James Murdoch: 3D TV Production Difficult, But Crucial

The News Corp. chief executive James Murdoch sits on a media summit panel with 'Avatar' director James Cameron

The Abu Dhabi Media Summit is a three-day, invitation-only gathering of top-tier global media players and their emerging-market counterparts. Combining high-profile public sessions, closed-door discussions and private dialogue, the Summit's conversation ranges across both traditional and new media--television & online video, mobile & broadband Internet, news & entertainment, advertising & marketing, venture capital & equity finance.

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The focus of this year’s Summit (15 to 17 March) was creativity and content - the very thing that drives people to a variety of platforms today. This theme kicked off with an opening keynote conversation with Oscar-winning director James Cameron, known for directing world box office sensations "Avatar" and "Titanic", and James Murdoch, Chairman and Chief Executive, Europe and Asia, News Corporation, who was also a co-chair of the event.

James Murdoch told the Abu Dhabi media summit Tuesday that 3D TV production might be a headache but it’s a headache broadcasters will have to get used to. “There is more and more demand for the 3D format,” he said and continued, "Customers will not want big events that are not in 3D at some point in the future because it is such an exciting and immersive experience." Murdoch and Cameron both agreed that the current mode of filming events in 2D alongside a film crew for 3D was expensive and inefficient, but said that the next generation of cameras would hopefully fix the problems. "That’s the way we do it now," Murdoch said of the dual-teaming approach.

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"It’s very hard and it’s not just the camera positions, it’s the directors and the producers and the outside broadcast units who are different, so now it’s the two big trucks sitting outside the venues because the 2D crew and the 3D crew want different angles, they want different things."

But Cameron, basking in Avatar’s $2.8 billion at global box office, urged studios to invest in the more costly 3D format rather than opting for the less expensive 2D-to-3D conversion process which he said meant they risked “harming themselves with that cautious approach.”

“I think it will be difficult in a few year’s time for photographers and filmmakers to say that 3D is too tricky to figure out,” Cameron said. When asked what the next big thing is going to be, Cameron said that first "we need to consolidate 3D and that's going to take anywhere from five years to a decade."

The industry is in a transition space right now, which is similar to when coloured movies came out and the time when all movies had to be in colour, he explained.

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Cameron had to wait 10 years for the technology to exist to realise his vision of the movie Avatar. He said that there needs to be an element of risk taking when creating something different. "The greater risk is to not go into unknown territory and do the same thing," he said. "Not all risk takers succeed, but all of the disruptive successive were all projects that took risks and did something unusual."

Speaking of going into unknown territories, Cameron's next project involves the building of a submarine to go into the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the world's oceans. Cameron and his crew plan to make an expedition to go 11,000 metres deep to the bottom of the trench "in a year from now," he said. "Getting to the bottom of the ocean is the easy part. Getting back to the surface is the hard part," he added.

Abu Dhabi Media Summit

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