Tuesday, October 25, 2011

SMPTE Keynote: Scott Ross Talks VFX; 2D-to-3D Conversion

SMPTE opened Tuesday with a keynote address from industry veteran Scott Ross, whose topics ranged from the VFX business to 2D-to-3D conversion to standards.
Ross is a co-founder and former CEO of Digital Domain, whose credits include Titanic. Earlier, he served as the general manager of George Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic and as senior VP of LucasArts. He currently works as a professional consultant and producer and serves on the boards of multiple technology and entertainment companies.
Among his points:

On the VFX Industry:
Tackling the challenging business climate, Ross looked back and traced the rise—and many falls—of VFX companies.
“Frankly it is very difficult running these business,” he said, citing uncertain workflows, difficulty with pricing and competition driven by government subsidies.
He added: “Studios continue to ask for lower prices, higher quality, and more work in shorter periods of time.”
Ross suggested as a strategy that facilities move from service providers toward content producers. He commented that factors such as broadband could lead to the notion of “global content producers.”

On 2D-to-3D conversion:
“I believe 2D-to-3D conversion is analogous to the VFX industry,” Ross said. “We are now seeing the first generation of conversion companies, but it takes a lot of people—yes, tools are important, but it take a lot of people to do that.
“It is going to be much too expensive to have that work done in the US. It’s a service, it will go where (studios can get) high quality and lower costs. We are na├»ve to think that will come only from US.”

On Standards:
“There are also no standards (in 2D-to-3D conversion). There are tools just like in the VFX business that being developed that could talk to each other. Those organizations need to look to (SMPTE) to set those standards.”

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