I just spent 10 days in Korea at a content market and a 3D conference. Luckily
I also got to watch Titanic 3D (finally), Avengers in 3D and in 4D in three different theatres. Before I describe the Avenger 4D experience let me comment on the Korean market.
In the past we have worked with a number of customers and production companies from Korea (see here, here and here) and – obviously – the local TV makers LG and Samsung are huge supporters of 3D. They are selling the sets at incredible low prices here. There are also very intriguing R&D projects that I came across at the exhibition:
– A new recording patent by NICE Technologies that enables 3D playback on any 2D screen (!)
– The glasses-free display manufacturer Masterimage 3D
– An impressive holographic display from a local university,
– And a relatively small 4k 3D display (2k for each eye)
The 3D content industry is also thriving. On the one hand there are several larger broadcasting groups that have supported large-scale documentaries, (music and cultural) performances and animation projects. On the other hand there is a healthy number of smaller independent production companies who have churned out a large amount of 3D content. I have looked at around 70 hours of S3D content from here and in my talk at the 3D Fair in Seoul I pointed out that it is near to impossible to recoup 3D production costs from one market alone; and Korean titles are oftentimes ‘too Asian’ to be sold internationally. However, we will acquire home entertainment rights for a major documentary with global appeal later this month and one producer told me that all their new titles feature a Western cast in an effort to produce for the global market. Additionally, the country is known for its great animation – a genre that ‘travels’ well abroad. I am also announcing a partnership with a Korean creator/writer with the goal to make a 3D feature film based on an action hero graphic novel. So, in short, I think the Korean 3D content industry is on the right track.
Let me conclude this report with a description of my 4D viewing experience of The Avengers. Here Hollywood movies are shown in original English audio with Korean subtitles. It is now common that major film releases such as Avengers or Battleship hit international markets before the USA. Still, I was surprised to hear that in Korea the 4D versions of many top blockbusters are available from day one of the release. As far as I could find out, the 4D version is being done locally in Korea, because it is actually a quite big market here (I am not aware of this scale in other Western countries). This means that the engineers must have a very tight schedule to produce/design the 4D effects. But surely this is a profitable enterprise. Tickets for the 2D version cost about 8 U$, 3D is sold at 12 U$ and 4D at a whopping 19 U$. Therefore 3D achieves a 50% premium and 4D a staggering 140% more than 2D at the Korean box office. I had not been in an amusement park for a very long time (in my view this is what 4D is associated with) and was expecting ‘3D plus moving chairs’. But no! There were air hoses, smell, water spraying, moving footrests, punches from the back of the chair, and a ring of bright lights on the ceiling. The lights were used for explosions, various Thor lightening scenes, and the tesseract in the beginning, lightning up the whole or parts of the room. If one of the heroes was smashed to the ground in an action scene, you would feel the impact of hitting the street via heavy punches in the back. I should add that no kids, elderly or pregnant women are allowed in 4D theatres. Ironman’s flying scenes were, of course intensified by the moving chairs, which were also quite effectively used in slower panning shots like conversational scenes. All in all, a great experience. I gave the film a 9 out of 10 rating on imdb.com, even though I agree with most in our industry: The 3D didn’t add much to the experience – but 4D did.
Thanks for reading. Please add your comments if you want to add/ask anything about 3D in Korea.
Best, Torsten (this version of a Scandinavian name is derived from THOR, I am told).