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December 2011

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OUTLOOK ANOTHER These pros working in stereoscopic 3D believe that the format has become easier to work with, more widely accepted by audiences and full of creative opportunities. But all agree — garbage in, garbage out. Just like in 2D, you have to start with a strong story and characters. ROB ENGLE 3D Visual Effects Supervisor Sony Pictures Imageworks Culver City Sony Pictures Imageworks is a visual effects and char- acter animation studio working in the digital production and character creation business. Engle has worked on the following 3D titles: Smurfs, Pirates of the Caribbean Stranger Tides and Polar Express. STRENGTHS: "The biggest strength right now is we have some really amazing filmmakers who are excited by telling stories in this medium. Audiences continue to be excited by the images they are seeing — it's compelling. "From a technical standpoint, all of the production processes we use for producing great 3D content are getting better. And the practitioners are getting better at it, whether it's shooting 3D on-set or creating stereo- scopic images in a virtual world — much like we do in our CG features here at Imageworks — to creating good 3D using post, visual effects and finishing tech- niques. Ultimately, because everyone is getting better at it, the cost comes down and the quality goes up. It's important for our audiences to really see quality 3D." WEAKNESSES: "The biggest one is we are cur- rently seeing a wide variety of quality of stereo content. One of the weaknesses is it does require some degree of experience to create really good 3D, and not everybody has that, so we are seeing sort of a mixed bag in terms of what's out there now, but I definitely believe that's going to get better. "Another challenge is consistently coming up with good stories and good use of 3D. If we end up with a bunch of bad movies, we end up with unsatisfying experiences. There is a tremendous spotlight on 3D because it's new and people are paying a premium, in most cases, to see a 3D experience. As a result they ask, 'What am I getting for my money,' and that's something that's different than most other aspects of filmmaking. We don't charge people extra for great costume design or great cinematography." 24 Post • December 2011 Rob Engle and Imageworks put the Smurfs in a 3D world. tinually maintained at the highest levels." OUTLOOK FOR 2012: "Stereo will continue to thrive. This year alone we are seeing films from Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg, and big movies like Captain America, Green Lantern, Pirates of the Caribbean. These are huge franchises that are now moving into 3D, and most of them have been tremendously successful. We are going to see more of that. At Sony, we are working on two major tent pole movies com- ing out next year: Men in Black and The Amazing Spider-Man. We are very excited about what we can do with the 3D technology now that DIMENSION OPPORTUNITIES: "The biggest opportunity is showing people what good 3D can look like. Another is the home market. The kinds of things people are used to seeing at home, albeit in 2D, like live events, episodic scripted television, even reality TV, there is an opportunity there. The incremental costs these days to add 3D capabilities to a television is fairly small. What that means is a lot of people have 3D-capable televisions in their home, they just don't have the glasses or don't know they have a 3D-capable TV. But as soon as some really killer event, like a Super Bowl, comes along in 3D, there is going to be significant interest, and it will become a water cooler conversation." THREATS: "I've seen many really great 3D films projected poorly. When we can, we are firmly behind educating exhibitors to what good quality 3D exhibition is, as well as producing the highest quality exhibi- tion we can. Sony itself makes its 4K projector, which produces a great 3D image, but it has to be used properly. So it ultimately comes back to the exhibitors and making sure their systems and facilities are con- STEREO BY RANDI ALTMAN

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