FilmFunds’ process speeds up converting from 2-D to 3-D and lowers the cost
Los Angeles - After a 3-D re-release of “The Lion King” roared at the box office last year, a pipeline of 3-D theatrical re-releases is in place for this year. But Carl Freer, founder of L.A. startup FilmFunds, thinks there’s room for even more. His startup just started selling 3-D conversion technology to studios that allows them to quickly convert content for less than going to a third-party conversion company.
“We’ll allow them to knock themselves out,” Freer said.
He launched the company with a website in October that allows movie fans to vote on films they’d like to see re-released in 3-D, such as 1980’s Warner Bros. classic “Blade Runner” and Universal’s “Back to the Future.” He plans to use the site as market research to show studios that films can be successful in re-release.
He acquired the conversion technology in December when FilmFunds bought Duran Duboi U.S. for an undisclosed amount. Duran Duboi is a postproduction house in Los Angeles that handled the 3-D conversion for last year’s Lions Gate release “Conan the Barbarian.”
FilmFunds’ technology converts 2-D to 3-D in real-time using software that can analyze a screen at the rate of 60 frames per second. Freer declined to discuss a price for the device, but did note that he plans to make money servicing the devices.
Freer expects much of the opportunity to come from home video re-releases through digital distribution channels like Netflix Inc., once 3-D-enabled TVs become more common. That’s in part because home video re-releases require less-expensive conversions and also because studios are more receptive to simultaneous home releases for 3-D reboots than for new releases.
Another factor for the slow pace of theatrical re-releases is that the cost of theatrical-quality conversion often ranges between $10 million to $20 million.
“The studios and networks are indecisive because of the big cost additive,” he said.
Craig Tanner, co-founder of production company Digital Revolution Studios, is also banking on 3-D-enabled consumer devices. He has amassed some 500 minutes of 3-D video content that he plans to license once 3-D-enabled handheld devices become more common.
“It’s on a shelf ready to go for the handheld consumer,” Tanner said.
He got a peek of the coming action when he produced a 3-D music video for the song “Don’t Stop” by L.A. alternative rock band Foster the People. The video was available for free download by owners of the Nintendo 3DS handheld gaming system in December.
For Tanner, who spent three years as a visual effects editor on “Avatar,” the two-day music video shoot was a first. But with device makers coming out with 3-D enabled smartphones this year, he said, manufacturers are increasingly asking him to produce short-form content that can fill-out their download stores, as he did for Nintendo.
“It sparked an interest in our company,” he said. “We plan on doing quite a few music videos this year.”
He’s now in talks with music labels and device makers, and expects to put out about 10 music videos from major recording artists this year. Whereas the Nintendo video was a free download, he expects future videos to be monetized similarly to Apple Inc.’s iTunes store, which splits revenue with content creators.
Burbank public TV station KCET-TV (28) continues to roll out new productions, even as funding is down. Last week, the station announced a new slate of programming to debut in March, including talk show “L.A. Tonight With Roy Firestone” and documentary series “Your Turn to Care.”
The programming push is part of the station’s effort to win back viewers that left the station after it severed ties with PBS. In the station’s first month without PBS programming, January 2011, prime time ratings bottomed out at an average of 18,000 viewers.
But a station spokeswoman said prime time viewership was up 78 percent last month, compared with a year earlier, to 32,000. That’s due to higher-performing shows such as British comedy show “Doc Martin,” which brought the station’s largest viewing audience of 150,000 on Jan. 5 since going independent.
Still, funding for the station has withered without PBS. According to the station’s last audited statement, donations dropped some $15 million to $22.3 million for the year ended June 30. That drop reflected a half-year without PBS.
Headquartered in Los Angeles, FilmFunds offers a 360-degree solution for Hollywood to test nascent film projects, helping move content through the pipeline by creating an audience for it, while giving fans a unprecedented opportunity to be part of the green-light process. FilmFunds utilizes crowd-sourced social marketing research to replace the costly live test-screening model used since Hollywood’s Golden Era. A social environment where Hollywood filmmakers can meet their real audience, with the most accurate, state-of-the-art diagnostics guiding their efforts to improve and build support for their product, FilmFunds is a place where film lovers have a chance to make it their movie. For more information, please visit http://www.FilmFunds.com.
For further information, please contact:
Rich Jenkins, CTO
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