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

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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.”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vU_IBjSTMO0]

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.

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