MTBS Interviews Main Street Pictures!

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Hello everyone!

Special treat for you today. In the cinema space, we have been hearing a lot from the S-3D cinema equipment makers like Real D and Dolby Laboratories. Now it’s the content makers’ turn. Joining us is Aaron Parry, an Executive Producer and partner with Main Street Pictures, a leading movie production company.

He talks about the efforts and challenges that content makers need to go through to make S-3D successful, and shares his opinions on gaming too!

You are presently working as an Executive Producer for Paramount Pictures on specific projects, and you are also a partner in “Main Street Pictures”. Tell us about some of the movies you have done. Also, which projects are you most proud of and why?

Most recently I was an Executive Producer, and completed Nickelodoen’s CGI Feature Barnyard. I was also the Line-Producer on the The Sponge Bob Squarepants Movie. Over my career I have had the opportunity to work on many great feature films. Most memorable would be working on Brad Bird’s The Iron Giant and participating in this film that had unparalleled synergy between the Director and the entire crew.

I think you are going to take a pragmatic approach on S-3D, but I know there is a lot of excitement at your end as well. At what point did your production company get interested in stereoscopic 3D filmmaking and why?

As our production company is relatively new it was important for us to focus on areas of the industry that held a great deal of promise. Family entertainment is an area we are all very passionate about as well as realizing it continues to be highly in demand. 3D in our opinion is an exciting and captivating way to tell stories and deliver entertainment for the whole family.

When audiences see movies on the big screen, there is a romantic fantasy that going from idea to project approval is a simple path. Can you explain the thought process that gets a script from point A, an idea, to point B, actual production of the movie?

I would have to say that the simplest path for a project to make its way to the big screen is when you encounter an idea and creator who has a project with a point of view that is incredibly poignant and accessible. Once that is in place it is really about the “business” side of the film business supporting the viability of bring that idea to the market. If the two are in sync… a film gets made.

In the movie industry, what S-3D possibilities excite you the most? What types of content are best suited for this technology? Are there selections of content that do not lend themselves to the benefits of S-3D?

What excites me the most about 3D feature films is the fact that it will have a profound impact on the movie going experience and how stories are actually told on the big screen and some day the little screen in your living room. The 3D industry is testing a broad range of content with a great deal of success. As much as 3D has its “gag” qualities we are finding it also holds a great deal of subtlety and sophistication. Ultimately I personally feel all genres have stories to be told in 3D.

Creating and showing a 2D movie on the big screen is easy to understand. While seeing a 3D movie on the big screen is easy to comprehend, why is 3D content creation a whole new can of worms? Do filmmaking rules need to be rewritten somehow? Can you elaborate?

More than anything 2D film making rules will evolve as opposed to being rewritten for 3D. Some new rules may also be created for 3D storytelling. If there is any fact about 3D film experiences and tastes, it is that they are as varied and not more varied than 2D cinematic choices. Some rules that may change may be those related to traditional lens choices. For 2D, a director may choose a longer lens to focus attention on a character in some shots whereas in 3D, the lens choice may change and other design elements may be used instead to add focus and attention.

Let’s talk about the movie director. Once he or she is working in the S-3D art space, what aspects of the movie production need to be adjusted for the best results?

What we are trying to do is take the complete opposite approach and find ways to conform 3D film making to traditional 2D practices. Obviously there are scheduling and technical implications in respect to 3D, but they should not impede or intimidate a potential director from working in 3D. Making on-set feedback available to the director for 3D is important as well as making sure the editorial process is creatively efficient as it would be on a standard 2D production.

Is there a risk that a good 3D movie production will make a poor 2D movie result, and is the reverse an equal possibility?

In most cases one will definitely always be creatively in the lead unless you fully commit to produce two entire versions of your film. There are filmmakers trying to incorporate techniques like depth of field into 3D as opposed to playing everything in focus. There is a bit of wait and see on this subject. I do feel it will be much harder to take a 3D experience and make it a satisfying 2D experience as opposed to the other way around.

Let’s talk about the movie business. Beowulf had a good release in November, but you see 2009 as being a special year for S-3D cinema. Why?

There are several major motion pictures conceived in 3D due to be released in spring of 2009. Beowulf is definitely leading the way in showing the movie going public what a well-crafted 3D experience is like. I am sure it will fuel the 3D feature film movement. It is beautifully done.

Let’s talk about the business advantages of S-3D. What are the key reasons for it to be attractive to the movie industry?

First of all it brings an exclusive event back to the cinema and is being well received by the movie going public. It is also well documented that 3D screens do see an incremental increase in revenue over their 2D equivalent. It will be interesting to watch as the number of 3D screens increases if the incremental difference remains steady or has a reduction. The other advantage is audiences are always hungry for experiences that will tell a story in a new and compelling way and awakens their imagination.

If S-3D is to 2D what color was to black and white, why is S-3D occasionally considered a phase or a fad rather than a technology here to stay?

Until recently, repeatable exhibition quality of 3D was not possible. Today we not only have several options for great projection thanks to companies like Real-D and now Dolby. Bad experiences in exhibition have always been in the way of 3D taking hold.

There are three groups at work here. The movie theater hardware manufacturers, the content makers, and the home cinema 3D hardware manufacturers. Do all these market segments compliment each other, or is there some unspoken competition in the wind?

No competition at the end of the day. With corporations running the bulk of Hollywood, the goal will always be to find more ways to get content to prospective audiences. Whether it is in the theater, in the home, or on the internet.

When you do see movie studios putting out S-3D only releases? What are the criteria needed to accomplish that?

Once 3D screen counts are sufficient enough I am sure we will begin to see 3D only releases. Perhaps even in 2009 or 2010. I would assume it would become possible in the 2,500 to 3,000 screen range.

At present, studios are putting out both 2D and 3D releases of the same film. What additional challenges does this put on the production company?

Our goal is to provide directors ways in which the regular daily film responsibilities do not get doubled when producing a 2D and 3D film simultaneously. It is a combination of 3D talent, production management, and technology to pull it off seamlessly.

There is additional legwork to get S-3D results on the big screen. Can you put a number on how much more money studios should expect to spend on their productions? Can you give an example? Where does most of this money go?

This “number” has been highly debated within the industry around town and at the end of the day the specific financial structure of each picture and company needs to be considered. What I can say is that it is very important not to forget ancillary cost that will be incurred while producing a 3D version of a project. This seems to be the error most often made when budgeting for 3D. One area to clear up is cost of converting a 90 minute feature will range from 14 to 18 million with all ancillary production costs. This cost will ultimately come down as production techniques continue to improve.

We spoke earlier about ticket sales for 3D and 2D movies, and that 3D sold significantly more. Is there a risk that these additional production costs will erode the financial benefit of S-3D, or in the grand scheme of things, is this additional expense a drop in the bucket?

