Wrap Up: Blu-Con 2010

The International Ballroom in the Beverly Hilton has been the home to the Golden Globes for the past fifty years. The space is much smaller than it appears on TV. And much colder. Apparently someone heard it was going to be above 72 outside and turned the air conditioner up to cryonic.

Blu-Con 2010 was off to a running start. The first speaker was Amazon.com's Vice President of Music and Video, Bill Carr. Carr had a number of interesting slides. The first showed the number of titles available during the first five years of the DVD and Blu-ray formats. Where DVD had over 20,000 titles after 5 years in the marketplace, Blu-ray has barely over 3,000. Next he showed what titles Amazon customers were most interested in buying on Blu-ray. These weren't too surprising, with Star Wars IV-VI at number one, the extended editions of Lord of the Rings at number two, and Star Wars I-III at number three. Indiana Jones, Nemo, Lawrence of Arabia, and Vincent Vega round out the list. Other tracking info included:
- the increase in spending overall after a Blu-ray player purchase
- how sales of BD discs drop 4% for every 10% increase in price over DVD,
- that Blu-ray discs have a high reported defect rate, almost always due to the lack of a firmware update on the user's player.

Overall Bill felt that consumers were excited about Blu-ray, and all that was needed was more selection, better price, and less confusion with firmware and 3D.

James Cameron
The next guest was James Cameron. He was joined on stage by Jon Landau, producer of Titanic and Avatar. The discussion quickly swung to the upcoming release of the 3-disc special edition of Avatar. In addition to countless special features, the new version has 16 minutes of additional footage, all of which have had their special effects done to the same level as the theatrical release. The cost of these new scenes is part of the reason why they're re-releasing the film in theaters. The time involved in adding these scenes is why they weren't added to the version released on disc in April.

Cameron's love for 3D is unabashed, and he talked about this at length. Overall he felt there was no content that couldn't benefit from the 3D treatment, but that 2D to 3D conversions had to be done carefully. The quick and cheap 3D conversions that are all the rage in Hollywood right now are very poor. Cameron said that there were only two ways to do 3D right; either shoot it in 3D to start, or spend six months in post production just on the conversion. That's a lot of time and money in post, which he thinks makes the added cost of just shooting it in 3D comparatively less severe.

It's also his opinion that 3D conversion is a lot like colorization of black and white movies. Where it does come into its own is with catalog (as in older) titles.

Cameron said he was pleased at the high quality of 3D that was available in the home, though he lamented the lack of content out there now. While 3D on Blu-ray is a big deal, he felt it wasn't enough in itself to push wider acceptance of 3D. That would take other 3D content, like sports. Auto-stereoscopic 3D, as in 3D without glasses, was at least 8-10 years away. Others echoed this number later in the convention.

Most of all, "3D is here to stay," he said, and that it would "continue indefinitely."

Perhaps the most poetic description of 3D was by Landau, quoting something Cameron had told him before: "3D is a window into a world, not a world coming out of a window." Indeed.