With “Avatar” heating up Hollywood interest in stereoscopic 3D pics, another company is jumping into the competition for S3D dollars.
Oculus 3D, a startup headed by three tech vets, is bowing OculR, an S3D solution for 35mm film aimed at theaters that can’t afford to go digital but want to be able to show S3D prints right away.
Oculus CEO Marty Schindler told Daily Variety the company will target underserved markets, especially “exhibitors that can’t afford to go digital as a first step and 3D as a second step.”
He noted that studios are leaving money on the table because there aren’t enough S3D screens to meet demand, and successful pictures are being forced out of theaters when a new S3D release arrives.
Also, the cost of d-cinema is prohibitive in parts of the world — and the projectors carry steep import duties in some territories. “This is a long-term solution,” Schindler said. “We don’t look at this as an interim step whatsoever.” That’s a swipe at Technicolor, which presented its own 3D-on-film solution as an interim solution until digital cinema is fully deployed in theaters (Daily Variety, Sept. 1).
Schindler declined to reveal the cost of the OculR system but said it would be “very competitive.” The company claims it will save exhibs at least $150,000 over the cost of a d-cinema system. OculR will be offered for sale or lease, but not with the royalty system favored by RealD.
Oculus will begin setting up demos “in the next couple of weeks.”
Oculus 3D’s founders are president and chief science officer Lenny Lipton, who invented the key technology behind the RealD S3D system, the “Z Screen”; Schindler, a vet of Industrial Light & Magic, Fox, MGM and PricewaterhouseCoopers; and exec VP-chief technology officer Al Mayer Jr., well known for his work on camera design and optics.
The critical name in the mix is Lipton, who first gained fame as the lyricist of folk hit “Puff the Magic Dragon” and used the financial freedom he earned from the proceeds to study 3D. He eventually founded StereoGraphics, which developed the technology for active shutter glasses, now popular for S3D TV, as well as the Z Screen.
RealD acquired StereoGraphics in 2005 and incorporated its technology into its theatrical and professional systems.
Lipton ankled RealD last year.