The natural progression would hopefully be, as production experience grows in producing 3D the cost to do so would decrease. Technology will hopefully reduce the amount of direct labor costs and the length of time it takes to artistically interact and make choices in 3D. A few filmmakers are already leading in this area.

The scenarios we have talked about so far refer to 2D/3D joint releases. What about movies made in S-3D from scratch? How do you envision that financial model? What are the big consideration to take into account?

At the end of the day it is actually easier to model. Every production expense is directly applied to the 3D production. As for big considerations, one major one will be the number of masters required from the filmmaker for distribution. It is a costly and complex area of 3D production that is constantly evolving.

Let’s talk about the movie theaters and the S-3D hardware manufacturers. In addition to more S-3D movie theaters, what improvements do the content makers want to see?

Light, light, light. Oh and better cancellation.

I caught your presentation at 3D Biz-Ex, and my ears perked up when you acknowledged the importance of the video game industry to S-3D in movie theaters. Can you elaborate more on what you meant by this?

PC gaming could be the fast route to getting 3D content into the home. I think it may take the other game platforms a bit longer to fully support 3D.

What advantages do video game developers have over movie studios when it comes to S-3D adoption?

3D is inherent to the nature of the product and production. This is similar to an animated feature produced and rendered for 3D. I think it is just a leap that requires fewer steps.

There is a strong link between Hollywood and video game developers. With Beowulf and the rapid S-3D growth in the movie industry, do you think video game developers are running the risk of losing a competitive advantage and/or revenue by not acting fast enough?

Gaming already leads Hollywood in revenue I believe or is at least very close. It really is about 10’s of millions of households having 3D capable televisions or monitors being in place before 3D financially makes proper business sense for gaming companies. I think that number is a few years way.

I know you are under NDA so you can’t reveal the new movies you are working on. However, over the next five years, in terms of percentage, how many will be 2D/3D, and how many will be just 2D?

I think everyone would be happy if 10% to 15% of all movies released from Hollywood were 3D or had 3D versions. It could very well be much more but the returns on 3D exhibition will truly guide those decisions.

I normally ask a genie question at the end where you can have anything you want to move the industry forward, with the exception of selling more tickets than James Cameron’s Titanic. However, because you answered this question already, I have something different for you. A two part question. If you could watch any movie in breathtaking 3D, what would it be and why? AND, what video game would you like to play in perfect 3D, and why?

Video game would be Halo. It has great cinematics and rendering. As for the film, many films come to mind and all would be great choices. I think I will leave it up to the directors and studios to figure out which creatively make sense for 3D. I would love to see any number of Spielberg’s pictures in 3D. The production design and storytelling is already immersive and 3D would only enhance the experience.

If our readers could walk away with a single message from this interview, what would it be?

Don’t be afraid, 3D is here to stay.

Thanks Aaron! No one is afraid about S-3D’s future here, I assure you!

Post your comments HERE!

Tim Partridge, EVP of Dolby 3D Follows Up!

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Tim Partridge(left), Executive VP of Dolby Laboratories,
and Neil Schneider, President & CEO of MTBS (right) at 3D Biz-Ex.

Hello everyone!

As promised, here is our follow-up interview with Tim Partridge, Executive Vice-President at Dolby Laboratories. He talks about Beowulf, answers a lot of our member questions about Dolby 3D technology, and throws in a lesson or two learned that could help the video game industry.

1. Is there an official list or information on which theatres are equipped with Dolby 3D? If they are not yet equipped, is there a list of theatres that are in the process of getting it?

Dolby has worked with a number of key exhibitors to install the first of its 3D Digital Cinema systems in 12 countries worldwide, including the US, Australia, Ecuador, Belgium, Poland, Spain, France, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, New Zealand and Russia. There were 75 screens installed by the premiere of Beowulf on November 16th with additional screens to be added during the movie’s two week global opening. Our official list of theatres can be found at:

2. How do the film’s left and right eyed images stay synchronized? Are two views interlaced, are there two separate digital reels on quality timers? How is it done?

The two views are interleaved in the digital file on the server. They are then fed to the projector, and for a given frame of action, the left eye view is shown followed by the right eye. This is repeated two more times before moving on to the next frame of action. This is called triple flashing where the left eye is shown three times per frame and the right eye is shown three times per frame.

Since there are 24 frames per second this means there are 144 alternating left/right views per second. The Dolby 3D color filter wheel is driven by Dolby DFC100 Digital Filter Controller to synchronize with this rate of 144 views per second such that the left eye views are always presented through the left color filter set and the right eye views are presented with the right eye colors to match the lenses in the glasses.

4. What format are movies encoded in? Is it a standard side by side format, or is it something more proprietary?

The format of the movie is encoded in JPEG 2000 with the left and right eye views interleaved one after the other, as specified by the DCI (Digital Cinema Initiatives) for digital cinema movies.

5. How do you envision the on-screen movie getting converted to the home 3D screen? In particular, will movies played in a Dolby 3D movie theatre only work on a yet to exist Dolby 3D home solution? Is there an unofficial home 3D standard being used or in the works?

Right now we are focused on ensuring that our 3D solution is seen by as many people as possible in cinemas. Plans for bringing 3D into the home have not been determined.

6. Can you elaborate on how Hollywood reacted to the benefit of camcorders not being able to properly record stereoscopic 3D (S-3D) content? How important is this for their S-3D purchasing decision?

I think everyone is happy that digital 3D technology presents a further barrier to piracy and view it as an added benefit. However, the biggest driver, in our opinion, for why exhibitors are purchasing 3D systems is the ability to enhance the cinema going experience and bring more patrons to their theatres.

7. Dolby has a history of introducing audio solutions for the theatre, and then translating them to the home market. Prologic Surround Sound and Dolby Digital are perfect examples of that. Do you see Dolby 3D being a home solution one day? What form do you see it taking?

As mentioned previously, our plans right now are exclusively focused on bringing digital 3D to cinemas worldwide.

You are right, once the level of experience is raised in the theatre then that can often drive a desire from consumers to demand a similar experience in the home and as you know there are already some consumer 3D technologies out there. We really believe though that the premiere movie experience will always be in the theatre with a big screen, great surround sound, a crowd of people sharing the same experience, and of course plenty of popcorn.

8. A member suggested that in his research, he found that the expense of the Infitec glasses ($50 each) is mostly licensing and that they could be made cheaper. If that is true, when will the “cheap” glasses appear?

To clarify, the list price for the Dolby 3D glasses are $59 per pair. They are designed to be used hundreds of times. Because they are reusable, the per-ticket cost of the glasses is well below the current cost of disposable 3D glasses. And of course the reusable model is much more environmentally friendly since you are not throwing away tons of plastic after each and every screening.

However, the licensing fee is very reasonable. The glasses are expensive due to the sophisticated filter design that we have chosen to get the quality we want in the cinema, and the manufacturing cost of producing these filters. With the increase in volume and demand for 3D, the cost of developing and delivering this technology should decrease.

