Here's a classic dilemma: You are home for the evening. You wish to watch, say, a comedy, on TV, but your family member would rather watch something else. Texas Instruments, the maker of the DLP Cinema chip, is developing technology that might reduce the common problem by allowing two people to simultaneously view two different programs -- on the same TV. The company outlined some of its early developments that use 3-D technology for home entertainment, on Thursday at the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers Technical Conference and Exhibition in Hollywood.
One development, which TI expects to begin to preview at year's end, is processing technology that if incorporated in a third-party home entertainment system could allow for 2-D, 3-D or "dual view mode" on the same TV. Dual view mode, similar to 3-D, combines two images, but they are two different images. TI's Tim Simerly said that each viewer would wear different glasses -- one exposing only program "A," and one allowing the viewing of only program "B." Simerly added that at least one of the viewers would need to wear headsets in order to get the correct audio.
By Carolyn Giardina, The Hollywood Reporter
Here's a classic dilemma: You are home for the evening. You wish to watch, say, a comedy, on TV, but your family member would rather watch something else. Texas Instruments, the maker of the DLP Cinema chip, is developing technology that might reduce the common problem by allowing two people to simultaneously view two different programs -- on the same TV. The company outlined some of its early developments that use 3-D technology for home entertainment, on Thursday at the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers Technical Conference and Exhibition in Hollywood.
RealD Cinema, the company that provides the stereoscopic 3-D technology for about 1,600 movie theaters today, has "a very vigorous development program" for 3DTV, said its chief technology officer Lenny Lipton. The company is not ready to release any details of its plans, said Lipton. However, it did hire in January the former head of the DVD Forum who is helping RealD (Beverly Hills, Calif.) forge close links with Japan's TV makers.
Lipton shared his opinions on the outlook for 3DTV in a video interview in the lobby of Mann's Chinese Theater in Hollywood where he led a panel discussion on 3-D cinema:
Widely considered a guru of stereo 3-D technology, Lipton has worked in the field more than 30 years. He founded a startup in 1980 that explored monochrome stereo 3-D graphics for industrial uses, a company ultimately acquired by RealD.
"Twenty years ago you were in a deep hole if you were promoting stereo 3-D, but it has more respectability now," said Lipton.
Indeed, RealD has signed orders to install its 3-D system in 5,000 more theaters to date. The latest film to use the technology, Journey to the Center of the Earth, grossed more than $100 million in the U.S. alone, Lipton said.
Starting in November, major Hollywood studios have plans to roll out one major 3-D title every month, he reported.
"Half of my time is spent with studios and producers," said Lipton. "I get a call from a producer a week who wants to make a 3-D movie."
But the road is not without bumps. Studio executives complain they have to run RealD masters through an extra process to eliminate ghost effects. They complain about the hassle of needing to maintain an extra master for RealD titles, a problem the company has said it would fix for the last year, according to one studio executive.
"They have a right to want a single master," said Lipton. "We are working on the problem and will solve it with a product we will deploy for the projection booth. I don't know when it will be released, but it will be soon," he said.
As for 3DTV, the concept still faces many unanswered technical and market questions. Lipton expressed optimism products eventually will become mainstream, but it might take many years.
"It took color TV 50 years to penetrate half the market," Lipton said. "Today people are still digesting high definition. How long this economic downturn goes on will pay a big part" in any short term plans for rolling out 3DTV, he said.
By Rick Merritt, EE Times
An undisclosed soft drink maker will begin shooting a commercial in 3D that soon could surface on television and movie-theater screens across the U.S., and possibly online, too, according to one source in the know.
The ad, shot initially in anaglyph mode, will likely require the old-style blue and red glasses, according to an industry source. The trend toward creating ads for TV, theater and online will increase as Walt Disney Pictures and others continue to release 3D movies such as the animated comedy adventure BOLT, which opens Nov. 21, in more than 1,000 theatres. There are 14 movies scheduled for release next year in 3D. 3D movie trailers and soft drink and snack ads will likely precede them.
"Since movies will screen in 3D, if you're Coke, Pepsi, Ford, General Motors or Toyota you would want to create commercials in 3D, so the audience will recall the product a day, weeks or months later," said Marty Shindler, CEO, The Shindler Perspective, a Los Angeles-based consulting firm for the television and movie industries. "In a couple years you'll see a lot of 3D on TV, but it might take a few years for online."
Aside from movies screening in theaters, several broadcast events scheduled during the next six months could catapult the popularity of 3D, too. Today, there are about 2 million 3D-enabled TVs in the market. Estimates put between 6 million and 8 million units in consumers' hands by 2009, according to Shindler, who said Samsung, Hyundai, Philips and Mitsubishi are some of the brands manufacturing TVs with the technology.
By Laurie Sullivan, Marketing Daily
Spatial View, a leading developer of 3D image processing and display technologies, today announced the availability of its new Stereo 3D Editing 2.0 for Adobe After Effects users without the need to alter one's existing design workflows.
"By expanding our portfolio of 3D content creation plug-ins to include After Effects, we will continue to enable artists and directors to easily and readily push their boundaries well into 3D" said Jason King, head of sales at Spatial View.
One company already using the SVI Stereo 3D Editing 2.0 for After Effects to convert existing video clips into 3D is Digital Images in Germany. "It's amazingly easy to convert film clips into high quality 3D video. Impressive depth and pop-out effects can be quickly created for stereoscopic and glasses-free 3D displays from directly within After Effects" remarks Daniel Simon, head of Artwork, Research & Development for Digital Images.
The SVI Stereo 3D Editing 2.0 plug-in enhances the popular Adobe After Effects application with the capability of creating stereoscopic animations and images from compositions within seconds. The striking results can be displayed auto-stereoscopically, and output into several stereo formats usable in post-production workflows. SVI Stereo 3D Editing 2.0 is easy to use even for those unfamiliar without stereoscopic technology. It is ideal for users looking to produce 3D content that is more captivating and impactful for film and video post-production.
The National Film Board of Canada and Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK) said Wednesday that they have pacted to develop new programming and technology for the digital universe. The Canadian and Japanese partners signed a memorandum of understanding in Tokyo that aims to pool expertise to jointly develop high-definition and stereoscopic 3-D productions, for example.
NFB chair Tom Perlmutter said that the publicly funded Canadian producer will work with NHK "to establish a creative laboratory that can take the programming risks ... not possible in the normal course of business."
The NFB and NHK also will help each other celebrate their upcoming 70th and 50th anniversaries, respectively.
By Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter
The Consumer Electronics Association has started standards work aimed at enabling home systems to play stereoscopic 3-D video. The group's first step will be to upgrade the interconnect standard at the heart of the High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) to make sure it is ready to carry stereo 3-D data.
The move marks the first major step for hardware makers toward defining 3DTV standards. The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers kicked off in August an effort to explore setting standards for 3DTV mastering formats, and a number of ad hoc industry groups have formed around the concept of stereo 3-D TV.
Hollywood studios want to enable a home market for the increasing number of stereo 3-D titles they are creating. However, many sources note the underlying technology for stereo 3-D is still in its infancy. The CEA convened an exploratory meeting to discuss 3DTV at its annual forum in Las Vegas on October 22.
"It was one of our bigger meetings there," said Brian Markwalter, vice president of technology and standards at CEA. "We tend to have about 50 people in video-related meetings, but this topic drew more than 60 people and included much more participation from content companies than usual," he said.
The meeting included presentations on the display technology behind 3DTV and an update on the SMPTE effort. A speaker from the 3D@Home consortium also gave a talk on stereo 3-D. Attendees came away convinced there's both a market need and viable technology for 3DTV products, Markwalter said. He noted that Samsung and Mitsubishi are shipping 3-D-ready flat-panel TV's based on digital light processing technology from Texas Instruments.
"The evidence is 3-D movies bring in more revenue than 2-D ones so far, but these days a good deal of the revenue for movies is not from theaters but from downstream sales in pre-recorded media and video-on-demand," said Markwalter. "It looks very promising, especially since some companies are shipping products, so it's clear the technology is there," he said.
CEA will form a task force under its video systems committee to identify what 3DTV standards it needs to set for consumer electronic devices. The exploratory group suggested a number of areas for potential efforts, chief among them an upgrade of the CEA 861 standard that defines an uncompressed video interconnect at the heart of HDMI.
"The working group behind that standard has to look at 3-D transport issues," something it now has been chartered to do, said Markwalter.
The interface could be key because studios want to create one master file that can carry stereo 3-D and perhaps 2-D content across all the various distribution schemes including cable TV, satellite, over the air, packaged media and the Web.
"It all has to come to some common point and in the near term that is almost certainly an HDMI interface," said Markwalter. "As long as we can find at least one way the 3-D data can move across that interface so systems can render it, we start moving toward creating that 3-D marketplace," he said.
The decision comes at a time when one studio executive called for a standard 3DTV interface. Alan Bell, chief technology officer of Paramount Studios said today's 3DTV products are immature and need a way to be forward compatible with better systems that will emerge in the future.
