Trend Alert: 3D for Mobile, Advertising Campaigns
This post was contributed by James Stewart, a Toronto-based film director and founder of the creative studio Geneva Film Co.
Since James Cameron’s Avatar was released in 2009, 3D has become the go-to medium for A-list film directors: Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, Wim Wenders’ Pina, Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams (which Stewart digitally remastered in 3D for theatrical release) and Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin dominated international movie screens. Studios are betting that upcoming 3D releases, including Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, Ang Lee’s Life of Pi and Baz Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby will continue to dominate the box office in 2012.
Television now offers 3D channels, and an influx of affordable 3D TVs have hit stores. Documentaries, natural history television and sports are examples of early-adopting television content genres that have successfully transitioned to 3D with broad audience reception. ESPN 3D, 3net, SKY and Discovery/IMAX already offer round-the-clock 3D channels, while BBC in the U.K. and NBC in the United States will broadcast the 2012 Summer Olympics in 3D.
The next 3D frontier, according to Toronto-based film director James Stewart, will be 3D mobile phones, gaming systems, tablets and Internet channels. Stewart feels these products are the way of the future because they represent a shift towards autostereoscopic, or glasses-free 3D. “In the near future, 3D technology will evolve to the point where it will allow for easy migration of 3D content between large home-based TV screens and the ever-increasing pile of new, glasses-free 3D-ready mobile devices,” Stewart said.
In fact, this technology is already on the market. Currently, the HTC Evo 3D, LG 3D Thrill and Samsung Galaxy 3D mobile phones allow consumers to watch crystal clear 3D images on mobile phones. The LG Optimus Tablet, the Toshiba 3D laptop, Sony’s PS3 console and Nintendo 3DS are other consumer friendly, glasses-free 3D products currently on shelves. Last year YouTube launched the first-ever 3D channel and even Apple seems to be getting on the 3D train in the near future, having filed patents for interactive 3D-interfaces for iPhones and iPads in April 2010. Considering that many of these mobile devices will offer 3D cameras for recording, alongside Sony and Fuji 3D camcorders already on the market, Stewart predicts that 3D creation will soon shift from professionals to consumers.
As a multi-platform director, Stewart wants to help demystify 3D for many wary advertising and production companies, explaining how the medium works so that new users can understand the medium and incorporate the technology into their strategies.
“3D is already all around us in everyday life,” says Stewart. “Essentially, the way live-action digital 3D works is similar to the ways in which the human eyes work together to produce a single image. We see the world through two eyes, each with a slightly different angle, which is translated into depth perception in the brain. 3D recreates this effect by shooting with two cameras, each replicating the view of one eye. By moving the cameras closer together or farther apart, 3D effects are created-objects can fly off the screen, known as negative parallax, and create a visceral response in the viewer or objects can descend backwards at great depth, known as positive parallax, to create an immersive experience for viewers.”
Stewart celebrates, and encourages others to celebrate, the new creative possibilities that the 3D medium offers. “The immersive nature of 3D changes the way we tell stories,” he says. “Creatives and brands just need to learn a little about 3D to see the huge possibility. Once they see the potential of telling stories ‘with depth,’ they get it.”
Stewart has worked with global brands like Sprint, Lexus LFA, Toyota, and Genentech to create 3D commercials. “As these 3D television broadcasters continue to grow their sphere of influence, the cross-spectrum of new 3D content has evolved into a far more advanced and ubiquitous state than was anticipated a mere half-decade ago,” Stewart said.
Perhaps the best testament for the primacy of 3D content is audience response: Stewart cites independent studies by ESPN, Xpand and Texas Instrument which reveal that 3D advertisements yield a nearly 20 percent increase in ad recall rates over 2D spots. This means that viewers are 20 percent more likely to remember an ad presented in 3D than one presented in 2D.
For Stewart, experiencing new 3D technology is the key to understanding and believing in its power as a storytelling tool. “Every creative who has held an autostereoscopic 3D smartphone in their hands has said some variation of, ‘Wow!’ For them, the idea that their spot or brand film can be played back in 3D and that people can watch that 3D content as they’re headed home on the subway after work…is truly an awesome and inspiring prospect.”
Toronto-based director and founder of the hybrid creative studio Geneva Film Co. James Stewart has helmed 3D projects on multiple platforms, including digitally remastering Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams for 3D theatrical release. He has spoken as a 3D expert at the TED Conference and Cannes Lion.