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Highlights From The 3D Entertainment Summit

Bob Dowling, President of the Bob Dowling Group and co-producer of the 3D Entertainment Summit, kicked off the two-day event September 16th with a summary of the successful 3D grosses.   Looking over a crowd that nearly doubled in size since the inaugural 3D Summit held in January and seeing exhibitors increase from seven to 27, it is clear the entertainment industry is taking the 3D revolution seriously.


Dowling’s opening remarks cast a light on the issues that would resonate throughout the upcoming panels: the need for additional 3D capable theaters to handle multiple 3D releases at a time, the attention to proper projection of 3D movies at these theaters, the need for a standardization process for getting 3D to the general masses in formats such as television (as well as who shall be responsible for the financial burden of this standardization), and the need for film makers to use 3D properly in their creative process.


The first panel, featuring “Coraline” writer/director Henry Selick, and Brian Van’t Hul, VFX Supervisor, was moderated by Variety’s David Cohen.  He referenced a quote by John Wayne to describe the initial reception of 3D to the production industry: “It’s something like my acting; no one seems to like it but the public.”  This panel discussed the creative benefit 3D had on “Coraline.”   The movie deals with a young girl who finds a tunnel allowing her to go to a duplicate universe that is seemingly better in all ways. Selick and his design team built large scale 2D environments to provide a “larger than life” effect of Coraline’s alternate universe.  Van’t Hul and his teams judiciously utilized 3D elements to heighten the effect of the fantastical world, allowing Coraline’s alternative world to have spacial  differences not found in her ordinary life. 


“We used 3D on a lot of the elements on the ground, making them much bigger for the proper effect,” said Van’t Hul.  “There were moments where the 3D was scaled back because the 3D becomes too painful to look at.”


The first lively debate of the day came during the panel entitled “Defining the Options for 3D (2D-3D conversion, 3D capture, CG).  Panelists Tim Sassoon, President of Sassoon Film Design, Eric Edmeades, CEO of the Kmer Group, David Martin, CEO of Legend Films, and Phil “Captain 3D” McNally, Stereoscopic Supervisor at Dreamworks, batted the topic of shooting stereoscopically versus conversion in post back and forth.


“If something was shot well in 2D but never thought of in a 3D format,” said Edmeades, “we can take it and put it in 3D.  We can make the picture immersive in ways one never thought of. “


“Technique doesn’t have a creative element,” countered McNally.  “If it was made in 2D with no thought of the principles of 3D, it’s not going to work as it should.”


Panels such as “3D’s Impact on Digital Deployment – A Global Perspective” and “Where are We in the Digital Roll Out” defined the second major debate: are the theater owners doing all they can to ensure proper projection of 3D movies?  While some audience members voiced concerns that projectionists were not following the clearly outlined instructions provided with films that provided light settings and projection controls for best results, theater owners were detailing their training methods and means of updating 3D projectors at regular intervals. 


As the first day of the 3D Entertainment Summit concluded, their was little drop-off from the crowd during the final presentation, “3D Alternate Content – Live Events, Music and Sports.”  The panel, consisting of Todd Cogan, 3D Producer/Stereographer of “This Is It,” Jonathan Durn, President of Dinedigm Content and Entertainment Group, Chris Saito, Sensio Technologies, Jerry Steinberg, Senior VP of Field Operations, Fox Sports, James Stewart, Director, Geneva Film Co, and Steve Sterling, President, Media Push Entertainment, all agreed that the term “Alternative Content” related to alternative sources of revenue, more than innovative means of delivery.  Due to the success of simultaneous theatrical broadcasts of sporting and concert events that have proven extremely profitable, the panel felt confident that 3D should be utilized for social events. 


“It’s just that it’s not a movie,” said Steinberg, “It’s just shown in a theater because there is no other venue to show it in.”


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