CAMERON | PACE Group's Vince Pace peers into a 4K, stereoscopic future

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Vince Pace, co-founder and co-chair with James Cameron of CAMERON | PACE Group, is widely considered to be one the visionaries of 3D technology and production. Pace says that advancements in networking, ultra high definition 4K display and glasses-free Dolby 3D TV mark a sea change in home entertainment. He also believes that in a changing technological landscape, CAMERON | PACE Group (CPG) will continue to create the gold standard for 3D production and innovation.

Pace sat down for an interview at CPG headquarters in Burbank, CA to discuss the prospects for 3D and 4K.

CAMERON | PACE Group: What do you think was on people’s minds at this year’s NAB?

Vince Pace: I believe the focus was on how emerging technologies, including 4K and glasses-free display, fit into a company’s business model. That's what CPG is all about. For 14 years, we’ve been concentrating on how to innovate emerging technology applied to a 3D production.

I think there was some fear in Las Vegas, since nobody wants to change their current business model. With any new innovation, there's bound to be pushback. We just need to recognize that and accept it. The key is to take innovations like 3D, autostereoscopic display and 4K and integrate them so they provide an enhanced experience for the viewer and make good business sense. Eventually, the added benefits of utilizing the technology turn into higher entertainment value and increased revenue.

Everybody should be prepared to handle this industry in a new and exciting way. In a digital landscape, we don’t have to conform to methodologies or constraints of the past. We should just get ready to sit back and enjoy the ride because it's not going to stop with just resolution or display size. Maybe it will stop when you see a screen, perhaps as big as the wall in your living room, and you’ll engage with the world around you as if it's right there. Entertainment will shift to experience and that experience will become more real with the use of these innovative technologies. 3D will be an essential part of that dynamic.

CPG: So you anticipate that 4K and autostereoscopic (glasses-free 3D) displays will find their way into homes soon?

VP: I think their acceptance will surprise most industry experts. Prices for 4K will become competitive to help generate adoption. We’re going to see a lot of these displays and they're going to be larger and more visually accurate. They’ll have better blacks, more dynamic range, and more resolution. If the way we interact with images evolves from a pure entertainment model to an experiential model, as CPG has been championing for years, consumers won't hesitate to make the investment.

It will be a paradigm shift. Textbooks will be rewritten as to how data has become a part of the consumer environment and is no longer delivered using the traditional understanding of a transmission pipeline. Most people are currently stuck on the idea of the “cloud” when in fact it will be the total environment in which every consumer lives. People are going to want that comprehensive experience, when compared to a diluted interpretation that doesn’t offer as much return on value. They’ll want to see entertainment in the best way possible. They’ll consider a new TV because it’s worth it for them do so. They’ll enjoy the product more.

CPG: Why is 4K important for 3D, and why is 3D important for 4K? What's the link?

VP: Let’s use some old school examples. Consider why the advent of color was important. Or why the migration to surround sound was important. The main reason is that those technologies created a relationship with the viewer that made the entertainment more real and more immediate. We find ourselves chasing the same goals with higher resolution, higher dynamic range, and autostereoscopic display: make it an experience; make it real. These are the goals we set for CPG. 4K creates an opportunity for 3D to achieve a more realistic experience for the viewer.

CPG: You’ve had the opportunity to spend some time viewing DOLBY 3D, the company’s autostereoscopic display. What's your impression?

I’m excited about it. The timing is right; we’re seeing better cameras, better displays, and better resolution all become the foundation of an immersive, lifelike experience for the viewer. I'm also extremely encouraged by the fact we’re no longer concentrating on the technology layer. At a presentation at Dolby last month, when the demo began I almost felt that I needed to put on the glasses. I had this knee-jerk reaction that I had to go grab some technology in order to get the deliverable. It was kind of incredible to me when I realized I didn’t have to do anything but watch and enjoy. Really amazing.

VP: I think that’s what the average consumer is looking for. They don’t want to follow an instruction manual or go through an exercise. They just want to turn it on and enjoy. I think Dolby 3D achieves that.

