Tools tweak next generation of 3-D

Technology applied to mobile phones, PCs

The next big thing in exhibition has been around for more than 50 years, but proponents insist that this time, 3-D is here to stay.

This year’s special focus on 3-D at Bifcom covers the technology from several perspectives, including exhibition, production and the conversion of 2-D material to 3-D (a process known as dimensionalization).

Latter process was illustrated by Matthew DeJohn of In-Three with a presentation of more than 10 still cuts from “Star Wars: Episode 3” and Korean hit “The Host.”

However, participants also emphasized that 3-D is set to invade more than just the traditional cinema.

Korean firm MasterImage had specialized LCD screens on display that can provide 3-D imagery ranging in size from 2.2 inches to 19 inches without any need for glasses.

The first mobile phone equipped with MasterImage’s screens will go out in China in November, while mobile PCs and MP4 players will follow in the next six months.

Other applications include use in PC monitors (already launched last December) and in special coin-operated viewing devices that are being prepped for use in theater lobbies.

MasterImage is also emerging as a rival in Asia to firms specializing in 3-D projection such as RealD, Dolby and NuVision.

Company’s internally developed single-projector type system has been adopted by Korea’s largest exhibitor CJ CGV, and was also showcased this spring at the 4-D airport theater in Hong Kong. (4-D refers to 3-D imagery combined with other sensory effects including smoke, vibrating chairs, moving lighting, etc.)

It was clear from technical demonstrations that the hardware required for 3-D screenings is advancing quickly.

“There is no longer any excuse for headaches or eye fatigue in 3-D screenings,” said DeJohn at an afternoon panel. He maintained firms are also within reach of so-called “perfect 3-D,” meaning an image without any blemishes, exactly as the director intended it.

But the availability of content produced specifically for the 3-D medium will be a significant factor in pushing the new technology. Lee Young-hoon, prexy of MasterImage, estimates the first Korean 3-D film will be made in 2009, when according to Screen Digest there will be over 5,000 digital 3-D screens in use across the world.

That same year, James Cameron’s ambitious “Avatar 3-D” is scheduled to hit screens, and the success or failure of that title could have a significant effect on the future development of the industry.