9. Although the silver screens and digital projectors for polarized stereoscopic 3D solutions cost more, the glasses, even the plastic circular polarized ones they use, are a fraction of the price of the Infitec ones and are disposible. Cleaning costs money too. The impression is that on a per film or per theatre basis, the Dolby 3D system is going to cost more for now. Is there truth to this? Why or why not?

As mentioned above, we believe that the reusable model ends up being more cost efficient, as the per-ticket cost of the glasses is well below the current cost of disposable 3D glasses. Glasses can be cleaned and reused hundreds of times with no degradation. And don’t forget the cost to the environment too!

10. At $59 a pair with at least two pairs per seat in each theatre, it’s a sizable investment (almost $24,000 per 200 seat theatre). It’s unfortunate, but there is always the risk of vandalism, damage, and loss. Does Dolby provide some kind of insurance on the glasses, and how many glasses can each exhibitor afford to lose per showing before the exhibitor goes from profit to loss?

As mentioned above, we’ve taken great lengths to ensure that the reusable glasses model is cost effective for exhibitors. The glasses are extremely durable, lightweight, and high performance devices that are designed to be used hundreds of times.

Dolby has also inserted a sensor in the glasses in case exhibitors want to install a detection device. Still, we have found that having a few cinema employees collecting the glasses after the movie has been a nice reminder for movie patrons to place the glasses into the bins. These methods have proven to be successful by 3D technology providers like IMAX who also use the reusable glasses model.

In terms of the investment, think about having to buy disposables for each movie at say $1 each. First you have to estimate how many you will need, that is “how many people will come see this movie”?

If the theatre estimates 10,000 pairs (not unlikely) that costs $10,000. Say the theatre gets it wrong. If they don’t order enough they need to order more. If they order too much they need to throw them away. In addition, the reusable model is not only cheaper, it is far easier to store 400 pairs than 10,000 pairs!

11. The Beowulf premier was a big success for the 3D industry with 40% of revenue coming from 3D theatres, a two to one ratio compared to traditional 2D theatres. Getting people in the theatre is one thing. What were people saying when they came out?

Patrons came out of the theatre talking about how the Dolby 3D system created an experience like never seen before, similar to what occurred when we introduced Dolby Digital surround sound to the cinematic experience.

12. From a ticket sales point of view, Beowulf was number one in its first weekend. How much money does Beowulf need to make overall for S-3D movie theatre companies to declare it a resounding success for the industry?

Obviously we all hope it will be a big success, and from what we have seen so far, it will be. With this and other big 3D films lined up in the near future we think exhibitors will soon see that an investment in Dolby 3D is well worth making.

13. If Beowulf is the success our industry hopes for, what’s your next step in the near future?

Our plan is to continue deploying Dolby 3D in theatres worldwide. There are many exciting 3D movies coming out in the months ahead, and we want to provide exhibitors with the best 3D technology that will keep their patrons coming back for more.

14. Up until now, films shown in movie theatres have been about story telling. S-3D was developed to enhance that. On the other hand, S-3D in theme parks is there to add thrill to their rides. With S-3D becoming a mass market product in leading movie theatres, do you see the rides moving out of the theme parks and into the theatres? Do you think we will start to see a different kind or classification of movie because of S-3D?

You may see a small number of movies that really try to exploit the technology for the added excitement it brings and you may see certain scenes in movies that really take advantage of the 3D experience. But at the end of the day the movies are about storytelling and at Dolby we see all these technologies as just extra tools for the movie makers to use to tell their stories in a more compelling, engaging, and believable way.

15. S-3D movie theatres earned 2:1 revenue compared to 2D theatres for Beowulf’s first weekend. If the home stereoscopic 3D video game display hardware was well adopted, could you see a similar trend in video game sales? Why or why not?

Clearly the 3D screenings are very popular with the movie going public which is no surprise to me since it is a much more immersive experience when seen in 3D. In that respect gaming is very similar to watching movies because you want to be immersed in the story as much as possible.

In fact immersion is possibly even more important to gamers since you really are “in” the game, interacting with the characters. Anything that can make that seem more real will be welcomed by gamers everywhere. A truly effective 3D experience ought to be very popular with the gaming community.

Thanks Tim! More exciting interviews coming down the pipe.

Post your comments HERE!

Interview with Joshua Greer (President) and Elizabeth Brooks (CMO) of Real D!

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Hello everyone!

Special treat for you today. To celebrate the release of Beowulf, we have a special interview with Joshua Greer, Real D’s President and Co-Founder, along with Elizabeth Brooks, Real D’s Chief Marketing Officer.

They share with us their stories of how Real D came to be, and their predictions of the future. Very exciting stuff!

  • Joshua Greer
  • Elizabeth Brooks
  • Real D, Plans & Actions

    Joshua Greer, President & Co-Founder of Real D

    MTBS: Joshua, let’s talk about you a bit before we talk about Real D. Among other things, you were the CEO of Digital Planet where you helped bring movie studios into the Internet world for the first time by helping establish their web strategies, President of the New Media Group at Digital Domain, and prior to being the President of Real D, you were the Co-Founder and Chief Convergence Officer for Walden Media. You strike me as being a serial entrepreneur. What general criteria made these businesses personally exciting for you?

    JOSHUA: The most consistent thing that has driven my career is the implementation of innovative technologies for creative purposes. The challenge is that the entertainment establishment typically doesn’t want to change the way they do things, it doesn’t breed innovation – though there are exceptions. This is why I typically end up staring new ventures that attack from the outside rather than within. It’s typically faster.

    When I worked at Universal I created a little interactive marketing kit on a floppy drive for the movie Sneakers. It was still a pretty crazy idea back then to market to people through a computer – but for some reason I couldn’t leave it alone! It drove me nuts! It was so obvious! Soon we would be using computers for everything. But it was hard to get traction inside the studio. I started Digital Planet shortly after that.

    MTBS: Tell us about Walden Media. From what I can tell, they position themselves as a company focused on turning literary classics into cinematic masterpieces. As you co-founded it, fill us in a little on Walden Media’s history.

    JOSHUA: When Cary and Michael first asked me to join, it was conceived as an educational website, which we quickly evolved into a interactive education-based television channel. The idea was always to try to engage, enlighten, and inspire kids.

    We were Empower Media at that point and beginning serious discussions with cable channels when we met our future financier Phil Anschutz. He was busy buying up theater chains in the US (Regal, United Artists, etc.). He wanted us to refocus our energies on creating positive educational content for his theaters. It wasn’t long after Phil invested in us that we became Walden Media and within a few months we met James Cameron.

    MTBS: “Co-Founder and Chief of Convergence”. “Convergence”…it almost has a 3D ring to it! What was the significance of that phrase at Walden Media?

