Already claiming to hold the world's largest catalogue of 3D TV programming, US network 3net has started to bank original 4K content.
“We started researching and commissioning 4K about a year ago and we've now produced, or have in production, 20 hours,” president and CEO Tom Cosgrove told The IBC Daily.
“Our strategy is TotalD, which is the idea that, for the majority of commissions, we produce at the highest possible quality to derive assets all the way downstream including 3D 4K, 3D 2K, 4K 2D, 3D, 2D, and HD. We began with the all-CGI 4K 3D three-hour series Space (with Percolate Digital) and we have others in the pipeline. We may do some only in 4K and some only in 3D. We are looking for a balance and it depends on the project.”
Cosgrove believes that the 4K market needs content, which is a prime reason why 3Net opened production division, 3net Studios last year. 4K original series in development include National Parks Adventure, Metropolis, and Made by Man.
“We want to originate content then make it available from theatrical to CE manufacturers to OTT providers, like Netflix, as well as more traditional linear options,” he said.
4K doesn't come cheap with Cosgrove putting the cost of production at anything from 50-100% more than HD.
“We know from experience that those costs will come down. 3D production started close to 100% uplift and is now significantly reduced,” he said.
3Net launched as a 3D channel in 2011, and Cosgrove is adamant that the format has a future, saying he hasn't revised the channel's content strategy.
“The bottom line is that there is a strong appetite for 3D but that consumers want a simpler experience in the home. If you have to wear glasses and press a button to take you to 3D, these are steps which hinder the experience."
3Net's 3D programming in production includes the stop-motion series Marksmen, produced with Jump! 3D, Wingsuit Warrior: Jed Corliss vs. the World, produced with New Wave Entertainment, and Daydream, a travel-adventure series produced by 3net subsidiary Z3D Films.
“The autostereo market continues to develop as MasterImage, Dolby and Stream TV Networks push the technology, while the main CE manufacturers express that moving to 4K sets will make it easier to get to glasses-free viewing. Theatrical is still strong, it’s encouraging that BSkyB's commitment is strong, and we are seeing tremendous interest in China and Asia, so it's wrong to say there is no enthusiasm or market for 3D,” he added.
Tom Cosgrove is a speaker at the IBC demonstration of Ultra HD on Saturday, 14 September, along with Sky Deutschland and Sony Pictures.
By Adrian Pennington