Cameron Pace Group chief executive Vince Pace tells Broadcast why the UK is well positioned for 3D, and why he thinks the BBC is like Transformers director Michael Bay.
James Cameron and Vince Pace teamed up to develop the Fusion 3D rig system that was used for Avatar.
Earlier this year at the NAB trade show in Las Vegas they launched the Cameron Pace Group (CPG) to sell and lease 3D technology and know-how to film makers and broadcasters.
Broadcast: What projects has Cameron Pace Group been working on recently?
Vince Pace: In the UK we’re just finishing up on 47 Ronin and we recently wrapped up on Hugo. In the US we just wrapped on Life of Pi, and there are a lot of films we are preparing for. On the sports side, we just finished the NBA finals and we’re now getting ready for ESPN’s X Games.
What kind of presence does CPG have in the UK and what conversations have you had with UK broadcasters?
We have a presence at Shepperton Studios, where we have the capability for 3D dailies and a DI package, together with some gear for capture.
BSkyB spent a lot of time researching with us when we made Avatar, and we talked a lot about what we were doing with Avatar and the philosophy behind the Fusion system we used on the film.
[BSkyB’s] desire to purchase went against what we felt was the business model moving forward; we are constantly changing our technology and improving on it, so our difficulty at the time was that the business of selling a rig and it being obsolete eight months later just didn’t make sense to us and we weren’t able to service that need of just selling some rigs. Two years later, that is a bit of a different story because the technology is not in such a state of change. Our business agreement with ESPN was much more in line with a relationship of constantly upgrading technology per project.
What are your plans for the UK?
We certainly feel that the presence of Cameron Pace and the technology that we have created is warranted in the UK. Part of our business model is a proper presence in the UK and that is one of our highest priorities. Just to ship over rigs is very limiting for us. The diversity of our products ranges from major feature film production to broadcast and our hope is to penetrate the television market.
Our interest is in a single facility that can mimic what we are doing currently in the US. Our presence in the UK will be centred on something that can handle a flagship mobile unit, and something that can handle directors and DoPs coming in to test the systems and understand how they would apply to their project. The Shepperton facility is set up for the DI portion of that, but it’s not really set up for the actual hands on portion.
How far away are you from expanding CPG’s presence in the UK?
Conversations with broadcasters are starting to happen. My focus at the moment is establishing who is going to be at the table on our side of the equation. We’re probably three to four weeks away from recruiting some of the best in the business and most of those deals are taking place.
What are your thoughts on the 3D industry in the UK?
There are a lot of positive indicators in the UK and the UK really is a positive light to the 3D community. I champion Brian’s (Brian Lenz, BSkyB’s director of product design and development) efforts. His commitment is typical of the evangelism and visionary outlook that we are carrying through the Avatar series. My opinion, though, is that Brian needs to be supported by the right company; you need the right partner to make things happen and we’re hoping to play that role for several of the key players in the UK.
The BBC is like the Michael Bay (Transformers director) of the industry. They do what they do well, and for them to accept this transition to 3D they have to feel that they can continue to do that well. We are looking forward to exploring those relationships, but we want to do so on a business level. Our plan is to win the war and not just the isolated battle and so we’re hoping to come in on a strong business level with the BBC and as well as Sky to partner up to change entertainment as we know it.
What do you think are the main differences between the UK and the US?
In the UK there are mediums for delivering the product between feature films and TV such as in pubs or clubs, which the US doesn’t. We’ve seen some stumbling and lack of confidence, and we’ve seen that more [in the US] than abroad. I don’t know if that’s because there is a quicker rush to judgement or if it’s just people not feeling that the technology is here to stay, but definitely the international community currently has a much stronger acceptance than what I see in the US.
We set a high bar with Avatar and we continue to want to encourage that to be challenged. I do think when done correctly in the US people accept it. The confidence level has to be strengthened here so that they think they are getting a product that is going to entertain them in a proper way. Part of that is to listen to the negativity and to examine the challenges. Only listening to the evangelists is not the correct way to go about things.