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Mr Hollywood at CES: Katzenberg on 3D

Maggie Shiels | 11:19 UK time, Friday, 8 January 2010

Jeffrey Katzenberg is, in Hollywood terms, a big kahuna.

Jeffrey KatzenbergHe is the head of DreamWorks Animation, which is behind films like Shrek, Madagascar, Antz and Monsters vs Aliens.

Before that, he rose through the ranks at Walt Disney, becoming chairman at the age of 34.

The latest title that has been applied to Mr Katzenberg is "3D evangelist". When I mentioned this to him, he enjoyed it and quickly went into top-salesman mode:

"3D is the single greatest innovation for both the making and, maybe even more importantly, the presenting of movies to movie-goers.

"There have been three revolutionary movements in the film world. The introduction of sound, colour and now 3D."

This week, Mr Katzenberg came to the Consumer Electronics Show to extol the virtues of the technology which has been the buzz of the week, appearing with 3D specs at a Samsung demonstration.

Everywhere you walk, promotions scream out at you. You are left in no doubt that the TV-makers are backing this to the hilt.

Given the industry's dismal 2009 and the economic downturn, they certainly need something to help revive interest. And 3D seems to be what every company from Sony to LG and from Samsung to Panasonic is pinning their hopes on. At CES, 3D is like a runaway train.

Mr Katzenberg notes that as far as Hollywood has been concerned, the commitment to 3D has been there for some time:

"Many people believed this was going to be a fantastic opportunity. Many film-makers committed to working in 3D way before the success of Ice Age, Polar Express, Monsters vs Aliens and in particular Avatar."

Avatar just became the fastest movie ever to achieve $1bn in world ticket sales:

"There are going to be 20 3D movies in 2010 and those were all committed to before these had their success. We made that commitment frankly without anticipating what has now become this snowball of 3D into the home, onto the computer and hand-held devices."

What, though, of the leap from cinema to living room? Mr Katzenberg is again wholeheartedly positive:

"I am told that, of the 35 million TV sets to be sold in North America this year, about 10% of them will be 3D-capable. That's a very big first step."

Mr Katzenberg told me that one of the important factors the industry needs to get right in order to ensure a win for 3D is good-quality content.

"The first few years will be driven by sports and gaming, and that is for a specific demographic. It's not for everyone. I don't know how many people want to rush out and watch The View or Oprah Winfrey in 3D," he quipped. "I can tell you watching a football game on a 3D monitor is breathtaking. Watching soccer or playing Call of Duty, which is already a 3D experience, is really really fantastic."

He granted that the technology doesn't mean creatives can forget about fundamentals:

"It's always about the story-telling. 100%. This is another tool for telling the story really well, but it will not make a bad movie good, and it's not going to make an appalling story appealing."

Mr Katzenberg has staked his reputation and the company's future on the format by committing to make every movie in 3D. Are you convinced?


  • 1. At 12:58pm on 08 Jan 2010, lochraven wrote:

    It will take time, but it will happen. You can't stop it.

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  • 2. At 1:39pm on 08 Jan 2010, Michael Robinson wrote:

    Sam Mendes on 3D films...

    "Been there, done that - it's called theatre"

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  • 3. At 1:45pm on 08 Jan 2010, The_Hess wrote:

    Yet more talk of 3D (even if it is the new Twitter, at least it is a clear technology as opposed to a social phenomenon), and yet there is no mention of NVidia, the graphics card design company who have been producing 3D capable graphics cards and glasses for ages. A large number of PC games are 3D ready with no real modifications to the set up, the 3D capabilities are available of cards that entered the market in 2006, and a regular monitor is all that is required for basic 3D (red/blue tinted lenses) or a 120Hz monitor for stereoscopic 3D. Perhaps then it is no surprise that the PS3 has 3D capabilities as the graphics chip inside was developed by NVidia, so the upgrade is purely a software one. And finally, 3D computer games are amazing if the game suits it.

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  • 4. At 1:58pm on 08 Jan 2010, thoughtsfrom wrote:

    Right I dont mind watching a movie in 3d and sitting there for 2 1/2 hours since I get to take them off.

    Watching 4 hours of programmes at home with them on will get very tedious....

    What about those that have to wear glasses anyway to see - we havent gone hd due to the fact the wife is so short sighted the cost of hd is not worth it.

