I had the absolute pleasure of sitting down with Barry Sandrew at CES to talk about the future of 3D and his thoughts about what’s on the horizon for the upcoming year. If you don’t know who Barry is; in a single statement – he’s a ‘digital imaging expert and visual effects pioneer’; in a single word – he’s an absolute ‘badass’. You can check out a full bio on IMDb (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1475123/).
You really need some color
Way back in 1986 he disrupted the entertainment industry with the invention of Colorization. Apparently, coming up with such an amazing technology wasn’t enough; so, he re-invented the whole thing in 2000 using some of the new tools that had become available during that time. Over the next several years his team colorized over 160 films and has collaborated with Shirley Temple, Jane Russell, Terry Moore and Ray Harryhausen on independent releases.
Tales of the Third Dimension
Everything changed in 2006 when Greg Passmore showed Barry a digital 3D ready television. Though Barry was told that the world wouldn’t be ready for 3D for another ten to fifteen years he decided to convert all of his R&D to 3D right away.
It seemed like a crazy move to most – and after hearing of his Best Buy experience I’m surprised he didn’t can the whole thing. About a year after making the decision to move into 3D he was in Best Buy and saw some of the TV’s were 3D ready. Why is that discouraging? Customers at that time had no real understanding of how it might work. Heck, the Best Buy rep didn’t even know about the technology and how it would be used. In no way did this keep Barry from moving forward and boy did that pay off big.
When the time came, Barry was ready. The company took on Alice in Wonderland and has gone on to do Transformers, Shrek, Pirates of the Caribbean and much more. Though he didn’t say it in our interview; the look on his face said “I love it when a plan comes together”. Ok, Maybe that’s just what I was hearing.
The Next Big Thing
I asked him about Glasses Free 3D and he let me know that it’s just not ready yet. He went on to explain the difference between lenticular and Parallax Barrier. The main issue being that lenticular has a sweet spot and once you move out of that sweet spot the whole thing goes crazy. He explained that lenticular might work on a cell phone or tablet and just wouldn’t do well in a multi-person environment.
What then? What will be all the rage this coming year? Without hesitation he said
“This year the thing that’s emerging is high dynamic range”.
He explained that manufacturers are starting to figure out that it’s not necessarily how many pixels you have; rather, it’s how much information you can get into each one. As Barry puts it,
“You take a 4k TV and put it next to a 2k tv with a high dynamic range and there’s no comparison between the two [the 2k tv with high dynamic range is much better]”.
Taking that concept further, he believes that you’ll be able to do everything in 2k with high dynamic range; than when it goes out to the 4k television it will up-res and you’ll end up with a 4k image with high dynamic range. The result; mind blowing images where the persons facial hues are visible and the landscape is so vivid you can even see clouds that would otherwise be lost.
It’s always cool to talk to someone that’s full of passion for what they do. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on Legend3D and what cool new tech Barry will be coming up with next. If you’re interested in learning more about where 3D is headed; Barry’s thoughts on Glasses Free 3D; RealD vs. IMAX and more – definitely check out his blog at bsandrew.blogspot.com.