March 29, 2010

3D film – in glorious Technicolor

The rise of interest in 3D is mainly due to the success of Avatar, which gained about 80% of its revenues, so far, from 3D screens, and showed that consumers are willing to pay more for 3D. However, there are very few 3D cinemas. This hasn't mattered too much so far as there have only been 25 major studio movies released in 3D since 2005, but there will be at least 19 in 2010. Currently, only about 6-7% of screens in North America and Western Europe are digital AND can display 3D (about 3,000 screens in each region).

In response, Technicolor has created an "affordable" system for displaying 3D 35mm film, without any of the sync or registration problems that would normally entail when using two film projectors. It has developed a way of putting both the left and right eye images on a single frame of film (one on top of the other) and using a new split lens to project them.

The only investment exhibitors need to make is in a silver screen (which would also be needed for digital projection). Technicolor provides the lens on pay per use. It already has support for this from seven of the major studios, and is now deploying it to about 150 initial screens. The first release on this format is Dreamworks' just-released How to Train Your Dragon, with Warner Bros' Clash of the Titans next.

By David Fox

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