRender.com

As there is no 4K Bluray standard yet, the wait is for rogue Mpeg5 discs to flood the black markets. 5 Bucks for a 4K Disc of a cammed movie?  Perhaps cammed with a Blackmagic 4K camera. OK, not likely but we're thinking ahead here.  Reality always turns out to be stranger than fiction.  Straight 4K dumps coming from mastering houses are the more likely condidates and those pirated copies will probably be distributed using the old Mpeg4 (Divx or similar) but at 3K sizes.

Blackmagic 4K 'budget' camera: the Cammers' future choice?

The future of 3-D

So where does this leave 3-D and its prospects for the coming future?  Is 3-D 4K a logical marriage?  Not at all: the bitrates become so enormous that a double quad-core processor and a 10 terabyte RAID array in a TV will still overheat.  Perhaps that's an exaggeration but 4K will develop further on a 2D path, not a 3D one.  The proponent of 4K 3D are either looking at Side-By-Side anamorphic 3D on a 4K frame as employed by the Sony 4K cinema projectors already or 4K 3D for autostereoscopic screens - because of the resolution quartering-effect of lenticulars. 

Looking at trends in 3-D's checkered history it is safe to predict a new 3-D boom peak in 2039, with the boom starting in 2033.  Why those years?  Because it takes a new generation of film makers and hardware manufacturers unfamiliar with the previous exploits of 3-D to try their hands at the revolution that never seems to happen.  Is 3-D the Devil's Candy?  Perhaps, and as with all things sweet, powerful and dangerous it really is not going to go away.  By 2033, however, Moore's Law will also dictate an availability of bandwidth and computing power suitable for holographic film.  So at that point, stereoscopy may very well join the fate of forgotten demons of Ancient times.  Locked up in the Tantalus of unfulfilled cinematic promise.

What's more safe and realistic is to predict a photogrammic future, where depth information is drawn in real time from two or more image streams, creating a colour point cloud.  The real time computing power will be available in the future and it is predictable that the bandwidth issues will remain (because who is going to put fiberoptics in the streets and overhead telephone cables and wireless 5G won't outperform cables in the real world), so taking a game engine approach is a most tempting solution.

XBox 720 Concept

Contact 3-D Revolution Productions for more media predictions and consultancy on the subjects of 3-D, 4K, HFR, HDR in animation and live-action for feature film and television production alike.


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05 February 2014

New ventures from 3-D to 4K and 5-D

New ventures from 3-D to 4K and 5-D

5DLux.com is the latest addition to the 3-D Revolution Productions family of websites, offering highly specialized film, animation, vfx, television, theatre, and online media services. The full offering is as follows:

3D Stereoscopic animation production and consultancy can be found on 3-D Revolution's the3drevolution.com. 3D production services include 2D to 3D conversion and 3D Quality Control / supervision and pipeline setup for 3D Stereoscopic studio production.



4K Render and conversion services can be found on 4K Render's 4krender.com. 4K services include 4K and 8K render cost reduction, 2K to 4K blowup (upres) services, 4K 3D conversion, 4K HFR 3D conversion, 24fps to HFR conversion and combinations thereof - 2K 24fps to 3D 4K HFR conversion for example.



5D Metaphysical media services can be found at 5DLux's website 5dlux.com. 5D services are defined as the application of higher harmonic and metaphysical vibrations in image, sound and other electro-magnetic frequencies to create a deep etheric and soul sensory experience beyond current Cinema, Television, Theatre and Online technological offerings.




5D Film Production 

Full film production using any or all available techniques to effectuate energy movement on higher vibrational levels. Employing a profound understanding of the mechanics, psychology and metaphysics of cinematic vision. Part or full assistance on your film, television, theatre or interactive media production to add a deeper and higher layers to story, design, stage, audience space, audience interaction energy, memory, and overall project experience. From pre- to mid- to post-production. 5D Post Conversion is certainly also one of the
possibilities.
Retaining pure, focussed intention througout the project to ensure energy purity for the entire project and to allow intention to come to fruition without energetic hindrance - an incredibly common issue in media production.

Emotion Track

Emotion Track is a unique service developed by 5DLux to record and play back any emotions recorded as performed by an actor. This can be the same actor as the one playing the character on screen or a specialist emotion actor. The audience can now experience these recorded emotions through regular image and sound in film, on television and online. There is the option of installing electro-magnetic and etheric emitters in theatres for cinema and live performance.


