Startup taking 3-D mobile

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Director Randal Kleiser and inventor Michael Mehrle are introducing a technology designed to enable the viewing of 3-D content on such mobile devices as PDAs and iPods without the use of special glasses.

Their startup, Neovision Labs, has developed this unique technology called iFusion, which is patent pending.

In addition to offering a new capability to consumers, Kleiser, whose credits include "Grease" and "Honey I Blew Up the Kid," and Mehrle believe this unique technology has the potential to help forward the 3-D movement by giving the studios a venue in which to repurpose their 3-D-produced content after its theatrical release.

Noting that 2-D features make up a large portion of their revenue from DVD sales, Kleiser estimated that there are about 40 3-D films in some stage of production that "have no life" after the theater. "Now they could be repurposed for cell phones and iPods," he said. "There is such a need (for an additional 3-D distribution platform). There is content that needs to be shown somewhere."

Mehrle, president and founder of Neovision, said that iFusion is an optical system designed to deliver affordable stereo 3-D content to any type of flat-panel display without the use of special glasses; it is not device-dependent because no software or hardware modifications are necessary. Mehrle said that this technology could therefore also be built for use with television displays or computers/laptops.

The attachment would be secured over the device screen. Mehrle said the attachment would be marketed as an accessory for hand-held devices and would list for about $50.

This technology does not convert a 2-D film to 3-D; rather, consumers would download 3-D content to the device for viewing. The content could be animated or live-action films produced in 3-D or films that were produced in 2-D and later converted to 3-D (like "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas"). In addition to features, 3-D shorts, 3-D special-venue films and other such content could be used with the system.

The content has to be specially encoded for this application. "Basically, it's zero added costs. You can do it on a laptop," Mehrle said.

Kleiser said he hopes this development would help grow 3-D production. As a director, he is excited about the possibilities that 3-D offers to filmmakers. "The director wants to make the audience feel visually like part of the story; that's what 3-D does," Kleiser said. "Directors have another tool that they can use for dramatic emphasis. (Images) could come out of the screen into their faces, the way we would use a close-up."

Neovision is seeking additional equity funding in order to expand.

Previously released 3-D content includes Sony Pictures' "Monster House" and the Walt Disney Co.'s "Chicken Little" and "Meet the Robinsons." Among the upcoming titles are James Cameron's "Avatar," Robert Zemeckis' "Beowulf" and the concert film "U2 3D." DreamWorks has announced that all of its animated films will be released in 3-D beginning in 2009.
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