Thursday, September 22, 2011

3D Entertainment Summit – Day 1: Opening Remarks and Keynote Presentations

Tim here with news from the 4th Annual 3DEntertainment Summit (9/20/11-9/22/11) where the first day proved to be a great success. Today James Cameron and Vince Pace are featured keynote speakers while Jeffrey Katzenberg will be receiving the 3D Visionary Award. The theme of the conference is “3D is the future now. Don’t get left behind.”

The first day started out with opening remarks from Bob Dowling,Co-Producer and Conference Chairperson of the 3D Entertainment Summit. He thankedthe sponsors of the event, which included Variety, ESPN 3D, RealD, MasterImage, and many others. He pointed out that conversions are getting better and that Lion King 3D is an example, especially with its box office success, and that we have to see the performance of Star Wars and Titanic next year. Also the big directors Spielberg, Scorsese, and Coppola, all have movies coming out soon in 3D.

Next to speak was Charlotte Jones of IHS Screen Digest who had a Keynote/Power Point presentation in 3D. There are 30,000 3D screens globally accounting for 64% of the international box office and 17 million 3DTV’s sets. The total revenue for the entertainment industry is $320 billion, and that encompasses all sorts of forms of media from theatrical movies, television programs, mobile devices,etc. All of which 3D is in the prime position to take a position in each market. North America accounts for 43% of the digital screens worldwide, and 3D is key for the international upgrade to digital. The top 3D territories are China,France, UK, Germany, Russia, Mexico, Spain, and Japan, and China is emerging as a key battleground. Western Europe is leading drive for 3D feature production internationally, and the leading producers are the UK, France, Spain, and there’s also Australia alongside the European giants. Jones says that the international 3D box office is set for a record year. For the split between domestic and international grosses the average split is 67.5%.

There’s an average of 3.1 new 3D releases per month, and that number is increasing steadily. On the technology watch she said that increasing light levels and higher frame rates are what we need to keep our eyes on. The greatest issue with higher frame rates is that not all the digital projectors currently in theaters are capable of showing up to 48 fps.

Jones lead into the 3DTV discussion by mentioning that there are 30 dedicated 3D channels, and France has the highest number, while on the downside Comcast has less than 40 3D movies in its catalog. She claimed that the 2012 Olympics should be a watershed for live 3D broadcast before handing off to Helen Davies (IHS Screen Digest head of video). Davies pointed out that by the end of 2011 65% of US households that are already 3D capable will be 3D ready, with 48% internationally. By 2015 she predicted that 47% of the 137 million 3DTV’s will be passive. Capable means having a 3DTV alone while ready means having the total package of a 3DTV plus a 3D source (like a 3D Blu-ray player or 3D cable/satellite) and of course the 3D glasses.

Davies covered the Blu-ray 3D market, and said that there will be 100 Blu-ray 3D titles by 2011’s year end, which was later upped to 110 by John Revie of Samsung Electronics. Davies informed us that the Blu-ray’s adoption has been slower in the international market than the US, but attributed it to the economy. She talked about gaming devices being the next driving force for 3D in the home, with PCs, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo 3DS. However, the adoption is slower than expected with 3D PC gaming remaining a niche. She said that 3D cellphones are in their early days and are early prototypes with little 3D mobile content. Davies said that Apple needs to join, but “we’re not holding our breath.”

Closing the early presentations John Revie talked about what Samsung is doing to push the envelope. He said, “Life is in 3D. Entertainment should be as well.” 3D is gaining momentum and Samsung has sold 3 million units this year with 88% of consumers rating the 3D picture quality positively.

Samsung has developed new 1 oz. Ultra-Light Weight 3D shutter glasses, which I got to try out at the expo part of the conference. They’re amazing and really make shutter glasses comparable to passive glasses in comfort. Revie also said that by 2012 the active shutter glasses standards would be adapted.

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