By Neil Schneider
Last week, S3DGA had the honour of being a panel speaker at the Canadian Film and Television Producers Association conference: Prime Time in Ottawa. This is Canada’s leading event for those working in film, television, and new media. However, this is only part of the story.
One of the motivations for this year’s conference was to encourage 3D content development here in Canada, and we were invited to create a 3D showcase to demonstrate S-3D gaming.
One of the benefits of being just a (long) drive away from Ottawa is we could bring most of our 3D equipment with us. For demonstration purposes, we brought an iZ3D monitor, an NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision / Samsung monitor combo, and a Zalman interlaced monitor too. I regret that we didn’t unpack the Zalman, but XpanD had a spare DLP HDTV and shutter glasses combo, so we used our third computer to show some big screen gaming on PC!
Let’s just say that 3D gaming was a huge success. When people sat down in front of the computers for the first time and put on the glasses, they immediately understood what all the excitement was about.
I think the high point was the visit by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). For those unfamiliar, the CRTC is responsible for regulating Canada’s airwaves and media pipelines. They determine everything from which channels get broadcast, to what your local telephone area code is going to be. They are one of Canada’s most influential government bodies.
After our 3D discussion panel, the event organizers told us that the head of the CRTC was so impressed with what was shared, he wanted a closed room demonstration of the 3D showcase later that day.
Well, we had some tough choices to make! Which games do you show to impress the CRTC? We went with: Fallout 3 and Unreal Tournament 3 on the DLP HDTV, Left4Dead 2 on the NVIDIA solution, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (the original) on the iZ3D monitor.
Before I continue this story, it’s important to remember that as diversified as the CRTC is, they have a very professional, conservative, and formal image attached to them. We really had no idea how they would react to the video games and what their expectations would be.
Once the CRTC board sat down at the computers, they all had a great time! We enjoyed listening to them give each other instructions on how to play the games (“You see? You have to SHOOT the zombies! No! You are doing it wrong. SHOOT the zombies!”)
One of the CRTC delegates explained that she recently had surgery on her eyes that made one effective for distance viewing, and one for up-close viewing. I had heard of this surgery before, and it brought up an issue our industry has yet to consider – do we need special viewing options or apparatus for people with unique visual needs? Very interesting.
One of the challenges we had with the exhibit was there was only one shutter glasses prototype available for sharing between ourself and XpanD’s 3D education exhibit across the room. It was a non-issue, though, because everyone was very patient to try things out. It turns out that Ray Sager, Executive Producer for Event Horizon Media, is a huge Fallout 3 fan. He came back to the exhibit a few times so he could try it out in 3D for the first time. I’m told it was worth the wait!
I regret not getting a picture, but I also met Jonathan Barker, President & CEO of SK Films. Jonathon is responsible for the movie “Bugs!”. For those unfamiliar, Bugs! is a “fly on the wall” capture of what it’s like to be an insect, with a focus on butterflies and the Preying Mantis. Narrated by Judy Dench, it is a golden film that is best seen in stereoscopic 3D.
I don’t want to ruin the movie for you, but all the butterflies don’t survive the film. What intrigued me was the flack they received because of this. While it is very natural for a Preying Mantis to gobble some butterflies, because the Mantis was male and the butterfly was female, SK Films was accused of promoting the image of men preying on women. Something like that, anyway. This is just Bugs!, people!
On the other side of the room, Michael Williams from XpanD was exhibiting samples of educational material in 3D. One of the videos was about osteoporosis. He was also showing his collection of 3D pictures taken with his Fuji S-3D camera on a DLP HDTV. It looked very good on the big screen, I’ll say that! I’ve asked XpanD to send me some pictures of the material if they can, so I will share ASAP.
One last point. The Prime Time in Ottawa conference was indeed a paperless conference. Everyone had to have either an iPhone or an iPod Touch so they could download the proceedings, delegate lists, everything. When I first heard about this, I was less than pleased because I didn’t yet own the device, and it sounded like a pain in the neck.
Now that the conference is over, I take it all back. It was awesome! You just had to download the application from iTunes, it refreshed itself as the conference moved ahead, and it really saved the inconvenience of fumbling through papers and carrying heavy books. I’m sure a few trees are thankful too.
The only caveat is that it required a specific device or brand of devices. Next time round, it would be good to see a web based application that everyone can access via Wifi without a specific device type.
More to share next week!