Beyond Avatar: The Explosion of 3D

The 3D Platform for Feature Films and Television

Jonathan Dern – President and co-founder Cinedigm
John Rubey President AEG LIVE
Greg Foster – Pres Filmed Entertainment IMAX Corp
Jim Hannafin – SVP Reliance MediaWorks
Pete Routhier VP 3D Product Strategy at Technicolor
Chuck Comisky – 3D Stereo VFX Supervisor for Avatar
Marty Shindler – CEO Oculus3D

  • I haven’t seen any basic changes of concepts since Avatar – Chuck Comisky
  • Avatar had two goals – not to tire people’s eyes out. We wanted the 3D to enhance the experience and for people not to think that they were watching a 3D movie. Does there need to be more training? Really people need to understand the basic concepts of working in 3D. Much like a person can paint with light – you can also paint with stereography. Some stereographers are artists. – CC
  • Technicolor is a global conduit to help creators reach their vision. An IMAX movie doesn’t automatically translate to TV and we are doing a lot of R&D to make sure that all these formats talk together. Has the workflow changed to accommodate 3D – quite. The challenge is transposing the cinema techniques to TV. We need to adapt methods. TV doesn’t have the time that movies have.
  • IMAX does things now exclusively in 3D.
  • Most IMAX is shot parallel for 3D.
  • Bad 3D will ruin the market .Reliance MediaWorks just built a large 2D to 3D convergence facility in Mumbai India.
  • If operations are overseas and the directors are here – how important is the communication?
    • It is very important and we have stereographers here on the ground. The collaboration has to be there. The work can be remote.
  • Are standards important in regards to metadata?
    • Metadata is critical in anything we do. Naming conventions are of paramount importance when you are tagging metadata.
    • First thing is that we validate the inputs. The data needs to be good. Then the next step is to convey it. Technicolor has 60% of the set top boxes in the homes. They are looking for when users can set the size of their TVs and the distance to the couch in order to get the best experience.

How Technology, Content, and Services Establish the Next Level of Consumer Entertainment Experiences

My notes from a session at Digital Hollywood in Santa Monica.

John Penny – EVP Strategy and Business Development at Starz Entertainment
Curt Marvis – President of Digital Media at Lionsgate
John Calkins – EVP Global Digital and Commercial Innovation at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Hardie Tankersley – VP Innovation at Fox Broadcasting Company
Paul Yanover – EVP and Managing Director of Disney Online
Ira Rubenstein EVP Global Digital Media Group at Marvel Entertainment – Moderator

