3ality Technica pushing forward into 2012

A handful of months since 3ality acquired Element Technica, the newly merged company is rapidly approaching full integration and is pushing ahead with some of its most important products to date: namely software that could dramatically reduce the cost of 3D production.

“It’s going well,” says the company’s Steve Schklair of the process of taking the company’s two product lines and meshing them together. “We’re almost fully integrated and we’ve spent a lot of time integrating the existing the rig lines with the software and electronic controls, and that’s worked extremely well. Where there are are two products that have a lot of similarities, we’re combining the best pieces out of both. That’s not so much been applied to things that are already in the market, but things that were on the drawing board or nearing completion.”

Schklair states that the market is always looking for better price points, and the company is now able to offer better bundle packages to those interested in taking up the 3D mantle. Also, and you get the sense that this is where a lot of the focus has been on the R&D side recently, it’s been pushing aggressively ahead with its software development.

“We have a big test coming up in December with Sky, because we think the two components are just about, if not fully, baked and ready for market. One governs the automated line-up and alignment of the cameras and was used last week for shooting a Katy Perry concert. We were shooting with eight rigs, all running networked RED Epics for what I think is the first time (we were doing a line cut in an NEP unit) and we used it to line up all the cameras and do the alignments. That turned out to be great because it took longer for them to build the stage than was anticipated and we got a late start. The stage was up at 16.00, the concert started at 19.30 and normally on an eight camera shoot you’d need a day or two days to get everything ready – they did it in three and a half hours.

“We also did a test a few weeks ago with the other package of a few cameras at a local high school football game with no convergence operators or manual intervention on the cameras at all once we’d programmed in the depth parameters, and the pictures were beautiful. They were so good they were better than if they had had humans controlling them. Sports cameramen hunt for the next shot – they zoom in, they focus, they pull back out, or they move around quickly to frame the next shot – and human operators can’t keep up with that. The computer can.”

“I’ve spent plenty of hours as a convergence puller and consider myself pretty good at it, but this was amazing,” adds Stephen Pizzo, co-founder of ET and SVP at the new company.

It probably helps explain why the company is so bullish about 2012. Not *the* event of 2012, you understand; enquiries about the company’s potential involvement in the 3D side of the Olympics are met with a polite but firm rebuff. But elsewhere, above and beyond those two weeks, Schklair and Pizzo are looking forward to a year of international growth on a potentially grand scale.

“The Chinese government has mandated that the government-owned broadcasters, which is most of them, should be doing live 3D broadcasts,” says Schklair, “so you’ll see that move forward at China Time – in other words it’ll accelerate everyone else in the world as they move so quickly once they decide to move. We’ll also see lots of movement in South America, which has one of the most stable economies in the world and some of the most advanced television networks at this point, and are quite capable of moving forward with 3D.”

And South America, of course, has got its own interesting sporting events coming up soon…

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