As part of our MIPTV 3D coverage, brought to you in association with 3D specialists Presetigne Charter, we interview Atlantic Productions CEO Anthony Geffen who works closely with Sky 3D, producing high end 3D films, including the upcoming 'Kingdom of Plants 3D'. He talks about the need for more 3D series, why glasses won’t stop the progress of 3D popularity and what film he would most like to see converted to 3D.
3D Focus: Explain your relationship with Sky
Anthony Geffen: As you know, we have formed a joint venture with Sky 3D called Colossus Productions and we are close to announcing several new 3D projects very soon. I have very happy with our relationship with Sky and the Colossus joint venture because not only does it allow us to make great films but we can experiment and get the best people involved. The fact is, Sky is the frontrunner in 3D and that is going to pay off in the long term. They have always been very visionary and they are really supporting this relationship to find a way of creating shows that can really stimulate 3D. Working with Sky, the UK is probably the world leader in UK – it is something to be proud of.
3D Focus: Most 3D productions have been produced to cater for 2D viewing. When will there be an opportunity to produce content that would only work in 3D?
Anthony Geffen: If they require massive budgets then one has to think very carefully about how the money is raised but there is huge potential for projects that would only work in 3D.
3D Focus: What is the current state of the 3D Blu-ray market?
Anthony Geffen: It is not massive but there is a growing range. There are 3D Blu-rays that one can buy or rent and the Netflix libraries are beginning to be a game changer. The ‘download to own’ market will be big but it has to grow. It takes time for quality channels to grow. If you look at HD, it took a while to grow and for enough HD content to fill decent channels. The challenge for 3D will be 'where do you get your content from'? It will have to be plucked from different areas – some from 'download to own', some from watching Sky 3D and some from 3D Blu-ray. That will be the case for a while.
3D Focus: When will a business model be established for 3D?
Anthony Geffen: We are still at that stage where, unless there is enough very high quality 3D, it is going to be difficult to shift people across. It could lead to people watching a few shows and then putting the glasses back away in the draw. We all know that glasses free 3D will be a game changer but it has to be about good content. Also, to encourage people to return to 3D, there has to be more series produced. 'Kingdom of Plants' is our first 3D series and will bring people back three times for one subject that is exceptionally good in 3D. Galapagos 3D will do the same. 3D has to work a bit harder. Working in the 3D world you have to be almost better than 2D otherwise people will either not watch it or would rather watch it in 2D.
3D Focus: Where do you stand on the Active verses Passive 3D debate?
Anthony Geffen: I am told the manufacturers, including Panasonic, are starting to produce, certainly in China, passive 3D glasses so it is quite interesting that we have started the active/passive debate and now a lot of the active 3D advocates are manufacturing passive versions in China.
The worry we had about the quality of passive 3D is interesting. James Cameron showed me a passive set that featured a much higher resolution than we are used to. But also, do most people really notice the difference? I think you will find the next set of passive TVs will have a higher resolution.
3D Focus: Why do you think Apple have not released a 3D device yet?
Anthony Geffen: I think it is because they know there is little content out there; that the hardware materials are expensive and then there is the connectivity issue as most people would want to link their device to the big screen.
3D Focus: Have you converted any of your content to an autostereoscopic format?
Anthony Geffen: People keep bringing in glasses free 3D sets to the office or I see them abroad but my feeling is that there isn’t yet a system that is impressive in the sense that you can sit there, move your head, and do a normal television viewing. John Cassy (Head of Sky 3D) said he saw something impressive the other day but I think we are still some way off personally. We have done some stuff for the Nintendo 3DS but we can’t afford to launch glasses free 3D to the public with a quite good system – it has to be really good.
3D Focus: Is Colossus looking at producing 3D programming outside of the natural history genre?
Anthony Geffen: We believe natural history is a great starting point, partly because of my working relationship with David Attenborough but the next group of projects we will announce are a long way from the natural history world. 3D has reached an interesting point where you have to work with 2D producers too because the quality of 2D is very high anyway, so we are working with them to produce the 3D versions of their 2D productions.
3D Focus: Are you looking East?
Anthony Geffen: The Chinese market is going to be huge. The fact that the Chinese government wants to stimulate 3D specifically is really interesting and we are definitely looking that way.
3D Focus: One commentator recently said that 3D technology was released to the public too soon – would you agree?
Anthony Geffen: To be honest with you there were various factors. Sky wanted to push ahead with it and people needed to respond to that but I would say film studios moved too quickly and rushed to dimensionalise their product and that has been more damaging than anything.
3D Focus: Have we reached the creative limits of 3D?
Anthony Geffen: We still have a long way to go. With each of the films we have done we realised the potential is going to get greater and greater. We have realised there is a long way to go with this medium; we are at the beginning of it and that is why it is so exciting. You can look back at colour, the styles people adopted and how they changed it but the nice thing about 3D is you have even more to play with and you can start to break rules.
3D Focus: If you could choose one film to be converted what would it be?
Anthony Geffen: This is a really difficult one but I almost wonder if we are missing the point here and should be looking at something like 'Citizen Kane' or 'Casablanca'. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see a black and white film dimensionalised?
3D Focus: Does 3D only have a future if good glasses free 3D technology is invented?
Anthony Geffen: Think of the lengths people go to, to watch something now. They choose a DVD from the rack, unpack it, remove he previous one and load it up. I don’t think it is much more difficult to put on a pair of 3D glasses so I think 3D can build itself in a non glasses free 3D world. It really is about the content. Whenever you see a good 3D film you forget you are wearing the glasses – you just slip into the world, it’s seamless – that is what we think we achieved with The Bachelor King.
3D Focus: Are you doing things now that you could not have done a year ago?
Anthony Geffen: There are lots of things we are doing differently such as the speed of cutting. It’s a bit like the old days when you look back at drama; they were terribly slow. What is happening with 3D is people are getting used to it; you can break rules. For example, a year ago, we never thought we would be able to go as close as we did with 'Kingdom of Plants 3D' – people would have said it was impossible. What we are doing now compared to 'Flying Monsters 3D' is very different to what we are doing now.
Kingdom Of Plants 3D airs in May on Sky 3D. It will be simulcast in 2D on Sky Atlantic HD.
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