Author Archives: buzzhays

About buzzhays

BUZZ HAYS is the Owner and Studio Chief of the True Image Company. Buzz is one of the leading experts in stereoscopic 3D film development, production, post-production, and education in the motion picture and television industry. As senior vice president of 3D production at Sony Corporation, he played a key role as the 3D expert worldwide, from film production to live-broadcast events to consumer and professional electronics design. Hays founded the award-winning Sony 3D Technology Center, where he oversaw the creative and technical direction of Sony’s 3D efforts on multiple platforms. He was integral to the rollout of Sony 3DTV in 2010 and his contributions in camera design for 3D has led to successful products in the marketplace both for professionals and consumers. Hays has collaborated with the most influential filmmakers and leaders in the film and television industry on the creation of high quality 3D storytelling experiences, and he lectures on the subject of 3D to international audiences. Before joining Sony, Hays was an independent animation and film producer (“Swimming With Sharks”), and served as head of research and development at Lucasfilm THX.


The world is filled with many great, thoughtful investors. Most are savvy at following the leads of others. Eager to be the first in line to write the second check. I get it. Not everyone has to see the future to be a part of it. These investors keep the world spinning. If you are one of these incredible people, thank you.

When it comes to investing these days, there is no shortage of interesting startups, technologies, or visions to consider. There are countless options to choose from.  Deciding on which ones to help grow – that can be quite a challenge. Ideas, the team, the ability to execute, the market size and growth potential of the market – the list of factors to consider is endless. Clearly, there’s no one factor that guarantees success.

Understanding the vision is critical. Faith in the idea is also critical. Trust in the ability of the thinkers behind the ideas to bring that vision to life is crucial. It is these elements which transform the investor into the partner, the collaborator, the trusted ally.

I’ve spent much of my career in the entertainment & technology sector. I’ve headed-up R&D efforts at Lucasfilm, Ltd. THX and the Sony 3D Technology Center, I’ve produced films for every major film studio in Hollywood, and I’ve worked in the interactive and gaming space. It’s been amazing.

I’ve been a bit sheltered from the “real world” that I helped to make a little more entertaining, since the environments in which I worked protected us from having to deal directly with investors – that was up to the various business development executives I worked with. I was able to explore, invent, design and play with some pretty amazing ideas and technologies without ever having to think about structuring the next investment round or rustling up new investors. In that sense, things were quite easy for me, and I have all of those hard working executives to thank for that.

These relationships were based on trust, and trust is what gave us the opportunities to find our successes, often after strings of failure after failure. It’s been said that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and that has certainly been true in my work. It’s the missteps, the disagreements, the seemingly insurmountable obstacles that actually made for a better end result, and quite frankly, made for a stronger bond of trust amongst those of us working together.

In my experience, trust allows for all sorts of good things, not the least of which is that the vision is not only understood, but is also protected – often from ourselves. It’s easy to tinker something to death. It happens all the time. Trusting in the vision helps us in finding the way through the forest so that we can still appreciate the trees along the way without feeling the need to chop them down.

I’m on a new quest, this time without shelter.


I’ve spent the past 18 months in stealth mode, redefining the entertainment experience. Sequestered in labs, fiddling with computers, constructing and deconstructing mockups. Experimenting with mountains of esoteric audio and video gear in anonymous warehouses, wearing a path into the carpet on my way back and forth to the drawing board countless times. The experience, in a word, has been thrilling. Honestly thrilling. The vision is solid.

Are you seeking something new and different in your investment portfolio? Something that isn’t only “outside the box”, but potentially re-defines the “box”?

If you are a visionary investor, let’s meet. Let’s talk about ways you can help bring an innovative new immersive digital entertainment platform to life. It’s not VR (the line for that is over there…) This is a truly connective social entertainment experience.

I’ve got quite a track record on past achievements, and I live, breathe, eat and sleep this new venture. I couldn’t be more passionate about this.

I’m looking for the visionary investor* partner who can imagine the future. I would love to hear your thoughts on how you’d help shape our new platform that will connect and entertain people around the world.


Let me know.


*accredited visionary investors only please


VR – Start With “Why?”

I’ve been working in the stereoscopic medium for quite a while now, and I can’t help but wonder what all the fuss is about with VR. I keep hearing the familiar refrains we’ve all heard about 3D: “what makes you think 3D is here to stay this time?” only this time, we’re talking about VR. I first looked at VR at the TED2 conference in Monterey, California in 1991. Virtual Reality was the wave of that version of the future, although as you can imagine, the images were crude, the latency was unforgiveable, and the overall experience required leaps of faith to even consider the real possibilities of “why”? Hmmmm.