Silicon Image, the company that originally developed the HDMI interface, has been tracking industry discussions about 3DTV. It has not started any active development in the area, said Lew Paceley, marketing director for digital TV and home theater products at the company.
"The HDMI version 1.3 standard provides enough link performance to allow left and right eye image transfers at 1080-progressive resolution and 60 Hz refresh rates," Paceley said. "You might need to add some data to say this is not a regular video stream, but the raw performance is there," he added.
The CEA group also discussed the possibility of creating standards for 3DTV active and passive eyeglasses, metadata, on-screen displays and user controls. It is also considering whether it needs to articulate common terms for stereo 3-D technologies.
By Rick Merritt, EE Times
The Hollywood studios are taking the first steps in a process that could lead to an industry standard for master digital files used to send entertainment content to broadcasters, Internet sites and mobile service providers.
While the studios already have adopted a new standard -- the Digital Cinema Initiatives' DCI specifications -- that will be used to send movie files to theaters, there is no standard for the digital entertainment distributed to other platforms.
Another potential standard is being discussed, working under the umbrella of the nonprofit Entertainment Technology Center@USC. A digital video package, or DVP, as some have begun to refer to the proposed standard, could have a massive impact by generating efficiencies across the entertainment industry. It would not affect consumers but would be used in B2B settings where content providers such as studios and networks transmit their fare to content distributors including broadcasters and Web sites.
The ETC@USC held its first meeting with its studio members Disney, Fox, Paramount, Sony and Warner Bros. on Monday, behind the scenes at the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers Technical Conference and Exhibition in Hollywood. The parties discussed the potential for working together on a technical specification for such a format.
On Wednesday at the SMPTE confab, Walt Disney Studios proposed that the industry adopt a DVP standard.
"Presently, (studios) are being asked to deliver to content delivery systems in many different versions as well as many different file formats," Disney vp production technology Howard Lukk said during his address. "Because of this, it is expanding our inventory of content that we have to keep, creating asset-management issues and storage problems. It would simplify things if we could have a core industry standard."
He added that such a standard also could be used as a blueprint for equipment manufacturers that are building hardware for the entertainment industry.
"Everybody is trying to figure out how to deal with this issue," said David Wertheimer, CEO and executive director of ETC@USC. "One thing that is really clear is that we think it is imperative that as we embark on the effort, we need to have a lot of input from all stakeholders in the community. If we can get together and streamline these issues for multiple players, everybody wins."
Although no timetable has been set, further discussions are expected in the near future. It's anticipated that the process could mirror that which led to the DCI specification, with the studios making recommendations that SMPTE would formally put in place.
By Carolyn Giardina, The Hollywood Reporter
Front Porch Digital has acquired New York-based SAMMA Systems. "While Front Porch Digital has offered our current broadcast customers near-line and online storage for many years, the largest collection of media in the world today is still stored on videotape," said Mike Knaisch, president and chief executive officer of Front Porch Digital. "Our acquisition of SAMMA is strategically planned to offer broadcasters, archiving facilities, and other content owners a new system uniquely capable of accessing all that stored content and of making it available in a cost-effective way.
"With more than 280 installations in more than 55 countries, Front Porch Digital serves the world's leading media brands -- those with the largest archives filled with the most content. There are more than 6 billion videocassettes in the world, 1 billion of them containing historic, important, and valuable content, representing more than 7,000 petabytes of high-value data stored only on videotape. An estimated five percent of this content is lost to deterioration each year, but the expense of digitizing it has proved prohibitive.
SAMMA, founded with the mission of saving the world's video heritage, brings unique expertise and proven preservation solutions to Front Porch Digital. Going forward, Front Porch Digital will provide an end-to-end solution for media past, present, and future on a scale not offered by anyone else in the world. In fact, the combination of SAMMA and Front Porch Digital has the potential to rapidly accelerate the migration of vulnerable videotape, and gives customers far more reliable, secure, and easy access to valuable content housed in digital storage.
Mark Gray, CEO of SAMMA Systems, will assume the role of executive vice president and general manager of the company's Americas division, reporting directly to Mike Knaisch. Jim Lindner, founder of SAMMA Systems, will continue in his role as evangelist and visionary in the preservation of A/V content.
Pagemill Partners, headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif., advised Front Porch Digital regarding the acquisition of SAMMA Systems.
Having merged operations with SAMMA, Front Porch provides an end-to-end solution for cost-effectively digitizing, accessing, and preserving media past, present, and future. Front Porch Digital now can accelerate migration of vulnerable videotape -- on an unprecedented, global scale -- to optimize and secure digital storage.
Just when the industry has begun to accept the idea of Digital Stereoscopic 3D movies, a new way to immerse the audience into the movie is introduced. Normally, a theater speaker system, whether at a movie theater or in a home, has a fairly small "sweet spot" where the sound from all of the speakers line up to produce a good experience. A system that was just installed in one of the Mann Chinese 6 Theaters uses 380 speakers to expand the sweet spot to two-thirds of the seats. The result is a richer and more expansive experience.
The technology comes from Iosono (pronounced ee-oh-soh-noh), and it was introduced at the SMPTE 2008 Tech Conference and Expo in Hollywood. SMPTE is the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, an organization that helps to set standards for Digital Cinema and Digital Television.
While the Mann Theater uses 380 speakers, the technology is flexible enough to handle 200 or 500 speakers to accommodate different theater sizes. The location of each speaker is measured with a laser and used to calibrate the exhibition player software. The speakers are arranged in three rows. The top and bottom rows are woofers, while the middle row is tweeters. Speakers form a ring completely around the theater, including behind the audience and screen. Unlike most theater speaker systems, this system can recreate the sound levels of a rock concert, and must actually be toned down for movie viewing.
The point is to make the audio appear to come not from speakers, but from different spots in and around the enclosed space. As with 3D video techniques, "wave field synthesis" technology creates not just the sensation of sound extending out from the screen -- which surround-sound techniques can also do -- but also the illusion of sources deep behind the screen's surface. It's also more precise than surround sound, and the listener doesn't have to be in the center of the room to get the full effect.
Up to 32 unique sound objects can be placed in a 3D virtual sound space in the theater. If one object was placed such that it sounds like it is coming from the 10th seat in from the left in the 10th row, people in the 5th seat will think it is coming from their right. People in the 15th seat will think it is coming from their left. This trick is illustrated using Iosono's Spacial Audio Workstation. By simply moving the mouse to position the object in the theater space the system adjusts in real time to match. The listener can feel the object move about the theater.
Sound can also be programmed to simply come from a "plane", for example, from the left wall. This mode is particularly nice if the movie score is expanded to make the orchestra's music come from all sides. The music is immersive, while characters speaking the movie are heard to come from the screen. The expanded sound adds more definition to the music and the voices and the experience is given added clarity.
Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands came up with the theory behind wave field synthesis about 20 years ago, but personal computers weren't powerful enough at the time to do the work. Dr. Karlheinz Brandenburg of the Fraunhofer Institut Digitale Medientechnologie in Germany took this research and expanded it into product form. Iosono, based in Hollywood, California, is now approaching studios and theater owners about taking their technology to the next step – deployment.
The company has at least one competitor, but Brandenburg said it's the first to deploy commercially. Notwithstanding any head start, it faces at least two significant hurdles. It has to persuade Hollywood studios to provide a 3D version of their movies' audio and it has to entice theater owners to invest in the required software, computer systems and extra speakers. That presents a chicken-and-egg problem -- theaters won't want to make the upgrade without a sure stream of movies with 3D sound, and the studios don't want to add 3D soundtracks unless there are theaters equipped to play them.
Uwe Karbenk, Iosono's CEO, does not want to talk about pricing just yet. Things are still a bit early, but they hope to have the first movie mixed for Iosono sound out in 2009. There are also some theme park venues that have already installed the system. And, the Iosono system can emulate a theater's 5.1 speaker system for regular movies.
Theater owners are constantly looking for ways to compete against the home theater system. Many see Digital Stereoscopic 3D as the solution where ticket sales on a 3D screen can be twice the take from a 2D screen. In the future we may hear of an additional weapon – a totally immersive sound experience. This sound experience coupled with Digital Stereoscopic 3D will be quite a treat, if the studios and exhibitors line up behind it.
And if the description of the system has you itching for 3D sound at home, Brandenburg counsels patience. The system's speakers must be mounted in a ring around the room, no more than about 6 inches apart. Even in a relatively small (12x12) living room, you'd need to hang more than 30 speakers on the wall, and there aren't any affordable flat-panel speakers that are up to the task today, he said. In other words, more technological breakthroughs will be needed before Iosono's products show up at Best Buy.
