3-D coming to a post house near you

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Next year, 3-D will at last go from being a fascinating fad to an inevitable future. Over a dozen stereoscopic titles are slated for 2009 release, even more planned for 2010 -- which means for Hollywood post houses, the time to act is now. Fortunately, many leading post houses (and specialty 3-D facilities) are building stereoscopic post infrastructures.

A few DI systems (like Quantel's Pablo and Assimilate's Scratch) already have 3-D features on the market. More are on the way, including da Vinci's Resolve, Autodesk's Lustre, Avid Technology's DS Nitris and Digital Vision's Film Master.

Of the large Hollywood area post houses, FotoKem jumped into the arena early, offering a Quantel Pablo with 3-D capabilities. It posted "Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert" for Disney earlier this year. Technicolor Digital Intermediates is already offering 3-D and is beta testing Resolve technology with 3-D capabilities, while Efilm and LaserPacific have their own setups, both of which include a beta software of Autodesk's Lustre with 3-D capabilities.

Ascent Media Group -- parent of facilities like Company 3 and Encore Hollywood -- is planning to upgrade its Riot facility with a 3-D-ready suite. Specialty 3-D businesses, including 3ality Digital and Stereoscope, also offer stereoscopic postproduction.

The upgrade is a major undertaking in many ways. In addition to the upgraded DI/color grading system, a post house also requires the installation of a 3-D projection system, such as one from a company like RealD or Dolby Digital Cinema. If using RealD, it also requires the installation of a special "silver screen" for viewing.

Storage and infrastructure are other key elements. Estimates suggest that double or even triple the amount of storage per project is needed to accomplish a digital intermediate in 3-D.

Still, it's not all smooth sailing. Demand for the service is limited, though growing. It's far from cheap to add 3-D capabilities, which means most companies are proceeding with caution. And DI has an impact on 3-D production and schedules, explains Efilm's vp business development Michael Cooper. "I would estimate (you will be) spending about 50% more time in the suite. In addition to the color correction, you need to be paying attention to the convergence."
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