  • In the last 3 months – what was the biggest consumer lesson you have learned?
    • How to take some vast like Disney and bring this to iPhone and iPad worlds. People really want something there from Disney, but it is an interesting struggle. Providing something comprehensive is difficult. Disney hasn’t figured it out yet. We have apps that are trying to do too many things. Interesting challenge – PY
    • We have seen a shift into rental forms of consumption. JC
    • We have starting to build out our content – we are online able to bring people into the network as we are a premium market.  We have seen a growth in the channel service because of the online pieces. We are generating a lot of consumer energy. – JP
    • There is a consumer question – we are spending a lot of time with this – as the flow of entertainment spend shifts – how does Lionsgate  play here. Apps important, mobile is not yet seeing monetization. What are we going to do 2-3-5 years out to mine those places that are not traditional entertainment. – CM
    • Consumers don’t take orders very well. We had good shows with good buzz – all the data predicting the success of the show and we were surprised that the show didn’t do what we wanted to do. There was not one clear answer as to why – HT
  • Consumer behavior changing to rental from buy? Is that DRM?
    • It is not a digital phenomenon at all. Kiosk rentals and other things are also driving this. Rental is just that much more convenient. Locker will be a solution to help with buying media – JC
    • Another big challenge is that the connected TV is finally bringing digital to the living room. We are seeing the rapid rise of rental via the TV. The issue is that TV screen is a rental gateway and has never been a purchase gateway. If you buy it – where would it go? The promise DECE – ultraviolet – the brand name for buy it once and play anywhere – this will be an interesting challenge. – CM
    • There are digital purchase forms out there – but to what extent does Hollywood drive this? – JC
    • It is different whether we are talking about movie or TV content – JP
    • Music works digitally. Consumers get this. Video is not there yet. People don’t really understand this. – HT
    • It is still early days. We have been providing streaming movies from and when people start to understand that they can come back and watch the movie again – that will make a lot of demand.  - PY
  • Blueray live – is it really doing anything?
    • People aren’t connecting to this – 5% – IraR
    • DVD market and the stated interest in extras is not too true – JC
  • Is interactive TV something that the consumer really wants?
    • The element of search is considered an interactive behavior – that search element is very important. The notion of application environment is important. Google lays Fox app, Disney app, etc and these become the gateways. We are moving in the direction where it is good. Social gaming is becoming part of this. Search .. content aggregation is now part of this larger platform – JP
    • People will have these multimedia experiences … but we are not there yet. I don’t know how a kid won’t do this. – JY
    • It is a question with the UI. The TV is a dumb display device and the search and aggregation will happen on another device in the home – HT
    • Apple has done an excellent job in remote controlling the dumb TV – JP
  • Are the cable companies – if we are going to have connected TV – does the cable universe model fall apart?
    • There is a notion of buying bundles rather than buying things ala carte. A cable offering is a bundle. There is this really interesting thing going on – if you like scripted TV – there is a consumer behavior dynamic and a content provider dynamic – we are starting to see consumer choice and this is dictating what we are providing to folks. In that, we look at behaviors as singles and then families. Singles have more time than money. Families have less time but more money. Where we end up going is an environment – ad supported basic channels – far more favorable via a bundle. For content that is more transactional – premium tv – that can go more directly to the consumer. With those – we can give a direct path to the consumer. Bundles and then transactional actions that go over the top. This transition will be a little messy but will be coming. – JP
    • Digital flexibility tends to go unbundled. Movies – distributed by a single entity – the studios and then TV shows – the production is tied to networks – much harder for them to do an unbundled process. Some of the things that we see are interesting – PVR usage. Now we are seeing more the consumer select particular items. This will bring clearer opportunities. – JC
    • It will become a complicated hybrid of choices. When there are tons of choices – people tend to move to consolidation. The more that is available and the more unbundling causes more bundling. There will be a weird hybrid online. Netflix looks easy. People want easy. There is a consumer regression to bundling because of choice. – PY
    • Everything available is consumer hell. – HT
    • I think that consumers what to be held by the hand and told what to watch. One of the biggest problems in the digital age is that placement on the web is more important than even in retail. If you are not on the home page on a website – then you drop like a rock. It is because consumers don’t know what they want. It is a challenge now. – CM
  • Content and Services – some vendors are not working well with providing content (e.g. Microsoft, PSP, etc)
    • Apple lives by the philosophy of vertical integration. Amazon doesn’t have this. Amazon doesn’t have the same bundle. Amazon is still ala carting one show at a time. – HT
    • Apple has made the consumption across different devices so easy. Netflix has a price bundle that is better. Amazon is neither of each – PY
    • These companies are focusing on hard-core gamers and then just moving into the entertainment industry. (e.g. Microsoft). They have had a hard time getting traction in the entertainment space. – JP
    • Cable companies are missing out on a huge opportunity in not really getting into the VOD market because of their user interface. They need to have commitment to the category – JC
  • What are the big things coming out of CES?
    • Connected TVs. It will be all about this – HT
    • Competitive tablets to the iPad. Moms will love this as kids are just adapting to these so well. Mobile video will be good. – CM
    • Glass-less 3D will be big. Last year was all about 3D with glasses – JP
    • There will be a lot about the devices that are between (in size) between the iPhone and the iPad. – PY
    • This will be the year Microsoft will announce that nothing has happened. This might be the first year of this.
  • What is going on with 3D?
    • We are very excited about 3D. It is finding its level in how to build it and deploy it. The consumer appeal is there – JC
    • We are committed to 3D but I sense that there is a bit of tentative feelings about it – CM
    • What are consumers willing to pay for this? We are not sure. – JP
    • Every breakthrough platform has its novelty stage and we are just getting out of this with 3D – HT
  • What content or service offering have you seen that no one is talking about?
    • I have seen two things in labs – they are 3D. The hollow representations of true 3D projectors. I have seen smart agent software – that provide recommendations – agenting technologies that people are working on. More app connected environments – help you find things that are user centric. – JP
    • Low and laptop level gestures for TV. Gesture controls can really explode. Also – people that do text animation. Something like second life where you see actors play out – PY
    • AVOD in general – the long form video – these are turning into real businesses. Advertises supported long term videos. That is an interesting area that has a lot of growth potential. – CM
    • An early home theater type of release (distribution). This will be good opportunity for Hollywood. We haven’t seen a lot of upsales from rentals. - CM

New Technologies as Gateway to the New Hollywood

This is from a session at the Digital Hollywood Fall conference in Santa Monica, California. Here are my notes from the session.