Source: DIGDIA and LA Times
An interesting whitepaper by Lucy Hallpike.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
If you want to get a feeling for how the transition to digital, networked entertainment is progressing in Hollywood, a talk with Wendy Aylsworth is a great place to start. The vice president of engineering for the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers has spent much of this year retooling SMPTE for the new realities of digital media. In an interview at the annual SMPTE Technical Conference here, Aylsworth provided an update on the latest changes:
In addition to its traditional film and TV groups, SMPTE has created a new standing committee focused on technical issues related to digital media on broadband networks. The so-called Broadband B23 group met for the first time on October 27. Almost 100 people attended, many of them from companies new to SMPTE.
The group will define standard ways to package and organize digital media distributed over any network. It may also address content protection issues. The new SMPTE structure also includes groups focused on infrastructure areas such as network facilities, metadata and file structures.
"The old structure didn't allow us to take advantage of the concept of digital delivery and distribution," Aylsworth told the roughly 200 attendees here.
"It didn't support any models other than movies and TV. It didn't cover DVD, Internet or satellite," she said. "We were in two silos and it was constricting."
Separately, SMPTE launched a task force in August to explore standards for 3DTV. It drew as many as 100 people, a sign of the high level of interest in creating a home market for a growing pipeline of stereo 3-D movies.
"Generally a task force for us involves ten or twenty people," Aylsworth said.
By Rick Merritt, EE Times
The future of digital media is about immersive experiences and automated systems that find the content you crave, said Karlheinz Brandenburg, one of the creators of the MP3 format.
The director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology shared his views on topics ranging from digital rights management to wave field audio in a keynote address at the annual technical conference of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers. He also talked with EE Times editor at large Rick Merritt in a video following his keynote:
The growth of digital media, wireless networking and connected devices is forcing a sea change in digital media, said Brandenburg. He sketched out scenarios in which systems learn users' preferences and automatically find content they may want.
Automated music recommendations have progressed in last couple years from being not useful at all to being good enough for use, Brandenburg said.
"I see the same thing happening for video," he said. "There are a number of people working on it, but I wouldn't say we have solved the problems," he added.
Brandenburg has been researching wave field audio, an approach for creating immersive audio experiences where sounds can be precisely placed and moved in space. The keynote concluded with a demo at the nearby Mann's Chinese Theater which has just installed a wave field system based on technology from Iosono, a company Brandenburg founded.
The system uses a network of 380 speakers mounted all around the theater to create the impression of as many as 32 virtual audio objects that can be placed and moved anywhere in the room using the company's authoring tools. Iosono hopes to strike a deal soon with a movie studio that will release a major motion picture using its audio format.
"The dream of audio has always been clean quality and the illusion of a virtual room," said Brandenburg.
The technology has already been installed in many theme parks, with movie theaters the next big target. Ultimately, Brandenburg believes wave field could be used for consumer products but it will take breakthroughs in creating low cost speaker arrays, he suggested.
By Rick Merritt, EE Times
The industry needs to develop a new digital interface for televisions to pave the way for stereoscopic 3-D content, said a senior executive at a Hollywood studio.
"To make 3DTV future proof, there needs to be a digital interface capable of carrying left and right eye images and an additional data channel," said Alan Bell, chief technology officer of Paramount Studios. "It should be the industry's first priority to create such an interface to act as a bridge to the future," he added in an interview with EE Times at the Digital Hollywood conference.
Today's High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) interconnect could be a good starting point for such a link, said Bell, although he said he was not aware of any specific work on the concept. Silicon Image, the company that licenses the technology for HDMI, was not immediately available for comment.
Without such an interface, the industry could adopt a 3DTV technology in the short term that has no upgrade path to better technologies that may emerge in the future, said Bell. Studios want to see a standard for 3DTV soon to expand the market for the stereo 3-D content they are creating for theaters, however the technology for 3DTV is still immature, he noted.
"It's important to think about both the long term potential and the short term opportunity," Bell said.
Others echoed his concern.
"What I worry about is there are a lot of short term technology fixes [for 3DTV] that may not be what you want to live with in the long term," said a top technology executive with another Hollywood studio who asked not to be named. "It's not too early to talk about what the standards might be, but the [3DTV] technology is still in its infancy," he added.
"We could have a format war," said Bell, a former optical storage researcher at IBM who helped define the DVD standard.
However, he noted that unlike the situation with DVD and Blu-ray format wars, few large corporations have deep stakes in any particular 3DTV technology yet. Currently a handful of mainly small companies have technology for producing stereo 3-D images, some of them such as RealD Cinema (Beverly Hills), currently in use in theaters.
"In the short term, it would be good if we could converge on a single spec," Bell said.
A number of groups including the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers and the Blu-ray Disc Association are exploring whether they want to draft 3DTV standards.
"Blu-ray is likely to be the first medium to deliver 3DTV because it is self contained," said Bell "Some of the technologies today make 3-D look like a single stream of video, so Blu-ray would need to do very little work," he added.
By Rick Merritt, EE Times
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Vince Pace has been fundamentally involved with 3D technology since the beginning of the resurgence of the art form. His credits include most of the major projects which have unfolded so far, including the blockbuster 3D movie Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and the highly anticipated Avatar, with more to come. Vince has participated in some of the most dynamic 3D sports presentations seen to date. We met during a tour of PACE’s Burbank headquarters and mobile 3D production and post production trucks.
You’ve always been at the edge of the curve in your extraordinarily varied career as cinematographer, underwater expert, entrepreneur, and innovator. How did you get here?
Most people know me from the underwater days where I built a business servicing the documentary and feature film world with lights and cameras. I worked hard to build that business and was proud of the products we designed. At its height, we had serviced Titanic and our inventory contained more than sixty underwater camera housings and fifteen hundred underwater lights. I had designed specialty lights used in Disney Theme Parks around the world including explosion proof units for Tokyo Disney Sea. Pace Technologies was the key equipment supplier for Blue Planet and I also trained the camera operators. I had ventured to the sites of the Titanic, but was never offered the opportunity to go down; my name was never that high on the list.
Everything changed with one conversation with James Cameron. I had worked with him since The Abyss, but during one particular conversation he described his vision of the Holy Grail camera, a camera that could shoot 3D as easily and as transparently to production as a 2D camera. A camera specifically designed to enhance the creative artist’s ability to tell a story; the world where Jim lives as one of the best storytellers of our time. I was one of the lucky few that heard the plan for Titanic from him as he told the story early on. I knew the film would be a success the minute I heard it, and I was equally hooked on this Holy Grail camera when I heard it. He asked me if I wanted to go into a new venture, 50-50, to build a camera. I agreed, we shook hands and the world of PACE Technologies was left behind and PACE began what has become a revolution in entertainment.
In retrospect, I should have realized I was shaking hands with the director of Titanic. But throughout it all, PACE held up to its end of the bargain and Jim held up his. How ironic it was that after hanging up my facemask and snorkel years earlier, our first adventure with the 3D camera would be to the deck of Titanic 2.5 miles down.
Another irony is that after giving up so much of a business that I truly loved, I find myself accomplishing every underwater goal I ever had. I guess when you follow one dream - it doesn’t preclude the others that led to where you are today.
You were enjoying a successful career before 3D, even before HD. You have been involved from the early stages of these incredibly important technical changes. What put you at the head of the curve?
I was introduced to underwater optics at the age of ten and it was very exciting to me to be surrounded by cinematographers who were taking pictures in a world very few people got to explore. My interest was also piqued early on by the dual artistic and technical challenges. From then on, photography and cinematography have been a part of my life.
I built many underwater housings growing up, but I really started to learn the art of cinematography working for acclaimed underwater cinematographer, Al Giddings. I had earned my stripes in the underwater world, but when he secured a project called In Celebrations of Trees for Discovery, it was my opportunity to go beyond the constraints of water and understand light and shadows in a dry environment. I made a deal with Al that I would work for free if he answered all my questions during the shoot. I just wanted to know the reason for everything he did creatively. He agreed (who wouldn’t?) and we worked side by side for almost two years. It was a unique opportunity since the subject did not move, dance, fly, or create some sort of spectacle. You were immensely challenged by the natural foundation of composition and lighting. Al has an incredible eye and sense of nature and he is a great storyteller. Even if he didn’t know the answer to my question, he would make up a great story to fill the void. Eventually, he asked how much I wanted to get paid. It was a sign that he was beginning to feel that paying me would gain him some peace on the project. Towards the end of the project, I was paid and my questions started to turn into actions as he let me from time to time shoot on the project.
Did underwater photography lead you to the spot where you are today?
Without a doubt, yes. There is a picture in my office of me at ten years old machining a part for an underwater still camera housing. My dad worked on the housings for The Deep and other underwater films and I knew at the age of ten the ability to build your own kit and then use it to create images was a path I wanted to take. Little did I know that the desire would be fulfilled bringing back some of the most challenging images in 3D at depths over three miles deep.
How did PACE get started?
