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While the music industry waits for something that will lift the business out of the doldrums, San Diego—based Passmore Lab has found the new in something old: 3-D. Started in 2003, the company has taken the lead in producing three-dimensional films.

Passmore Lab’s Jen Hilbert (former editor of Music Matters magazine) says the company has begun to film 3-D videos for bands such as Los Angeles—based Miss Derringer and local rocker Anna Troy. According to Hilbert, Passmore Lab is in talks with several major-label acts.

The first 3-D concert film was released in February by the band U2. Televisions capable of screening new-format 3-D are expected to be on sale to the general public in the next five years. In Japan, Hyundai debuted a 46-inch model in April at just under $5000.

Viewing the updated version of 3-D still requires use of polarized glasses, as opposed to the old red-and-blue—lens models; however, the visual synchronization problems that previously gave some viewers headaches have been eliminated. Also, new 3-D has a greater field of depth. Old films, such as 1954’s Creature from the Black Lagoon, could only provide approximately 50 feet of depth; the new version allows a view into an image of up to one mile.

Passmore Lab has applied the new 3-D process to older productions that used the outdated technology. Among recent projects, the company converted episodes of The Munsters sitcom and Richard Elfman’s cult film Forbidden Zone. However, the process is not cheap because it requires multiple cameras that cost upwards of $50,000. In addition, it takes intensive work to put the shots together.

Hilbert acknowledges that the novelty factor of 3-D will wear off but doesn’t foresee it happening soon.

“At the moment it’s new. For bands that get in early on 3-D, there will be a lot of extra focused attention. That’s something that hasn’t happened for musicians in quite a while.”

On June 23, Passmore Lab announced a new process that converts old photo graphs into 3-D and a collaboration with legendary rock photographer Bob Gruen to do just that with still images from his archive. The company will also convert his videos.

– Bart Mendoza

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