Are advertisers and agencies ready for 3D?

Cameron, Avatar, stereoscopic 3D, active v. passive, left eye right eye, negative and positve parallax, sex for the eyes….all buzz words in the world of 3D production, but how well do advertisers and further more agency producers and creatives know how to best exploit the technology in creating more dynamic and creative ads and branded entertainment.

I was recently told by one of London’s only professionally qualified stereographers that when Cameron was making Avatar, he not only had directors notes and shooting board but specific 3D notes to ensure that every last detail was considered for how his vision for 3D was to be utilized and best executed. That’s what worked so well with Avatar, it was never meant to be an ‘in your face’ theme park-esque experience it was to be a subtle yet immersive experience. This is where I see many creatives failing as the 3D bandwagon literally rolls out of the screen and into our faces.

With the success of Avatar, Alice and with more high profile theatrical releases such as Toy Story 3 planned, we have seen rapid and committed investment to making 3D content more available and accessible in and out of the home.

2010 will see 3D digital cinema screens literally treble from approx 300 to nearly 900, 1st generation 3D TV screens and blu-ray players from the likes of Panasonic hitting the shelves in early May and Sky scheduled to soft launch the first 3D broadcast channel from April/May. With this kind of momentum, plus the ‘3D premiums’ that can be made, 3D is this years HD and it makes sound business sense to be involved – but how will all this affect brands and agencies?

Firstly 3D represents a new opportunity for brands to ‘create media firsts’ and more immersive and engaging visual brand experiences. However I can see it will take a little time for ‘getting the most’ out of the technology, with such little technical expertise and hardware currently available in the UK, before we even get to agencies and creative teams, thinking with a Cameron-esque 3D head on.

So be prepared for spears being thrown at the audience selling a chocolate bar, or a red phone jumping out the screen to sell car insurance before we see more intelligent creative applications.

The more savvy agencies, will embrace the opportunity and think outside 3D clichés that have existed and been utilized pretty much since the dawn of Logie Beard time…I for one have ensured that all my agency creative teams have been lectured by directors and stereographers in how to best utilize the technology and use it within the creative process instead of retro fit after the idea has pretty much been signed off by the client. It has been encouraging to see how negative parallax (depth inside the screen) is being considered to be just as effective as the positive parallex (stuff appearing outside the screen), that you will undoubtedly see a lot of in your local cinemas in the upcoming months.

So clients beware, expect to see some obvious and dodgy 3D scripts, so-called ‘3D experts appearing with your Agency producers’ (I can pretty much count the actual number of professionally qualified people on about 3 fingers) and 40% premiums lumped onto your production estimates when this really doesn’t need to be the case.


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