Editor’s Note: Keeping up with technological innovations is part of our job as creatives, so I appreciate this briefing on 3D from director James Stewart, and hope you do as well.
3D already dominates the world of cinema. Since 2010, 3D has driven box office sales, and statistics indicate that 45-80% of audiences choose 3D content over regular content. This year, Martin Scorsese’s 3D hit Hugo earned 11 Academy Award nominations and garnered five wins. Titanic, The Hobbit, Prometheus, The Amazing Spiderman, The Great Gatsby and Life of Pi are all being released in 3D in the next year.
With an influx of affordable 3D TVs hitting the market, television is also catching up in terms of 3D content. The usual suspects–documentaries, natural history television, and sports–are early adopting content genres and ESPN 3D, 3Net, and SKY already offer twenty-four hour 3D channels while BBC and NBC will broadcast the Summer Olympics in 3D this upcoming summer.
Why do we love 3D? Well, we see the world in 3D. It is already all around us in everyday life. Essentially, the way that live-action digital 3D works is similar to the ways in which the human eyes work together to produce a single image. We see the world through two eyes–each with a slightly different angle–and our brain translates this into depth perception. 3D recreates this bifocal effect by shooting with two cameras, each replicating the view of one eye. The space in between the cameras, the inter-ocular distance, mimics the distance between our eyes. Therefore, by moving the cameras closer together or farther apart, 3D effects are created–objects can fly off the screen, known as negative parallax, or objects can descend backwards at great depth, known as positive parallax. This is why 3D is ultimately a more visceral experience than 2D, since it both mimics our everyday sight and because it allows audiences to experience an object up close or be immersed in a world with real depth.
Now, 3D technology is poised to take over the consumer and home entertainment markets, with mobile, gaming and tablets as the next 3D frontiers. The HTC EVO and LG Optimus Max smartphones offer auto-stereoscopic, or glasses-free 3D in the palm of one’s hand. The Nintendo 3DS has sold 15 million units and counting, and the Gadmei 3D tablet is among the first of its kind to offer 3D playback and display (and Apple is rumored to be next!).
But how does this 3D gadget revolution effect marketing and advertising? First, it points quite obviously to a growing demand for 3D spots. The best part about shooting in 3D is that every spot can also be broadcast in 2D. While 3D costs approximately 10 – 25% more to shoot, it opens up broadcast possibilities considerably. In contrast, it costs about $50-$100K to convert a spot from 2D to 3D. 3D also has a lasting impact on audiences. Independent studies by ESPN, XpanD, and Texas Instrument reveal that the use of 3D in advertisements yields a 15% increase in ad recall rates over 2D spots. Clearly, we are on the verge of a 3D coming of age, where a full-scale 3D revolution will literally change the way that everyday business technology is used. Thus, the immersive nature of 3D is shifting the way that stories are told while opening up a world of possibilities ready to be explored.
James Stewart, is a multi-platform director at Geneva Film Co, having directed and produced spots for global brands such as Sprint, Lexus, Toyota, and Genentech as well as cinematic works, including the stop-motion 3D film Foxed! and Beatrice Coron’s Daily Battles. When he is not telling stories in the next dimension, Stewart is speaking at events such as Cannes Lions and the TED Conference.