Other 5D Film services

- 5D Script writing / Screenwriting / editing / doctoring
- 5D Music and Sound production
- Visualization of higher concepts
- Wokshops, Masterclasses & Talks


Hope to see you in the 3rd, 4th or 5th Dimension of film soon!

Alexander Lentjes
3-D Revolution Productions
4KRender
5DLux


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30 May 2013

4K Ultra-HD and HFR High Framerate for Animation – Big formats, Big issues



Future Film and Television technology is happening now

4K Ultra-HD is a new film technology appearing on our radars today.  In a decade's time (at best), all productions will be produced to the new high spec stadards being launched at the moment.  The filmmaker can then choose to selectively focus on high resolution, high framerate high dynamic range and 3-D but most likely all of these techniques will be on maximum by standard.  This means today's producers looking ahead with an eye to 'future proofing' their content as well as early adopters and USP-eager producers are facing a production reality of high spec hardware and pipeline challenges as the new stechnologies slowly turn into new standards.  DCI spec 2.0, new EBU and SMPTE standards are certainly around the corner.  This, as they say, will change everything - again.

4K, HFR, HDR and 3-D all pose challenges for live-action and animation production alike.  The live-action film and television industry can get away with upgrading their cameras and editing systems to the tune of about 40-60% extra cost.  New cameras, new lenses (4K primes), new editing software, storage, post processing (deBayering 5K or 6K), compositing, grading, mastering and delivery.  Stock and library footage suddenly becomes much less useable.  In 4K, in High Framerate and in 3-D it is all more. But then animation is in much more of a pickle.

4K, HFR, 3-D: common techniques of the future, rearing their young heads today already.
The biggest question remains: what kind of content will film makers be using the tech for?


Future proofing... again

The industry has switched in the past 10 years from SD to HD fully and production from broadcast to film, from indie to big budget now works in HD and 2K.  Ultra-HD (4K) is 4 times as big and High Framerate (HFR) is anything from twice the amount of frames at 48 fps to six times the number of frames at 144 fps. 

Modern television sets are being sold at 4K resolutions, with refresh rates of 1000Hz.  1000hz?!!  Yes, really: the consumer is supposed to be able to perceive 1000hz refresh rates when the human eye can’t see much more than 72Hz per eye.  Oh well, the presentation technology is here and the consumer hunger will be huge.  Can consumers see the difference with their human eyes?  Only at screen sizes of 15 feet / 5 meters wide, but that doesn’t matter – there will be a demand regardless.   


So producers scramble to future proof their productions once again (after the introduction of 3DTV introduced 3-D future proofing, multi-format production introduced 360-degree future proofing and digital properties introduced online world future-proofing).  4K future proofing is here and HFR future proofing is here. 

Oh, and of course let’s not forget HDR future proofing, which has managed to snuck in recently as well.  Cameras advertising 13-stops of light means a need for production and post-production not just with 12-bit imagery but at least 16-bit or ideally 32-bit image bit-depth.  So we’re all looking at 4K HFR HDR 360 3D digital future proofing and in no way will there be higher production or license fees to cover the enormous overheads.  Tough luck, independent producer, you will bleed for a place in the future media landscape!  In this light it is no surprise the big studios are pushing heavily for the new technology to be adopted as soon as possible.

The Black Magic Design 13-stop HD camera.

In terms of delivery, wireless 5G technology has already been announced by Samsung to hit the airwaves by 2020.  They make a case of highlighting the possibility to transmit Ultra-HD content over the Gigabit bandwidth of 5G.  Question is just how relevant that is for mobile devices but for television sets with 5G receivers it makes a lot of sense, let alone Digital Cinema projection – and this is of course exactly the market Samsung is thinking of.  No more wires into the house, just mobile-enabled devices and all enabled to run high spec content such as 4K, HFR HDR, 3D and so on.


5G: slated for 2020

Compressing 4K

Compression of 4K material is obviously another big challenge. It will obviously need to be compressed to death to fit into the satellite transponders and cable bandwidths of today.  Freeview / OTA 4K?  Highly, highly unlikelySky4Kand HBO4K?  Highly likely and very soon so, but at the expense of four of their HD channels.  Painful, cost-wise but promotion is a costly affair, something Sky discovered with thir Sky3D channel.

