Dr Barry Sandrew – High frame rate movies are inevitable

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barry sandrew legend3d 475x587 Dr Barry Sandrew   High frame rate movies are inevitable

Dr Barry Sandrew, founder and CTO of 2D to 3D conversion company Legend3D

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In the final part of our interview with Legend3D founder Dr Barry Sandrew, we discover that high frame rate movies are inevitable, that the 3D Blu-ray market is starting to heat up and why the Top Gun 3D re-release has proved so popular.  If you missed part one, click here.

3D Focus: Is it too simplistic to say, the more depth created in a shot, the more time, talent and cost required?

Dr Barry Sandrew:  There are times when that is the case.  While our entire creative conversion team is critical to each film we take on, I think one of the important areas of talent required for films with significant positive (inside the screen) and negative (outside the screen) depth and volume falls into the lap of the compositors.  They have to clean up the edge gaps that come along with significant depth.  The real challenge is when there is not enough background data to fill in the gaps.  Then it becomes a painting issue, which in 3D is very challenging.

3D Focus: Can you reveal if Paramount or others are looking to re-release classics?  We have heard about Lionsgate’s plans- will the 3D Blu-ray market be a small but important growth area?

Dr Barry Sandrew: The 3D catalogue business is starting to heat up.  I think with the success of titles like Top Gun and Jurassic park as well as the soon to be released Little Mermaid we’ll see many more of the most iconic feature films going through the creative conversion process.

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3D Focus: As conversion technology like Legend3D solutions increasingly makes a compelling case for creativity and quality, do you predict 3D rigs to eventually only be used on lower/mid budget movies in several years’ time?

Dr Barry Sandrew:  No, I don’t see stereo rigs ever being used less on major feature films simply on the basis of cost.  Stereo rigs and conversion are both illusions.  Both native and conversion are special effects that are important story telling tools for the filmmaker.  I’m biased toward conversion because I know the significant creative potential and creative freedom of the process.

A 3ality Pulsar rig 475x237 Dr Barry Sandrew   High frame rate movies are inevitable

A 3ality Pulsar rig

After Legend has converted a film, the filmmaker can use our new, real time editing system to further direct, modify, polish and enhance their film.  This is a huge advantage for the filmmaker.  I don’t believe a true real time editing system for conversion has ever been available before. 

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The Amazing Spiderman. Legend 3D provided conversion work and assisted with 3D VFX work.  3ality Technica provided the 3D rigs

However, there will always be filmmakers who want to frame each shot in camera because that’s how they feel most comfortable.  Also, there are times when a hybrid approach might be most suitable.  While there are many good native rigs and native stereographers out there, I think high tech rigs like those Steve Schklair created for 3ality are unique in the native world.  I’ve seen times when his rigs have taken a lot of the risk and cost out of shooting.  I’m sure there will always be select titles where Legend3D will be called upon to collaborate with native capture.  In those cases I can see high tech rigs like 3ality being brought in for the purpose of combining the best of both worlds.

3D Focus: If higher or variable frame rates do become popular, will this dramatically affect the workflow of a conversion at Legend3D?

Dr Barry Sandrew: Well, it will increase the number of frames we need to design and render.  But we’ve been working on technology to handle that issue as well as a 4K pipeline.  At NAB last week it became crystal clear to me that HFR and perhaps variable frame rates are inevitable for select films.  Both Warner Brothers and SMPTE are supporting it and I certainly can see its value as another visual effect.  VFX and conversion technologies will have to adapt.

3D Focus: Can you share the rationale behind what movie gets re-released in 3D and what does not?  For example, Finding Nemo did not do as well as expected but The Lion King did very well.  Is there any industry research coming through to suggest what makes a good candidate for a catalogue re-release?
 
Dr Barry Sandrew: That’s a complex issue.  I can point to Top Gun as a catalogue title that is very successful in 3D because it has a very wide demographic.  Also, it’s an iconic film that people will go see in 3D because they remember it from their childhood.  Many people love to see it over and over again because they know the dialog by memory.  In fact, the dialog is fun, the music is great and, hey… it’s Tom Cruise.  Oh and for some reason the volleyball scene has some special significance to many women. 
 
I believe that typically if a catalogue title is currently generating a good deal of revenue as 2D Blu-ray releases, they should do considerably better in 3D.  For instance, I believe The Little Mermaid will do outstanding numbers in the home video marketplace.  Movies that are not doing well in home video today as 2D films will likely not do well in 3D either.

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The Little Mermaid was the first non-digital animated movie to be converted to 3D

3D Focus: Commercially, what is the situation with conversion houses?  It seems conversion work is spread amongst several conversion houses – why was this and is that still the case?  Is it true to say that the goliaths of conversion are now Legend3D, StereoD and Prime Focus?  With only about 40 3D films being released a year, is it becoming highly competitive?

Dr Barry Sandrew: Things seem to be shaking out.  The top tier conversion houses can convert entire films with quality and they can convert multiple films concurrently.  I think issues arise when one takes on more than they can realistically complete without compromising that quality.  Competition remains extremely high with pricing dropping steadily.  Hopefully, the studios will continue to encourage this competition while at the same time, allowing the conversion houses to make respectable margins.

3D Focus: It is a while before glasses free 3D might take off.  There are companies like Triaxes and Dimenco who offer stereo to autostereo conversion services but mainly for digital signage.  Does Legend3D see this as a potentially large area to expand into?  Is the company putting any R&D into this or is it too early days?

Dr Barry Sandrew: We have done a good deal of content R&D for both tablet and cell phone autostereo which, for the near term are the only display devices that make sense.  We can now convert for any and all autostereo devices.

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