CPG: Can you talk more about your belief that the old models of transmission are being erased? That the “pipe” for content is getting wider and wider?

VP: The pipe analogy is something that your father and grandfather should talk about. There is no "pipe" anymore. Content now exists all around you; we're going to be surrounded with networking capability that will empower every imaginable display device. Whether it's a 4K screen, or something the size or your wallet that you take on the road, or the ability to walk from one room to another and keep watching your show. This growing networking and cloud capability will contribute to all of those scenarios. We grew up in a world of limitations due to analog formats that demanded conformity. But those technology barriers are not simply coming down—they’re opening up an entirely new thought process that's creating a market shift in how we engage with entertainment.

CPG: It sounds like you’re describing the future, but aren’t you’re really describing the present?

VP: Yes. What's shocking is that all of these networking abilities are growing in a consumer-based environment. Whether we’re talking about the number of display devices we own, or the resolution now available, it’s already here. Although the technology is already a part of our lives, it needs to grow in integration and development. CPG continues to focus on that role: What does all this technology mean to the viewer? What does it mean in terms of content creation and how does it make it more real in terms of acceptance? But we're going to reach a level of harvest where these technologies become commonplace and part of our everyday lives. I'm sure I’ll go to visit my mom and she'll be looking at an incredible 4K display and networking with her children and entertainment in a way that's much different than what she's done in the past.

CPG: What does all this mean for CPG and other entertainment tech companies?

VP: CPG has always focused on 3D as being a huge boon to the filmmaker and an opportunity for the consumer to be able to view content in a way that changes how they understand the images in front of them. We’re focused on reaching a point where entertainment is real.

The elephant in the room is that you've got to do it from a business sense. CPG is rooted in the creation of innovative technologies that provide a good business argument for an enhanced viewer experience. Whether it's for filmmakers, production companies, or the development of new displays, we're focused on doing what we need to do to help the industry along. We have to support infrastructure because infrastructure turns into content. CPG continues to concentrate on technological innovation. But we also focus on the application of those innovations to open up different opportunities to broadcasters, production companies, studios, and filmmakers.

The result of CPG’s work over these last years has validated that connection between emerging technologies and business. When you connect all those dots, you're on an exciting path.

CPG: Will 3D technology continue to become easier and more accessible?

All technologies, including the efforts in 3D, will follow the traditional evolution of finding simpler, faster, and cheaper methods. But CPG is leading in the real demands of the market.

The first is in autostereo cameras that can capture a quality 3D experience without the complexity of systems in the past. The systems will incorporate some of CPG’s latest patented technology that creates a simpler user interface. This technology will be important for every film shot in 3D. More importantly, CPG technology will be a great benefit for the consumer who'll be able to take images of a child's soccer match or wedding with the same 3D quality they've seen used in “Avatar,” “Hugo,” and “Life of Pi.” The second is in autostereoscopic displays that no longer use the glasses for 3D entertainment. The ability to watch images that represent the experience in real life in your home will create the market shift from entertainment to experience.

VP: Will emerging technologies like 4K change the way companies like CPG do business?

I certainly feel that 3D has followed the same path of any development cycle of technology. Take digital cinema cameras, for instance. Their early adoption was met with questions about whether the technology was good enough. There's always an initial assessment period during which the technology gets better and better. Digital cameras now have the dynamic range and resolution to compete with film and have become a part of the filmmaker's toolbox. Digital cameras are now commonplace in the industry – from consumer to filmmaker to dentist. 3D will take advantage of the next generation of 4K development and incorporate those advances into the power of the technology that supports 3D. It’s a good time to be inventing the “toolbox” for the future.

Watching a 3D movie using laser projection and 14-foot Lambert brightness is an experience you’ll never forget. Compare that to just four years ago, when 3D struggled to compete with light levels and the resolution of 2D. It’s remarkable.

In many ways, the roadmap for 3D points to all of these technologies coming together to make the experience transparent and more real to the viewer. That’s our ultimate goal.


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