James Cameron, Vince Pace to Reveal New Business Model for 3D Broadcasting

James Cameron Speaks Cinemacon 2011
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LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 30:  Filmmaker James Cameron attends a digital filmmakers forum at Caesars Palace during CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners, March 30, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In Monday's NAB keynote, the duo will talk about their goal of pulling off the " 'Avatar' of sports."

LAS VEGAS -- James Cameron and 3D innovator Vince Pace --who together developed the Fusion 3D camera system used on movies including Avatar -- are working to change the model for 3D sports and other live event broadcasting, which includes further development of the Fusion system.

Cameron and Pace, who is CEO of 3D technology supplier PACE and who described the goal as pulling off the "Avatar of sports," are scheduled to deliver a keynote Monday at the National Association of Broadcasters Show in Las Vegas.

"We are going into the next phase of Fusion development," Pace told The Hollywood Reporter, hinting that product and company updates would be part of the NAB keynote. "You're going to see it for the next round of production this year."

They aim to create a model that works, which includes getting 3D production costs down to an acceptable level for television budgets. The idea is to work toward a production model where the 2D and 3D broadcast is produced as one.

"The business model has to evolve to a single crew, single mobile production (for 2D and 3D)," Pace said, adding that a 15-20% increase in production costs over 2D seems to be a percentage that the market would be able to sustain with the still limited audience. "Once you start exceeding those numbers, it starts to go against the grain of what broadcasters are receiving as revenue for that effort."

Part of their plans involve communication with manufacturers. "For Jim and I, it's about getting back to the foundation of what made Avatar successful and what makes the technology successful," Pace said, noting that part of the dialog needs to be about camera size. "We need to get the manufacturers on board. (Cameras) need to be compact, mobile and cost effective."

Pace also emphasized the fundamental goal of producing entertainment. "The entertainment level has to have that gold standard. If you compromise that, we are definitely heading in the wrong direction.

"We are concentrating on a market where we will be three to five years from now; that is what we did the first time," he said. "A lot of people are trying to do this overnight. That would have been like Jim releasing Avatar in 2004 and most people would not have seen it (because the volume 3D screens were not installed)."

Pace is supplying the 3D Fusion rigs for number of upcoming sporting events for ESPN3D, including this week's Masters golf tournament and the NBA Finals.

The notion of making live 3D production more cost effective is likely to be a much discussed topic this week at NAB. In addition to the attention that the topic will receive from Cameron and Pace, exhibitors will be talking about cost models.

3Ality Digital -- whose 3D production technology is currently in use on The Hobbit and The Amazing Spider-man -- is aiming to make 3D production more cost effective with the introduction of new, automated technologies. These include IntelleCal, designed to automatically align two cameras on a stereo rig, without the intervention of a technician; and IntelleCam, designed to automatically control the convergence and the interaxial spacing of the cameras, without the need for a separate convergence puller at each rig.

"Typically, there is one convergence operator per camera. If 12 cameras, that's 12 people," said Steve Schklair, CEO of 3Ality. "If you eliminate these roles (including hotel, airfare, etc.), maybe you are cutting $80,000-100,000 (on a live production). That is a big number toward making a business case that works."

Like Pace, Schklair believes 2D and 3D broadcast infrastructure needs to be combined.

Sony will also have a collection of new technologies aimed at reducing the cost of 3D production. That includes the introduction of a shoulder-mount 3D camcorder, which grabbed attention when it was previewed in the fall.