S. Korea’s 3D Technology Is Being Courted By Hollywood Filmmakers
S. Korea’s 3D Technology Is Being Courted By Hollywood Filmmakers
  • Yeon Choul-woong
  • 승인 2010.05.10 15:01
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If documentaries like "Tears of the Amazon", a big budget MBC documentary, are converted into 3D versions, much more value will be added to them, ushering in another huge market.

"If the era of 3D arrives in earnest, 2D contents - which have been deemed lackluster- will be reborn with greater value on board. Stereo Pictures will show you what that is." Korea IT Times met with the CEO of Stereo Pictures, Sung Philmoon, to learn about how Stereo Pictures has become the first Korean company to bask in love calls from major Hollywood filmmakers and to take a close look at their trail-blazing 2D to 3D conversion technology.

Sung Philmoon, CEO of Stereo Pictures

CEO Sung said, "This year, our company received some considerable orders from Hollywood filmmakers. hopely enough, we will be able to take more orders because we plans to expand our strong workforce to about 3,000 this year."

With unrivaled 2D to 3D conversion software and technology, Stereo Pictures, a Korean company specializing in converting 2D movies to 3D, made bold attempts to break into the Hollywood movie market many years ago. The small-sized Korean company, however, was met with nothing but shrugs from most of the Hollywood filmmakers.

Yet an indomitable Stereo Pictures fired up its efforts to enter the Hollywood movie market by wielding its undeniable technological prowess and bringing aboard new Hollywood-savvy talents such as Jim Miller, former President of Warner Brothers, film editor William Hoy, whose work includes the Movie "300," and actor Phillip Lee.

Last year, Stereo Pictures signed a contract with Warner Brothers to convert the movie "Cats and Dogs 2" into 3D. As of right now, it has received some orders from major Hollywood filmmakers. Last year's company's sales stood at a mere KRW 500 million, but surged to a total of KRW 37.4 billion this year. Expectations for next year's sales total is set at a remarkable KRW 280 billion. In addition, last year's workforce amounted to a total of 50, and expected to be swelled to 3,150 this year. Next year's workforce expectation is set at 5,500.

"Before we became business partners with Hollywood filmmakers, our company had been put under the microscope. Our operations, which is located on the campus of Namseoul University, were examined thoroughly by Hollywood filmmakers to see whether we had foolproof security, the capacity for handling huge contents, smooth communication skills, and world-class technology. The Hollywood market seems gigantic, but that's not always the case. Once you get bad reviews in the market, word spreads so fast that you will be kicked out of the market for good. In other words, once you prove your worth, you will find yourself inundated with backlogs of orders." said CEO Sung.

CEO Sung jumped into the PC assembly business in the 1990's. In 1998, his company began exporting 3D goggles, establishing its presence in the 3D sector. However, the listed American company he acquired started to wobble in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks back in 2001. Unfortunately, he had to fold his business in America and eventually came back to S. Korea.

After that, he and his remaining employees set up Stereo Pictures and bided their time, waiting patiently for the opportunity to showcase their 3D technology to the world.

Despite numerous challenges, CEO Sung refused to back down and continued to fight against all odds because he was fully aware of the tide turning toward 3D in the global movie industry. He knew that human desires for reality, which gave rise to the transition from black to color and 2D to 3D, which would eventually tilt the movie market towards 3D. His belief turned out to be true. Then, when the opportunity presented itself, he did not fail to seize the moment.

Cats And Dogs in 3D

Who is able to lead the trend of 2D to 3D conversion in Hollywood

CEO Sung mentioned, "Lots of masterpiece movies will be converted into 3D versions. That means a new market of unimaginable proportions is waiting for us. The Hollywood market makes money by raising box office revenues and collecting licensing fees. By converting all of the 2D movies into 3D, Hollywood will see the increased size of revenues as old movies are transformed into new contents.

He continued, "How many companies do you think are capable of leading the huge global market of 2D to 3D conversion Of course, there are a few Hollywood companies that can do quasi-3D conversion work. Yet no company is capable of doing full 2D to 3D conversion. Fully converting a 2D movie into a 3D takes three to four months and costs considerable money."

"For major filmmakers, 2D to 3D conversion is an irresistible temptation because it is absolutely cheaper than making a 3D film with a 3D camera. For example, the movie Avatar in 3D was enormously expensive to be filmed with a 3D camera. Also, 2D to 3D conversion guarantees high-quality images. In the future, all of the 3D movies will be made through 2D to 3D conversion. However, TV soap operas- which need to be aired right after being shot - still necessitate 3D film equipment," added CEO Sung.

Taking advantage of the Korean wave

He said, "Because of budgetary limits and differences in scenarios and direction techniques, it is difficult to turn a Korean movie into a box-office success in Hollywood. Therefore, we'd better ride on the Korean wave, knocking on the doors of the nations who favor Korean culture. If Korean filmmakers want us to convert their 2D Korean movies into 3D, we will take their business offers seriously."

Creation of a 3D satellite broadcasting station in 2012

Stereo Pictures is not simply content with 2D to 3D conversion. It's next goal will be to secure licenses in order to run a 3D image library. Ultimately, it aims to venture into the 3D broadcasting business. 30% of the total visual contents are projected to be converted into 3D in 15 to 20 years time. Having this projection in mind, CEO Sung is planning on setting up a 3D satellite broadcasting station offering services in 8 languages between 2012 and 2013.

Audience always seeks reality and wants to have fun with stories in the movies. It means we will be entering the era of a hologram like one we have already passed when there was a transition from black to color and then 2D to 3D. Stereo Pictures is beginning to leave it's mark on movie history and is delivering strong results for the digital future.


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