    JOSHUA: I was always looking for ways to “converge” various technologies to allow for more interactive and immersive experiences. First with the web, then interactive TV, then Digital 3D. When we starting getting into 3D I found out that “convergence” has other meanings in the 3D world, but it was a totally serendipitous discovery.

    MTBS: The Chronicles of Narnia, Holes, Charlottes Web, and…what’s this? James Cameron’s IMAX 3D documentary Ghosts of the Abyss? DO TELL! What was your role in making that 3D movie a reality?

    JOSHUA: We financed Ghosts of the Abyss and Aliens of the Deep, as well as a lot of great content including Holes and the Narnia Series. Cameron was really the guy who first introduced me to modern 3D. Probably the most significant thing I did at the time was build a first crude digital 3D projection system to help sell the movie. I also interfaced with Earthship productions, Cameron’s documentary company.

    MTBS: What were the biggest lessons learned from financing that movie?

    JOSHUA: I became somewhat of an expert on various ways to show 3D as well as a bit of the history. I also was consuming a lot of information about the early Digital Cinema Projectors and possible companies that could help make digital 3D a reality.

    MTBS: 3D movies have been around long before James Cameron, why did this suddenly excite you?

    JOSHUA: It’s hard not to get swept up in Jim’s enthusiasm for the medium. But I was frankly still a skeptic. I wasn’t sure how to actually pull it off – or for that matter, what exactly I would do.

    I met my future business partner Michael Lewis around this time, and we started talking about 3D. He had produced two great 3D films: “T-REX and SIEGFRIED AND ROY” and “THE MAGIC BOX”. We both believed that the 3D experience when done correctly was superior to anything else in cinema, but the costs and the lack of screens made it very hard to figure out a business model that worked.

    MTBS: During the development of the movie, you came to a realization about the problems of it getting distributed. Can you elaborate?

    JOSHUA: It’s simple, we had James Cameron, one of the world’s greatest directors making his first film since the blockbuster Titanic. The only problem at the time was there were only about 60 screens in the US where it could play. Considering a typical movie release goes out to 3000 – 5000 screens, we calculated that we could probably make our money back in about 15 years. The answer: GET MORE 3D SCREENS!

    MTBS: How did Walden Media react when you wanted to pursue this stereoscopic 3D concept with them? Why did they react this way, and what steps followed?

    JOSHUA: I actually proposed that we make this a venture. The problem was that with Anschutz’s investment in the Cinema chains, they didn’t want to make any investments in Digital technology without studio support. It also was not really in line with Walden’s mission. I had been speaking with Michael Lewis and decided to go off and explore what I could do. Walden let me go with their blessings.

    Elizabeth Brooks, Chief Marketing Officer

    MTBS: Now Elizabeth, you studied “Mass Communications” at Emerson College. I studied “Communications” at Concordia University and I tell people that’s why I talk a lot. I?m sure Marshall McLuhan’s phrase “the medium is the message” has been beaten to death in your schooling days too. In your opinion, if stereoscopic 3D is the medium, what’s the message? How is the message different from traditional two dimensional TV and movies?

    ELIZABETH: The message, and medium, is fairly revolutionary in that it is actually a new way for consumers to see. So 3D enhances all forms of communications as well as inspiring creative people to come up with new ways of telling stories, or showing reality. Next-generation 3D is so real that is it unprecedented.

    MTBS: Tell us about your work as a marketing and talent development executive. I understand you worked with “underground” artists. What did you do, and what were your biggest challenges getting raw talent artists from point A to point B?

    ELIZABETH: My job, basically, was to find artists with a fresh vision – saying something that hadn’t been said, bringing a new sound – and then to help them gather the tools to make records that would best embody their art.

    Getting the word out was and is always the hardest part. At the time there was not a truly viable Internet network to build a band up from scratch, although people were certainly using the Web to discover music, so touring was crucial, and probably the most difficult thing was that without radio play it was virtually impossible for an artist to survive the major-label environment.

    It was always a marketing challenge: defining the audience to fit the art, and communicating the art properly so it could find its audience.

    MTBS: You worked at Napster! The famous peer-to-peer software program that got the music industry all fired up! I used to work at Hotline Communications, another peer-to-peer several years ago – let’s share stories! What did you do for Napster, and how did you get involved with them?

    ELIZABETH: I was the head of marketing for Napster and one of its very early employees. I thought that the company would be a game-changer for the industry, for artists, and certainly for consumers. I joined Napster because I saw that promise, and because after years of looking for the “next big thing” in music, it became apparent to me that the next big thing in music was technology.

    MTBS: Having worked in the music industry up close, were you surprised that they came down on Napster as hard as they did? Why or why not?

    ELIZABETH: I was not surprised at the lawsuits; I was surprised that so few industry leaders truly “got it” early on. There were a few, probably more than people imagine, who wanted to make a deal with us to create a paid and licensed service of some kind, which was our end goal. However, a few was not enough. I think with 20/20 hindsight, it is clear that the labels should have purchased Napster and learned how to work with a system which their consumers clearly wanted.

    MTBS: As a marketing professional, what lessons did you walk away with from that whole experience?

    ELIZABETH: The whole world of consumer marketing has changed with the web. The “digital consumer” makes the rules, essentially, and dictating how they are going to consume media, for instance, simply doesn’t work. I was the beneficiary of one of the first crystal-clear examples of that happening. I had the privilege of “owning” a brand that was seen and beloved by millions, and understood the subtlety and nuance of brand management that way.

    I also learned how to work fast and smart on a shoestring budget, became more adept at handling high-pressure PR and legal situations, and probably most importantly developed “grace under pressure”.

    MTBS: You’ve been a Senior/Executive Vice-President at a lot of places., GoTV, and BMG Music to name a few. I think that taking on a senior role in companies like these requires a personal commitment and a realization that the company meets certain criteria that makes you excited enough to jump on board. What excited you about these companies? Did they have a commonality?

    ELIZABETH: You are absolutely right. I love working with leading-edge technologies, especially those which result in the creation of a consumer experience – make that a personal experience. I also love working with the kind of people who are drawn to create or to work with these technologies. It’s not just a job, it’s a mission, and that makes, for instance, the craft of branding much more exciting. All of the places you name had creative people trying to push the boundaries. That’s the best way to work, whether it’s a twenty-person company or a 20,000 person company.

    MTBS: You clearly have a strong career path in the music industry and related online media. Real D seems extremely different from your previous career choices. What attracted you to the company? Why the big change in industries?

    ELIZABETH: It’s really not so different. Everything I said about leading-edge technologies applies to REAL D, and, like Napster or mobile content or a music company, REAL D creates technology which culminates in a consumer experience. It is an experiential, narrative, fun, and cool brand. It’s a fast-growing company, leading the market in a very talked about space.

    I am at heart a brand marketer, and I’d be hard-pressed to find another brand today which offers such a richness of opportunity to take an incredible experience into the marketplace. So, in this light, it makes perfect sense.