Flash forward nearly 25 years, and although we’ve improved some of the technical issues and we now have hundreds – possibly thousands – of people developing content for this new medium, we are still left with the same fundamental questions asked long ago.

Near the top of my list of questions is “do people really want to interact with their entertainment beyond gaming?” For a short time, perhaps yes. For a two-minute demo at a trade show or industry event, definitely yes. But to sit and watch a feature-length film wearing a cumbersome collection of headgear for the eyes and the ears while interacting along the way through the story?

No thank you. NO.

At a certain point, we all hit the wall and find that we’d rather sit back and observe, find a point of view that we either agree with or disagree with, in effect give us a chance to understand another person’s creative intent. The primary interactive choice people have is the POWER BUTTON. You never want to remind them of that.

We want to be entertained. We want to be told stories and to be taken on journeys that stretch our imagination. We don’t want to author those experiences, we don’t want to play camera operator and director for two hours, in effect, we don’t really want to work that hard for our entertainment. I’m all for interactivity, that’s what makes gaming exciting, that’s what makes the time fly by while we mindlessly surf the web, but interactivity doesn’t have to apply to everything we do. It’s OK to relax and appreciate what is presented to us rather than feel the need to change it, improve it, or destroy it at every interactive opportunity.

I’m not at all surprised by the surge in the popularity of VR. I really hope that some groundbreaking new experiences come from this frenzy of development. So far, it’s lots and lots and lots of the same stuff with different coats of paint applied with the same paintbrush. It’s truly the Wild West – there are no standards, no rules, no boundaries – and that in itself is very exciting.

Unfortunately, most all of the content I’ve seen thus far caters to those with the attention span of an over-caffeinated gnat. Interactive moments abound! Look here, now look over there! Look up, look down! Look all around! Wondrous yes – for about a minute. The best pieces I’ve seen are the ones that take you on a journey with limited interactivity. The interactivity itself needs to be hidden, it’s not the point of the experience – it merely supports it.

I attended the Producer’s Guild VR panel recently, and I heard over and over the claim from each of the VR developers that they were fundamentally storytellers. Current content notwithstanding, that’s an important goal, although I think it will continue to be a challenge as long as people try to create INTERACTIVE! versions of cinematic stories. That’s similar to the ongoing struggle in stereoscopic 3D where storytellers are looking for those moments that can only be enhanced by 3D, and I’ve been fortunate to work with a number of the leading storytellers in the field, all of them eager to find new ways to engage audiences within three dimensions in a linear format. Many of them have found ways to achieve that goal, but it’s not been easy. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy.

So far, all of the “storytelling” I’ve seen in the countless VR demos out there is missing the answer to the fundamental question of “why”? These experiences are far more analogous to games than cinema, and those differences are still very much in need of exploration. Let’s answer the “why” question. Why would I want to interact with this story? Why does interactivity improve the story? Why should the story have to be presented in this way?

Answer the “Why?”, then, and only then, do I think we’re on to something big…


The (re)Invention of the VFX Industry

It’s no secret that the Visual Effects industry as we know it is in trouble.

Hostility and whining will not remedy the situation. The protest at the Academy Awards seemed driven more by emotion than by purpose. It doesn’t help the cause to complain without offering some semblance of a solution. Of course there is considerable anger and frustration out there, but as Scott Ross, a long time VFX industry leader has aptly pointed out, the VFX world needs to win the war, not the battle.

We need to take a step back and re-evaluate, rejuvenate, and re-invent the VFX business.

Is anyone really all that surprised we’ve ended up in the current situation? The giant VFX vendors of old have been shrinking and disappearing for more than a decade. It’s not because Hollywood doesn’t care. Like everything else, VFX has become less of a specialized field with the proliferation of small mom-and-pop shops offering worthy visual effects without the massive overhead of the more traditional facilities. Tools and pipelines available off-the-shelf can give great advantage to these smaller companies – consider the development and maintenance costs of the custom pipelines of the major VFX facilities – they’re astronomical compared to the smaller houses, and someone has to pay those costs. No tax break will make the overhead shrink to that of the smaller facilities.

