3D Ad Flow May Be Faster Than Forecast

ESPN 3D grabs early interest; dual-format production looks feasible 6/14/2010 06:41:00 AM Eastern

ESPN HAD expected few advertisers to initially
come onboard for its new stereoscopic
channel, ESPN 3D, with the notable exception
of electronics giant Sony, which is sponsoring
the channel’s launch. But last week ESPN announced
that Procter & Gamble, along with Disney’s Pixar animation
unit, had created 3D spots in time for ESPN
3D’s coverage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

The spots for P&G’s Gillette brand and Pixar’s
upcoming Toy Story 3 3D feature, which will run
alongside Sony spots for 3D sets and ESPN “This Is
SportsCenter” promos, won’t
necessarily bring in extra revenue,
as they were bundled in
with larger advertising buys
across multiple ESPN outlets.
But they are a sign that
3D advertising might take off
faster than HD advertising
did more than a decade ago,
due both to changes in technology
and a different level of
consumer awareness.

ESPN has seen interest in
3D spots from unexpected
places, including advertisers outside of predictable
categories like TV set-makers and movie studios
that are trying to directly monetize 3D products.
Advertising insiders say that luxury automakers
Mercedes-Benz and Lexus have already produced
3D spots (though ESPN has not named them as 3D
advertisers), and predict that gaming will be a big
3D category.

Companies want to be seen as “tech-savvy” by having
their brands associated with 3D, says Tag Garson,
ESPN senior director of acquisition strategy. Garson
adds that consumer awareness of 3D in its early days
is much higher than it was for HD because consumers
have already seen the technology in digital cinemas.
“The enthusiasm is greater for 3D than HD
because of the movie experience,” he says.

Producing spots in 3D is certainly more expensive
than in HD, though advertising executives speaking last week at a DG FastChannel-sponsored panel on
3D advertising were reluctant to put a price tag on it.
But the premium may be low compared to the costs of
airing live sports in 3D. While sports productions have
required a separate truck and set of cameras to achieve
optimal coverage, 3D and 2D versions of a commercial
can be shot using a single set of 3D cameras.

That was the experience of Vincent Geraghty, VP
and content architect for Chicago-based advertising
firm Leo Burnett Worldwide, in creating two 30-
second spots for Samsung’s 3D LED sets that began
airing this spring. Samsung’s
main goal was to pitch 3D
sets to 2D viewers, but it
also had an opportunity to
show 3D versions of the
spots in digital cinemas. That
prompted Geraghty to produce
the spots originally in
3D in high-end fashion, hiring
Avatar cinematographer
Mauro Fiore, PACE’s Fusion
3D cameras and Venice, Calif.,
post-production house
Digital Domain.

“We got a 2D extraction out of it,” Geraghty says.
“Basically, you can take one of the eyes [the left-eye
camera feed] and output an HD master.”

Creating a 3D spot was not without its challenges.
No post house in the Chicago area had the capability
to display the 3D spots for client review, Geraghty
says. So, he convinced a local AMC cinema to rent
out its 3D theater for an afternoon.

Ed Ulbrich, president of the commercial division
for Digital Domain, cautions that with 3D spots there
was really “no such thing” as post-production.

“You’ve got to be doing it throughout the process,”
Ulbrich says. “You can shoot things in a way that may
look great on-set, but if you haven’t seen them contextually
in the edit room, they could be uncomfortable
or painful to watch.”

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