3D: the stereoscopic future requires preparation

Cane Toads - The ConquestToads have become Australian 3D ambassadors, and for everyone else planning on producing or working on a 3D film, there is much work to be done.

Cane Toads: The Conquest – Australia’s first feature-length 3D offering – might not be a spectacular VFX like Avatar, but its uniqueness proved to be an advantage when it premiered at Sundance in late January.

After the premiere, director Mark Lewis was too busy promoting his doco – although he took a minute to say that the film made several sales at Sundance and a 3D release was confirmed for Australia – so Encore spoke with Stuart Monksfield, head of the post-production house that worked on the Toads project, Cutting Edge.

Stereoscopic 3D will not be limited to cinema releases, and post-production houses all around Australia are getting ready for 3D TVCs and special events.

“The success of Avatar has made the public more aware of 3D, but within the industry we knew this was coming. That movie has kicked off a considerable growth in 3D projection in the exhibition sector, and once they have made that investment they want content to be put on the screens,” said Monksfield.

But Australian content creators thinking about 3D as a box office magnet and key to a successful cinema run should also be aware of a new challenge: the limited amount of 3D-capable screens available not only in Australia, but worldwide.

“In the US, 3D-capable cinemas are all fully booked for the next year because the studios have so many titles coming out, so finding a slot for an independent 3D movie will be very tricky,” said Monksfield.

“It is a new challenge, but it proves the point that it’s taken off, and it’s what the market is wanting.”

International broadcasters have already done 3D television tests and although it’s early days and few people have 3D-capable sets, but they want to start gathering content to keep their 3D channels once they’re launched.  Documentaries will be hot property in the home 3D market, but content creators and the industry as a whole have to be prepared for it.

“Mark Lewis is lucky to be that early on with a product which people are very interested in,” said Monksfield.

“In terms of 3D Outside Broadcast, our involvement is purely investigative; we’re trying to react and respond and be ready for when that take off happens in Australia. There’s nothing stopping Australia other than assigning a channel with enough bandwidth to carry a signal of high enough quality when squeezed to get it to display.

“As soon as there’s enough content, we’ll see pay-TV switch on a 3D channel just like they did with their high definition services. That can only be done when the technology is there; now the standards are getting written and there is enough content starting to be created so running 3D services will be viable within 12-18 months in Australia.”

Lewis approached a number of post-production companies at the end of the shoot, and although Cutting Edge was not 3D-ready and other post houses were, he decided to stay with them.

“He openly told us that it was because of our initial response, enthusiasm, research and feedback that they came back to us.”

Despite that relative late start, Cane Toads makes Cutting Edge the only post-production company in Australia to complete work on a 3D feature, collaborating with the film’s stereographer, Paul Nichola. The company invested in upgrades for their DI grading theatre and learned that balancing the left and right eyes is trickier than it sounds. They’ve already shared their expertise with other players such as Animal Logic.

“We’ve been involved in tests for some of the other productions. Everyone is sharing the knowledge and we seem to be a kind of magnet for those people to come to us at the moment, as we’ve already done it,” said Monksfield.

“We want to help customers and the industry gear up and that’s something we’re doing without giving too much away to our competition.”


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.