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

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point in a buildup of 3D feature-length films created through a variety of innovations, including advances in stereoscopic 3D cameras and computerized 3D rendering technologies that Sandrew helped invent. He holds 14 patents, mostly related to colorization and visual special effects. Using a frame-by-frame approach similar to colorization, Sandrew says he developed a digital 3D conversion process in 2007 with San Diego-based Passmorelab that makes conventional 2D TV and film appear as if it was originally recorded with stereoscopic 3D cameras.

About 70 percent is the same process as colorization, but 3D is much more complicated and very labor intensive, Sandrew says. “It requires designing special effects for every pixel of every frame,” Sandrew says. “So we’re in a unique position in this space that is rapidly growing.”

Sandrew also has been over this terrain before—not just at Legend Films, but previously with American Film Technologies, which was hired by Ted Turner in 1986 to colorize hundreds of MGM films.

As The Boston Globe told the story four years ago, Sandrew was working at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1986, using color to enhance the diagnostic value of medical imaging, when he was approached by the president and CEO of American Film Technologies (AFT). Sandrew ended his medical career to join AFT. He left about five years later, when AFT was faltering, to co-found Lightspan, one of the nation’s largest computer education companies. But Sandrew returned to colorizing movies when he formed Legend Films with David Martin, a former executive with Hollywood Enterntainment and Jeff Yapp, an MTV executive.

As for the future, Sandrew says the new film projects that Legend 3D has taken on includes one that is expected to be the runaway blockbuster of 2011. Beyond that, though, he’s not talking.

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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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