M+E Daily

3D TV Boosters Upbeat About Programming Development

Home entertainment executives pushing the development of 3D television remain undaunted by recent analyst reservations about the format’s future.

At the 3D Entertainment Summit @ CE Week in New York on Thursday, a panel of executives concurred that 3D TV still promises a compelling consumer experience, and that the television industry had only begun to work out creative considerations and production logistics to bring more 3D programs into living rooms.

But while 3D TV ramps up, the format is still going strong in theaters, the panel maintained.

“A lot of the gripes [about 3D movies] don’t necessarily hold water,” said Tim Pastore of 3net, the 3D cable channel jointly owned by Discovery Communications, Imax, and Sony. Addressing the relative dimness of 3D films compared to 2D pictures, Pastore offered, “Even a dim 3D experience, for me, is better than a 2D show.” Responding to analyst reports that 3D has comprised smaller less than half of the opening-weekend admissions for certain 2011 films, the executive noted that “no one” has analyzed “the quality of the movies themselves” in terms of their storylines, casting, or other factors that traditionally bear on box-office performance.

Industry-wide revenue for 3D movies, Pastore contended, “is only trailing by a few percentage points from last year. It’s only June, so we have a lot of legs left in 2011.”

The year is also still young for the 3net cable channel, which launched in February. Currently 3net runs 100 hours of original 3D programming; the channel plans to double amount of content by the end of 2011.

Current 3net programming is largely within Discovery’s natural-history wheelhouse. But Pastore said that with the audience for 3D TV so nascent, the channel is attempting to “touch” as many genres as it can this year, from action sports and music to historic documentaries.

Panelists also agreed that 2D-to-3D conversions — some of which have received poor reviews in theaters — are not inherently poisonous for 3D TV producers. They’re just expensive.

Bernard Mendiburu of 3D eyewear maker Volfoni pointed out that stereoscopic conversions are as much of an art and skill as any visual effects production; as in the VFX market, Mendiburu noted, studios get what they pay for.

Pastore said that while all of 3net’s 3D programming to date has been shot “natively” in the format, the channel will consider conversions of 2D shows in the future. “For us,” he said, “it will become appropriate when we can afford it.” Conversion rates in Hollywood, Pastore said, range between $40,000 and $100,000 for just one minute’s worth of content — well outside of a cable channel’s budget. But those rates “will come down,” he predicted.