Yes, perhaps the studios could do more to work with their filmmakers to understand better how to work with VFX in storytelling. The filmmaking process itself has changed in many cases to where filmmakers gather raw materials in production and figure out where the story is in post-production. That in itself is a significant reason why production costs are as high as they are today. In my own experience, I’ve seen far too many situations where filmmakers have little idea what they want until they see it near completion, which then leads to endless change orders until they get what they want, and then the studio wants to know why the budget keeps inflating.

Think for a moment how the scenic trades felt when set constructions were reduced to the bare minimum in favor of digital set extensions. Imagine how the set decorators and prop builders felt about losing significant work to productions largely devoted to greenscreen shooting with CG props. Change in the industry is inevitable. It’s time to embrace the opportunity to re-invent VFX.

If everyone could just take a breath and look at the history of filmmaking in Hollywood, we can clearly see the precedent for this type of change. Runaway production is a problem with a far longer history than the current VFX problems. To selfishly push to enact tax breaks for VFX companies in California isn’t the best approach. It would make far more sense to unite with all of the unions and craft disciplines in film and television to enact bigger changes to keep productions local.  United not divided.

Maybe tax breaks are a part of that quest. If a production is already shooting in Canada or London, why wouldn’t a studio use the local vendors? Keep the productions local, and the other services will follow.

It’s better to channel the frustration into finding solutions rather than targeting bad guys and casting blame if you really want to re-invent the VFX industry.

You’ve all got great imaginations – start imagining how this might work for everyone involved.


3D and/or HFR: what’s it good for? Read on…

The Hobbit film notwithstanding, I can think of lots of things that would work well in a High Frame Rate format, especially 3D HFR. For those of you who have experienced SHOWSCAN (60fps 65mm film), you know that an increased frame rate can introduce an element of realism not possible in slower frame rate formats, even in two dimensions. By increasing the realism of the medium, it’s important to remember that you’re not telling stories in the same way anymore. The language of cinema is largely based on 24 frames per second. Our century of finesse in the format has ingrained the notion of what cinematic storytelling “should” be. Generations of filmmakers have worked within the confines of the 24fps medium and we’ve been able to benefit from many great experiences created by these ever-pioneering tinkerers of discontent while they continually bend the “rules” of cinema.

When audiences first experienced the early Georges Méliès films, what they saw was an extension of theater. The scenarios were very theatrical with actors in costumes and makeup on a stage performing to an unseen audience. The main difference at the time, was that the theater experience now had an element of magic added to it – the impossible – characters vanishing in a puff of smoke, disembodied heads floating about the stage, all rooted in theater with the enhancement of film editing and the ellipsis of time to create a unique experience which started to differentiate cinema from theater. Given Méliès experience as a magician, he was able to create a new form of magic that could only be done with film. Frame rates were barely enough to convey a sense of smooth motion, often 16 to 20 fps, and sound was not yet part of the equation. The experience of early cinema took some time for audiences to learn how to watch films. We’re still figuring it out and 24fps seems to be some sort of unwritten law.

Now let’s jump to the present situation: watching 3D is also a learned behavior. We’ve barely given audiences a chance to figure it out as few filmmakers are pioneering the medium in a way that gives them a reason to appreciate the third-dimension as something new. There are lots of 2D-versions-of-3D-stories out there, but only a tiny handful of filmmakers have even tried to advance this potentially powerful storytelling medium by showing us how we can engage an audience in a profound new way. We’ve barely scratched the surface of what 3D storytelling can portend.

I tend to equate 3D storytelling with the experience of watching live theater. We sit in a dark room as actors, sets, costumes and lights coalesce to entertain us with compelling, emotional, engaging stories. We feel connected to the performers and to the story. We sense an intimacy with the medium, even though each of us is sitting in fixed position with a fixed focal length vantage point. How does the experience of great theater transcend these seeming limitations? By carefully crafting an experience that uses all of the techniques and methods of theatrical storytelling based on years of experimenting. It’s no different for 3D or HFR. We have the ability to connect with audiences in ways previously impossible on the big screen, we just need to spend some time experimenting with what makes each of these formats unique.