The follow-up compression technology from the current standard of H.264/MPEG-4 AVC is the new H.265 codec, AKA High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC).  H.265 can do a third to twice the compressing (35%- 50%) at similar visual end results to H264, but at heavy computational costs: twice to ten-fold the computing power (2x – 10x).  That means a 4K video stream can at best be compressed to twice the size of HD/2K, rather than four times its size, with a need for a quad-core processor at double the Ghz speed compared to the CPU used to encode and decode the HD/2K stream with H264.  Upgrade time!  It is important to note that the current profile of H.265 limits Chroma subsampling to 4:2:0 (no 4:2:2 or 4:4:4) and 8-bit colour bitdepth (no 12-bit, 16-bit or 32-bit).

Heavy compression at play

But wait, animation studios do not creating imagery using compression, be it H.265 or RED (which is not open, not standard, license-based  and RED hardware-reliant), but working in uncompressed formats known in the live-action world as RAW.  Computing power to create, store and playback ‘Future proof’ material will need to be upgraded to an enormous degree.

Render cost

The biggest cost increase with 4K for animation production lies in 3D CGI render cost.  2D drawn, cut-out animation and stop-motion can be acquired using 4K-8K and 32bit photo cameras.  However, higher resolutions such as 4K and 8K require higher textures and more detailed shaders, while line thickness will need to be finer.  Downscaling 4K hand drawn animation to SD might result in disappearing outlines and a moire texture mash. Computer Generated 3D animation, however, needs to be computed: rendered - pixel by pixel.   

It doesn’t take complex calculation to figure out 4K will quadruple render times compared to HD or 2K.  HFR will double that time again at 48fps and quadruple at 96fps, while stereoscopic 3-D already doubles rendering times for computer animated content.  It doesn't matter where all this data is rendered; on a farm, or on the cloud - it still needs to be rendered.  In all, 3D animation production can easily incur a 16x render cost hike.  Your current average render budget of $ 380,000 USD for the pure rendering only of a 90 minute 2K feature can easily go up to 6 million USD for little to no extra boxoffice in the end.  Is that realistic?  Perhaps a 200 million Dollar production has no problem with a 5.6 million Dollar budget increase, but a 5 million Euro independent animation production, as is so common in Europe, will simply not be able to pull this off.   

A small render farm.
And we’re not even talking about television series here, which are not just 90 minutes long, they are 52 x 11 or 22 minutes, totaling 572 to 1,144 minutes.  The  resulting eye-watering render cost means television animation will swap quality for renderability; no beautiful pictures but bland, functional ones.  And if that is not enough to cut the render overheads, the budget for creative production parts will need to suffer.

Render budget breakdown

A render budget production line is not just the sum or render costs, it also includes the cost of specialized render TDs and pipeline TDs.  Own-built render farms and outsource render farms, including those running on cloud-based solutions, quickly equal in cost even before farm management and render licenses are included.  Render licenses include those for 3D software, plugins, shaders, render engines and render management software.  At 2,000 render cores that becomes a serious expense – think of a $100 USD plugin render license: with 2,000 cores that’s $200,000 USD extra cost.

In all, 4K, High Framerate and other technologies arriving and on the horizon are going to strangle a lot of independent animated productions.  Unless of course there is a render solution out there that can soften the blow and offer much lower render prices than a straight up 16-fold cost increase. This is where 4KRender comes in to offer a new, complete render service.  A 4K render service that can shave a third off your 4K HFR render costs through high-end specialization, the use of proprietary processes, clever algorithms and strategic render farm management.  What's more, 4KRender is UK-based and that can only be good news for European & US animation productions after quality, reliability and proper communication, besides European MEDIA co-production funds of course. Got a 4K CGI feature film or 4K animated television series to render? Contact 4KRender.com





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23 October 2012

Broadcast 3DTV budgets & economic 3-D production reality



3D Film and television numbers

Before diving into the current world of 3DTV, let’s look at some numbers that are most relevant to the question of a successful future for 3-D film in specific, 3-D as a medium overall and 3DTV as part of this.  Feature film boxoffice sales are not 3DTV program sales numbers, but they are an indicator of audience appetite for 90 minutes of 3-D entertainment of the highest quality level.  Besides this, 3-D feature films are currently still the biggest schedule fillers on 3DTV channels.  Quality-wise, 3DTV content will always be a lot worse and budget-wise it will always be an awful lot cheaper.  Those two factors are bad news for watchable 3-D production as quality is an absolute requirement for 3-D enjoyment or even watch-ability.

