By all accounts, Peter Jackson’s Hobbit has been a remarkable event similar to that of Avatar. It introduced new state-of-art techniques that have turned a blockbuster opening into a worldwide cultural event. Kudos to Mr. Jackson.

As a producer of content for commercials, branded content, marketing and even indie films, will this affect you?  If you are thinking of using some of this new technology there are a couple things you need to keep in mind. The technology, the expense and your audience.

Mr Jackson was breaking new ground with The Hobbit but he was using off the shelf camera systems from Red that had merely been customized to shoot in a 3D rig. For all intensive purposes, if you had the money, we could have a similar setup working on your project next week. However, we’ll need to bring in a 3D expert on set to make sure your cameras are functioning accurately for 3D and that the effects will render properly. Also the higher frame rate will require more light since the cameras are working twice as fast.

Shooting two cameras at once for 3D means twice as much data. Shooting twice as fast means twice as much data again. Shooting at 5K means more than twice as much data again. Data storage has gotten cheaper as of late but it also becomes a manpower issue. All this data must be checked and backed up continuously. This will mean a significant expense for your production. And we also mentioned previously that it will require more lighting. That will cost you too. Big lights cost big money. And we haven’t even gotten to post production yet – but as you can imagine, it will cost you.

Your Audience
For the time being, the only place someone can watch a Peter Jackson’s movie at 48fps in 3d is at a specially equipped movie theatre. And in 4K projection? Very few theaters. There are a lot of home televisions equipped with 3D technology. With the release of RedRay and some new televisions by Sony, we’re certainly going to see this high end of entertainment come to homes sooner than later. But how many people will have a 20K home theatre to watch this with? Not enough to warrant the increased cost except for the blockbuster filmmaker in the near term.

We should all keep our eyes on emerging technology too see how quickly it’s adapted by others and make our own decisions about when or if we should adapt it ourselves.