James Cameron makes George Lucas and Steven Spielberg re-edit their beloved classics to fit his PandoraVision 3D technology
Are you ready to have all of your television content, your entire DVD collection and anything else you watch at home in 3D?
If you have $4000 the above question can become a reality. With the overwhelming success of James Cameron's Avatar at both the domestic and global box office, it seems that every studio, TV network and cable company has 3D fever.
Until now, most of this talk has been building toward television's being able to play 3D content in the future, as well as studios either making more 3D films or transforming 2D movies into the newest technology.
Now it seems Cameron, Jeffrey Katzenberg, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson have teamed up with Digital Starlight (a new start-up out of Palo Alto, CA) to create PandoraVision.
PandoraVision will come to users in the form of 3D glasses that essentially transform anything that a backend user watches into 3D. Now before you start asking... does it really transform anything into 3D here is what Cameron had to say during the official PandoraVision announcement.
"3D technology has finally been unleashed," Cameron said looking like the cat that ate the canary. "Yes Avatar has been an amazing success but that is nothing compared to what PandoraVision can do."
The glasses are lightweight, portable and work anywhere. They are equipped with state of the art technology that manages to enhance any image by mixing, remixing and then transforming traditional television RGB images via a process called "slotting."
"What slotting does," stated Lucas, "is essentially open up the most baked, decrepit images and bring them to the fore with this 21st Century technology. I haven't seen anything like this ever. It has me rethinking many of my projects."
As great as these glasses seem a major sticking point seems to be the $4000 price-tag. However, users who purchase the PandoraVision glasses at that price will be allowed to get subsequent pairs for $1500 a piece.
"We know that the price-point on the PandoraVision glasses is going to be cost prohibitive at first," offered Katzenberg. "However, users have to understand that they are essentially getting new versions of EVERYTHING. In fact, they are getting new versions of things that haven't been made yet."
"Personally, this whole thing has me breathing a sigh of relief," Spielberg laughed. "With the economy still not recovering at the pace we need it to, I was seriously wondering about plans I had harbored for Raiders Of The Lost Ark 3D! I want the whole franchise to go that way. If you recall the whole sci-fi angle of the last film, I saw a lot of opportunities to exploit that with the new technology. Now... I don't have to do anything... PandoraVision has done it all for me. When that spaceship leaves earth it's going right from the ground into your living room. I mean... wow!"
James Cameron has said that Avatar will now play in virtually 6D because it was originally created in 3D and now PandoraVision will essentially double that.
"If people were depressed about Pandora not being someplace they could go in real life, they are gonna be suicidal after seeing it in full on PandoraVision!" He quipped.
With all this talk of completed films being remade and reworked, the 800 lb. elephant in the room was clearly the thought of what effect PandoraVision might have on Lucas's Star Wars 6 film saga. This is considered to be a holy grail among film lovers and Star Wars alike.
"As Steven said, I now don't have to do anything. The films will be in 3D and based on what I watched of them, using PandoraVision, people are going to be amazed." Lucas opined. "I am also happy that fans won't have to repurchase the films or their entire libraries on DVD, Blu-ray or whatever. However, I might make a PandoraVision version of The Trilogy. By that I mean, I might add some digital elements to make things that were never even in the saga pop like you wouldn't believe."
When pressed about what those elements might be Lucas tried to keep mum but the captive audience wasn't having it.
"Well... aside from adding probably 200-300 more ships and soldiers to various battle scenes, I want to expand the depth of the film. I want it explode in viewer's living rooms. And also... to make the purchase of the PandoraVision discs even more appetizing for users, there is going to be a 3D version of a new character called 6RTY. This new droid just happens to be R2D2's brother. There might be a whole other story-line added where he works both sides of the force and the dark side but I really can't say anything more than that right now."
Truth be told, Lucas wasn't originally open to the idea of re-editing his films with elements he hoped the public wouldn't ever see. So what changed his mind?
"I can give you about 2600 billion reasons!" Lucas laughed when referring to Avatar's record box office run. "James has made it clear that he wasn't some fanboy of mine so naturally I was a little standoffish to him when he summoned me to the Lightstorm offices and basically told me what I had to do in order to stay competitive in this new 3D marketplace. However, you can't argue with sales and when James told me that, 'Hey, maybe Indy's whip is outdated?' Then what was I gonna say? He's got some interesting ideas for a new, slotted weapon that could take our fedora toting hero to the next level."
"It just makes good business sense," Spielberg added. "Look, George and I in many ways reinvigorated the studio film in the 1970s. The grosses we reaped were unprecedented in the history of the medium. However, what Jimmy has done has gone beyond anything we could ever hope to achieve. I mean what did Crystal Skull do worldwide? $800 million? That's nothing compared to Avatar. His success has me rethinking a lot of my ideas because suddenly George and I are obsolete in the world we created."
Katzenberg then brought the discussion back to the historic nature of PandoraVision.
"As much as the studios and the technology companies wanted Blu-ray and HDTVs to take over the viewing realm outside the movie theater, market penetration, margins and the dollar for dollar value just isn't there. PandoraVision takes all of that and says to users, 'Pay a little more now, like you did when you watched Avatar in 3D, and have the experience with you in your home whenever you want on any television you own."
Katzenberg then went on to say that since everything was going to be in 3D this could potentially bring the lucrative senior market to PandoraVision.
"Now people that love Lost will be able to see that show like never before. By the same token, if you loved Archie Bunker or The Untouchables as a kid, you can now have Carroll O'Connor and Robert Stack right in your living room in pristine PandoraVision."
Peter Jackson was on hand to give a demonstration of the glasses. To show off how PandoraVision can make any technology look amazing, he sat in front of a Samsung V717 television from 1996 connected to a first generation DVD player, and what he watched was projected onto the screen for viewers to see.
"This is amazing," stated Jackson.
The director exited the stage before he could field any Lord of the Rings questions.
We will have more information about PandoraVision specs and where Starlight Digital will be selling them as soon as they are made available.