It can take a while for new technologies to become the norm in the global film marketplace. Take multichannel sound, for example. While many people think that stereophonic sound didn’t exist in movies until the release of Star Wars in 1977, the truth is it’s been around since RCA and Walt Disney Productions invented Fantasound for the 1940 roadshow release of Fantasia. In 1975, Dolby introduced the technology of four-channel sound (for left, center, right and surround) on an optical soundtrack for the movie Lisztomania, and branded it as “Dolby Stereo” a year later with A Star Is Born. But even after Star Wars’ tremendous success motivated exhibitors to invest in Dolby Stereo equipment, it still took several years before stereo mixes became standard. Since the introduction of Dolby Stereo, there have been a number of advances in cinema sound to lead us to the current standard of 5.1 channel audio, which is usually presented via sound processors from Dolby, DTS or Sony.
The Holy Grail for 3D enthusiasts is to be able to shed those cumbersome glasses, especially in the home environment. Technology pioneers Dolby and Philips have now teamed up to make glasses-free 3D commercially viable for home entertainment. Dolby has been demonstrating the new technology for quite a while, most recently at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and Variety’s 3D Entertainment Summit. The advancements made since those events allowed Dolby and Philips to strongly promote the Dolby 3D process at the 2013 NAB Show. The presentation included an endorsement by James Cameron and an announcement of a formal working relationship with the Cameron Pace Group (CPG).
Now is the busy season for network executives as they order TV pilots to fill their schedules. NBC has ordered three single-camera comedy pilots: The sitcom “Assistance” (from Will Ferrell, Chris Henchy, Owen Burke, Jessica Elbaum and Adam McKay) tells the tale of a working girl assistant who’s pulled between her colleague and real-life fiancé as she tries to manage a demanding boss; “Donor Party” (from Lionsgate Television, Media Talent Group and Universal Television) follows an irresponsible man who’s forced to grow up when he discovers that his sperm-donor past has spawned several children; and an untitled Greg Daniels/Robert Padnick comedy will show the trials and tribulations of 20-something dating.
The UK-based Guild of Television Cameramen (GTC) recently announced its 2013 award winners at a presentation during the “Day in the Country” event in Aynho, Oxfordshire. The GTC is an independent, international non-profit organization with over 1,000 members in the UK, Europe, Australia, Russia, Singapore, South Africa and the United States. The majority of its members work in television jobs ranging from documentaries, narrative productions and corporate video to live events, current affairs, news and sports. Run by a council of volunteer television professionals, the GTC offers a channel for manufacturers to consult with working cameramen when designing new equipment.
Convergent Design introduced a solution for those cinematographers struggling to record a viable image while untangling the cables that link recorders, monitors and microphones to the camera. The new Odyssey 7 is a 7.7-inch OLED monitor that can eliminate one set of cables as it doubles as a 4K capable recorder — pretty remarkable for a package that barely weighs more than an 8-inch flatscreen field monitor. While there have certainly been high-end data recorders with built-in monitors, the Odyssey 7 has been designed with 1280 and 800 resolution; a wide RGB color range with true blacks and minimal motion blur; and an impressive contrast ratio of 3400:1. It also includes Waveform, Focus Assist (Peaking), Vectorscope, Zebras, LUT Support, Histogram and False Color.