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3D Live founders Ronel and Karl Schodt’s demo room in Greenlane showing 3m-high holograms has drawn crowds fascinated by the possibilities offered by 3D technology to boost their business.

By Mary Mackinven

The magical art of making things that aren’t real appear so is among the talents of Ronel and Karl Schodt. The Austrian husband and South African wife who came to check out New Zealand nine years ago and never left (or did they?) run two companies, 3D Live, which distributes equipment such as three-dimensional TV screens, and film business Schodt Productions.

The Schodts can make a chief executive appear to be speaking at a trade exhibition on the other side of the world when in fact he’s asleep at home. His pre-recorded, projected holo-presence would be a lifelike man in action.

If you’re going to a trade event in person, how about taking a 3D advertisement to show in export markets, suggests Ronel Schodt, 3D Live’s managing director. “For example, Fisher & Paykel takes groovy stuff such as mini-hologram units to overseas expos to display virtual products on its stand in competition with international exhibitors.”

The Schodts’ hologram of the Top Twins performing on stage convinced audiences they were seeing the singers in the flesh, she says.

3D Live is the exclusive importer of screening and filming equipment for 3D visualisation. It has 3D monitors for viewing with and without needing special glasses.

Visualisation techniques for creating “augmented reality” put a computer-generated object such as a logo on a real object in 3D. The company also sells and operates walk-through fog screens and holographic video projection screens.

The gear is used to make advertisements and presentations that are costed per project; for example, holograms are charged per square metre of “foil”, a material like lighting gel or clear backing paper.

And the Schodts’ film projects are out of the movie world as we know it.


Ronel has masters-level qualifications in advertising and music video effects. In South Africa she worked on reality TV then went to Zimbabwe to join an agency as TV advertising producer.

Ronel met Karl, a news cameraman and feature film-maker, and the couple decided to farewell Africa.

After a year in New Zealand they set up Schodt Productions and began making films.

“We saw the recession coming so needed to come up with new ideas. Karl’s passion was still film and we thought 3D was the way to go, but it was still a bit risky. Was it just a fad?”

They set up 3D Live.

“It’s not easy in a recession and we realised we needed to educate people.”

So they built a demo room in Greenlane to show 3m-high holograms and promote the equipment they imported. Last year 500 people from agencies, event companies and big businesses took a look.

Meanwhile, they have been coming up with ideas for expanding the 3D business. They shot a 3D music video of hip-hop artist J Williams featuring Scribe. “It was amazing, the artist went to number one for five weeks and got on TV, in the newspaper and got a lot exposure.” The song You Got Me won its filmers and artists the Samsung Innovation Award at the 2010 Juice TV awards in May.

Ronel is working on New Zealand’s first feature film in 3D with independent Academy Award-nominated director Mike Firth, who made Off the Edge. It will also use holographic narrators.

The epic drama is set 600 years ago with three young Maori warriors on a quest to find greenstone, speaking in Maori with subtitles. Mike has drafted the script with help from Tim Sanders (a producer of Whale Rider) and production is hoped to start in February.


Ronel is also in negotiations with the Rugby World Cup 2011 organisers to film fi nal games in 3D for showing live at event venues or cinemas for people who can’t get to the matches. “We will pull together a crew from Australia and the UK because there are no people with 3D skills in live broadcasting in New Zealand yet. “Sport is often fi lmed [overseas] in 3D because if you can’t see it live, this is the next best thing. You are right there,” she says.

Business is looking up with continual developments in visual effects. The movie Avatar has set a high quality benchmark for the 3D industry. A few brands of 3D computers have been released in New Zealand and Samsung has launched the word’s first 3D LED TV screen.

Ronel says: “Eventually, I think it will happen. A major benefit is you can’t copy 3D films, so it’s good for copyright protection. “Our products and prices are top of the range and after an event people always talk about it. There’s a big wow factor.” [END]


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