The highest grossing 3-D movies Internationally, inflation corrected:

1. Avatar                          $2,853.6 m   B: $280 m  (2009)    ( 1.)    Live-Action & CGI
2. The Avengers         $1,511.8 m   B: $220 m  (2012)    ( 3.)    Converted Live-Action & CGI
3. Pirates OTC 4          $1,051.5 m   B: $250 m  (2011)    (10.)   Live-Action & CGI
4. Alice IW                     $1,033.3 m   B: $200 m  (2010)     (12.)  Converted Live-Action & CGI
5. Up                                   $  786.1 m    B: $175 m  (2009)    (47.)  CGI
6. Kung Fu Panda 2    $  681.9 m    B: $150 m  (2011)    (57.)  CGI
7. Tangled                       $  592.0 m   B: $260 m  (2010)     (74.)  CGI
8. Cars 2                           $  573.5 m   B: $200 m  (2011)      (82.)  CGI
9. Puss in Boots          $  568.2 m    B: $130 m  (2011)     (83.)  CGI
10. Despicable me        $  547.9 m    B: $ 69 m   (2010)     (89.)  CGI
11. Brave                          $  528.7 m   B: $185 m  (2012)      (92.)  CGI

 
 
Key points that can be extracted from these numbers:

- Of the top 100 highest grossing movies internationally, only 11 (11%) are in 3-D.
- All top 11 3-D movies were released in the past 3 years, coinciding with the digital 3-D theater projector switch-over and with a global economic crisis.
- All released in 2-D and in 3-D, percentages unknown.
- 4 live-action titles, 7 animated.
- 5 franchises (2nd,3rd or 4th parts), 6 new titles.
- 2 Sci-fi titles, 9 Fantasy.  No other genres represented.
- Of the live-action releases 2 are converted, 2 shot in native 3-D.
- 2 movies have budgets between $ 70 m - $ 130 m, the rest is $150 m - $ 280m, with $ 200 m being the average budget.

According to personal boxoffice research conducted by Dreamworks' stereoscopic supervisor Phil McNally, MegaMind was the last CGI feature from any studio to show parity between 3-D screen revenue and 2-D screen revenue. Brave was the first CGI feature where 3D screen revenue was half that of 2D screen revenue.  For Brave this would still mean a 3-D profit of 139 m USD, considering a 3-D budget overhead of 20% - a guess but a reasonable one considering Pixar's production pipeline.

The real noticeable factors are the continued dominance of fantasy and sci-fi generes for 3-D releases, as per the 100 year historical trend of 3-D feature film releases and the dominance of 2-D to 3-D conversion for live-action 3-D releases.  The last factor has, of course, a lot to do with budget and top quality conversion costs versus native 3-D shooting price points (15 m versus 60m on a 200 m budget).  And when talking about CGI-content-rich movies, conversion costs are even more of a realistic practical and financial proposition than native 3-D shooting. The CGI-richness is of course driven by the genres of sci-fi and fantasy and this, in turn, has a lot to do with the family audience factor (U, PG and 12) and the higher ROI this yields at the boxoffice.  The release of CGI features in 3-D speaks for itself, but the question of child-safety and suitability is not answered by high boxoffice numbers.  This is a different subject altogether.
One has to be careful to call the success of these films a result of 3-D ticket sales as well, because all these titles were released in 2-D and in 3-D, making it difficult to filter out the difference the 3-D markup made.

What is heart-warming to see is that the 3-D film with the best 3-D layout in 3-D film history is also one of the highest grossing 3-D films of all time (nr. 7) and at the same time one of the most expensive film productions of all time (nr. 8): Disney’s Tangled(Rapunzel).  The expense has gone towards better 3-D layout and animation quality, resulting in higher boxoffice returns.  Perfect score.


Who’s paying for 3DTV content?

Of course the biggest part of the 3DTV equation and the question on everybody’s lips is: who is buying 3-D television content and for how much?  The answer is sobering but there is hope on the horizon.  There are 3DTV broadcasters around the world, but they are very few and very wide apart.  Sky3D, 3Net and CCTV3D are the most quoted names as they are the most visible 3-D broadcasters, but there are big caveats with each of these channels.  

The UK’s Sky3D has its preferred suppliers of 3-D content, which fits perfectly within its vertical platform model.  Hardware, software, channel, content and everything else within the Sky infrastructure.  They buy very few external 3-D programs and commission even fewer programs.

