IBC2008: Katzenberg: 3-D HD Is ‘Our Future’

DreamWorks Animation SKG CEO shows off technology in live feed to Amsterdam.

DreamWorks Animation SKG CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg made a larger-than-life appearance at IBC2008 Sunday night, though he actually wasn’t on the ground in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Instead, Katzenberg visited with hundreds of IBC2008 attendees through the "Big Screen" in the RAI Auditorium via a groundbreaking 3-D HD live broadcast from Los Angeles, where he was interviewed by Elizabeth Daley, professor and dean of the USC School of Cinematic Arts, and presented with the IBC Honor for Excellence for his work in using computer animation in major motion pictures.

The remote feed -- coordinated by 3-D production company 3Ality Digital Systems, satellite-service firm Arqiva, projection company Christie and 3-D presentation specialists RealD -- was billed as the first trans-Atlantic HD stereoscopic 3-D broadcast.

Katzenberg wowed the sunglass-wearing crowd with 3-D HD clips from Kung Fu Panda and the upcoming Monsters vs. Aliens, which is set to open next spring. He also proclaimed that 3-D HD will eventually be ubiquitous among the motion-picture and television industries.

“I believe this is the future,” Katzenberg said. “Not only my future, but all of our futures. It’s the most exciting thing to happen to the visual experience in 70 years, and I think it will be completely transformative.”

3-D HD production -- which was promoted at IBC2008 both by specialist firms like 3Ality and by more traditional vendors like Quantel -- takes extra work, Katzenberg admitted. He said 70% of the edits for the 3-D version of Kung Fu Panda were different from the 2-D version, most of them subtle changes to optimize the 3-D effect. But with theater owners now viewing 3-D as a significant growth opportunity, he predicted that 3-D HD production and presentation will take off over the next few years.

While there may be only 2,500-3,000 3-D-capable theaters in North America and some 500-700 internationally when Monsters vs. Aliens hits theaters next Easter, giving perhaps 30% of the potential audience a chance to see it in 3-D, Katzenberg expects 75%-80% of theater-goers to be able to see Shrek 4 in 3-D when it bows a year later.

He also predicted that 3-D HD will make its way to living-room sets, as manufacturers are starting to include that capability in their latest flat-panel displays, although he thinks video gaming will be the initial driver in the home.

For now, Katzenberg expects 3-D HD to allow theater-owners to reclaim visual superiority over the home viewing experience, where HD sets and HDTV programming have both reached widespread adoption.

“The theater experience, in many ways, has been trumped by the home experience,” Katzenberg said. “This is a chance for them to leap back ahead, and make it a growth business again … It’s a chance to bring people back to movie theaters who stopped going.”


IBC2008 Preview

AmberFin, Avid, NuComm, Ross Video, Orad Hi-Tec Systems, Telestream among technology companies heading to Amsterdam for IBC2008.