The Dave Matthews Band is coming to a theater near you on December 11—in 3D stereoscopy, thanks to InConcert3D. In the many discussions about the promise of digital cinema, enthusiasts have always pointed out that, on off hours, digital cinemas can host sporting events, concerts, cultural occasions and even corporate meetings. That promise has been realized to a great degree. I count myself among the happy attendees of the New York Metropolitan Opera at my local Los Angeles movie theatre.DaveMatthewBand

Now, that promise has been realized three-fold in three dimensions, thanks to a partnership between AEG Live, the major concert creator, and Action 3D Productions, a company devoted to lower-cost 3D productions of live events. RealD is the international distribution partner for the 3D concert films.

“With the Dave Matthews [movie], the idea was to mimic a concert,” explains AEG Live’s John Rubey, who is executive producer and president of AEG’s Network LIVE. “The movie features Dave Matthews at the Austin City Limits festival, Ben Harper from the Mile High Music Festival and Gogo Bordello from the Pine Music Festival.”

“We’ve done some 80 cinema events more cinema music events than anyone else in the country,” adds Rubey. “We know fans like to come out and experience it together. Could we capture it cost effectively and will it deliver an extraordinary experience? Coming out of 2009, the answer was yes.”

Rubey notes that “AEG was very fortunate to create a partnership with Action 3D Productions to enable us to scale the capture.” InConcert 3D will come out with 150 performances in 2010, says Rubey. The Dave Matthews Band concert on Dec. 11 will be the only title in 2009. The 90-minute 3D film will be shown for one week in more than 300 movie theaters around the country.

Action 3D Productions chair Jeffrey B. Lewis reports that, with his partner Wayne Miller, a music video/commercials director, they have come up with a way of cutting costs in capturing live events in 3D. They use a  mix of cameras and rigs; Sony, Fujinon and other companies have been helpful in providing new technologies. The 8-camera set up for the Dave Matthews Band concert also included a very small German camera that was used with a Steadicam rig and a set of long lenses from Fujinon.

Lewis and Rubey declined to release the budget for creating this first 3D concert film, but did allow that it was “many many times smaller than the budget for U2 3D,” which, notes Rubey was captured at multiple events around the world. “I always believed that 3D was the right way to release concerts,” says Rubey. “It was just a matter of whether the time was right.  If the 3D premium was more than 50 percent than 2D, then the timing wasn’t right.” Although Rubey declined to give the premium percentage achieved for the Dave Matthews concert, he said it was “close enough, so we all jumped.”

“We are a virtual shop,” says Lewis, in explanation of one of the ways they keep costs down. “We don’t own any of the equipment. Because the equipment is evolving rapidly, that enables us to use state of the art equipment. We also were able to source equipment. Some vendors made special rigs for us.” The concert film was postproduced in 3D at Jade Productions and Evergreen Films, in Culver City.

The timing of the release, says Rubey, is to take advantage of the window between the releases of two 3D films: Robert Zemeckis’ A Christmas Carol and James Cameron’s Avatar. “The public’s attention will be on 3D,” he says. He also reports that many concerts now have a 3D viewing tent at concerts, which have become very popular, especially with the 18 to 34 demographic.

As to the future distribution of the 3D concert films, Rubey reports that some bands may choose to release them on home video. The press screening was shown off a standard BluRay player, on a JVC 3D television set. Rubey also notes that the concerts were also shot in 2D, for use for online and mobile platforms. “Theatrical is the first window and next, in most cases, putting it out on DVD will be the artist’s decision,” he says. “Our goal is to support the artists by providing new means of distribution.”

The concert footage was shown to a small group of journalists, played back on a BluRay disc onto a JVC 3D TV. “Downstream, there’ll be a 3D opportunities in the home,” says Rubey. “But it’s going to be awhile.” The company is already in discussion with licensing 3D content to BSkyB’s 24/7 3D channel.

“We’ve met with many people,” says Rubey. “Everyone wants to see the ball moved down the field and it’s about more [3D stereoscopic] content and more consumer awareness.”