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December 18, 2014

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Hollywood panelists say more 3-D on the way

Much still to be done for live presentations, in-home viewing, they say

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Melissa Arseniuk

Hollywood film executives discussed the future of 3-D at the movies Friday during a panel discussion at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Among the panelists, from left, were Chris Cookson, President of Sony Pictures Technology and Sony Pictures Entertainment; Bob Lambert, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Technology Strategy and Development, The Walt Disney Company, and Andrew Setos, President of Engineering of Fox Group, Twentieth Century Fox.

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What does the future hold for Tinseltown? A panel of four “Hollywood studio visionaries” today said they don’t know for sure, but 3-D will probably be a big part of it.

The panel discussion came the day after Sony and Fox sports co-hosted a 3-D showing of the BCS national football championship game at the Paris Las Vegas hotel’s RealD-equipped theater. The demonstration required the invited guests to wear special 3-D glasses to fully appreciate Sony’s SXRD 4K projection 3-D technology, but not everyone was blown away by what they saw.

While the Hollywood heavyweights on Friday's panel were encouraged by Thursday night’s showing, they also agreed that much work still needs to be done.

Fox President of Engineering Andrew Setos said he thought the presentation made a statement.

“I think last night’s demonstration was more to demonstrate (that) 3-D live production is here,” Setos said, acknowledging the technology still has a ways to come.

“There is a lot to learn about 3-D live production,” he said. “A lot of skills have to be developed to ensure a 3-D experience is as satisfying as a 2-D experience.”

Sony’s president of pictures technology, Chris Cookson, agreed.

“Making 3-D is easy, making good 3-D is hard,” he said. “We have a lot to learn.

“It was interesting to watch last night’s demonstration because some of it was really stunning … but I think we’re just beginning to learn how to do that,” Crookson said.

The five-man panel discussion was held as part of the annual Consumer Electronics Show at the Venetian. During the 75-minute sessions, the Tinseltown titans said their fingers were crossed for the development of intuitive, universal and user-friendly 3-D technology.

“There will be a wide range of ways of bringing 3-D into your home … and it is inevitable that they all will not do it the same way,” Cookson said.

Disney’s senior vice president of worldwide technology strategy and development, Bob Lambert, however, took a more optimistic approach.

“An opportunity there is for manufacturers and content developers to work together … to create some specializations and standards to move forward,” he said.

Setos agreed and hoped universal technology formats would open the door for further development and innovation.

“The system we embrace should be embraceable by different media,” he said. “We want a system that works for everyone and let the display manufacturers go to town.”

Lambert also saw opportunities for 3-D beyond the consumer market. “It seems to be a great opportunity for theater owners to differentiate their theaters,” he said, noting there are currently just a few thousand theaters worldwide equipped for 3-D.

CES is closed to the public and admission is limited to technology industry insiders. The annual four-day conference continues through Sunday at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Venetian and Sands Expo Center.

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