The big American name is 3Net, who have a reputation of paying really quite badly or not at all for 3-D content – exceptions aside of course.  However, 3Net have just announced the news they are following Sky3D’s suit and have now started producing and distributing their own in-house 3-D productions.  More vertical integration then and the gates are once again closed to most independent 3-D producers.

Nobody knows what to expect from the third biggest name is 3-D broadcasting: CCTV3D.  As a Chinese channel, its content will need to be predominantly Chinese (produced for the largest part in China, by Chinese) so don’t expect too many foreign purchases.  Besides this, the issue of copyrights and IP still troubles the Chinese market, with official state owned shops selling pirated copies of programs before the legal release is out.  Let’s hope this is more and more of a rare happening because it makes for a very unprofitable situation for everybody – but the Chinese state.

Childrens programming on 3DTV Broadcasters: next to no choice

The biggest issue with all 3-D channels is the lock-down of worldwide rights, both 2-D and 3-D.  3DTV broadcaster (pre-) sales would make sense if one was just talking about the 3-D rights.  But that’s not the way these broadcasters roll and thus the independent 3-D producer is faced with a situation where either 2-D rights are sold to many international broadcasters and the 3-D rights are thrown in for free, or alternatively the 2-D and 3-D rights are sold or given away to one 3-D broadcaster with a very small audience share.  We have to make a fist together as 3-D content producers and not accept this practice.  Only when 3-D rights can be sold separately is there a realistic healthy, long term future possible for TV 3-D broadcasting.

There is alternative hope in the form of online / IP and Smart TV delivery platforms.  Netflix has reserved a 3-D section is does, on occasion, commission 3-D content.  Youtube has 3-D functionality and does also, on rare occasion, commission content.  But are we talking about the same numbers 2-D broadcasters pay for programs?  Or even 3-D overhead cover?  Well, that depends on how fantastic and mind-blowing your content really is and how badly Netflix or Youtube wants to get its hands on digital / IP or global rights.  IP rights can mean, however, that no more sales to television broadcasters are possible because once it’s on the net, it’s of no value to TV any more – unless this is a different version of the program of course.


 Some producers are lucky enough to also find inroads with platforms such as IMAX, Nintendo, Samsung and other alternative 3-D presentation brands and formats.  This can prove nicely profitable but again it’s anyone’s guess whether you’ll get in and if so, how much will be paid for your 3-D IP’s rights – and how non-exclusive those rights sales are.

Allow 3-D Revolution Productions to guide you through the jungle of 3DTV production and distribution.  Give us a ring or drop usa line. Tel. +44 1179 441 449


3-D Post Conversion for television

The fact is that by far not enough new programs are produced in 3-D to meet the demand of even the few 3DTV broadcasters in existence.  3-D production takes more time and costs more money and as such does not fit the current television program delivery expectation.  More for less is the word, not less for more.  Most filler content (with all due respect) on regular television broadcasters consists of library content – reruns – and for 3-D television content this is simply not an option.  The only library content available in 3-D are 3-D movies from the 1953-54 period,  the 1983-84 3-D boom, IMAX specials since 1995 and some 4-D ridefilm content, followed by 3-D film content produced after 2003.  So realistically speaking 3DTV needs to do what HD did: convert.  Problem is, there is no such thing as watchable automatic 2D-3D conversion like there is SD-HD upscaling.  The results are simply never watchable because the human- and even artist eye are needed to guide the conversion to the right end results.  Watchable first, decent second, good third, but with an increased price tag at every step up the quality ladder.  This is no different from other entertainment product or any other product or service generally speaking.  You get what you pay for.  Do not believe hardware salesmen claiming their automatic 2D-3D conversion is good enough for broadcast or ever single use viewing – it isn’t and it will never be.

Yikes! That's gonna hurt!

So considering the requirement of  the human element, are 2D-3D conversion costs up to a level realistic to television?  For prime-time television, specials and higher than run-off-the-mill budgets only just, but for soap operas, cooking programs, travelogues and quiz shows – probably not.  The budget for a television series will need to lie well above 16 million USD for 26x22’ episodes for conversion costs to be lower than the added cost of shooting / rendering in 3-D.  That is a rare number so native 3-D is still the way to go for television unless of course native 3-D production is not possible.  

For back-catalogue conversion or for a full series deal conversion costs can work out – get in touch with 3-D Revolution Productions to find out whether and how conversion can work for your television series or special production.

