Dr. Markus Gross
Gross credits Disney chief Bob Iger for initiating the push for broader research that wasn’t directly tied to the immediate needs of divisions like animation or theme parks. When Disney purchased Pixar in 2006, Iger took notice of Pixar’s academically-inspired science culture, which contributed and published extensively within the computer graphics community, and he realized that might be a smarter approach for certain areas of the company as opposed to Disney’s traditional across-the-board secretiveness.
Iger’s willingness to embrace the Pixar culture, and technological research in general, appears to be having a transformative effect in all areas of the company. Even Disney Feature Animation now publicly shares its animation research with the community and has open sourced some of its software. The fruits of Disney Research’s work may not be evident for years to come, but Iger’s long-range investment in technology shows that he has a shrewd understanding of running the company. It also appears that he has taken to heart John Lasseter’s oft-repeated maxim, “The art challenges the technology, and the technology inspires the art.”
Also of note, in the FX Guide interview, Gross makes a compelling argument for 3-D, but in terms of auto-stereoscopy, which is 3-D without the need for glasses. He points out the irony that theatrical exhibitors created 3-D as a way of distinguishing themselves from home entertainment, but that in three to five years, we’ll have high quality auto-stereoscopic home displays that will surpass the theatrical experience.
Disney’s announcement this week that they’re converting four older Disney and Pixar films to 3-D makes perfect sense in light of Gross’s interview. The company will clearly see some short-term benefit from theatrical re-releases of these films, but the huge earnings will stem from selling 3-D versions to consumers for auto-stereoscopic home display. In other words, expect to see a lot more 3-D conversions because they’re preparing for something much bigger.
From a Disney Research project: “Tactile Brush: Drawing on Skin with Tactile Grid Display”