    Real D, Plans & Actions

    MTBS: Ok! Now we can talk about Real D! Let’s talk about Real D stereoscopic 3D technology. How does it work?

    JOSHUA: A good 3D presentation involves sending slightly different views of a scene to each eye. The brain then translates the differences in the images as depth. Delivering each image as cleanly and clearly as possible is the key to a great 3D presentation.

    REAL D actually produces multiple ways to see 3D. The system we use in the cinema is called a “passive circular polarized” system. It involves a single DLP cinema projector, a specially formulated silver screen, and a number of optical and digital technologies that work with the projector.

    The projector actually takes the left and right images and alternates them back and forth, 6 frames for every 24th of a second. We have a technology that polarizes the light in a way that matches our eyewear. When a left image comes up, a device in front of the lens polarizes the light in a “left circular” format. Then the right eye image appears and the device changes to “right circular” light – back and forth 144 times a second! The image bounces off the silver screen (which preserves the polarization of the light) and then is “decoded” through either the left or right lens in our eyewear.

    MTBS: How does the Real D solution differ from already existing polarized S-3D solutions found in theme parks like Universal Studios and Disney World?

    JOSHUA: We use circular polarized lenses and digital projectors. Most of the theme parks use film projectors and linear polarizers – much like it was done 50 years ago!

    We are targeting this product as the ultimate add-on to a digital cinema system. It’s designed to switch back and forth between 2d and 3D in about a second. It’s also designed to be able to view 3D for much longer periods of time.

    MTBS: When you developed the Real D theater solution, what criteria were you looking to fill?

    JOSHUA: Very high quality presentation, easy to operate, cheap to deploy. But it starts with a great image.

    MTBS: The Real D solution is an add-on to existing projectors. There is also a silver screen requirement. There have been criticisms raised that exhibitors don’t like silver screens because they are expensive and they aren’t as good as traditional white screens for 2D content. Is there any truth to this? Why or why not?

    JOSHUA: Several theater chains have gone on record that they have no problem with silver screens. We have also done extensive presentations for many communities within the film industry. Most consider it a non-issue.

    MTBS: Are there advantages to silver screens that haven’t been well publicized?

    JOSHUA: Because of the light properties, images often have better contrast and saturation. There is also a significant energy savings using silver screens. Since the screens reflect back more light you can run your 2D presentations at lower power. This typically translates into about $1,300 a year in energy and bulb savings, as well as stopping about three tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.

    MTBS: Does Real D actually sell movie theater equipment, or is there a different business model at work here? What are the advantages for exhibitors?

    JOSHUA: The business model for the Cinema group is based on a lease. We did this because we were concerned that the technology would continue to evolve and we didn’t want to leave our customers with obsolete technology. With our model, our customers know they get ongoing upgrades as well as ongoing support. Typically we come in after they have purchased their digital projection system. We then do the upgrade.

    MTBS: From a marketing point of a view, is the silver screen part of the bundle, or is it a separate expense?

    JOSHUA: Depends on the deal. We have tried to be as flexible as possible with our exhibition partners. We vary the model depending on how much capital they can afford to invest up front. We want to make it so everyone can have the experience.

    MTBS: Let’s talk about the glasses. You chose to go with a disposable glasses system rather than a more durable pair that lasts for several movie showings at a time. Why did Real D go in this direction?

    JOSHUA: It really comes down to operator cost. As soon as you add collection, cleaning, inspection, etc. you are adding labor to your operation, not to mention the real-estate and the water and power. Also, since the cost of reusable glasses are more expensive, if someone leaves the theater with a couple of pairs you have lost your profit for the show!

    We wanted to make it as easy as possible for exhibitors to operate. The glasses are treated as souvenirs, they can take them home, or they can drop them off in one of our recycling bins. We will collect, clean, and if necessary recycle every part of the glasses.

    MTBS: “Seinfeld” had a great episode where he was forced…er…”hired” to be a movie bootlegger and shoot movies with his camcorder for sale on the street. With YouTube and Peer to Peer online networks, this problem is even more prevalent than before. In addition to offering a visual benefit and a potential ticket sales boost, is there an additional business interest at work here by showing movies in S-3D?

    ELIZABETH: Of course there is an advantage to rendering pirates virtually helpless. We are huge supporters of content creators and are glad to offer a situation where their rights are well-protected.

    MTBS: Elizabeth, when you came on board with Real D, I’m sure you researched the industry. It’s had its share of ups and downs, and you took a risk to jump on board from a completely different industry. What convinced you? Why do you think S-3D is going to be such a success this time around?

    ELIZABETH: Well, first of all, if you look at my history, apparently I have a high risk tolerance! That said, while I am a huge film fan, I was not a huge fan of 3D before I came to REAL D. Like most people, I thought of cardboard glasses and anaglyph technology.

    When I saw the depth and realism of the experience and what it could lend to virtually any cinematic or other experience, and when I saw how the company has established market dominance, I thought about 3D completely differently. I researched extremely thoroughly, I know this is a superior technology, and I have total confidence in REAL D. I believe that this is 3D that everyone can love. If you think of it as simply adding depth to the screen rather than as a special-effects gimmick, it is truly revolutionary.

    I have shown REAL D 3D to a myriad of people from different disciplines and all you have to do to “get it” is see it. People from all walks of life leave the theatre converted.

    MTBS: Congratulations on the Real D premiere of Beowulf! How did it go?

    JOSHUA: It was amazing! Although I had been working with the filmmakers for over a year and had seen many shots, it was the first time I got to see the whole film. It was a great experience – it is truly the best realized 3D film ever made. It was very gratifying to see the audience cheer the 3D and really enjoy it.

    MTBS: Can you describe the movie theater experience? What did the audience do at this showing that they normally don’t do in traditional theaters?

    JOSHUA: We typically get a cheer when our bumper first appears on the screen. But Paramount’s logo and all of the opening sequence really fired the audience up. After that, you kind of just have to hold on and experience it. It’s a pretty intense movie. Very different from the other (children’s) films we have done.

    MTBS: When moviegoers left the theater, what did they talk about more, Beowulf, or seeing Beowulf in 3D?

    JOSHUA: I think anyone who sees this in 3D is going to recommend seeing it that way. Eventually we (and others) think that it will be the only way to see films….

    MTBS: Thinking back at your experience with Ghosts of the Abyss, how will Beowulf’s 3D movie theater distribution look in today’s market? How available are Real D theaters around the world?

    JOSHUA: It’s a totally different world now. We have the beginnings of a real deployment of digital cinema. As these systems enter the market they can all be upgraded to REAL D. Right now we have 1,100 screens with 70 exhibition partners in 24 countries! Not bad, considering our first screen deployed 2 years ago!

