By Ilya Sorokin, 3DFusion
In the spring of 2011, Macy’s management approached us after having read about our successful installation of glasses-free 3DTV at the Mirage casino in Las Vegas for the Cirque du Soleil. Our original intent was to interest them in installing some of our screens throughout their flagship store in New York City.
After visiting our Wall Street office to evaluate our technology, Macy’s knew that they were looking at something unique and special – perfect-picture 3DTV without glasses. They were especially impressed with our 9-screen, 3D glasses-free 8ft x 12ft 3DFMax video wall. After a few different viewings for various members of their executive staff, they expressed an interest in using the video wall as a high-profile and high-impact 3D display to be integrated into one of their Christmas Windows.
While this project started off being just about technology, it soon became about contributing to something much bigger. During negotiations, we realised that a substantial percentage of each sale would go to the Make a Wish Foundation in support of making a dream come true for children suffering serious illnesses. Since this cause is something close to our hearts, we decided to provide our content services at cost and the display at no cost.
A short time later, Macy’s brought in Spaeth Design, the contractor who was selected to execute their vision for a series of windows. Working alongside the designers and animators from Spaeth, we used our video wall to play a 90-second 3D CGI loop which reflects the ‘Believe’ story that is spread across Macy’s entire windows displays, themed for the Make a Wish Foundation.
Spaeth Design did the original storyboarding, with 3DFusion providing guidelines and production consulting, and Spaeth artists did the original 3DStudioMax 11 animation. At that point, 3DFusion Content Services took over. The animation was significantly refined to emphasise 3D effects that would result in a more impactful presentation on the 3DFusion video wall. Once finished, 3DFusion used its 3DSMax11 Plug-in to convert it to the appropriate format for glasses-free display. The content resolution was then upscaled to be shown on the 132″ 9-panel video wall.
On the 3DFusion side, the project was handled by the production management team consisting of two people, two graphic artists and two technical support engineers. The project took six weeks to complete.
There were some unexpected challenges. Firstly, the majority of 3DFusion projects do not require physical presence on site, since everything can be handled remotely, but since Macy’s window displays did not have Internet access, whenever we had to change anything, we had to physically go there.
Secondly, there was no air conditioning, so it got quite hot behind the video wall. As a result, one of the video board fans died and we had to replace it. Macy’s was very responsive and ran an air-conditioning unit to the window, which prevented any more problems of this nature.
The biggest challenge however, was working in the very tight environment of the window display area. Nonetheless, we overcame all of these challenges with flying colours – Macy’s won the VMSD Award for the Best Christmas Retail Display in New York City for 2011, voted for by the media and announced on Friday December 9th.
Experience from the project
This project proved to be very educational. While the display is up and running and is being very well received, we are continuing our efforts to modify the loop and have already installed a second version which further accentuates the 3D. We proved to be our toughest critics – there seems to be no end to perfecting the 3D experience, but at some point we had to accept that what we were presenting was indeed meeting everyone’s expectations.
We have begun surveying the crowds viewing our window, and the results, based on over 150 interviews to date, are very positive. 88% of respondents enjoyed viewing the 3D glasses-free display, and 92% expressed a strong interest in seeing more glasses-free 3D.
Our client, Macy’s, is very pleased with the results of our efforts. We, however, continue to work on refining our technology, especially content conversion and creation techniques. We know how spectacular our 3D glasses-free technology can truly look, and we are dedicated to achieving the full realisation of broadcast-quality 3DTV without glasses.
Ilya Sorokin is the CEO of 3DFusion Corp. 3DFusion provides glasses-free 3D display solutions, including 3D content creation and conversion services for glasses and glasses-free 3D formats based on its proprietary technology.