When Jim Cameron and I got together to discuss working on a 3D camera, PACE - the company and team that I’d built over the years - was already successful. PACE is a collective of talents under one roof. Some people compare us to Panavision, others still think of PACE as the underwater go-to place, but neither are accurate assessments. The core foundation of PACE is two individuals, Patrick Campbell and myself. Patrick has a Masters Degree from Stanford and I have been building specialty equipment and shooting images since the age of ten. That combination has grown into a team of people who collectively work together to innovate the world of entertainment. As the company has grown over the years, we have been fortunate enough to work on many 3D projects, but also many 2D projects as well. Crank, Speed Racer, Game, and Public Enemy were PACE supported projects.
How do you think that 3D will affect cinematographers and other members of the crew?
This is an exciting time for all of us, and there is a real opportunity to add new and creative tools to cinematographer’s creations. 3D forces you to be at the top of your game in 2D before venturing out to embrace the extra level of creativity in 3D. In animation, 3D experts are needed to define a direction for the infinitely variable pallet they have.
In live action, 3D must transition to the cinematographer as an additional tool, and the crew must be allowed to embrace the medium as well. In my book, if someone shows up on set with a white coat and a 3D patch on it, shoot him. That doesn’t inspire creativity. The act of 3D is VERY rooted in 2D. If you have a creative cinematographer and an experienced crew, you have the right ingredients to migrate to 3D. Now remember, the migration should stampede and trample the guy who says he knows it all in 3D. This is the new 3D remember?
Let’s define the path by what we see, not what we say. The complement of digital and 3D is witnessed in capture and exhibition. Embrace it and any good artist can navigate the waters of 3D.
How do you see the fundamental process changing?
I think that there will be a merger that takes the conversion process and live action process and finds a happy medium. Neither is a cure all for 3D production. The best approach is to try and identify shots in a project that are best served by live action capture, and which ones, due to difficulty, are best suited for conversion from 2D. Live action, although some would argue there is a loss of control or the equipment costs are higher, is a natural form of 3D capture where everything is shot in its right place. Computers live and breathe in a 3D world and the assets generated go far beyond the limitations of a live action shot. I honestly believe that we will see both areas of development improve to the where you will shoot 3D as quickly and as seamlessly as you currently do 2D. The only difference is the cost involved will incrementally increase to roughly fifteen percent.
How will this creative crew catch up and learn?
I hope PACE can play a leadership role in making that happen. With almost forty cameras in 3D and editorial and post solutions in house, we are very aware that the industry needs to learn what the tools are capable of. PACE has lead the charge in capturing significant events in 3D from the U23D project, through live NBA All Star and Finals, to major motion pictures. It is now extremely important to educate the industry and dispel some of incorrect assumptions about the equipment and the process. There are a lot of misconceptions in the 3D community regarding number of cameras, whose camera does what function, why one function is better than the other, etc. I think I’m known as a “put up or shut up” person who doesn’t get caught up with the brochure of the month. PACE and I have been fortunate enough to be called upon to deliver both personally and corporately on many of the game-changing 3D projects in the last eight years.
3D will be driven to the next level by the same artists and crew that are currently contributing to great 2D films. It won’t be created by people who think that the time for 3D has finally come. Until now, PACE has kept a tight hold on its innovations and technology and that philosophy allowed us to build an infrastructure that works. But now it’s time to open it up to the people who want to make the transition. It’s exciting for me to do that, because they will bring the ideas and questions that will take 3D to the next level it needs to get to.
How does 3D production become the standard in production, and not a niche market?
There is a risk that the market goes too quickly and terms like “commercially acceptable” are used as guidelines. Every project we undertake triggers more development and improvement. Beware of the “brochure selling” of 3D where magical solutions to every challenge are offered. The rollout of 3D needs to blow people away. Anything less, such as “commercially acceptable” is a cop out for 3D and will forever keep it in the niche market. If the medium for 3D is not quite commercially ready, we must have the strength to say so and wait until development catches up with quality. Amortization of the added 3D cost must be realized over a platform that maintains an immersive experience. If the delivery method fails to immerse the viewer, we are forcing 3D back in time.
Can you talk at all about the film projects you are involved in at the moment or the recent past with James Cameron? (“Avatar,” “The Dive”)
I continue to work with Jim on Avatar (I think I still am on his good side.) I have been fortunate to be included in the inner circle where you sign a blood oath to withhold any details. I was there during the grueling days of Titanic. I was also with Jim eight years ago when the mere mention of doing a project in 3D was considered an indication you were close to falling off the deep end professionally.
But, all joking aside, the greatest strength of Avatar is the story. I honestly wish that Jim would crank out project after project as a director but the simple fact is he knows how important the story is to a film and instead of taking the easy road, shooting in 3D, he will turn this into a blockbuster. Jim is working harder than I have ever seen him work to make this film work on the most important level, the story. When you see it, it will be unlike any other theatrical experience you’ve seen before.
What are the most exciting things that you think are headed towards the audience?
A number of theatrical releases are coming down the pipeline in 3D. The new animation products are only getting better and more immersive and they are ahead of the curve in 3D. I had a great time working with David Ellis, Glen McPherson and the crew for Final Destination IV.I believe that viewers will take notice of the difference in watching something in 3D compared to the 2D experience. Avatar, Monsters and Aliens, Jonas Brothers, Final Destination IV, need I say more?
What do you consider the greatest hurdles are in the adoption of 3D?
Maintaining an entertainment level that keeps the viewer engaged. If we fail to do that for whatever reason, we might not have the chance to convince the viewer there is a difference in the new 3D presentation once again.
How about 3D for the home?
This is coming faster than expected. Although some of the earlier television sets released for the home are targeting the gaming community, I have seen positive progress in the last year with sets more designed for feature based home entertainment.
Are there certain types of projects that are well suited to 3D, and some that are not?
This is the glass ceiling of 3D that must be broken. A good 2D product is the only requirement for a good 3D product. People get so caught up in the thinking that 3D must have a 3D need. Remember, we witness life in 3D. Do we ever want to witness life by covering one eye? I consider that a myth to be broken. Entertainment should follow the same track as the human experience and the technology must make the bridge to immerse the viewer into a real life experience.
Do you think that more and more projects will be shot in 3D, even if there is not a 3D delivery?
There is a trend to start future-proofing a project shot in live action 3D. With the potential for home delivery changing in the next five years to 3D, putting away a 3D home copy could be a chance to reap future benefits from the project.
Why is the Hannah Montana project a great 3D “success” story?
A lot of credit goes to the folks at Disney for strategizing the Hannah project so well. There was a notion that it was a project developed in reaction to her success. But, in fact, discussions were being conducted a year prior based on our live feed for the All Star Game. We didn’t know who or when, but we did know we could pull off a project in a short time frame. Organizing a crew to shoot seven cameras in one night in a make or break situation is not for the faint of heart. But the team was awesome and everyone involved should be proud of the effort. We had our own Super Bowl game being played out on the concert field and it was successful. Quantel and Fotokem did a great job on the project. It was a real team of great professional people.
Miley Cyrus, and now The Jonas Brothers -- do you think that by bringing in these young Disney superstars, we are growing a generation of young 3D fans?
3D done right can make everyone a fan. I remember when my Mom and Dad watched Ghosts of the Abyss for the first time in 3D. They had heard my exploits at the dinner table for years and it was just that, conversation. They saw my shows on television and complimented me on a fine show. But when they saw the 3D version, my mom came up to me afterwards and said, “Your dad and I don’t want you diving in those subs anymore.” She is 72 and for the first time it hit her how dangerous the job really was. 3D crossed that bridge. I honestly believe that if we do this right, the generation of fans will be young and old.
Can you put on your future glasses and tell us where you think this is headed? What do you we will be in terms of production and viewing in 5 years? 10 years?
In five years, top home entertainment systems will have 3D completely down. Then, there will be the person down the block with a cool, new 3D system dialed in and showing entertainment content. All features will consider 3D and half will make the decision to shoot in 3D. All animation will be 3D and the tools will be shockingly good. Theaters will just begin to consider higher frame rates for exhibition.
In ten years, the guy on the block from five years ago will have a system too big and too crude for the present standard of 3D. For a competitive price at Best Buy, sixty percent of the homes on that block will have some form of 3D capability. In the theater, higher frame rates will be the norm and the line between real and created will be blurred. People will seek professional help as films take them on a visual journey that comes so close to being real they will have difficulties distancing themselves from the experience. Entertainment as we know it now will not exist, categorized like an 8 track is today. Our favorite films are being re-mastered in Brand X 3D. Complaints will be rampant as viewers ask themselves, “don’t tell me they are remaking Lord of the Rings in 3D. Can’t they come up with something original!”
So basically, nothing will change. We will still want to be the ones with the best entertainment on the block. We will seek out feature presentations because they are the closest thing to reality. And our hunger for new and exciting entertainment will continue.