    MTBS: Real D and other S-3D movie theater outfitters are laying down the groundwork for the content makers. Beowulf is coming out in S-3D this month, Dreamworks Animation promises that by 2009, all their releases will be in S-3D, and there is general excitement all around. Is this enough? What puzzle pieces do you think are critical for our industry to succeed?

    JOSHUA: We need more digital projectors, more 3D cameras, and a blockbuster hit. More projectors so we can get more 3D turned on. We need more cameras – live action is still a lot harder and there are really only a few companies out there that make decent rigs. We probably have 20 to 30 really good 3D rigs. We probably should have around 200. A 3D blockbuster will get the final naysayers off the pot and everyone will be making 3D films.

    MTBS: How are creative artists being informed and educated about S-3D?

    JOSHUA: It’s actually quite easy. We bring them into our screening room and show them our demo reel. Rarely does a creative person come out of that without being inspired to try it.

    It’s too early to write the book on how 3D should be made. When we talk to these artists, we stress our role is to provide useful resources to properly arm themselves – and we have seen a lot of different interpretations on how to produce 3D. We often talk about who will make the Citizen Kane of 3D – meaning who will crack the cinematic language for 3D in the 21st century.

    ELIZABETH: REAL D starts with movie fans, of course, and those who are passionate about the ways in which movies are made. Then it spreads to the general public. This is happening pretty rapidly, and Beowulf is certainly a huge step forward in that process. Again – you see it and you want to see everything in REAL D. So, there is a similarity in engaging passionate early adopters to evangelize something game-changing which is of the highest quality.

    MTBS: I know you work in the movie industry, but I think you will agree that there is a strong link between the movie industry and the video game industry. With S-3D taking off in home solutions from iZ3D, TDVision Corp., Mitsubishi, Samsung, and more, do you think that the video game industry will suddenly look like it is standing still or behind the times if it doesn’t adopt S-3D alongside the film industry? Do you see a customer demand pressure building from the growth of S-3D in the movie theaters spilling over to the home markets in video games and consumer entertainment?

    JOSHUA: What’s interesting is how closely video games and animated films are to each other. Both face the same challenges with 3D. Both are essentially created in a 3D world but the 2nd eye is lost.

    GPU companies like nVidea can already take that 3D data and output a pretty good stereoscopic image – but 3D animation released in 2D often has cheats. Is that mountain range really a model, or a matt painting? You don’t notice it in 2D but when you go 3D it sticks out like a sore thumb.

    The video game industry is going to have a very similar education curve that the film community is going through right now. Long term, 3D changes the experience for all entertainment. It will take a few more years but no doubt all displays will eventually be able to show some sort of 3D experience, and we expect to see new forms of 3D experiences – not just movies and games, but concerts, sporting events – the list goes on and on.

    MTBS: A key selling point behind S-3D in movie theaters is that it will drive ticket sales. At-home 3D solutions are popping up too through 3D HDTV, PC monitors, head mounted displays, projectors, etc. A few years down the road, let’s work on the premise that these technologies are well adopted by consumers. Do you see them as friend or foe, and why?

    JOSHUA: Ultimately it’s a friend. The film business has relied on the home ancillaries for over 50% of their revenue. If they can see a similar model emerge for 3D, then we will most likely see more content produced. Also as good as their monitors are starting to get, they still do not compare with the size and experience of a movie screen.

    MTBS: I ask this question of all my interviewees. If a genie appeared and gave you any three things to help your industry, with the exception of thousands of theaters using Real D systems, what would they be?

    JOSHUA: Complete adoption of Digital Cinema, 25 more directors committing to making 3D content, and give me another 25 hours a day to work….

    ELIZABETH: There’s a joke I would tell here, but it’s too long. I’ll go with Digital Cinema adoption, the willingness and imagination of creatives to do new things with 3D (like alternative content and live action), and for everyone to experience a truly great 3D-intended production in REAL D.

    MTBS: Elizabeth, maybe I can get you to tell that joke in your next interview! Elizabeth and Joshua, if there was a single message our readers could walk away with from this interview, what would it be?

    Joshua & Elizabeth: GO SEE BEOWULF IN REAL D!

    Well, I know I’m going to be seeing Beowulf this weekend for sure!

    A follow-up interview is planned. Post your comments and questions HERE!

  • Tim Partridge, EVP Dolby Laboratories, Interviewed on MTBS!

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    Hello everyone!

    Special treat for you today. Tim Partridge is the Executive Vice President of Products and Technology for Dolby Laboratories. For those unfamiliar, Dolby is famous for their groundbreaking movie and home theater surround sound systems, and are now entering the visual space with an exciting new stereoscopic 3D solution that you will find in a theater near you!

    An extra bonus is it looks like Dolby appreciates the importance of S-3D gaming too!

    1. I understand you’ve been with Dolby Laboratories for over twenty years, and until recently, had a strong focus on introducing Dolby surround sound technologies to Europe and Asia. Can you elaborate on what your biggest challenges were in bringing these technologies to these foreign markets? Technologically, where did they begin, and where are they now because of your hard work?

    First you have to understand that our most successful technology introductions were that way because they had such a dramatic impact on the entertainment content, whether it was noise reduction for music or surround sound and later digital audio for movies. This meant that these technologies fundamentally changed the way the content was created; noise reduction enabled multitrack recordings which changed the music industry.

    My involvement was primarily with introducing the technologies that changed the way movies were made and that was the challenge; everything from the creative thought process of the director and sound crew through to the equipment in the studios, the laboratories and finally the cinemas all had to change to enable and make the most use of these new tools. Providing the ability to create more realistic sound through improved frequency response and dynamic range, and also the added dimension of surround sound was like giving an artist new colors to paint with that he had never used nor even seen before.

    We also used the analogy of “enlarging the window” and of course the larger the window, the problems can also be seen; the increased fidelity revealed noisy sound recordings and distortion that previously had been inaudible due to the limitations of the reproduction system. Of course surround sound had been available on 70mm, but when we started very few people outside of Hollywood had experience dealing with such things.

    So location recordings had to improve since everything could now be heard, music recordings had to be mixed in stereo instead of mono, and we had to install center channel speakers and surrounds in music studios when mixing for film. Background effects had previously all been mono so whole libraries of stereo effects had to be built, and distorted recordings had to be re recorded.

    Once we got into the mixing room where all these recordings come together, the differences were even more apparent. Mixers who spent their whole careers learning how to create soundtracks for a single speaker suddenly had four to deal with! In some ways, it was easier for them since all the music and effects no longer had to come out of the same speaker as the dialog, and fight against it. On the other hand, creating a believable sound-space with all the added dimensions was quite a challenge.

    By way of example, when I went through this process in Hong Kong, a typical film had around ten tracks to mix together (one music, three dialogs, and six effects), and they mixed the whole film in a (long) day. Our first Dolby Stereo film there had over fifty tracks and took three weeks! Today most Dolby films have literally hundreds of tracks that get reduced down to the 5.1 master over several weeks.

