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Which industries have been affected by ‘Avatar’?

The film is changing the computer graphics, television, broadcasting and gaming industries.

Jan 23,2010
James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ has raked in more than 1.6 billion dollar in sales worldwide to become the second-highest grossing movie of all time behind the director’s 1998 hit ‘Titanic.’.
Watching a movie with 3-D glasses on at an IMAX theater used to be an activity reserved for kids. But the release of James Cameron’s science-fiction epic “Avatar” in December has sent moviegoers, regardless of their age or genre preference, to their nearest theater to catch the film in 3-D. The blockbuster has already won numerous awards and raked in more than $1.6 billion in sales worldwide to become the second-highest grossing movie of all time behind Cameron’s 1998 film “Titanic.”

Since its release, it has had a significant impact on the entertainment industry, spurring the creation of films, televisions and games based on the 3-D platform.

The phenomenal success of Avatar has had the biggest impact on the motion picture industry. According to statistics released by the industry, around 20 out of 170 movies will be made in 3-D in the coming year, doubling the number from last year.

The film has also changed the computer graphics-animation and 3-D motion picture industry. In Korea, the recent boom in 3-D film production has prompted the government to invest in the country’s computer graphics industry. Under a plan recently announced by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, around 200 billion won ($178 million) will be invested in the CG industry for advanced equipment support, training, research and development projects, in addition to tax benefits for domestic film producers to help them reduce production costs. The aim is to transform Korea into the hub for CG in Asia.

Korea’s CG market is currently worth 25 billion won, which is a mere 1 percent of the CG industry in the United States. But although there are just 25 major CG companies in Korea, each with an average of 35 employees, the production capacity of these companies is already about 82 percent of that of U.S. companies, the ministry reported. With the support of the government, the industry is expected to surpass the 90 percent level by 2013, the ministry said.

Another sector that has shown potential for growth in light of Avatar’s release is the consumer electronics market, especially television.

Imagine that you want to watch a horror movie such as “Ring” (1998). A film like this is more fun to watch on a wide screen at a movie theater than on a small TV set at home. And if you miss it at the theater, you are not likely to see it at home with 3-D effects. But with recent developments in the 3-D TV industry, it may soon be possible to watch films at home in their 3-D format, and the ghosts will creep out of the walls just as they were meant to.

At the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show, which is an annual event designed to showcase new technologies, held in Las Vegas this month, there were several products that use 3-D technology on display. One of the more popular items was the 3-D TV.

Global electronics giants such as Korea-based Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics and Japan-based Sony and Toshiba released a slew of 3-D TVs at this year electronics show.

Although it has only been few years since TV technologies such as LCD and high-definition screens were introduced, the success of Avatar has led TV manufacturers around the world to shift gears and incorporate 3-D technology into their products.

According to technology research firm DisplaySearch, global sales of 3-D TVs are expected to hit 1.2 million in 2010, generating $1.1 billion in revenue. Sales are likely to increase to 15.6 million in 2013.

The broadcasting industry is also moving to incorporate 3-D technology into their program schedules. ESPN, an American cable network providing sports coverage, has unveiled a plan to broadcast at least 85 sports events in 3-D this year, including World Cup football matches this summer. And DirecTV, the leading satellite provider in the U.S., will launch three high-definition 3-D channels by June in partnership with Panasonic. Meanwhile, Discovery Communication, which operates the U.S.-based Discovery Channel, will launch 3-D channels through a tie-up with Sony and IMAX next year. In addition, U.K. Satellite operator BSkyB has announced a plan to offer a 3-D service later this year.

The gaming industry had already begun to incorporate 3-D technology into gaming consoles even before the release of Avatar.

One of the video game consoles that has helped boost sales in the global video gaming industry is Sony’s PlayStation 3. The console’s primary information storage device is a Blu-ray Disc, an optical disc with a storage capacity that is more than five times that of traditional DVDs. Sales of the discs also increased in tandem with sales of the consoles.

Blu-ray Discs, which are used to store high-definition movies or PlayStation 3 video games, have become popular with consumers because the discs can store a large amount of information and produce high-quality images. The Blu-ray Disc format was developed by the Blu-ray Disc Association, which is comprised of more than 180 electronics firms, including Apple, Sony, Samsung and LG.

Last month, the association announced that it had finalized the 3-D standards for Blu-ray games and movies. New devices to be developed by electronics firms will be designed to display 3-D content on a Blu-ray player.

For example, new PlayStation 3 consoles will operate using the 3-D platform; existing PlayStation 3 consoles are already compatible with 3-D technology through a software upgrade.

Enjoying a movie at a theater may not be a big deal. But when a movie becomes popular, selling hundreds of thousands of tickets, it starts a trend that other industries begin to follow. Following the stunning success of Avatar, 3-D technology has influenced various industries around the world and opened the door to a new era in the technology sector.


By Jung Jae-yoon [jyj222@joongang.co.kr]



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