    Wearing 2 pairs of glasses to see your TV isnt really something that I would want to do.

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  • 5. At 2:24pm on 08 Jan 2010, Kevin wrote:

    Lets be clear this is not "3-D" imagery, its a sort of forced stereoscopic image. If the viewer could chose where to focus in the depth of field it would be 3D. when that comes along I suppose they will call it 4D or 3D+

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  • 6. At 3:25pm on 08 Jan 2010, mivadar wrote:

    I honestly don't see what's new about 3D - many movies have been made in 3D, the last ones some 20 years ago, and the technology is the same as used in an old View-Master, or an even older stereoscope.
    The reason 3D in the past has flopped after a few years of surviving each iteration of trying to make it main-stream is the physiological side-effects of viewing long 3D visual sequences (fatigue, headache, eye-strain, among others).

    Digital 3D technology is not fundamentally different from anything that's been used in the past. The films are made by recording and projecting a separate pair of images for each eye. These are slightly offset from each other, giving what's called a binocular disparity cue, which in turn produces an illusion of depth.
    For at least 50 years, polarization filters have been used to separate the streams.

    Vision researchers have spent many years studying the discomfort associated with watching stereoscopic movies - and nothing in the technology has fundamentally changed to avoid this discomfort.
    There's even a standard assessment test for 3-D fatigue in the lab: The "simulator sickness questionnaire" rates subjects on their experience of 16 common symptoms—including fatigue, headache, eyestrain, nausea, blurred vision, sweating, and increased salivation. (Japanese scientists
    use a native term, shoboshobo, to describe the affliction of 3-D viewers.) Despite all the work, no one really knows exactly what causes this visual fatigue, or "asthenopia"; in any case, there's little reason to think it can be overcome.

    The most compelling explanation is the unnatural eye movement associated to stereoscopy. Outside of the 3D movie theater, our eyes move in two distinct ways when we see something move toward us: rotating inward towards the nose; and we squeeze the lenses in our eyes to change their shape and keep the target in focus. Those two eye movements— called "vergence" and "accommodation"— are automatic in everyday life, and they go hand-in-hand.

    Watching something fly towards in a 3D movie is different our eyeballs rotate inward to follow it, as they would in the real world. Reflexively, our eyes want to make a corresponding change in shape, to shift their plane of focus. If that happened, though, we'd be focusing our eyes somewhere in front of the screen, and the movie itself (which is, after all, projected on the screen) would go a little blurry. So we end up making one eye movement but not the other; the illusion forces our eyes to converge without accommodating. (In fact, our eye movements oscillate between their natural inclination and the artificial state demanded by the film.)

    (Actually, this is already referred to in a 1953 article published in the Atlantic, as a problem "inherent to the medium", nothing new about it.)

    The eye-movement issue may even carry other, more serious risks. A long session of 3-D viewing tends to cause an adaptive response in the oculomotor system, temporarily changing the relationship between accommodation and convergence. That is to say, audience members may experience very mild, short-term vision impairment after a movie ends.

    There is insufficient data to test whether this effect can become long-term if the subject is exposed to a continuous 3D stream. But, if 3D television becomes commonplace, no doubt we'll have more data. Small children, their vision systems still in development, could one day be viewing five or six hours of stereo entertainment per day.
    There is already one published case study, from the late-1980s, of a 5-year-old child in Japan who became permanently cross-eyed after viewing an anaglyph 3-D movie at a theater.

    I somehow hope (and actually expect) that the current 3D mania will flop just as the previous ones did.
    (Some amazing 3D movies have been made, like Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder - and still the trend always stopped.)
    If it doesn't flop however, before 3D TVs roll out mainstream, some serious medical research is needed on how this affect eye development, especially in children.

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  • 7. At 4:26pm on 08 Jan 2010, Alec wrote:

    If there is a remote chance that we will get a selection of "New Material" I am all for it.I do feel that TV companies/program providers have run out of material as we are constantly bombarded with repeats.I also wonder where are they going to get the revenue from to buy 3D material when they can't provide a decent selection of fresh material on the present system.

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  • 8. At 4:43pm on 08 Jan 2010, Gregg wrote:

    Sam Mendes said that? Does he only make silent black and white films then?

