Pearl Media bringing 3-D media to branding. Is 3-D ready?

THQ is launching Saints Row: The Third at Comic-Con 2011 with a bang, including a giant booth with an adults-only booth show (pun there clearly intended), a pimp dressed all in purple, and a huge splash Thursday and Friday nights at PETCO Park in conjunction with Pearl Media. Pearl brought PETCO to 3-D life with a multimedia showcase involving dual-screen animations introducing the game. I spoke with Pearl Media CEO Josh Cohen about Pearl’s involvement with THQ and the future of 3-D media, from advertising to your television sets.

About 18 months ago, Pearl Media began making a shift from solely interactive technology media — large-format interactive media, gesture, touch, etc. — to 3-D projection mapping, in which the company measures out an entire building, or any service, then creates a 3-D rendering, or model, of building or surface, building a live 3-D atmosphere on top of it for people to see without the use of traditional methods, like stereoscopic glasses. Pearl has invested in tons of research for detailed, high-contrast imagery, which is what Cohen believes separates the company from the competition.

The company had less than three weeks to complete the 3-D mapping and execution for the launch of THQ for Saints Row: The Third, and also had to consider the audience as well as the game’s subject matter; it’s a very mature game. Pearl took the opportunity to use the platform as a unique way to introduce the game’s characters in a large-format way, focusing on the details of the execution, the coloring, the clarity of images, and the audio.

I asked Cohen about the issues some users are seeing with nausea and headaches with handheld 3-D experiences, such as the Nintendo 3DS, but he said it’s hard to compare Pearl’s execution: “It’s only in an exterior world. It’s large-format, with great clarity and high-definition. We’ve done a great deal of research and development, and use six projectors. It’s a completely different experience.”

Cohen thinks 3-D is the new HD: “People were very skeptical of HD as well. In the next three to five years, when the right price range hits, [3-D] will be the norm in everyone’s household. You are seeing networks and studios investing; hardware and content need to catch up. It will continue to evolve to where stereoscopic lenses won’t be needed, etc.”


As you can see from the video embedded above, the effects are cool: brick walls blowing out, letters popping out and dropping back in, but what I saw when I walked around was the same thing we’ve noticed here before at GigaOM: It was very dependent on angle. As I crossed the street and moved around, the animations looked spectacular in some areas and like 2-D in others. Compared with the stereoscopic-lens-requiring previews of the upcoming film Fright Night, filmed entirely with 3-D cameras? Even completely off to the side of the screen, the 3-D looked 3-D in all cases.

The technology has come a long way, but I think it has an even longer way to go before it’s as ubiquitous as Cohen believes it will be.