    In the early days, the directors went crazy with the surround channel putting far too much there, which may have sounded great in the studio, but was very distracting for the people in the back row of the local cinema who were much closer to the surround speakers – added to which the cinema owner had probably turned the surrounds up to maximum since he had just bought them! Over time, they learned to compromise and theaters became better aligned.

    It was the same when we introduced digital audio to the industry with Dolby Digital. The first films were all far too loud, because now they could be! But experience led to much better use of the new tools and film soundtracks today sound infinitely better than they did 20 years ago.

    2. Clearly, Dolby’s roots are in sound systems. Why the sudden interest in stereoscopic 3D?

    While certainly we were focused on sound, the reality was that we were always trying to improve the overall cinema going experience. When we were working in theaters preparing for a world premiere or other important screening, our engineers were just as interested in getting the best print out of the lab, and getting the best and most even light from the projector onto the screen as they were in getting the best out of the sound system.

    However, from where the industry was in the 70’s, it was clear the biggest improvement that could be made was in the sound, and it took thirty years of hard work to get to where we are now which is that around 80% of the worlds cinemas have high fidelity surround sound, and 50% have digital audio. Over 90% of the world’s major films use our technologies. Plus there just wasn’t much that could be done to dramatically improve the picture on 35mm, until that is, digital cinema came along. As the industry finally embraced digital technology for the picture as well as the sound, then everything changed. Suddenly the picture has the same quality at every screening as it did on opening night. There is no deterioration, it is clear, sharp and stable on the screen. Furthermore, it opened up the possibilities for new innovation since digital signal processing techniques are well advanced.

    3D is the first of those innovations that has captured the imagination of Hollywood as well as the movies going public. It is a dramatic enhancement to the movie experience and that is what Dolby is all about. So it seemed natural to us that we should go to work on developing a 3D system that would exceed the requirements of studios and exhibitors alike.

    3. What is Dolby’s working relationship with Infitec? What roles did each of your companies have in the development of this Dolby 3D solution?

    Our basic requirements for the system, based on feedback from theater owners around the world, were that it should work with the regular white screens that are currently installed, and that the glasses should not require batteries. We discovered at Infitec some core technology that we thought would enable us to meet these requirements. So we licensed the Infitec IP (Intellectual Property) for use in cinemas, and using this idea, developed at Dolby the necessary components of software and hardware for the theater, and of course, the glasses.

    4. What were the biggest technical challenges you wanted to overcome in the development of your stereoscopic 3D (S-3D) solution?

    One big challenge with any 3D system is the amount of light that is lost as you go through the filters at the projector and then through the glasses. This then limits the size of the screen you can use in the theater so we are always looking for ways to get more light.

    One way we do this is by putting the filter inside the projector in between the lamp and the sensitive picture forming parts of the digital projector. The filter reduces the heat from the lamp that gets to those parts and therefore allows for a bigger lamp giving more light. We also wanted to avoid putting a moving filter in the path of the image since that inevitably has a negative impact on the final picture quality, another reason why we put the filter inside the projector.

    The biggest challenge for cinemas though was the need to replace their screen with a silver screen for the other 3D systems. Not so much a technical challenge, but a very practical one since the silver screen is expensive and the picture quality provided by a silver screen is not as good as that with a white one. So we are very pleased we have been able to provide them with a 3D system that allows them to keep their white screen.

    The biggest technical challenge for us in developing the system was being able to make glasses with the exact filters we needed for each eye, and manufacture them in high volumes. But we did it working with several specialist vendors and the results are stunning.

    5. I’m thinking of your experience in Europe and Asia. Do you think you are going to face similar challenges when introducing Dolby 3D to traditional 2D theaters, the same way you a faced challenges introducing digital surround sound to mono and analog movie theaters?

    I think so, and at two levels. The simplest one is the old chicken and egg problem. Unless there are lots of movies, theaters are reluctant to invest in the equipment, yet without the theaters, the filmmakers won’t make the movies. We absolutely had the same issue with our previous technology launches, but because the impact of Dolby Stereo or Dolby Digital was so great, there was always a good number of forward thinking exhibitors and movie makers who got the ball rolling.

    The other issue which I described earlier is that when you introduce things like we do that have such a dramatic impact on the experience, it changes the way movies get made. We are already seeing that in Hollywood as the film community is discussing the impact of 3D on the movie making process, and everyone wants to learn how to make the best use of this new creative tool.

    6. In your experience, what are the leading objections by exhibitors or movie theaters to adopt S-3D movie hardware/projectors? How are you acknowledging and circumventing those objections?

    So far we have had an overwhelmingly positive reaction from exhibitors to our system. Compared with the other offerings out there, they of course like not having to change their screen, they love our quality on the screen, they appreciate the flexibility of being able to move the 3D movie from one screen to another easily, and also being able to switch quite easily from 3D to 2D on the same screen.

    They also like our business model since it is the same way we have done business with them for over 30 years.

    I would say the only questions we get are around the glasses – which is where the real technology lies. Since these are not $1 glasses, the exhibitor will be reusing them many times and cleaning them between each use. Once we explain how easily this can be done, and also that by reusing them many times they have a much less expensive per use model, plus they are also being kinder to the environment by not throwing all that plastic away after each screening, they see all the benefits of the Dolby 3D system.

    7. Tell us about the technology. A colleague told me that your solution is “anaglyph on steroids”. Can you explain how the technology works?

    It is true that we use color to separate the left image from the right one, but that is where the similarity with anaglyph techniques ends. With anaglyph you had one color per eye, with Dolby 3D you have every color in each eye – and this leads to superb color fidelity, something that everyone who sees it instantly comments on.

    How it works is that we choose a red, a green, and a blue for the left eye, and a slightly different red, green, and blue for the right eye. Once you have RG and B you can create all the colors of the spectrum in each eye.

    8. If a viewer watches a movie in 3D and blinks one eye at a time, will there be any ghosting, and will the colors be identical between the eyes?

    One advantage of our system is that the crosstalk, or ghosting, from one eye to the other is particularly low which is why we have such sharp and beautiful images on the screen. The difference in color from one eye to the other is so small (that is why the filters in the glasses have to be so precise) that it would be hard to notice, and when both eyes are open (as is usually the case!) the brain compensates for that difference.

    9. I understand that the glasses used for your solution are $50 a piece. Can you explain what makes these glasses special and why they cost a lot more than traditional polarized or anaglyph lenses?

    It comes down to the filters. They are extremely precise which gives us superior crosstalk cancellation (i.e. the right eye image doesn’t get through the left eye filters). To do this, we have to lay down fifty layers of filters on each lens. Plus we also wanted a curved lens design to improve the viewing experience even further, and laying down fifty layers with extreme accuracy onto curved lenses is no small feat!