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  • 9. At 5:11pm on 08 Jan 2010, tacrepus wrote:

    A dreadful cop show, where the main dramatic device is a ham actor removing and replacing his sunglasses, will still be a dreadful cop show if shown in 3D. Even the current 3D flavour of the month, Avatar, has an unoriginal and over simplified storyline. Perhaps Hollywood and the TV companies should aim their focus at improving the standards of the scripts, rather than using technology and special effects to mask the weakness of plotlines. Garbage in 3D is still garbage.

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  • 10. At 5:38pm on 08 Jan 2010, Craig-Disko wrote:

    Desperate financial times call for desperate measures. The stagnant movie studios and struggling electronics manufacturers are desperate to convince us we need 3D TV. We don't.

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  • 11. At 5:53pm on 08 Jan 2010, alan_addison wrote:

    I'm convinced that 3D is the future. But not the current technology.

    Is everyone supposed to have half a dozen pair of specs in case they have visitors during a popular 3D programme?

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  • 12. At 8:36pm on 08 Jan 2010, seasmoke wrote:

    Yawn. So now I can watch complete rubbish in 3D. Wow that is really good news. Less content sacrificed for effects. We have arrived at the feelies.

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  • 13. At 9:53pm on 08 Jan 2010, The Scott wrote:

    I have to say that I think Mr 3d is letting his passion cloud his judgement.
    In the uk we have hoards of people that have no idea what HD is, lots more that see no improvement over SD, lots of people have recently bought new Hd ( but still only view sd on them) sets, and he wants us to all go out and by new tv sets for his 3d "innovation"
    I'm no analyst, but I predict that there will never be a break-through for 3d whilst we all have to wear those silly glasses, although I can see it being pretty cool for gaming, but still pretty much a small market.

    I really cannot see that there is some sort of pent up desire for 3d , I have seen various movies in 3d, if I'm honest none of them were enhanced with 3d, and believe me I love tech, (risked life and limb connecting my Media center to my sky dish thats on the 7th floor, so I could view BBCHD)

    (the movie studios had a record breaking year, nowadays corps complain if they only make 10% year on year, we are not in desperate financial times)

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  • 14. At 03:14am on 09 Jan 2010, ravenmorpheus2k wrote:

    3D TV? Yeah really. For who? I don't see little old Doris down the road watching her favourite soap in 3D, do you?

    I agree with The Scott above - This is just another gimmick designed to fleece the consumer of their money. Sad thing is there are enough people who will buy this, at the exorbitant prices that will no doubt be charged, to make it mainstream enough that us mere mortals are then forced to upgrade, much in the same way as we're being forced into upgrading to Digital TV here in the UK (and I understand it is the same in other countries).

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  • 15. At 11:00am on 09 Jan 2010, jonbly wrote:

    So, can you tell us which TV manufacturers aren't backing 3D (so we can start buying shares)?

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  • 16. At 11:16am on 09 Jan 2010, Aviano Gearz wrote:

    I hope it enters the Indian market very soon..

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  • 17. At 6:36pm on 09 Jan 2010, Les wrote:

    Just when HDTV's become dirt cheap along comes the new must have technology that jacks up the consumer price again.

    Not that this will bother me in any way, I haven't owned a television set since 1995.

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  • 18. At 02:10am on 10 Jan 2010, Justin Brooks wrote:

    I have a 2D-3D video converter with 3D input for shutter field sequential 3D DVDs & 3D tv programmes/films (if they are shown on tv) & with this device it works on ordinary tv sets & dlp hd ready tvs aswell & I think 3D-tv is already here.But now its the HDTVs turn in 3D,by having a slim 3d-tv instead of a bulky crt tube-based tv set,and I still use this 2D-3D converter with 3D video input now.

    The shutter device uses shutter 3D glasses which syncronizes with the ordinary tv set 50htz/60htz raster line refresh rate (the raster line which goes from top to bottom 50/60 times per second)

    And if the tv companies or tv studio's used this device,with the 3D video input from the tv programmes or films shown in 3D,they can output the viewing as a 2D and 3D viewing of the viewers choice.And possibly with an added 3D viewing method/s,such as red/blue glasses,yellow/blue glasses(used in channel 4's 3d week november 2009),side-by-side parallel/cross-eyed format,and over & under format.

    The viewing method 3D format is used in the latest youtube 3D website formally known as "3D Enable = True" ,which shows clips of 3D video's which the viewer can choose to watch the 3D video in their 3D method choice.

