x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

First 3D lab in region opens at twofour54

The twofour54 media zone is in talks with a major games manufacturer over making 3D content at a new facility in Abu Dhabi.

R & D Centre & Testing Platform, 3D Lab at twofour54. Photo twofour54
R & D Centre & Testing Platform, 3D Lab at twofour54. Photo twofour54

The twofour54 media zone is bringing a new dimension to the region's film industry with the launch of the Middle East's first 3D-production lab.

The dedicated facility in Abu Dhabi will produce three-dimensional films, TV commercials and even video games.

The "stereoscopic 3D lab" includes specialist cameras and editing suites as well as a training and research centre to help develop 3D as a genre.

"It is clear that 3D has had a massive impact on the entertainment industry recently. Four of the top-grossing US films in 2010 were filmed in 3D," said Wayne Borg, the deputy chief executive and chief operating officer at twofour54.

"The dedicated facility we have here is a first for the region," Mr Borg said. The 3D lab, which is part of intaj, twofour54's media technology arm, will be primarily used to make TV commercials and short video clips. But it will also be used for animations and corporate videos, Mr Borg said.

James Cameron's hit film Avatar, which with box office takings of US$2.8 billion (Dh10.28bn) is the highest-grossing film of all time, was shot in 3D.

Hasan Sayed Hasan, the head of intaj, said the facility at twofour54 was more suited to shorter films.

"Avatar is a huge project. If it was to be done here, instead of [making] it in two years, it would take 20 or 30 years," he said.

"We can have a one-hour feature film, we can have video clips, we can have TV commercials."

He said the animation company Blink Studios, which has a production facility at twofour54, was planning to make "a mixed animation and live action project" at the 3D lab. Mr Borg declined to specify the value of twofour54's investment in the 3D facility.

He said the centre was in discussions with a number of companies, including special effects firms, about making content at twofour54.

"We're in the final throes of an agreement with a major games publisher," he said. "Likewise, we're in a number of discussions with some of the major [special effects] houses internationally who are looking to establishing a presence in the region.

"We'll be announcing a couple of those hopefully in the coming month."

The mission of the research centre will include improving the quality of 3D film techniques, said Clyde DeSouza, a technology adviser at Real Vision, which uses 3D in visual communications.

"We'll be seeding new ideas in 3D. It's not just getting in equipment and leasing it out. It's more ideas of how to work with 3D, and how to do things," said Mr DeSouza, who also works with twofour54 intaj.

"3D is new, even in Hollywood. If it was not new, then you would not see so many bad 3D movies out there," he said. 3D techniques could have industrial applications such as imaging in oil exploration, Mr DeSouza said.

"When the investors are putting in money for a new drill [project], they want to see it," he said. "3D is not just for movies."

Mr Borg said twofour54 continued to attract companies.

"We have got 134 companies now licensed at twofour54 as of yesterday, and about 1,200 people working here," he said.

bflanagan@thenational.ae