Monthly Archives: January 2013

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.