    So far,I am the first person in the U.K to film the 2008 winner of tv's Britains Got Talent "George Sampson" in full-colour field sequential 3D with my 3D-lens attachment on my camcorder and the 3D footage can be seen on the video website youtube.Just type in "george sampson and ellis in 3d" and you will see George Sampson with his little cousin Ellis break-dancing in Manchester city centre in red/blue glasses 3D,before he got through to win the Britains Got Talent TV contest.
    (There is a 2D video also of this footage aswell)

    And "George Sampson",with other Britains got talent winners "Diversity" and BGT "Flawless" are also in a 3d movie comming this summer 2010 called "Streetdance 3D" shown in the digital 3D format in 3d cinemas soon.

    I'd say that 3D-TV is already here,its just going to take time,at least there is a cheaper 3dtv alternative and that is the fied sequential 2d-3d converter with 3d video input for ordinary tv sets and all tv sets,if the tv studio's added this feature.

    Just a thought.But what do you think?

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  • 19. At 04:54am on 10 Jan 2010, steve Geiger wrote:

    Mobile TV, OLED, 3D? Give me a break!

    Why go there when the big boys can't master 2D HDTV?

    You don't need 3D glasses to see what is perfectly wrong here.

    My 2 year old Sony KDL46v3000 HDTV was an investment in a name brand gone bad. The telcon board is shot. It's something I'm told that processes the digital signal to make beautiful pictures. The board can't be purchased separately from the panel, which is the actual screen.

    So, the repair is over $1,500.00. I had nothing more than the manufacturer's one year warranty. I thought about the extended but didn't for one reason: It's a Sony. That's like going to Las Vegas with a can't lose bet only to leave broke.

    The certified Sony tech who worked on the set says he's seen this telcon board problem a few times. Too bad for me. It was my first HDTV purchase

    I'm now in the market for a new TV- probably LCD. The question is: stay with the name brand or go lower end? I mean, after all, what's the point of going with a higher priced name brand (i.e., Sony) when televisions have now become disposable items?

    I'm following up with Sony. A nice customer service tech logged my call and said somebody will contact me. I wonder what Sony will do to keep me as a customer? My guess is probably nothing. Too bad for them.

    In the meantime, has anyone seen my rabbit ears?

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  • 20. At 2:16pm on 10 Jan 2010, The_Hess wrote:

    @ 19

    If you still have the original receipts from when you bought the TV you should still have some rights to repair/replacement of faulty goods. As long as the fault wasn't caused by you but is instead a design/manufacturing fault you should be ok.

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  • 21. At 10:26pm on 10 Jan 2010, blaster219 wrote:

    3D, pah. I stopped seeing all those stupid 3D versions of movies at the local IMAX for a reason. Like a significant proportion of the population, I wear glasses and those 3D specs never sit right on the face when position in front of my glasses. When they do, they're uncomfortable for more than 20 minutes, and never seem to be worth the extra money to watch what is usually a mediocre movie (300, Avatar, etc) anyway but in 3D.

    Plus, do you really expect people to pick up a bunch of specs to leave around the house just in case their faveourite show starts getting broadcast in 3D?

    Now, if they could perfect a way to get 3D without requiring cumbersome specs or headsets, then you might persuade the masses to upgrade. Good luck though, HDTV is a hard sell as it is.

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  • 22. At 10:40pm on 10 Jan 2010, l33t_sh1tz0r wrote:

    this is nothing more than pure greed, these giant rich conglamerate companies want to take even more of our money for increasingly obsolete products... remember the days as traditional set-top televisions went from $500 to $300 and raced towards $150 for a 25" t.v.? then they started going up! how's that for supply and demand, as we double and triple the number of units we consumers own they raise the price steadily...

    now televisions regularly cost over $1000 and they're whining they need to come out with even more expensive models to save everything?

    let it all crumble and go away, there's enough dvd's, re-runs, and shows i haven't seen first run to last me several lifetimes.

    why do these wonderfully wealthy yet stupid people think people want to spend even more money on something they already own? and why do they think i want special glasses to do it?????

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  • 23. At 11:56pm on 10 Jan 2010, Chris wrote:

    I frankly don't see 3D having a full uptake until the use of a backwards technology to achieve it is eradicated, the glasses. I don't particularly like going to the Cinema and having to put a second pair over my existing glasses, and thus far the 3D really has added little, apart from with Avatar, and certainly won't be using them at home. If the screen itself can achieve a 3D effect, that would be brilliant and i have seen on TV screens capable of this.

