– . – Michael V. Lewis: Bringing 3-D to the World
Michael V. Lewis: Bringing 3-D to the World
As an entrepreneur and former media investment banker, Lewis has conceived and established cutting-edge businesses throughout his professional career. As Chairman/CEO and co-founder of REAL D (www.reald.com), he has been responsible for building the company into the world’s largest 3-D cinema platform and establishing REAL D as the global leader in 3-D technology.
Previously, he was CEO and co-founder of L-Squared Entertainment, an award-winning digital entertainment studio. The company specialised in using technology to create new entertainment experiences, including being the first to utilise PC computers in the creation of digital effects for the motion picture VIRTUOSITY (1995). While at L-Squared, he served as producer on the 3-D IMAX film SIEGFRIED & ROY: THE MAGIC BOX (1999), and as co-producer on the highest grossing 3-D IMAX film in history: T-REX: BACK TO THE CRETACEOUS (1998). He was also executive producer for THE VIRTUAL STUDIO TOUR, starring Danny DeVito, for the CAA/Intel New Media Lab.
“Most people think that this is the final frontier to really suspend disbelief, which is what we’re trying to do in movies, because the technology really is that good.”
Lewis is widely quoted in the media and technology industries in such publications as The New York Times, USA Today, and Variety and has appeared on CNN, CNBC, ABC News, and CBS News. In 2005, he was named one of Hollywood’s “Innovative Voices” by The Hollywood Reporter.
I gave him a call to find out if REAL D really is the REAL Deal.
What was the process for putting REAL D on the map?
Well we have a pretty big footprint and it’s grown very rapidly. We got very interested in 3-D about 5 years ago. I had produced some 3-D movies and was in investment banking and media before that. I was really interested in how technology could influence the movie-going experience. I really hoped that 3-D would take off to the next level, but it never really has, until very recently. I think the primary reason was that technology in the past wasn’t ever really good enough. Most people think of 3-D as the red and green glasses, eyestrain, headaches, and often times, nausea.
I’m reminded of that NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET in 3-D experience a while back.
Yeah. In most cases it was used as a gimmick, like that phrase putting lipstick on a pig. We were more fascinated with using 3-D as a way to immerse the audience and make it more real and life-like. If you think about the history of film with the advent of sound and colour, we were trying to use a visual image in order to replicate reality. Most people think that this is the final frontier to really suspend disbelief, which is what we’re trying to do in movies, because the technology really is that good.
Well Jeffrey Katzenberg really seems to think so…
There were only a limited number of 3-D screens out there that could show high-end 3-D. Those were in large format and in IMAX, but the economics weren’t very good. We went around the world and looked at who was doing 3-D in other markets and hoped to take that technology and marry it with a digital cinema projector. They were still very much in the lab stage when we started, but we were hopeful that at some point there would be a transition from film to digital. Our feeling was that with a digital projector and hopefully with some 3-D science combined, we could come up with a very stable platform. We didn’t want it to just be in a few theatres, instead we aimed to upgrade a digital projector and put it into thousands of theatres. That’s what we felt was necessary in order to put the business economics to work for content producers. If you look back now, it seems pretty obvious, but when we started, it was a big leap of faith because we were hoping that if we built this REAL D platform, content producers would show up.