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3-D Conquers NAB

by Anne Thompson
April 21, 2009 8:41 AM
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I'm out of my element in Vegas for my first-ever National Association of Broadcasters convention. Monday I did a Q & A with stop-motion auteur Henry Selick, who ran some nifty clips from Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach and the surprise $74-million hit Coraline, which is starting to open in Europe. View this photo.

Coraline's peformance was hurt by too many 3-D movies fighting for not enough 3-D screens, Selick admits. (He's hoping for a rerelease this summer with the DVD, which will be in 2-D, he hopes, as 3-D DVDs are still cheesy). But he also thinks that Coraline's careful crafting of a story enhanced by the combination of lovingly hand-crafted stop-motion, CG effects and 3-D made the movie more of an event for moviegoers. He'll return to Laika in Portland, Oregon for his next stop-motion film, he said, and looks forward to building on what he learned on this film, as he has all along.

Selick is always wowed by Pixar films (he studied with many of the Pixar gang, and old collaborator Tim Burton, at Cal Arts), including what he's has seen of the upcoming Cannes opener Up. But he is not a fan of performance capture--which doesn't mean that James Cameron's Avatar won't be spectacular, he said. 3-D, even holograms, are the wave of the future.

Members at a later NAB panel, while admitting that 3-D cinemas are well ahead of 3-D in the home, touted the imminent future of alternative 3-D. A rep from BSkyB screened some impressive 3-D footage of soccer, boxing, gladiator-style Rocketball contests, ballet and a Keane concert broadcast via satellite with existing HD technology: they used two side-by-side HD cameras, a 3-D processor and HD encoder and transmitted up to satellite and down to the set top box.

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Shooting in 3-D, several panelists agreed, requires less cutting and more lingering so that the audience can find their own focus. At a basketball game, said NBA Entertainment's Steve Hellmuth, you could watch the play as if you were sitting in Jack Nicholson's courtside seat, in an immersive experience.

The most impressive footage came from Brazil's TV Globo Network, which shot, edited and broadcast almost instantly live 3-D footage of the Carnivale in Rio. It was stunning--but what made advertisers sit up and take notice, not surprisingly, was the spinning 3-D can of beer popping out in the foreground. The sponsors wanted that on air the next day, said Jose Dias Vasconcellos de Assis, who points out that there are already 3-D-ready sets available from Mitsubishi, Samsung and Hyundai, which has a set that can turn 2-D HD into 3-D.

For now, said BSkyB's Gerry O'Sullivan, the trick is to shoot in 2-D and 3-D formats at the same time. NYT moderator Eric Taub wound up saying, "We're not just creating a new technology, but a new aesthetic."

I can't wait to see what they do here with the Thanksgiving Day Parade and The Rose Bowl.

Here's Variety's David Cohen on another 3-D in the home panel.

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More: Production , Exhibition, In Production, 3D, VFX

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