    I mean, for a start most manufacturers might be charging extra for the glasses, maybe in the future you'll get a few pairs free. Panasonic are giving one pair with their new line, which is great for single blokes i'd imagine but rubbish for everyone else. It also cuts out communal events, going to a mates place to watch some Sport with maybe ten people? Who is going to commit to many spare pairs, is anyone certain glasses will be cross screen compatible, and lets not forget you look like a prize moron.

    I don't believe 3D technology in it's current form is going anywhere fast. 3D will become huge, once we find a decent way to do it without glasses.

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  • 24. At 02:08am on 12 Jan 2010, Alex the Hat wrote:

    I have loved Stereoscopic photography (and artwork) for 50 yrs.,when I was first shown my Granny's "Underwood Stereoscope" with boxes full of pictures of fascinating places from all over the world.There was even "The South African War Through the Stereoscope" in which one stereo pair showed real dead bodies in a trench.Awesome stuff for a small boy to see.
    When she died,us children were allowed to claim a few treasures for ourselves...guess what I grabbed.
    When my Godmother decided I was old enough to be given a Kodak I was off ASAP doing my own 3D photos using the simple method of taking one pic while resting my weight on one leg then taking the second using the other.
    Well,when a slew of 3D movies came out in the early '70s("The Mask","A Girl in Your Lap" spring to mind)I LOVED them.They used the red/green anaglyphic technique.The plots were cr*p,they constantly kept poking long pointy things at the audience or throwing fire-balls at them,but I didn't care.
    Then in the 80's came "Jaws 3","Adventures in the Forbidden Zone"etc.,using polarised glasses.WOW!!!
    3D in FULL COLOUR !!!!!!!!(and still poking things at the viewer)
    But still using glasses......a nightmare for spec. users(luckily I can just about do the number-plate test without specs so am not affected by that consideration).
    I wish I could comment on "Avatar" but have yet to see it,every time I check 'tInternet to book a ticket it's always sold out....but as many of the above postings have pointed out you still need the inconvenience of specs to view it or any of the other batch of 3D movies released recently.
    There have been several attempts at spec free viewing TV screens using lenticular/diffraction type screens but they have the severe disadvantage that if you move your head sideways the 3D effect suddenly reverses itself,even more disconcerting than the slight disorientation experienced when leaving the Cinema.
    So,in my humble opinion,as one who has actully tinkered with the medium,what we need is a totally new technology that eliminates the flat 2D screen altogether.
    Now I'm taking you to some Blue-Sky thinking,Lasers.If someone can find the spark of genius to use the fact that light beams cause interference patterns (bright,dark,bright,dark)when projected together,(EEK!!! Quantum Physics!!) then images could be projected WITHOUT a screen at all.No problems finding multiple glasses for unexpected guests,ditto for spectacle wearers.
    Unfortunatly I will probably reach my three-score years and ten before this becomes reality on a commercial basis...bummer...
    But I live in hope of seeing it one day...
    All the best.

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  • 25. At 08:41am on 12 Jan 2010, normal-thinker wrote:

    The no-screen approach seem to me the way forward. How about some kind of device which when worn sends magnetic pulses into the brain to directly stimulate the visual, audio, tactile and olfactory centres. The resultant would be a fully immersive 3D simulation with touch and smells as well. A "senseviron".

    At the moment, this idea is sci-fi, but experiments have shown it is possible to stimulate the brain via magnetic fields. Last year, a team of scientists in America were able to read the brainwaves of a subject and turn this into a (rather fuzzy) image of the what the subject was seeing. Now of we can do that in reverse...

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  • 26. At 8:49pm on 15 Jan 2010, Kevin wrote:

    The industry needs another format? I have a wide screen TV, yet when I watch a program or film in wide-screen; I still have to watch it in pillar box. We get digital TV & most stations I have to use my settings button to put the picture on Smart. When you watch something with titles running along the base of the picture like Football or news channels you cannot read it, you watch wide-screen & everybody looks like they're out of proportion. All my equipment is compatible (Sony) because my previous equipment was a mix & match & I put it down to that. Should the industry force a standard first before they introduce another or is it just business?

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