After my third trip to Korea this year and the interest that the first travel report about Avengers in 4D has generated earlier this year (https://3dcontentblog.wordpress.com/2012/05/19/travel-report-3d-and-avengers-4d-in-korea/) here is a more in-depth look at the Korean 3D industry. 3D Content Hub works with almost a dozen producers and has five customers and three agents in this market so we know the country fairly well. Blogarticle, Opinionpiece and private photojournal by Torsten Hoffmann
In fact, being a frequent visitor it seems like I have a new nickname in the country (see below in the picture)
There are a number of reasons why Korea is playing a very key role in the global 3D industry. Let’s get right into it
1. TV Makers
Samsung and LG are dominating the global 3DTV market. Samsung leads with a global share of 25% while LG is number two worldwide with 16%. http://www.companiesandmarkets.com/News/Information-Technology/Global-3D-TV-market-led-by-Samsung-with-a-25-share/NI6102 It is in their vital interest to provide 3D Content as part of the package in order to convince shoppers to opt for the slightly more expensive 3D model. Their commitment to roll out 3D screens continues to be strong and I have heard varying statistics about how many % of their TVs sold are already 3D. I think it is safe to assume that this trend will continue and we will eventually reach 100%. However, as we often say here on our blog, it is hard to find 3D content. There are few broadcasters, and the VOD and BluRay markets are only slowly developing now. Hence, the TV makers have to offer 3D content directly to the consumer, which they do via Smart TV Apps (All 3DTVs are also Internet connected) on a FreeVOD basis. This means that the TV makers are good customers for independent filmmakers – and less so for larger studios as they have to obey the ‘windowing’ of rights exploitation.
Many first-time visitors to Seoul call this city very futuristic. Not sure what that means, but without a doubt there is a high affinity to technology embedded into Korean culture. You will rarely ride a metro train without seeing people who watch live TV on their smartphones. And in the broadband statistics Korea has been a global leader in Highspeed Internet access for ages. According to OECD data and this article by the Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/08/02/broadband-internet-penetration-oecd_n_1730332.html a staggering 97.5 percent of Korean households have access to broadband! This includes mobile usage and and no, it’s not a typo. I believe that connectivity helps 3D via usage of smart TV apps as described earlier and also by enabling smaller niche 3D channels (IPTV Pay TV) to reach consumers. But the larger point here is that the Koreans like to adapt new technologies. The Koreans don’t complain as much about 3D glasses as consumers in the west.
Also, I think the fact that 3D Rides in theme parks and 4D versions of movies are a popular cultural phenomenon in the country really helps. Major 3D Hollywood films are released as 4D versions. (https://3dcontentblog.wordpress.com/2012/05/19/travel-report-3d-and-avengers-4d-in-korea/) This popularity, I believe will make it easier for 3D to penetrate the living room.
Finally, I think it is fair to assume that Korean Smartphone and TV manufacturers have a good chance of being early leaders once auto-stereo displays are at the right price point.
3. Government Support
The Korean cultural initiatives go further than other incentive programs worldwide and directly or indirectly lead to numerous trickle-down effects. There are several tax incentive schemes in place and dedicated funds for 3D production and post-production for local projects. Essentially, each point on the rest of this list can be traced back to Government support.
Full Disclosure: Different South Korean Government agencies have kindly invited me to speak, coach and attend various 3D events in 2012 and in some cases have covered part of the travel costs.
4. 3D Conferences and Events
We are in touch with almost every 3D event worldwide. As media partner (like recently in Barcelona), as speaker (Beijing), as official sponsor (Hollywood) or just as participant (Paris) or blogger (Liege) and it is good to see these events coming up everywhere. In South Korea there are several (competing?) 3D events. In Seoul and in Busan, the second largest city with population of 4.5 million. Two Government agencies are organizing these events, most of the times in conjunction with other media conferences or markets (like BCWW or BCM). They also tend to attract top international speakers. Recently in Korea I looked around the room and realized that the people that were present control more than 50% of the global 3D content supply. They were there because Korea means good business.