By Christine Purse, High Def Expo
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued patent number 7,430,302 for unique features in VideoMark, Verimatrix’s user-specific, forensic watermarking technology. The new patent, the first of several pending for VideoMark, protects key processes where the forensic mark is invisibly and robustly embedded in video content, and converted to a human recognisable image during extraction. As has been proven in multiple system evaluations, a human readable mark withstands more sophisticated video manipulations such as cropping and geometric distortions, than those which rely on machine extraction alone.
Verimatrix’s end-to-end VideoMark solution includes the recovery of the unique client identification from all unauthorised analog and digital distribution formats. The mark extracted from pirated content, which never contains personal subscriber data, can be traced back to the last legal recipient of the content by the operator. A second patent, number 7,426,750 related to aspects of this tracking process, was also recently granted to Verimatrix.
VideoMark is the industry’s first secure and invisible content tracking solution that enables forensic, user-specific marking of video at each set-top box or PC client in a pay-TV system. A range of worldwide operators have deployed VideoMark to enable them to offer differentiated services including early release windows for HD and super premium content. VideoMark is a powerful security layer that complements encryption, conditional access (CA) and digital rights management (DRM) technologies and is being required by more content owners. VideoMark complies with the rigorous requirements of the Digital Cinema Initiatives, LLC (DCI).
The conversion from analog to digital video distribution creates challenges for video service providers and equipment manufacturers needing to verify baseband content. These challenges include not only validating the video and audio quality on a full-time 24/7 basis, but also the auditing of when, where and how content is played.
IneoQuest Technologies has added a new remote content verification technology called VeriFrame to its existing IQPinPoint business development platform that effectively puts a virtual network operations center on your desktop computer.
Leveraging the company’s new iCMS (content management software) and Cricket FrameGrabber hardware probes (boxes), VeriFrame’s distributed video verification technology enables telecom, cable and satellite operators, content providers, network equipment manufacturers and broadcasters to efficiently capture, monitor, audit and verify commercial spots while evaluating baseband content in order to validate the subscriber experience.
A broadcast network might use it to monitor what the programming looks like in the local markets it’s being distributed to. At a central location, an engineer can watch the feeds on the receive end in real time.
VeriFrame targets the lack of a cost-efficient method for verifying that video and audio content is being transmitted reliably. The highly specialized software can be preprogrammed to perform multiple tasks, such as baseband content monitoring, distributed program verification, test and measurement and ad insertion auditing. It also provides a low-cost method of archiving video and audio content for detailed analysis and confidence monitoring.
The technology automatically verifies video and audio content, frame by frame, detecting black screen, luminance levels and freeze frame in addition to audio levels, providing real-time remote QoE metrics. Additionally, VeriFrame provides a unique video frame thumbnail mosaic display for immediate visual confidence monitoring and program playout verification. Incorporating a database architecture, it enables the retrieval and filter navigation of all monitored and archived thumbnail information for post-analysis trending and performance tracking.
All of the program metrics are stored in the FrameGrabber on a real-time basis, and every 30 minutes the data is moved onto a larger database using the system’s content management software. Users can monitors a series of thumbnails of frame grabs from a desired channel. Each thumbnail is recycled about every second, or as often as the user requires. The Cricket FrameGrabber nodes can be programmed to monitor a series of channels per box, or an operator can analyze a single channel from multiple locations within the coverage area.
Other features include real-time monitoring and alarming on every frame and distributed management of multiple probe units, which helps reduce deployment costs.
Source: Broadcast Engineering
Calling it one of the worst credit markets he has seen in years, Regal Entertainment Group CEO Mike Campbell said Thursday a $1 billion industry digital upgrade could be delayed.
"We believe, and JP Morgan believes, that it will get financed once the market returns to something that is reasonably normal," Campbell said. "We're going to continue to put together the pieces behind the scenes to be in a position to react."
The news, which sent shares of the company down nearly 19 percent, came as the Knoxville-based company, which is the nation's largest movie theater operator, reported that profits declined 46 percent in the third quarter. Net income totaled $31.6 million, or 21 cents per share, compared to last year's third-quarter profit of $58 million, or 36 cents per share. Diluted earnings per share were 21 cents for the third quarter of 2008, compared to 36 cents for third-quarter 2007. Third-quarter 2008 revenues were up 1 percent to $757.6 million compared to last year.
Digital Cinema Implementation Partners, a joint venture of Regal, Cinemark and AMC Entertainment, was formed to roll out cinema digital technology to theaters nationwide. On Oct. 1, DCIP announced it had signed long-term digital deployment agreements for digital cinema upgrade with 20th Century Fox, Walt Disney Motion Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios and Lions Gate Films. DCIP is currently in discussion with the last two major studios, Sony and Warner Brothers.
"We are excited about the conversion to digital projection because of the incremental margin opportunities provided by 3-D and alternative content," Campbell told analysts in an earnings call.
A key element to Regal's strategy in the next several years, he said, will be "to provide enhanced theatergoing experiences." That includes 3-D, an expanded base of IMAX theaters and the potential for special events like the Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus concert film last year. A similar concert film featuring the pop singing group Jonas Brothers will debut in early 2009. Campbell said there are a total of 40 3-D films announced for release over the next several years, and Regal is installing its first digital IMAX system this month.
"We are pleased with the studios' commitment to this premium content, which also allows us to price at a premium compared to our existing 2-D ticket prices," he said.
Regal also benefited from recently acquired Consolidated Theaters, which generated cash flows that were slightly ahead of company expectations.
"We're not recession-proof, but history shows we're as recession-resistant as any business out there," Campbell said. "This is a very difficult market for everybody. At Regal, it's business as usual. We've had a good year as an industry."
Campbell pointed to last year's record third quarter resulting from a string of blockbusters. This quarter, he said, was relatively flat, and up 13 percent to 15 percent as an industry. Regal also will benefit this year from a 53rd accounting week, which contributed an additional 10.2 million attendees and approximately $40 million of adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) the last time it occurred, in 2003.
Campbell said he was encouraged by a strong start to the fourth-quarter box office and is optimistic about the upcoming film slate, which includes Disney's High School Musical 3, Saw V, Quantum of Solace and the next 3-D animated film from Disney, called Bolt, featuring the voices of John Travolta and Miley Cyrus.
The company also declared a cash dividend of 30 cents. Regal Entertainment Group operates 6,782 screens in 551 locations in 39 states and the District of Columbia.
By Carly Harrington, KnoxNews
Autodesk and Avid Technology announced that they have signed a definitive agreement for Autodesk to acquire substantially all of the assets of Avid's Softimage business unit for approximately $35 million.
Softimage was founded in 1986 by Daniel Langlois and is headquartered in Montreal, Canada. Softimage develops 3D technology for the film, television and games markets. Its flagship product is SOFTIMAGE|XSI, an extensible 3D animation software solution used by leading media and entertainment companies, including Digital Domain, Ubisoft, SEGA Corporation, CAPCOM, Animal Logic and The Mill.
Autodesk Media & Entertainment provides animation, visual effects, editing/finishing and color grading solutions for the 3D market, including entertainment and design industries. Upon completion of the acquisition, Autodesk intends to continue developing and selling Softimage's core product line, while integrating certain Softimage technology into future versions of Autodesk solutions and products.
It has already been used to cover concerts and ESPN’s X Games in 3D, and brings all the advantages of the compact, lightweight Polecam to 3D. The new pan and tilt head fits on any Polecam and is the same price as the normal head. It can work with cameras from Iconix, Silicon Imaging or Toshiba, and users can drive the iris and focus in tandem and set convergence. “Because of the enthusiasm for 3D in Hollywood, we’re getting a lot of interest,” said Greg Salman, Polecam’s US distributor.
Source: TVB Europe
SGO’s new Mistika version 4, including 3D stereoscopic capability, was introduced at IBC last month. 3D stereoscopic footage courtesy of Concrete, Axis Films and Can Communicate was used to demonstrate Mistika’s toolset. Mistika is a high-end system for timeline-based editing, conforming, compositing, image restoration, multi-mastering and colour grading. Mistika combines infinite layer compositing with feature film quality colour grading using a timeline structure. Other manufacturers segment these abilities into separate products but SGO combines those capabilities and functions together.
The system can work natively in a SAN infrastructure while sharing standard format files, without any import/export process required for coping with other open systems. Mistika provides realtime conversions between 4K, 2K, HD, SD. It literally has no resolution limits.
While competitors are just arriving at the 4K landmark, for SGO 4K is already history. The new Mistika 64-bit-system (running on Linux of course) provides realistic production times even for 8K projects. All the standard output formats like PAL/NTSC SDI, HD-SDI RGB 4:4:4, 2K DVI output, 4K HDSL and even 3D stereo dual HD-SDI can be supported.
By Fergal Ringrose, TVB Europe
The most exciting new camera launched at IBC records uncompressed 12-bit 4:4:4 HD pictures on a solid-state cartridge using a new raw format. “Not another new format?,” some might complain, but this is the first camera to use a new open file format based on Adobe’s royalty-free DNG (Digital Negative) stills format, which Adobe hopes to persuade other camera manufacturers to adopt so that post production software will be able to work with any new camera without having to wait months for new drivers to be released.
