Tamping Down 3D Content Costs
ADS Pitches TV Nets on Cheaper 2D-to-3D Conversion
By Todd Spangler — Multichannel News, 8/1/2011 12:01:00 AM EDT
It’s a classic conundrum: There’s little 3D content available on TV, so consumers aren’t rushing to buy 3D televisions — but networks don’t have any incentive to spend money producing or delivering threedimensional content, because there are so few compatible sets out there.
Advanced Digital Services, a Los Angelesbased digital production services firm, is claiming it can help fill the 3DTV content pipeline. The company last week launched a 2D-to-3D conversion process that CEO Tom Engdahl said is fast, high quality and relatively inexpensive by Hollywood standards.
The ADS solution uses some automated 2Dto- 3D conversion equipment, but relies on three expert stereographers on staff to handle the artistic side of producing 3DTV. “This isn’t just running it through a converter box,” Engdahl said.
The upshot is that ADS can convert conventional material into 3D for in the neighborhood of $3,000 to $5,000 per minute, and can complete a one-hour TV show (42 minutes of video) within four to 10 days. By comparison, high-end Hollywood postproduction houses charge up to $110,000 per minute — and require several months — to manually convert a fi lm frame-by-frame, using rotoscoping to outline objects for 3D effects.
“What we’ve done is to take all these techniques to come up with the optimal solution,” Engdahl said. “It’s a very interesting and tricky process to do it correctly.”
For certain effects, ADS does use 2D-to-3D automated conversion equipment from vendors, including JVC, Sony and Teranex. But Engdahl stressed that the automated conversion technology is just one tool in ADS’s toolbox, not the central mechanism.
Dynamic Digital Depth, a 2D-to- 3D technology vendor based in L.A., is offering to convert TV content for as little as $10,000 per hour, and CBS has experimented with the solution (see “CBS Mulls 3D Cable Network,” July 11, 2011).
“We believe that there’s a middle ground” between highly automated and highly manual conversion techniques, Engdahl said. He said the 3D material ADS produces has been validated by studios as meeting their quality standards.
Engdahl joined ADS in April 2011 after serving as senior vice president of Comcast Media Center’s Radiance division. CMC acquired Radiance Technologies in 2008, where Engdahl was CEO.
ADS already has several studio customers on the 3D front, according to Engdahl, but he wouldn’t identify them.
“You want to be able to put some new 3D content on TV, so people aren’t watching the same thing over and over again,” he said.