5. 3D Film Festivals
While the traditional filmfestivals are still getting used to 3D and may have one or two studio films in the line-up, there are relatively few countries with dedicated 3D venues. While there are mainstream festivals like the Busan film festival and PIFAN, there are various 3D filmfestivals in Korea. Our films have won the 1st prize at the Korean Film Festival (KIFF) both in 2011 and 2012 https://3dcontentblog.wordpress.com/2011/12/02/3d-film-on-burma-wins-award-in-korea/ This event is open to international participants and have actual price moneys attached to it (very rare). There is also a Korean-only festival, to which I was kindly invited as ‘international guest’. This event was attached to the International 3D Society (I3DS) conference and last week’s winners were the following local productions (I think this hasn’t been published in English anywhere before – drumroll please):
1st prize: Rivers of Korea
2nd prizes: The Fetus & Super show4 3D
3rd prizes: Big Mouth, The Sprit of Great China & The Beet Party
Special prize: Circus Show
I am glad to say that 3D Content Hub is already working with most of these films and producers – as agent, as buyer or as fundraiser.
6. The production eco-system
Backed by government support, a large&diverse broadcasting industry and last but not least the fastest and most advanced Internet&Mobile infrastructure worldwide there s a healthy creative industry in many genres.
– Korean Animation studios are famous all around the world (Pororo and Nutjob are huge 3D projects that come to mind first) and their technical quality is outstanding. I have signed up an animated shortfilm for our 3D BluRay compilation and since then this film has continued to win awards right left and center. But it’s not only a few ‘stars’ (Redrover and Iconix in this case); there are many players in Korean animation. In fact I tried listing all animation studios we are in touch with but had to give up. So many of them are producing 3D! There is also a merchandising industry flourishing alongside the animation character creation by the animators (The Seoul Character&Licensing Fair is a large annual event).
– K-Pop (Korean pop music) is becoming more famous all around the world and there are plenty of 3D concerts and music clips available already. I am also aware of several traditional/art projects by leading broadcasters.
– While Korean drama is gaining more influence particular in Asia and South America, I have not yet seen 3D fiction projects as of yet.
– Further, there are numerous 3D documentaries, some of them we represent, that are world-class. http://3dcontenthub.com/3d-catalog/forest-of-bandi-fireflies-3d http://3dcontenthub.com/3d-catalog/angkor
– Finally, there are a number of smaller start-ups that are taking a new approach to the creative process. XrisP, (http://xrisp.com) is one of them. Founder Xris Sohn is a creative powerhouse. I am attached as executive producer to his SciFi 3D Film project which is based on his graphic novel and a successful smartphone app. More about this project soon.
7. The wider broadcasting and media industry
Listening to the live announcements of I3DS awardwinners (see above) my initial response was that the awards are fairly spread among all major players.
The public network KBS has seven channels http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_Broadcasting_System while the largest private broadcasters are SBS http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seoul_Broadcasting_System and MBC http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Munhwa_Broadcasting_Corporation EBS has four channels and its focus is on education. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Educational_Broadcasting_System Finally there is Skylife (a satellite platform) and the channel/producer Korea HD Broadcasting (http://www.skylife.co.kr/eng/company/sub03_1.html). All of them won awards!
But then I thought: Isn’t it amazing; all these major players have high-profile 3D projects! This is unheard of in any other country. Seriously, think about it. USA, Japan, UK, Germany, Italy, France. Who is spearheading the 3D revolution? Usually it is one pay TV platform (BSkyB) or one broadcaster (3net), but where else is the entire media industry actively involved in 3D production? This is one of the main points of my far too long blog article!
Finally, I couldn’t possibly write anything about the Korean 3D space without mentioning CJ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CJ_Group#Entertainment_.26_media the largest Entertainment company in the country, owner of a cinema chain, various TV channels, etc. They are a major player in all of Asia. CJ Powercast is responsible for much of the technology, production and postproduction. Maurice’s team is very much committed to 3D. As powerbroker, producer, post-house, distributor, and expert he may be the single most important figure in Korean 3D. The company with its many activities is uniquely positioned to bring the 3D industry to the next stage. Expect to see and hear more about these guys soon !
8. 3D Skill Set
I recently had a breakfast meeting with a veteran stereographer with more than 10 years of 3D experience and many awards under his belt. He is now teaching 3D filmmaking at a Korean university. The Chinese speaker at the I3DS event last week mentioned that his latest 3D film was shot in China but entirely relying on Korean equipment, Korean crew and it was postproduced in Seoul. Apparently the skills are not yet in place in China and the Korean prices are more favourable to the Chinese than the rates that Westerners charge.
Now, what does this all mean?
For content producers Korea obviously means business. Films that we have sold here include:
And many more…. I am pretty sure that you can also license your existing 3D film here. If you have an upcoming project, there are various possible Korean partners for you. This may be post-production, or a local broadcaster or a studio that provides CGI work for you. Please let me know if you need any help in this market.
Article/Photos: Torsten Hoffmann;