Adobe already has to support more than 180 different raw formats for stills cameras, and wants to avoid the same problems when it comes to raw video formats. The DNG format was designed for stills photography, but the new Ikonoskop a-cam dII will upgrade to Adobe’s Cinema DNG format for digital cinematography once that standard is finished. The format will work with any resolution and use different file packaging to DNG (almost certainly MXF). Even before that happens, it is relatively easy to convert the existing DNG files to other motion formats. The tiny a-cam dII was a big hit at the show, as it packs a lot of high-end features into a small package at a low price. The dII will cost €6,950 for camera, 9mm f1.5 S16 cine lens, memory card and battery. It ships in December, but Stockholm-based Ikonoskop took 40 orders at IBC, more than selling out its first production batch.
It is claimed to be “the smallest digital motion picture camera” on the market and can record up to 60fps uncompressed HD, at about 3.5MB per frame. “Instead of compressing the images we have made the writing higher,” 240MBps, explained Ikonoskop founder Daniel Jonsäter. It records on Ikonoskop’s own design 80GB memory cartridge, which stores 15 minutes. “It’s the fastest memory in the world,” he claimed.
It has a single, progressive 2/3-inch CCD (believed to be a new design from Kodak), and takes C-mount, PL-mount, and Leica M lenses or P+S Technik’s Interchangeable Mount System (which allows it use a very wide range of stills and motion picture lenses). It has a Lemo connector for two 48kHz audio channels, three monitor outputs (including HDMI), timecode, and weighs less than 1.5kg — ideal for handheld use. The LCD viewfinder has a pixel-topixel zoom (available during recording) for checking focus. It also has a small OLED monitor panel on the side, which can be used to view footage as well as settings and audio levels.
By being uncompressed, the dII avoids the cost, heat, size and power usage of a compression system, which means that it only needs passive cooling — allowing it to run completely silently.
Adobe is working with half-adozen camera manufacturers on the raw format, so that “when a new camera comes out you’ll be instantly able to adopt it in your existing workflow,” explained Michael Coleman, Adobe’s product manager for After Effects.
“The benefit for a software manufacturer is they don’t have to implement a dozen or more proprietary software formats. Photoshop today supports about 180 raw formats. It’s very expensive to develop them, so we’re looking to avoid the same problem of raw format proliferation and to streamline workflows.”
By David Fox, TVB Europe
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Could you please describe the business of SENSIO?
SENSIO is a company which develops and markets stereoscopic (3D) content distribution technologies. SENSIO®3D is our flagship technology and is basically a codec which allows the distribution and formatting of 3D content to fit any 3D display. It is used for distribution of 3D content through DVD, Blu-ray, broadcast and very soon for live 3D events in 3D theatres.
SENSIO has also built one of the world’s largest 3D movie libraries for the home entertainment market featuring major Hollywood studios titles such as Spy Kids 3D Game Over from Walt Disney and Jaws 3D from Universal, as well as large format 3D films shown in Imax theatres such as the acclaimed Bugs! In 3D: A Rainforest Adventure.
What markets are you targeting?
We are targeting two different markets: home theatre and digital cinema.
SENSIO’s objective is to become the 3D home video standard and we are working closely with manufacturers to integrate our technology in consumer products, such as 3DTVs, players, etc. To support this effort, we work in close collaboration with studios to have their 3D content encoded in SENSIO®3D.
On the digital cinema market, we developed a Live 3D technology, which allows live 3D events broadcasting, like concerts or sporting events, to digital theatres. For example, viewers will one day be able to watch the Super Bowl live in 3D in their local theater! People will experience the game just as if they were in the actual audience. The action being much closer, the experience will be even better because everyone in a theatre will have front row seats!
What is the SENSIO 3D technology exactly, how does it work?
Our technology is a codec that allows the distribution of 3D content through conventional 2D infrastructure.
Basically, it is a 3 steps process.
First, we encode 3D content (2 streams: left eye/right eye) in our format to compress it. Once the file has been reduced to a standard 2D file size (2:1 stereoscopic compression), it can be distributed over the conventional 2D infrastructure (DVD, Blu-ray, single channel for broadcast). Secondly, the content is decompressed into two separate streams by our decoding technology embedded in any 3D displays (plasma, LCD, DLP, autostereoscopic, etc.). The third and last step is the formatting which takes the two steams and combines them in the 3D mode used by the display. There are over 20 such modes currently in the market and SENSIO can support them all.
SENSIO®3D technology is the spatial compression technology which boasts the highest fidelity to the original picture and is visually lossless.
Are you providing a software or a hardware implementation of your 3D codec?
We are integrating our IP code into manufacturer's devices, via FPGA and custom chip designs or ASIC designs. We are also working on a software (PC based) decoder.
Are you selling your products direcly to end-users or do you prefer to partner with third-party integrators?
We are selling our technology to manufacturers and not directly to consumers since we want to be embedded into existing devices.
Few years ago, we produced and sold the S3D-100 processor, a consumer product allowing people to watch 3D movies at home. This served as a proof of concept for our technology. Now, we are following the integration path.
We hear about a lot of initiatives from a various organizations to standardize a common 3D codec (SMPTE, ETC, CEA, 3D@Home, etc.). Is SENSIO involved in these working groups?
SENSIO is involved in different standardization committees. We are part of the SMPTE working group for the 3D distribution formats’ standardization. We are also part of the Blu-ray Disc Association as well as members and co-founders of the 3D@Home Consortium. Finally, we presented a proposal, following a request from the DVD Forum, for SENSIO®3D technology’s standardization in the DVD format. It is important for us to be involved in those committees to participate in this new industry's growth and development.
Do you think there will be a common 3D codec for all the consumer markets (Blu-ray, VoD, 3D Mobile TV, etc.)?
A 3D format has to be adopted the same way a high definition format has been chosen. The format war between Blu-ray and HD DVD had a major impact on the consumer's HD adoption; it caused confusion and slowed down the market penetration. The same thing will happen with 3D if the industry does not choose a standard. It might get even more confusing... imagine if a movie has its 2D version, its SENSIO®3D version, its other 3D format version, etc; this would be confusing for consumers and expensive for studios and manufacturers.
What are the main advantages of SENSIO technology compared to other available solutions (DDD, TDVCodec, Philips, etc.)?
Our technology offers major advantages for industry players; it presents high 2D and 3D quality playback, no synchronization issues of any kind between the two streams, it is compatible with all other video codecs, is 3D displays agnostic and requires no additional bandwidth. Finally, it is a simple and consumer-like solution which implies low implementation costs since we are re-using the existing infrastructure. By adding extra information in separate channels, other formats prevent the existing equipments in people’s homes to receive and present movies in 3D thus requiring a change in the current infrastructure. This is not acceptable in these early days of consumer 3D.
Is SENSIO providing any real-time 2D to 3D conversion?
Along with its 3D technology, SENSIO is offering JVC's real time 2D to 3D conversion technology. With this feature, we are really offering a complete solution to manufacturers and consumers. Until studios release their movies for home theater in 3D, this conversion technology provides infinite content to viewers until even more high quality 3D content is made available.
How does is work exactly?
Since it's not one of our technologies, we cannot reveal how the algorithm is working.
Are the results really convincing?
The general result is very good. It works best with landscapes or vivid colors, and the quality remains impressive. Even if native 3D content is offering a higher quality, the conversion still gives people a natural depth experience which truly adds value.
Tell us about your partnership with International Datacasting and AccessIT for live 3D alternative content.
International Datacasting Corporation and SENSIO developed CineLive, an exclusive product for Access Integrated Technologies Inc. (AccessIT). This product allows live 2D and 3D events broadcasting to digital theatres. SENSIO is supplying its Live 3D cinema decoding technology used for live 3D broadcast. A first deployment is currently happening in 50 theatres located in major US cities and AccessIT wants to continue deploying in 150 theaters by the end of 2008.
We are very proud of this partnership and SENSIO is the only company on the market to have its live 3D technology deployed in digital theatres!
There are a lot of 3D display technologies (DLP 3D, LaserTV, micro-polarisation, Plasma, etc.). What are your favorite ones?
Since SENSIO’s technology can feed all 3D displays on the market, we do not have any favorite one. Nevertheless, it is our general belief that glasses based systems will be the prevalent type of 3DTVs for the next few years, that is until autostereoscopic displays reach a level of performance which will be acceptable to the consumer market.
Spurred on by the technical and economic success of digitally produced and distributed motion pictures, the inevitable emergence of the third dimension of consumer HD is upon us. Consider the following items:
Approximately 5000 movie screens in North America now show motion pictures digitally distributed with approximately 1000 of these 3D capable projection systems. However, this estimate is gradually being increased, as the digital production and distribution cost model becomes increasingly attractive.
