From filmmaking to cutting-edge research, Ontario is emerging as an important center for stereoscopic 3D activity and expertise, with Toronto its focal point.

“The advantage of being based here is we have equipment houses, studios, trained crews and a range of post labs with 3D expertise,” says S3D producer-director James Stewart of Toronto’s Geneva Film Co., which has produced and directed dozens of commercials, concert pics, docs and remastered “Cave of Forgotten Dreams.”

Ontario tax incentives, expanded a couple of years ago, are a critical factor for biz flow, especially now that voters in British Columbia have chosen to phase out one of the tax breaks offered to foreign producers.

“We now provide greater support through post, visual effects and for 3D,” says Ontario Media Development Corp. manager of film Donna Zuchlinski.

From S3D-specialized companies such as Bill White’s equipment-developing 3D Camera Co., production shingle Stereo3D Unlimited, which includes co-founder Tim Dashwood’s R&D sister division, and Diane Woods’ boutique shop 3reedom Digital to Dennis Berardi’s booming visual effects company Mr. X (“The Three Musketeers 3D”) to progressive post houses like Deluxe and Creative Post, Ontario players are increasingly in international demand.

When Stewart started in 2004, he was among a handful of locals working exclusively in S3D.

“It was a cool medium — and of course Imax always understood the power of 3D — but it was still really abstract to people until they started seeing Hollywood movies,” he says.

Founded in 2004, Toronto-headquartered smallscreen S3D pioneer Spatial View focuses on mobile devices and earlier this year launched 3DeeCentral, an online store of S3D content.

“Just as the service community has room for growth, the creative community here has huge potential for growth, because when tablets and phones go 3D there will be huge interest for content,” Stewart says. “My conversations at conferences now are less about technology than creativity.”

In recent years government agencies have ramped up support for innovation-focused collaboration.

“If there is innovation happening anywhere in the world, (Ontarians) are all over it,” says John Helliker, director of the Sheridan Institute-founded Screen Industries Research and Training Center in Toronto.

The center fosters collaborative research (workflow, software, motion capture, etc.), training and relationship-building between academic and industry here and abroad working in digital image capture and creation — with S3D a key area. A new Pinewood-housed theatrical 3D screening facility will serve the center’s research and be made be available to Toronto productions needing footage evaluation starting this fall.

York U. is homebase for 3D Film Innovation Consortium (3D Flic), which unites scientists, creators and industry partners for research and development in S3D film language and production.

Both 3D Flic and the center are talking about collaborative projects. This fall they jointly launch a 3D Ontario resource Web portal dedicated to comprehensive info, company profiles and news.