3D Innovation Center

In an unprecedented step, Panasonic last week gave 25 media access to the 3D Innovation Center that opened in January within Panasonic Hollywood Laboratory (PHL) located in Universal City, CA.

In addition to showing how our company works with Hollywood to promote the creation of new 3D entertainment titles, Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company took advantage of this rare opportunity to demonstrate our entire line of 2011 large-screen VIERA 3DTVs and Blu-ray 3D players holding press briefings sessions before and after the PHL event in the Sheraton Universal Hotel located "next door" to PHL's facility.

Panasonic Hollywood Lab is home to the new Panasonic 3D Innovation Center, one of only three such facilities in the world.

"Panasonic's 3D Innovation Center (3DIC) was established to provide a state-of-the-art 3D experience for the entertainment industry and video professionals," explained AVC Networks Company's Masayoshi Fujii. "That's why we located it within Panasonic Hollywood Laboratory, which has such close relationships with the content-creation community. Local studio people, who are curious about how to start working with 3D TV equipment, can schedule an appointment and see our end-to-end consumer-to-B2B solutions."

3D Innovation Center head James Mercs, who is also director of Panasonic Hollywood Lab, added that the 3D Innovation Center was also meant to serve as an incubator to promote the creation of new 3D content by studios and independent producers. "All of this helps Panasonic to create the next generation of 3D TV products from the customers' point of view," he said. James also pointed out that the 3D Innovation Center actively seeks to pair creators with Panasonic 3D hardware.

Panasonic AVC Networks Company's Masayoshi Fujii explained the role of 3DIC to the press in PHL's state-of-the-art 3D theater.

Panasonic also used the opportunity to set the record straight about 3DTV's market success. "The first thing you need to know about 3D TV is that it is being accepted by U.S. consumers at a very fast rate for a new format," explained PCEC President and PNA COO Shiro Kitajima. "Compared to HDTV in the first year of its availability, 3DTV sold almost five-and-a-half times as fast. In fact, it took the industry 26 months to reach HDTV sales that equal 3DTV in its first nine months." And, Panasonic is so confident of the success of 3DTV that it is building the feature into 70% of its VIERA TV lineup, Shiro said.

PNA COO and PCEC President Shiro Kitajima reaffirmed for the press that 3D is being accepted by consumers at a rapid rate, greatly outpacing HDTV sales in its first years.

Increased availability of content has been tied to the ultimate success of 3DTV, so news about how many Blu-ray 3D titles will debut this year, for example, remains a topic of very intense interest across both the consumer electronics and entertainment industries. For this reason, remarks given by guest presenter Fox Home Entertainment President Mike Dunn were highly anticipated. Speaking without notes, Mr. Dunn told the media audience that by the end of the year, both Fox and the Blu-ray Association estimate that their will be 65 Blu-ray 3D titles in the market by the end of the year, more than twice as many as last year. "Hollywood is really committed to 3D in the home," Mr. Dunn said. And he praised Panasonic, which he said is regarded in Hollywood as "the performance brand of the consumer electronic world, like Nike."

Fox Home Entertainment President Mike Dunn was a guest speaker at the PHL event at which he told the audience that there would be a significant increase in the number of 3D Blu-ray titles released in 2011.

Presenting more news about content, DirecTV Senior Vice President Steven Roberts complimented Panasonic on the comprehensiveness of its 3D launch. "It's now 10 months since the launch of our n3D Powered by Panasonic partnership, and I think Panasonic has been very successful in creating a 3D ecosystem to push the envelope. I applaud your commitment to 3D as it has enabled us to have five 3D channels today, which I don't think we would have had otherwise. And it has enabled us to create over 300 hours of 3D content." Mr. Roberts also highlighted new 3D content including Champions League European Soccer, a concert by Maroon Five, 3D Tourist episodes and more. Given the content in the pipeline and the reaction of consumers, "I see only growth in the 3D market," Mr. Roberts said.

Panasonic Marketing VP Bob Harris took the media audience beyond the entertainment world and outlined the growing range of other applications in which 3D is beginning to thrive including education, healthcare and the military to name a few.

Showing the breadth of 3D applications, Harris made clear that the 3D world is more than just entertainment. "Video has quickly become a killer app and 3D technology is opening up new and exciting opportunities within and outside traditional production markets, including healthcare, public safety, military and education. We are pleased with the role we have played in bringing affordable 3D production to video professionals." Bob also reported that the AG-3DA1 will become the first 3D camera in space when it rides the Space Shuttle on its last trip to the Space Station.

Following the presentations in the PHL 3D Theater, the media were able to see a range of product and technology demonstrations including a visit to one of PHL's 3D editing bays and a look at the latest consumer 3D imaging products. Here, PCEC's Chris Rice (on left) demonstrates Panasonic's line of consumer 3D camcorders and LUMIX Digital Cameras.

In closing the proceeding, Mr. Fujii told the media audience that, as a memento, Panasonic had taken 3D photos and video of them during their visit and stored all of them on high-capacity SD Memory Cards which they would receive at the end of the visit. "To view those 3D images best, I recommend you buy a Panasonic VIERA 3D TV and use the Image Viewer function," he said with mock seriousness which prompted a round of audience good-natured applause.