At least ten major motion pictures, including all of DreamWorks' animated productions will be released in 3D within the next two years. Many in the industry feel this number is probably low due to the increasing availability of economically attractive digital 3D production tools.
Many Hollywood production support companies are providing Digital 3D services. Among them are PACE, 3Ality Digital, Dolby, RealD, Thomson and others. Adding 3D to an existing digital production physical infrastructure is relatively inexpensive. Some estimates are in the 10% to 15% range. However, as experience with 3D is gained, specific camera and editing skills are being developed that greatly enhance the 3D viewing experience and move it away from the early film 3D "gimmick" exhibitions. These techniques include fewer editing "jump cuts," less aggressive panning and more discreet use of "focused object" (sometimes called "convergence") , thereby "opening up" the scenes to provide more realistic 3D images.
Experiments in the production and distribution of live HD3D are on-going with HD Net and others. In the past 18 months two National Basketball Association games have been produced live in HD3D and transmitted to closed circuit venues. Both CBS and Time Warner's HBO have been experimenting with HD3D as has ESPN with tests of HD3D segments of their "X-Games" production last August. Additionally, many recently digitally produced or transferred 3D material exists such as IMAX 3D features. More recent 3D hits such as Chicken Little, Meet the Robinsons, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Beowulf, Hannah Montana and U2 3D are "in-the-digital can."
Several television commercial production equipment manufactures are starting to offer digital 3D cameras, editing and monitoring equipment. These include Thomson (Glass Valley), Sony, Avid, Quantel, Cine-tal, RED and others.
Panasonic, Samsung, Mitsubishi, Philips, Hyundai and others are currently publically demonstrating or offering HD3D consumer display systems. The CE industry is expected to sell up to two million such 3D capable ("ready") HDTV monitors this year. Most of these are DLP based rear projection models that employ switched frame techniques generating the stereoscopic images at a sequential 48p or 60p frame rate. Source material includes 3D encoded DVD's and games played-back via computer (with a specific video card and special software) and coupled to the display monitor via DVI/HDMI. The viewers wear IR coupled "shutter" glasses to product separate synchronized images for each eye, thus producing the 3D effect. (Philips, however, uses an "autostereoscopic" system which does not require glasses). However, as more 3D movie productions are transferred to HD3D on Blu-ray discs, one can understand the economic potential of HD3D.
Standards: The real key to moving HD3D forward, however, is the generation of acceptable production, transmission and reception/display standards for stereoscopic high definition television. To this end, last summer the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) established a task force to define the parameters for 3D mastering of content for viewing in the home. This is the prologue to actually generating SMPTE consumer HD3D display standards. Further, this fall, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) will form a discussion group to investigate the need for standards to address the delivery and presentation of consumer HD3D television. Thus, both the "software and hardware" aspects of the industry are starting to focus on generating the standards that, like radio, television, color television, stereo audio and HDTV will serve as the technical foundation to drive the future of HD3D consumer products. Quite possibly the two efforts will merge under the auspices of the ATSC (Advanced Television System Committee) similar to the process used to generate the US DTV standard. But the gestation period for standards is normally very long, and unless they are expedited in this case, the technical and market pressures may result in another HD DVD - Blu-ray type debacle.
The good news is that the addition of the stereoscopic element will not require much change in the present HDTV production, transmission and reception/display infrastructure. Yes, stereoscopic cameras will be needed along with 3D editing suites, but the added information to deliver 3D video can essentially "pass through" the existing HDTV production and distribution system. For instance, the two stereoscopic channels can be mixed, compressed and added to the baseband video digital stream. The two components needed include one spatial (the distance between the pixels of the two images), and one temporal (the rate of change of the pixel spacing as the image moves). The multiplex composite of these two components can then be compressed and added to the brightness ("Y") baseband digital stream. This would be done at a very low level and only discernable by a dithering of the least significant digit in the decoded "Y" stream. In this manner, similar to a "dynamic" invisible copy protection watermark, the 3D information would (hopefully) survive channel distribution.
Non 3D receivers would ignore the 3D information, but it would be detected by 3D sets, decoded and thus establish the spatial position of the two images. Using this type of scheme would require no changes in the production infrastructure and would be transparent to existing HD accessories such as HD disc players and DVRs.
In terms of HD3D development, the production elements are fairly mature. HD3D cinematography and editing techniques continue to be refined but are certainly within the dimensions of commercial acceptance. Psycho-optic 3D elements that cause viewer discomfort such as eye strain and unrealistic image separation are understood and being addressed.
However, the display side needs work. Although shutter glasses are acceptably, the "Holy Grail" continues to be some type of wide aspect ratio direct view system that would be compatible with the legacy switched (glasses) approach. Perhaps some holographic techniques would work. Nonetheless all the "big boys in the pool room" of the industry are gambling bunches of dollars on it. Next year's CES and NAB exhibitions are sure to see the real start of the big HD3D push. It will only get better.
By Ed Milbourn, HDTV Magazine
Iconix Video and Sunset Gower Studios announced the opening of S3D Studio, the first fully equipped stereo 3D-ready stages of their kind in the world. With a full array of stereo-ready rigs, Iconix Cameras, stereo playback and record devices, S3D stages are a turnkey solution for shooting and testing stereo production in a controlled, easy to use, environment.
Each stage at Sunset Gower and Sunset Bronson is equipped with on-set pre-post services for stereo dailies and full stereo postproduction provided by Stereoscope Studios in Burbank, which also has a S3D insert stage for shooting effects, green and blue screens and compositing simultaneously under one roof.
The new S3D stages will utilize Iconix Video Hand Held stereo rigs that have been developed in association with Doggicam Systems. Rig options also include tripod mounted rigs and Doggicam System's new High Def Dolly system configured to mount the Iconix stereo 3D HD system. All stages have appropriate lighting packages and multiple record options on set.
Sunset Gower Studios president Howard Stern stated, "We are committed to providing state-of-the-art facilities that allow for greater ease in capturing in digital, and with Iconix Video, we have the opportunity to really raise the bar in terms of what producers expect from a stage. We believe stereo 3D production is the next big wave for our filmmakers, and we want make it easier to produce stereo and to enable the creative community to work in a controlled environment that makes shooting easier and more dependable."
Bruce Long, CEO of Iconix Video commented, "Iconix Video's transformation from the little camera to stereo 3D was a natural evolution for us, and S3D stages allow us to integrate our new generation of stereo solutions in one easy to use package. We're working to accelerate the adoption of stereo, and by creating S3D studios, we're able to bridge the gap between existing Hollywood and stereo. S3D studios will allow producers to move into stereo with their same crews and teams. Our goal is to support, not supplant."
Sunset Gower and Sunset Bronson studios, recently acquired by Hudson Capital, have been investing in and renovating its classic Hollywood stages to prepare them for digital production. Sunset Gower, original home of Columbia Pictures, and Sunset Bronson, originally the Warner Bros studio facility, are both based in Hollywood.
Source: Digital Producer
Alioscopy Establishes Showroom Presence in New York City to Showcase its Advanced Autostereoscopic 3D Technology Solutions
Alioscopy USA, a leading developer of 3D technology solutions, today announced that Worlds Away Productions, a full service digital, production and live event design facility based in Greenwich Village in New York City, is the site of the company's first showroom on the East Coast. Worlds Away will showcase Alioscopy's award-winning, state-of-the-art, 3DHD autostereoscopic (no glasses required) 3D LCD display technology and allow visitors the opportunity to view content that is well suited for applications in a variety of industries, including media and entertainment (film, video, casino gaming and advertising/digital signage), scientific, medical, architectural, and design for applications; all highlighting Alioscopy's unparalleled clarity, depth, brilliance and real-time capabilities.
"Worlds Away is energized to enter into a relationship with Alioscopy to showcase its autostereoscopic 3D LCD display technology," said Kim Lee, director and co-founder, Worlds Away Productions. "Alioscopy's pioneering solution will afford us limitless possibilities to fully explore the trend in 3D--rapidly gaining momentum throughout the film, video, broadcast and digital media industries. We are eager to adopt the 3DHD technology into our production pipeline and experiment with all artistic possibilities for not only creating compelling, immersive visual content without the need for glasses but for integrating and displaying content in new ways in theatre sets, live events and at point of purchase, malls, trade shows, movie theaters, museum displays, and more."
Philippe Roche, CEO of Alioscopy USA comments: "We are delighted that Worlds Away, a facility known for pushing content creation boundaries in all areas of entertainment and design visualization, will be the first in New York City to host our 3D technology solutions. As interest in leveraging 3D imagery as a valid communication medium continues to skyrocket, especially in 3D film and digital media creation, our conveniently located showroom will enable a wide audience of creative professionals to see first-hand the benefits of communicating, displaying and exploring information in 3D."
Alioscopy: Advancing Autostereoscopic 3D Display
Alioscopy's groundbreaking display product, the 3DHD, developed and manufactured by Alioscopy, features a highly specialized lenticular lens that boasts unmatched quality, clarity and depth resulting in a truly immersive and memorable experience for the viewer.