Trying to tell a “traditional” cinematic story with a higher frame rate is not enough. It can be a bit too real for conveying that sense of wonder we’ve come to expect. This new realism brings us a little too close to the action – we no longer feel a connection with new characters in fantastic new worlds – we see costumes, make-up and actors, we see fake walls and prosthetics. We are suddenly aware of the role of the camera as our vantage points are violently shifted before us without our consent. We’re seeing a bit too much. We’ve gotten to the point in cinema where the editing cadence seems to be dictated by an over-caffienated one-armed maraca player in a salsa band. Close-ups look great on the director’s iPad on-set, and ridiculous on the big screen. Spastic camera motion, narrow shutter angles, and an underlying impatience with the process of study, rehearsal, and creative intent seem to be de rigueur. Technique seems more important than story. Filmmaking has largely become an editing exercise – shoot lots and lots of stuff and figure out how it all fits together later in the comfort of the editing suite. Now is the perfect time to explore new ways to excite audiences (again).

Wouldn’t it be novel to slow down a bit and let the message come through the medium rather than the other way around? Interestingly, I believe 3D HFR can do that (and more!).


3D [FWD] Summit a Rousing Success!

Many thanks to all involved in crafting an extraordinary day of presentations and networking at 3D [FWD] Summit in Vancouver!

Special thanks to Maria Lantin of the Emily Carr S3D Centre, Jim Chabin of the International 3D Society, and a huge thanks to Stacey McGregor and Alan Goldman for making it all look so easy. Check out the list of sponsors on the Summit website and be sure to thank them!

This is sure to be the first of many successful events in the newest International 3D Society chapters.

I had a great time with my panelists Adam May, Robert Neuman and Joshua Hollander. It’s always a pleasure hanging out with these very cool and talented 3D gurus. Thanks, guys!



“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated” – 3D (apologies to Mark Twain)

With very few exceptions, blogs (including this one) should NEVER be confused with actual journalism. They are opinion – pure and simple. Most of them are rehashes of press releases found on the web or just plain opinions of the ill informed. Not fact, not news.

Note the preponderence of ignorance in these offerings about the obvious demise of 3D at CES 2013 (one is even from an established news publication):

– Extreme Tech 3D TV is Dead
– Mobile & Apps CES 2013: The Death of 3D
– CES 2013 Journal: the death of 3D?

I think I must have gone to a different CES 2013. The one I went to had dozens of CE manufacturers with 3D offerings. SHARP told me that 100% of their televisions are now 3D, PANASONIC has a vast percentage of their products with 3D features and support, SONY, SAMSUNG, LG… need I go on? For those of you who actually went to CES 2013 and paid attention, 3D has reached an important milestone – maturity. You probably noticed that manufacturers aren’t bragging about 3D functionality in their devices as it’s now becoming ubiquitous in all manner of technologies. No reason to brag – just as we don’t draw attention to “now with COLOR!” and “STEREOPHONIC SOUND!” 3D is one of the many features of these advanced devices. This time-honored trend began last year, and the fact that every press event isn’t centered around “3D!” is indicative of absolutely nothing. Worse, some of these bloggers-in-the-know make the ridiculous claim that 4k is replacing 3D without bothering to find out that the technologies are complimentary and get us even closer to reasonable quality autostereo.
These “journalists” clearly need their “news” spoon fed to them as it’s impossible for them to figure it out for themselves. A website and an email address are hardly qualifications for serious opinion and discourse. We’ve plunged to an all time low where everyone’s opinion matters (e.g. YELP, PINTEREST, TWITTER, etc.), when in reality it’s just a bunch of noise and sour grapes that floats to the top of the blogsam and jetsam piles.

Do yourselves a favor and consider ALL “news” about 3D speculation and opinion unless there’s reason to believe otherwise.

My advice? (for what it’s worth) – filter out the noise of the bloggosphere and know that many of us are dedicated to the future of 3D in all its forms until further notice.

3D is NOT dead.


CES 2013: 3D’s 20/20 Vision Conference

Please come by and support the “3D’s 20/20 Vision Conference” at CES on Tuesday, January 8th from 1pm to 5pm. There will be experts from all over the globe coming together to talk about all things 3D. I’ll be there. Please drop by and say hello! Here’s a rundown of the panels and presentations:

1-1:30 p.m.
1:30-2:15 p.m.


Greetings from the THIRD DIMENSION!

Hey, everybody. Welcome to the TRUE IMAGE Co. PERSPECTIVES site. This site will be where the news, views, and other pontifications about 3D, HFR, specialty production formats will be conveyed to the masses. I’ll also be sharing articles and musings from all sorts of people and places. Comments are welcome as is polite discourse of all things 3D.

Enjoy the site and come back to visit soon!

Buzz Hays – Studio Chief TRUE IMAGE COMPANY, INC.