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If local moviemakers have their way, 3-D fans will no longer wear goofy glasses
by Daniel Baird
The lights are lowered in Geneva Film Company's Liberty Village studio, the blinds pulled down over high windows.
Polarized glasses on, we're watching an ad aimed at young people interested in pursuing a high-stress career. Suddenly I am sitting in a dimly lit fire-station garage late at night as a teenage girl confides her fears of the trauma that might result from becoming an emergency services worker. Both unsettled and moved, I realize this isn't a campy, old-school horror film like It Came From Outer Space . The new 3-D is emotionally engrossing and compellingly intimate.
My companion, and the man who has masterminded my experience, is Geneva's founder, James Stewart. Dressed in jeans and a pressed white shirt, he is boyishly middle-aged. Part artist, part entrepreneur, part technology nerd, he actually designs his own 3-D cameras. Unable to contain himself, he now places his open hand on the flat TV screen and it disappears behind the girl. That's how real the illusion of depth is. “3-D is not as good as being there,” Mr. Stewart says, “but it's close.”
It is the promise of enhanced reality that has Hollywood studios, television networks, and electronics companies such as Panasonic, Samsung and Sony investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the technology, and now has Toronto positioning itself as the destination of choice for making 3-D films. And with James Cameron's 3-D epic Avatar set to appear on screens in Toronto on Dec. 18, the technology's artistic credibility is on the rise. “We're on the cusp of a revolution, and we want it to be successful,” Mr. Stewart says. At the cutting edge are two Toronto firms: Spatial View, which is adapting 3-D content to small handheld devices such as iPhones, and Mr. Stewart's Geneva Film Company, which is pioneering the 3-D advertisements that will appear on the big screen preceding films like Avatar . Mr. Stewart is currently at work on his first 3-D animated feature.
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