Simon Morris – CMO LOVEFiLM (Netflix for Europe)
Matt Milne – Divx recently acquired by Sonic Solutions (Roxio Now)
Jeff Schultz – SVP Business Development, Clicker
Michael Alexander – Strategy & Growth Initiatives at IBM Global Telecommunications Industry
Jim Funk – VP Development at Roku
Stuart McKechnie – Director of Strategic Marketing at Zoran
Amy Hoffman – President of Priority Digital Media is the moderator

  • This session looks at “over the top” TV services
  • Half of all TVs that are shipped in the US will now be connected to the Internet – what does this mean for the consumer and for Hollywood?
  • LOVEFiLM runs 6 million streams
    • Consumers want range, value, and convenience– delivered in a way that is seamless and smart
  • The other side of the coin is the supply side. – Content vendors need to be willing to provide their content via new platforms.
  • Sports is a major driver – people will not cut the cord because of this – this will keep them as cable subscribers
  • Over the top content is supplementary to cable
  • Netflix got it right with the vast amount of content that is available.
  • Roku is a great example of where the technologies issues are solved. But is this the case? The user experience is not really solved. Though watching movies from end to end seamlessly is solved. We know how to make a secure device.
  • Technology is there with the basic tools – but there is still a lot to do on the technology side to deal with the user experience.
  • The underlying elements of the technology is there and we have to get it to scale.
  • Divx is looking at allowing people to buy a piece of material and put it into a “locker” to allow them to play across a wide variety of devices. Divx TV.
  • In 10 years --- all media might be streamed from the cloud and people will stop wondering if they have it or not.
  • Streaming to the TV is good --- 18 months ago the consumers started taking hold of this.
  • The device people want the most out of is the TV – not the mobile phone. In the evening – consumers want to sit on the couch and watch a TV.
  • We are not close as an industry to provide the “any content” solution. It is hard to find the thing that you want to watch and to search through content. There are companies working on this.
  • Will consumers be able to handle the same commercial load online as they see on TV? JS thinks yes at the end of the day.
  • Search and discovery becomes more and more important for dealing with content.
  • LOVEFiLM has 75K files available. What they have had to learn – getting the titles in front of people is the solution. Amazon showed us the way. In how they recommend to people new items. Getting the right titles in front of the consumer is quite vital.
  • Consumer peer to peer promotions of items is now starting to be more key to recommendations.
  • The layer over all media is now starting to be that social aspect. The consumer’s relationship with their peers. Social circles are very important to content discovery. Clicker will announce something next week on this.
  • Clicker will build a layer across all recommendation sites.
  • Roku is a hard problem – particularly with the TV. It is a low resolution device and you have to work with the remote. There is work to do and people in the software business tend to overcomplicate things. The consumer really only wants one movie in the next 2 hours – not 75K.
  • Technology has a long way to go. For instance, YouTube videos are low quality and then being shown the on TV.
  • A lot needs to be done to improve picture quality of the existing content.
  • Now when consumers will watch a show that is not in HD – the consumer now is starting to go elsewhere.
  • Companies are moving to game consoles (apps) to get at the consumers.
  • The new devices (iPad etc) are not disrupting the content models that are out there today.
  • The business model for content is going to have a tough time getting away from cable and subscriber based services. We have this business model that funds the entire industry and it is going to be hard to get away from this.
  • There will be many subscriptions – cable will have to learn to live with the others. People might have around 10 different subscriptions that they are supporting.
  • Download to rent – one off single transaction – economics are different for this model. Download to own also. Subscription is where the consumers want it. They don’t want the other model. We need to not devalue digital in front of the consumer. Many think that digital is free.