Legend Has It—An Early Lead in the Post-Avatar Rush to Convert 2D Films to 3D

Barry Sandrew, who was once a staff neuroscientist at the Harvard Medical School, now presides over one of the fastest-growing companies in San Diego—with a business that has nothing to do with medical research.

As a matter of fact, the company known today as Legend 3D no longer resembles the digital colorization studio that Sandrew started here almost nine years ago (with $6 million in venture funding from what is now Boston’s Par Investment Partners). Legend 3D has about 260 employees at its San Diego headquarters, which is 100 more workers than it had here last year, according to Sandrew. And Legend 3D has another 700 employees in Patna, India—and plans to increase that number to 1,200 in coming months.

So what does Legend do now? What began in 2001 as Legend Films, one of Hollywood’s leading technology centers for digital movie colorization, has morphed seemingly overnight into Legend 3D, a fast-growth business that specializes in digital 3D conversion of TV commercials, feature films, and previously released movie titles. Sandrew calls it the “dimensionalization” of cinema, and he says studio demand for the technology is exploding.

The San Diego company completed work for Disney in February on about 25 minutes of 3D footage for Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland,” and is working on three new feature film projects for Dreamworks, along with other major projects. “We have been turning away work,” Sandrew says. “We just don’t have the capacity. But we are moving to have the capacity.”

As anyone who’s been to the Cineplex knows, the reason for the rush to 3D is Avatar—the 3D science fiction epic written and directed by James Cameron. Avatar ranks as the highest grossing film in history, having generated nearly $748.5 million in domestic box office receipts and $2.7 billion worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.com.

But what Sandrew refers to as a “tsunami” in 3D filmmaking has been building in … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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