John Cassy, BSkyB’s director of 3D, says that there’s far too much pessimism about 3D for TV, especially on the 3D movie side of the business, but Sky remains firmly committed to investing in more 3D content. Cassy was speaking having come direct from London Zoo where Sky’s latest documentary (‘3D Meercats’, a co-production with National Geographic and produced with the help of Oxford Scientific Films) was being screened.
“’3D Meerkats’ is absolutely the sort of show we are backing,” he says. “It is an incredibly innovative piece of television and where much of the techniques used have been especially constructed with the programme in mind. We track the meercats through three seasons, it looks beautiful and resonates with everyone, because we all love meercats!”
“It is a perfect example of the top-quality 3D programming we want to make,” adds Cassy. “Our view is that this year hasn’t been the best for Hollywood 3D output, and no matter how many they make the end result is that a bad film is a bad film, even in 3D. Our First Rule of 3D is to forget all about the technology and ask whether it is a good programme? We look at the story, the narrative, the cast, the location, and once all those elements are good and we think we have a backable project, only then do we think very hard about 3D, because it will impact how the show is made and financed.”
Besides Meercats, other natural history programming continues to be an important genre for Sky 3D. Coming soon to the channel will be big budget 3D productions including Bachelor King 3D (Atlantic Productions), The Secret Life of the Rainforest 3D (Electric Sky), Safari 3D (Can Communicate), Kew 3D (Atlantic Productions) and Beautiful Freaks 3D (Tigress Productions).
Cassy says sport works extremely well in 3D, and over the course of the year they have screened nine different types of sport. “Tennis, rugby, golf, are the ones that everyone talks about and where3D makes a huge difference. But we have also tried rugby league, and speedway which looked brilliant. Shortly we’ll be showing the UK’s Horse of the Year Show in 3D, and we look at every proposal that comes our way, but the UK’s main interest is soccer and that’s where we focus much of our 3D attention.”
BSkyB has confirmed a much greater investment in original UK programming, and part of that investment will be in 3D. “Jeremy Darroch, our CEO, has spoken about a much wider investment plan, and it is a 3-year plan so some of it is going to take a while to percolate through the system, especially some of the original 3D material. They will see this Christmas the second of our David Attenborough films, Bachelor King, which is simply phenomenal and tracks the life of a King penguin in the Antarctic.”
Asked what is needed to push 3D-TV towards a wider audience, Cassy says it is all about the chickens and the eggs! “People need 3D sets, and the prices for good TV sets are now tumbling down. Those viewers then need persuading to sit down and tune into good programming. And if there’s good programming, surprise surprise, they’ll watch it. It has always been this way in TV. For us as broadcasters it is to provide a really rich selection of 3D TV. I want to see more of this, and at MIPCOM I’ll be looking for more high-quality material. I don’t want to watch paint dry. Even in 3D!”