    We also make the lenses scratch resistant and very tough so they can withstand hundreds of uses, so the cost per use comes down to just a few cents.

    10. I wear glasses, and I can tell you first hand that they get dirty pretty quick. In a room filled with buttery popcorn, even more so. How do you clean these glasses and how often?

    The glasses will be cleaned after each and every screening so they will always look perfectly clear.

    11. What is the DCI (Digital Cinema Initiatives) standard, and how does it relate to Dolby Laboratories?

    The DCI standard is a set of technical specifications written to help multiple manufacturers design and build digital cinema equipment to a common standard so that movie files packaged in Hollywood, or anywhere else, can be guaranteed to play on all these pieces of equipment in any theater.

    Not only does it specify file formats and interconnects to enable this interoperability, but it also specifies high degrees of security both in hardware and software to protect the digital content files from piracy. Dolby has designed a Digital Cinema server to accept, manage, decode and play out these files, and as such, it has been designed to the DCI specification to ensure we fully meet the requirements of the studios and the exhibitors. Some of these specifications have not been quite finalized yet though, which is one of the issues we are still working through.

    12. How much money should an exhibitor expect to spend to upgrade their equipment to Dolby 3D?

    The hardware is around $20k, and each screen will need 2 pairs of glasses per seat to make sure there is always a clean pair available.

    13. How is Dolby Laboratories positioning their offering to help justify the expense to exhibitors? What ideas have been brought to the table?

    Exhibitors told us they would just like to buy the equipment up front and outright without any ongoing commitments. This is how we have always done business with them so we were happy to oblige. We are open to other models, but this is what they seem to prefer right now.

    In terms of justifying the expense, exhibitors trust that Dolby equipment lasts a long time, and with the proven ability to charge a premium on each ticket for 3D, and the number of 3D films in the line-up for the next few years, I don’t think they have a problem justifying the investment.

    14. I understand the movies have an invisible imprint that shows up on bootlegged movie copies, and this can trace a movie right down to the theater and the time it was shown at. There is a lot of pressure on exhibitors to cut down on movie piracy because of this. How does S-3D help ease the burden on movie theaters?

    There are many security features built into digital cinema to combat piracy but preventing the camcorder from capturing the image on the screen is an issue that technology has yet to solve. 3D, however, is inherently protected against the camcorder copy since the image on the screen is a double image (one for the left eye and one for the right eye), and would be unbearable to watch on a pirated copy.

    15. I think invention and action are usually a reaction to something. I created MTBS because I wanted my games to work in S-3D and I thought (still do) that the industry needed a catalyst to move the industry forward. The movie industry is already a multi-billion dollar industry. What spark made someone wake up one morning and say “We need S-3D today, and not tomorrow”? When do you think the light bulb turned on, and by who?

    I don’t think it was any one event or any one point in time, but a number of factors. Attendance at theaters has not been growing in recent years and it is not surprising when you think of all the entertainment options available today from big screen home theaters to multiple game platforms, and of course everything that is available on the internet. Consequently the whole industry was just in a mode of looking for something that would excite movie audiences and give them a reason to go to the theater.

    Then came digital cinema which as I said earlier was the enabling technology for better 3D presentations than those of yesteryear, and then you need one or two progressive film makers eager to employ new technologies that give them more creative freedom, and we had the likes of Zemekis, Lucas, Cameron, and Katzenburg, all strongly advocating the benefits of 3D. Finally you need technology companies prepared to do some research and develop the tools that enable these creative visions to become reality on a worldwide basis, and I’m glad to say Dolby is one of those companies.

    16. Beowulf is coming out in S-3D in November, Dreamworks Animation promises that by 2009, all their releases will be in S-3D, and there is general excitement all around. I think these are events that will help drive the industry forward. Do you have concerns about elements that can hold the industry back? What are they and what needs to be done?

    I think the train is about to leave the station and there is very little that can hold it back, the enhancement to the experience is so compelling that I think it will just continue to grow in terms of numbers of movies and theaters worldwide. Of course there will come a point when the novelty value will not be there just because most films and most theaters will be 3D enabled. At the end of the day the fortunes of the industry are much more closely related to well made movies with good stories than they are to technology…..though technology can certainly help in terms of sucking the audience into the story.

    17. S-3D in movie theaters is a proven driver and advantage for ticket sales on the big screen. There is a consumer side too with S-3D PC monitors by iZ3D, 3D HDTV via Samsung and Mitusbishi, and high resolution Head Mounted Displays by TD Vision Corp. Everyone is in an introductory mode right now, but in ten years, let’s work on the premise that everyone is on equal footing. Do you see consumer S-3D products as friend or foe? Why?

    Anything that enhances the entertainment experience is a friend as far as we are concerned since that is what we set out to do. If people are going to invest their spare time watching some entertainment, then they deserve it to be as compelling and exciting as possible no matter whether it is in a theater, at home, in the car, or on a cell phone. While the theater will always be the best place to see a movie the way the director made it, that doesn’t mean these other venues shouldn’t be just as good as they can be.

    18. I know you work in the movie industry, but I think you will agree that there is a strong link between the movie industry and the video game industry. Do you see a customer demand pressure building from the growth of S-3D in the movie theaters spilling over to the home markets in video games and consumer entertainment?

    There is already substantial activity in 3D for the consumer and certainly gamers are leading the way. The problem currently for most of the consumer 3D technologies is that they don’t hold up well for multiple viewers, but with gaming there is typically only one viewer and they are always in the sweet spot, so it lends itself to being the early mover.

    Also there is more of a desire in the games industry to make the player really feel part of the game so immersive technologies like 3D and surround sound are obvious enhancements. Eventually I do believe all entertainment will be 3D no matter where it is viewed, just like it is all now in color and mostly all in stereo or surround sound.

    Content creators are trying to make us feel involved in their stories and the more “real” it appears, the more likely we are to become involved. However, from what I have seen we are a long way from having realistic 3D in the consumer space, whereas in the cinema we are just getting there.

    19. I ask this question of all my interviewees. If a genie appeared and gave you any three things to help your industry, with the exception of thousands of theaters using Dolby systems, what would they be?

    The first thing would be a technology that provides for great 3D on a large cinema screen without the need for any glasses, now that would be something!

    The second would be a boatload of great new screenplays that we could give to directors since nothing helps our industry more than great movies.

    And third would be a few extra weeks before the release of Paramount’s Beowulf since that would allow us to install more 3D theaters.

    20. If there was a single message our readers could walk away with from this interview, what would it be?

    If you tried 3D before, or heard about it, and you thought it was a gimmick or it gave you a headache, then go try it again. Dolby 3D Digital Cinema, as will be seen on Beowulf and many films to come, is nothing like you have seen before, and is a sign of the future of entertainment. Oh and after you have seen it, don’t forget to hand your glasses back.

    Thanks Tim! MTBS members, post comments HERE!