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Startup Diaries from the UK: Creating Tomorrow’s Pioneers in 3D Film | TNW

May 31, 2013

From The Next Woman Magazine by Rachael Clohesy on 5/30/13

“There is a baseline opposition to any technological advancement – tune it out.”

Jim Chabin, Chairman of the International 3D Society, quote from the 3D Creative Summit in London, March 27th 2013.

Our first contact with 3D was through the delivery of the evaluation trials for an EU project called Saracen. This has designed and developed a peer-to-peer 3D video streaming platform. Our role was to deliver trials of the platform with participants aged between 15-25 years. This group generally adopts new technology more quickly than other age groups.

In order to encourage engagement in the trials we offered free video production training in 2D and 3D. This is what we do, and we know that it is a great hook as these skills provide an ‘edge’ in any tight labour market.

This work resulted in our invitation to speak at the first 3D Creative Summit in London at the British Film Institute. Other panelists included Ang Lee, Richard Attenborough and 3D creators from the Life of Pi and The Hobbit.

However, now that we are skilled in training people to make short 3D content as part of a ‘User Generated Content’ offer there is no looking back. This is a growth industry with an exciting future. There are many people who disagree and dislike this new medium.

Through delivering grass roots 3D training to young people on the brink of their film careers, we know that this group engages with 3D and sees it as an enhancement to their story.

Growth of 3D

In order to back up my claims about the future of 3D you need some stats! Some of this information was taken from Jim Chabin’s speech at the 3D Creative Summit in London in March 2013.

+ The term “3D” is googled approximately 8 billion times per month.
+ In 2012 there were 37 3D films released, from the sublime (Life of Pi) to the ridiculous (Piranha 3DD).
+ 40 3D films will be screened in 2013 (I wait in anticipation for the Great Gatsby).
+ 3D TV Sales accounted for one third of all TVs bought in the UK in 2012 (source BBC online, March 2013).
+ In the US it is estimated that there will be 61 million 3D TVs in homes by 2016 (source:CEA).
+ Evidence of theatrical success is illustrated by the $8 billion+ in takings from 3D films.
+ Avatar is the biggest grossing film of all time: $278 billion.
+ Obama’s State of the Union address was also filmed in 3D.
+ The above figures certainly indicate that the 3D market is expanding but it’s not only in films.

Stereography, which is the depiction or representation of three-dimensional objects by projection onto a two-dimensional surface, lies at the heart of 3D film.

It is also used in a number of other industries including astronomy and astro-physics, embryology, military strategy and training, atomic chemistry and physics and many more.

For those of you (and there are many) who do not like 3D, or the extra costs associated with it (the glasses), the technology is improving.

We are entering the dawn of 3D TVs with no glasses. 4K TVs are ultra-high definition (four times the definition of HD) and 8K TVs are currently being developed. They do not replace 3D TVs but they can produce a better image. They are also a precursor to autostereo TV which is TV where you do not need glasses. At this point 3D TV will be better to view at home not only because of the lack of need for glasses (who wants to watch their favourite show with glasses on – this is after all a communal event?), but also because these TVs will allow you to sit anywhere in the room. Currently the best place to sit to enjoy 3D is right in the centre and at least a few feet away from the screen (tip for when you go to the cinema).

Our Experience

We have produced over 200 short films with over 2,000 people across the UK so were interested to see how incorporating 3D would affect the content that we were producing. As part of the Saracen project we worked with five small groups to produce 3D short films. At first we were worried that the groups would want to produce gimmicky films with explosions and objects flying out into the audience’s eyes but we quickly learned that the groups were approaching this new technology with a much more discerning eye. In fact each of the five groups wanted to find a way to incorporate the 3D element into their film to enhance their storytelling rather than shock the audience.

The outcome was a set of beautifully crafted films ranging from a film about transgendered youths to a documentary about breakdancing.

Young people are used to working with new technology and enjoy the challenge of creating cutting edge media. They all watch 3D films at the cinema and play 3D computer games – 3D isn’t that new or scary to them and as a result they can incorporate it in a wonderful way into the content that they are making. They don’t see 3D as a passing phase but another medium available to them to use and create the type of films that they want to watch – they just need access to the tools that will allow them to do so.


We have now run two 3D film-making projects (Saracen and the BFI Film Academy) and have learnt lots about the best way to produce short 3D films on a budget. Here are our top 3 tips:

Consider where you will be screening your work.

Different screen sizes mean shooting your subjects using different measurements. It is important to measure the distance from your camera to your subject and furthest object. The measurements can then be easily checked and altered using one of many 3D apps (we used 3DST.) The measurements will be different depending on whether you are shooting for a tablet screen, a computer, a TV or a cinema screen. Think about where you will be screening your work. We encouraged all the groups we worked with to shoot for the big screen as it gives them more opportunities to enter their work into the growing number of 3D festivals and therefore gain a wider audience.

Work with your limitations not against them.

Shooting 3D on a budget comes with huge restrictions. Most film-makers rely on beautiful close-ups to help them tell their stories. This can be hugely difficult using simply the 3D equipment that is available on the high street. Instead find different ways to tell the story and don’t try and replicate all the shots that you would use while shooting 2D. It is a new technology so find new ways to use it.

Create your own 3D language.

Even the experts are still finding out what works and what doesn’t. While at the 3D creative summit we were lucky enough to hear Oscar winning director Ang Lee (Life of Pi) talk about learning to use 3D. He spoke openly about what it is like shooting in 3D for the first time and had some great advice for those who are considering starting to experiment, “3D was like learning to swim …jump in and do it – build your own language.”

Next Steps

This is new territory for us and we plan to maximise our opportunities. There is a need for 3D content and we are developing plans to fill those gaps. We are combining our years of experience as film trainers, arts facilitators and youth leaders to engage the next generation of film talent with this new technology.

Rachael Clohesy is the co-founder, with Alison Wright, of VividEcho, a company providing training on how to produce short videos, launched in 2013. Rachael has 15 years experience in project management, brand development, fundraising, PR, events management and research. In 2007 she co-founded and became the CEO of a small arts charity which was supported by the Arts Council. Two years later she became the youth and community engagement manager at independent production company CTVC, managing a large scale film training project, before launching her current venture.


From → 3D

One Comment
  1. This is interesting post, but you missed a decimal point. “Avatar is the biggest grossing film of all time: $278 billion”

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