February 15, 2011
Now that we have your attention – yes, it’s true. At the Consumer Electronics Show last month, Sony hyped their expanded content offerings in 3D, and today marks the release of the a 3D version of the illustrious Sports Illustrated swimsuit selection television special. It’s available for rent or purchase to PlayStation 3 gamers and anyone with a Sony Bravia connected HDTV or Blu-ray 3D.
Man in Hat Productions is the behind-the-scenes creative team for this endeavor. This 3D release for the small screen is part of a slew of digital offerings that SI has rolled out for this year’s swimsuit issue.
A startup based in New York City, Man in Hat Productions (MIHP) is a group of 5 partners from different creative backgrounds who met during a summer film-making program. When the group formed 2 years ago, 3D started to become mainstream thanks to Avatar, and MHIP picked up on this development in the market. A focus was developed not on the big screen though, but the small screen – and MIHP has been working to position themselves as a company that can keep production costs in-line with television budgets.
MIHP’s arrangement with Sony was made through a connection the group had within Sports Illustrated. Talks for a 3D swimsuit special began in early spring 2010. Sony, in need of content to seed the 3D television market, loved the pitch. By the end of the summer, the contract was signed and MHIP was in pre-production mode.
“We began looking at technicians,” explains D. Bhatt, MHIP’s President & CEO “and there are only a couple of games in town.” Bhatt is a professional screenwriter and also a physician (M.D., neurology and psychiatry) and a scientist (Ph.D. in neurobiology & behavior), a musician, former spelling champion, and paralympic fencer. He’s not exaggerating about the pool of 3D entertainment technicians – there are only two: Pace (James Cameron’s company) and Reality 3D. MHIP contracted with Pace after justifying the higher-than-expected cost to Sony and Sports Illustrated as part of the process to whet the market’s appetite for 3D content.
“The swimsuit special needed to be “technically superior,” Bhatt explains. “With a movie like Avatar, the 3D effects can be added in post-production – for actual human flesh and real backgrounds, we needed to leave as little to post (production) as possible.”
Sony showed a two-minute clip at CES, and according to Bhatt, “It was a huge success.” Man in Hat Productions also produced a 2D version of the SI Swimsuit Selection Show that aired on DirecTV’s 101 Network.
Bhatt likens this moment in television to where HD and those trying to produce high definition content were years ago. He says MHIP is “skeptical, not negative” about the future of 3D television. “If 3D technology for the small screen stays where it is now, it won’t take off, because it’s limited in scope.” The price has already come down significantly for 3D-ready televisions, and innovations in wearing (or not wearing) glasses, the angle of where the viewer sits, and in the televisions themselves may make it an option for more people. “We’re banking on it becoming more user-friendly.”
In the early days of HD, as it is now with 3D, content offerings were hard to come by. “There is a perception that shooting original, live-action content is way too expensive, says Bhatt. “If you do it correctly, it’s not prohibitive.”
So, if you have a Sony 3D TV, and the 3D glasses and Playstation 3, you MUST let us know what you think of “Swimsuit in 3-D”. Keep it clean, though.
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