Alioscopy's underlying open architecture provides an end-to-end solution that allows standard video to be shown and 3D content to be developed and rendered with leading 3D software applications such as Autodesk 3ds Max, Autodesk Maya, SOFTIMAGE|XSI, MAXON CINEMA 4D and NewTek Lightwave 3D. Real-time capabilities enhance the experience even further by allowing the viewer to interact with 3D content as it's displayed.
Source: Yahoo News
French international news channel France 24 has launched a new cellular service, "France 24 mobile" that will give consumers worldwide access to its three 24-hour channels. France 24 is an all-news and information channel that's transmitted in three versions (French, English, Arabic) live. Cellular users will be able to access these streams, or download many of the broadcaster's output in an ‘on demand' basis.
The service, which allows high quality video and live broadcasting is accessible anywhere, at any time, independently from networks and local operators. Users can register free of charge on the France 24 website to then receive the "France 24 Mobile" application by SMS.
This live broadcasting and high-quality video on mobile service is available thanks to an agreement with Mobiclip platform developed by Actimagine.
Source: Rapid TV News
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Labels: Mobile TV
Sony is expanding its line of 4K SXRD projectors with two new models designed to deliver enhanced contrast, higher brightness and more flexibility for commercial applications such as simulation, high-end post-production, auditorium/lecture hall presentations and more.
The new T-Series includes the SRX-T110 and SRX-T105, with both new models offering many design elements from their successful SXRD predecessors – the S-Series – including the same 4096 x 2160 resolution. However, the new projectors offer an enhanced contrast ratio of 2,500:1 and higher brightness, 11,000 and 5,500 lumens respectively, thanks to a refined optical block design.
Additional Performance Features
Both models offer support for Adobe RGB color space (with 95 percent coverage of the color gamut), and a wider selection of color spaces, including ITU-R T.709, DCDM (for Digital Cinema Initiative compliance) and sRGB (standard RGB). Additional flexibility has been designed into the Gamma settings in the T-series. A user-defined register is available in addition to 2.2 and 2.6 presets, where the user can set values from 1.8 to 2.59 in steps of 0.01.
With the use of a pre-installed but removable interface board, LKRI-005, the projectors are DVI-enabled with High Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP), allowing compatibility with PlayStation3 systems and Blu-ray Disc players, and other digital high-definition devices. This board, designed specifically for use with the new T-series models, also provides support for 1080/50P, 720/60P and 720/50P content.
New software allows for control of up to four projectors over ethernet from a single PC, which is ideal for multi-projector applications such as dual-projector stereoscopic presentations with 8.8 million pixels per eye or multi-projector training simulators.
For installations where rigging is required, dedicated suspension points have been added to the chassis. Baffling has been added to vents on the projector for installations in light-sensitive environments such as planetariums or in rear-screen configurations. The new models can be tilted as much as 90 degrees, up or down, allowing simpler installation when projection is required on horizontal surfaces, and they allow for independent horizontal and vertical image flip capabilities to support the new mounting options.
An improved “intelligent” cooling system has been developed for the T-series resulting in a noise decrease of between 5-7 dB versus previous versions, and using the optional LKRA-001 exhaust adapter, noise can be reduced by an additional 2 dB.
SXRD 4K Legacy
As with many of Sony’s product lines, the SXRD family provides for continued compatibility with existing accessories. All current peripherals for the SRX-R110/R105/S110/S105 remain compatible with the SRX-T110/T105 models. Lamps and lamp-houses remain the same even as the new models provide improved contrast and brightness. Anyone interested in upgrading their current Sony 4K projector by purchasing a new T-series model can continue to use the lenses and input cards they already have.
With a 92 percent fill ratio and a minuscule inter-pixel gap (0.35 microns), the 4K projectors display incredibly realistic and immersive images, even when projecting content which has a resolution lower than 4K, such as high-definition video.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Labels: Displays and Projection
The company formerly known as Philips Content Identification, has announced the completion of its spin-out from Philips Corporate Technologies. The company will operate under the new brand name Civolution. The spin-out includes Teletrax, the world’s first global broadcast intelligence company and former joint-venture of Philips and Medialink.
Prime Technology Ventures (PTV), a leading independent pan-European venture capital firm headquartered in The Netherlands, has provided funding for the new Civolution company through its PTV III fund. In addition to other limited partners, Philips also became limited partner in PTV, demonstrating its continued commitment to the growth of the Civolution business.
Civolution offers complete end-to-end solutions in content identification, managing and monetization services to content owners and distributors. As a new and independent company, Civolution is well positioned to anticipate and respond to the needs of the dynamic market of the digital content industry. The spin-out allows Civolution the flexibility to take new strategic directions beyond the current scope of Philips and to and to focus fully on meeting market demands as they evolve.
“We are delighted to announce the realization of this next major milestone in our strategic plan following the recent merger with Teletrax”, says Alex Terpstra Civolution CEO. “With our great team of dedicated professionals and with a wide range of experience in the field of content identification technology and services, we have the ambition to play a pivotal role and lead the way in the evolution of content identification, helping content owners and distributors identify, manage and monetize their content.”
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Labels: Content Protection
NEC LCD Technologies developed a 12.1-inch amorphous Si TFT LCD panel that allows users to view 3D images with the naked eye. The panel has a resolution of 800 x 600 (SVGA). It is intended for use in entertainment applications, such as movies and games, as well as industrial devices such as digital signage, industrial CAD and medical image analysis systems.
The panel displays high resolution 3D images through the adoption of NEC's proprietary 3D display pixel alignment method called "Horizontally Double-Density Pixels (HDDP)," which is coupled with an optical device that can change the light directions, the company said. The optical device is used to change the direction of the light so that data for the right and left eyes is visible only to the appropriate eye.
In the HDDP method, RGB sub-pixels are aligned in the form of horizontal stripes, and each pixel is vertically divided into two sections for the right and left eyes. With the new layout, the resolution in the horizontal direction is doubled compared with the existing 3D LCD panel whose RGB sub-pixels are arranged as vertical stripes, the company said.
The 3D representation is enabled by displaying different images for the right and left eyes in the two vertically divided sections in each sub-pixel. And 2D images are reproduced with the same data displayed in these sections. The panel is capable of displaying 2D and 3D images at the same resolution, making it possible to simultaneously display 2D and 3D images on the same screen.
The development of the latest panel was promoted based on the 2.5-inch HDDP 3D LCD panel manufactured by NEC Central Laboratories in August 2004, NEC LCD Technologies said. The company aims to start mass-producing 3D LCD panels in fiscal 2009.
NEC LCD Technologies will display a prototype 3D LCD panel at the International 3D Fair in the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation from Oct 23 to 26, 2008, and at FPD International 2008 in Pacifico Yokohama in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, from Oct 29 to 31, 2008.
By Yukiko Kanoh, Nikkei Electronics
While the studio consortium Digital Cinema Initiatives is moving forward with plans to test d-cinema systems to make sure they are DCI-compliant, projectors using the current version of Texas Instruments' DLP Cinema technology may not measure up to the new standard.
According to several insiders familiar with the spec, those projectors might not pass the DCI compliance test because they do not meet the requirement for Federal Information Processing Standards certification, essentially a security measure.
But DLP Cinema business manager Nancy Fares said: "We have a work-around that has been an acceptable solution. The studios are getting a solution as secure as they envisioned it to be."
Because studios want to see the d-cinema rollout proceed, other observers suggested that projectors using the current DLP technology could be grandfathered into studio d-cinema deals.
There are about 7,000 DLP Cinema-based projectors from manufacturers Barco, Christie and NEC deployed worldwide; they comprise roughly 4,800 of the nearly 5,000 currently in use in the U.S. and have become a sort of de facto standard in the initial d-cinema rollout.
Barco and Christie declined comment, and NEC did not respond to calls for comment.
DCI testing will begin as early as this month at the newly named test sites, including CineCert in the U.S.
CineCert chief technology officer John Hurst explained that virtual print fee agreements with studios generally require DCI-compliant equipment. "Some studios have the opinion that these 'Series 1' projectors work well and are reasonably secure, and they will provide content to play on them," he said. "Other studios have not yet announced what they would do. It's difficult to know how that would shake out."
It will take some time to determine if the DLP technology meets the DCI standards. Hurst explained that FIPS 140-2 certification must be done at a FIPS consulting lab, not the DCI test sites.
"It's a long and expensive process," he said. "It is incredibly detailed. You have to go through design and testing. That process can take a year to a year and a half."
Hurst reported that many d-cinema equipment makers already have started the lengthy FIPS certification process. In contrast, he estimated that the DCI test should take six to eight weeks.
TI, meanwhile, has begun development of Phase 2 technology that is expected to meet all DCI compliance criteria. It is scheduled to be deployed in late 2009.
By Carolyn Giardina, The Hollywood Reporter