3-D Conversion tests for various productions - by 3-D Revolution Productions

Child safety

Regular readers of this Blog will know how passionate we are about child viewing safety in relation to 3-D content.  Never more so than with televised 3-D content does this become a key point of discussion.  Since there are no regulations regarding child-safe 3-D parameters, 3-D television program producers are left to their own judgment as to just how safe their 3-D programs will be for young viewing eyes.  We can certainly consult for you on safe and enjoyable 3-D production values, so contact 3-D Revolution Productionsfor more information on 3-D television and film production consultancy for full family enjoyment to niche market extreme 3-D production.

The issue with 3-D parallax (interaxial) values and children's eye distance (interocular)

 Familiar entries in the 3-D kids television market are ‘Dream Defenders’ and ‘Bolts and Blip’, both of which were produced with child enjoyment in mind.  The opposite, however, is true for the more recent arrivals in the 3-D kids TV arena of ‘Cloud Bread’ and ‘JunkVille Story’.  Both series were produced in stereoscopic 3-D CGI in South Korea – and this is no coincidence because the South Korean government put up specific subsidies for 3-D stereoscopic animation production to further the technological lead of the country’s animation producers and to promote co-production with them as well - a situation that was very much the case with Dream Defenders and Bolts and Blip as well.  Because of the subsidies, these producers are able to throw in the 3-D output for free and as another consequence, the 3-D is unmonitored and in fact uncomfortable to view for even adult eyes.  Will the EBU care?  The commercial broadcasters picking up the shows in 3-D?  Perhaps Sky3D will be less than pleased since their 1% - 2% parallax rule is broken by both shows, but beggars can’t be choosers so I doubt they will say no to these shows on this ground.  From a perspective of child safety and enjoyment, the shows should fail QC, but from a commercial perspective that is like throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  Quite literally in this case.

Cloud Bread introduced parallax values uncomfortable and impossible to watch
for its target audience of 3-5 year olds

The public broadcasters in Europe are aware of the potential issues with 3-D for children’s television and will subsequently not touch 3-D overall just to be safe.  By doing this, they are following the blanket cover warning advice by Nintendo 3DS and Panasonic TVs that under 8s should probably not be watching 3-D content or at least take as many breaks from watching as possible.  Without industry standards this approach will remain a stumbling block for 3-D content producers.  But, as said, by working with stereoscopic consultants such as 3-D Revolution’s, quality and safety guarantees can be delivered. It is not a matter of 3-D being good or bad for children's eyes, it's a matter of applying proper child-safe 3-D image values.


Don’t undersell

There are plenty of technical and creative factors that can go wrong with 3-D.  Hiring a stereographer on your production can help enormously towards eliminating these potential issues.  One very true fact remains: 3-D sells itself when done well and pisses people off when it is screwed up.  And screwing up doesn’t just include technical issues – the creative side is equally important.  3-D can do a lot of very interesting things for your image, for your vision, but when appled in the wrong way it will work against you.  An important factor producers and directors forget all too easily as well is that if and when 3-D is underused, it will work against you equally badly.

Many a time have directors told me out of screen 3-D (negative parallax) is ‘Gimmicky’.  Instructed by James Cameron they are certain of the fact that the use of theater space cheapens their artistic vision and hurts the audience’s eyes, besides harking back to days of 3-D old.  What types of artistic product are we talking about here?  Toilet paper commercials, short animated clips about sheep, dogs and cats causing havock and films about pirates swashbuckling with Queen Victoria over possession of a Dodo.  The word ‘gimmicky’ seems somewhat odd in this context.  

Shaun the Sheep 3DS test setup

What matters most is that the result of leaving negative parallax out of the picture is almost always grave disappointment to the audience.  The viewer expects 3-D to come flying out of the screen at many occasions and even considers it a reason for the 3-D upcharge at the boxoffice and the reason for putting on glasses to watch TV in 3-D.  Directors need to start listening to their audiences (and their stereographers) and use an awful lot more out of screen 3-D.  The 3DTV commercials already look ridiculously unrepresentative when they show a whole world coming out of the TV screen, when nothing of the sort happens today due to slavish copying of the idolized 3-D director that is James Cameron.  A true creative shame, a fudging of great potential and a real financial danger to the sustainability of 3-D.   Why produce in 3-D when you refuse to use 50% of the available space?  Some 3-Dimensional soul-searching needs to be done today to keep the dream of 3DTV alive tomorrow.  If we don’t engage with the medium creatively and in a financially sound way, the 3-D setting will disappear into a menu setting nobody is aware of any more.



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