Film board hopes to make Minnesota a 3-D TV hot spot

Testing 3-D glasses
Mark Johnson of Mounds View tests a pair of 3-D glasses at Best Buy in Richfield, Minn. Thursday, June 10, 2010.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

While many of us are still weighing whether 3D televisions are worth their expensive price tag, the Minnesota Film and TV Board is hoping the technology will secure the industry's future in the state.

All Things Considered host Tom Crann spoke with Lucinda Winter, executive director of the film board, about the board's 3-D initiative. The board plans to launch the project next month.

Tom Crann: So will Minnesota now be the place to film Avatar 2? Is this what this means?

Lucinda Winter: Well, actually, that would be highly unlikely, although of course we'd be happy to try to accommodate Mr. Cameron. But what we're really aiming to do is try to grab a chunk of what we think is going to be a real growth part of the production market.

And really, what you see in 3-D on a theatre screen is just scratching the surface. There's going to be, of course, 3-D television programming. There's already live-action sports programming that's being aired. I know that the baseball league has announced that in major markets you'll be able to watch baseball games in 3-D. There are going to be 3-D commercials. You will be receiving stereoscopic 3-D on your telephone eventually, on your PDA.

So we're wanting to grab some of that because there's already some 3-D work going on in our market. We have a strong production and post-production group here, a large industry of about four thousand people, and we want to try to put ourselves on the map as a Midwest center for 3D production.

Crann: Why is Minnesota well-suited to become a major player in the 3-D industry?

Winter: Because we already have an existing infrastructure of [high-definition] production here, and that's everything from the large corporations who spend millions and millions of dollars in this market now making commercials [and] making in-store television.

Crann: And they're doing it in 3-D right now?

Winter: They're already starting to be doing it in 3-D. Also another segment that's exciting for us here because we do have so many Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies is 3-D business television. So in other words, you might go to a business meeting now or a conference, and some of what you will be seeing on the screens will be in 3-D, so you'll have glasses. Eventually people will not be wearing glasses, but there are so many segments of this.

There is medical technology, which will be using 3-D so surgeons can learn how to do procedures, but they're learning in 3-D, which makes the whole thing seem so much more real. There will be simulation training opportunities in 3-D. All of these things tap into what is already our high-tech marketplace, and we would like to grab that and bring some more business here.

Crann: What's still needed here in Minnesota as part of your 3-D initiative to get production up and running here?

Winter: Well, I think my plan for this first year is to get Minnesotans who are in this industry now and are starting to work and feel their way through, 'What's different about 3-D? What skills do I need? What are the challenges?'

We need to get them talking to each other. So we're creating a forum for Minnesotans who are in production to be able to talk to each other about their creative challenges [and] their technical challenges.

There's a tremendous amount of commercial production that goes on here and corporate production, business television, TV series, where this is going to become a tool in the toolbox that people will have to be trained in on. They'll have to become competent and expert at, and as we're doing that, we would like to promote what we're doing and be able to bring in businesses from outside our state.

Crann: Do you see Minnesota as becoming the hotbed of this 3-D production for commercials, not just Minnesota companies, but nationally here, as a goal?

Winter: I think my short-term goal is I would be very pleased if we became a regional hub and took it from there.

(Interview edited by MPR reporter Madeleine Baran.)

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