Market Watch

Further Films Converted to 3D

January 20, 2011

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Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader
is available in cinemas following the conversion of all 1500 shots from 2D to 3D. The decision to convert to 3D was made post-shoot. Gulliver's Travels has also undergone the conversion process in post-production.

The conversion process requires that elements to be dimensionalised are isolated frame-by-frame. These areas are then rotoscoped and molded in 3D space. A typical shot, depending on its complexity, will contain between 20 and 100 elements to be dimensionalised.

Additionally, such projects often require a storage and networking infrastructure capable of supporting the transfer of large files between different locations. Prime Focus, the post-production house behind the Narnia conversion, made use of 120 networking nodes comprising 220TB of storage.

With the increasing prevalence of the 2D to 3D conversion process, it is important to consider its implications beyond the cinema screen.

The first major opportunity is in broadcast. Currently, there are 19 television channels broadcasting 3D content worldwide, largely with a focus on film and sport. One viable way to broaden the 3D catalogue, and increase revenue, would be to utilise the conversion process. However, the cost of 3D conversion is still prohibitively expensive at $10m-$15m and so it is likely to be 12-24 months before broadcasters undertake serious conversion projects. In this time there will be substantial growth in the installed base of 3D TV sets worldwide: rising from 3.3m in 2010 to 23.7m in 2012. These sets will provide the screens for a potential influx of 3D broadcast content as the conversion becomes an affordable option.

3D conversion also provides an added driver to the storage and networking sectors. Whilst the conversion process itself is often a largely manual task, the infrastructure needed to support the stereographers and artists can be considerable. For instance, a post-production house may need to receive and transfer 2K DPX files from a client's site to their own. As the number of concurrent conversion projects increases, the ability to flexibly scale-out networks and storage will become a necessity.

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