Live 3D in Your Cineplex

In June AccessIT announced plans to deploy its CineLive system, an end-to-end system to send live events into properly equipped digital cinema theaters. They are currently demonstrating it at ShowEast in Orlando, the key East Coast trade show for the entire film and electronic cinema industry which runs through tomorrow.

CineLive will transmit either 2D or 3D images from the event to CineLive equipped theaters. Initially, 150 theaters will be equipped for CineLive transmissions. According to Jonathan Dern, president of The Bigger Picture, a wholly owned AccessIT subsidiary, these 150 installations should be complete by the end of the year and the first CineLive broadcast is expected to be in Q1 of 2009. A test broadcast of a Texas A&M basketball game has already been done in cooperation with ESPN to about 18 theaters in (guess where) Texas. This initial broadcast was in 2D.

The initial 150 installations will be paid for by AccessIT and will be at no cost to the theater owner. AccessIT will recover its costs through the box office or other arrangements with the theater or content owner. According to Dern, these installations are targeted at the 100 largest US markets in order to provide The Bigger Picture with a national footprint. All installations will be in 3D-equipped digital theaters because The Bigger Picture sees 3D as a premium and profitable product. Both RealD and Dolby equipped theaters will be used. Dern expects the CineLive systems to go into additional theaters after the initial roll out of 150, but declined to discuss details of any future plans at this point.

Dern said that AccessIT and The Bigger Picture have had multiple special features in digital theaters but all that content had been pre-recorded. The normal channels into a theater used by AccessIT cannot handle live material and cannot handle 60Hz material. Since two expected types of live programming include sports and concerts, the motion rendition of the normal 24 Hz cinema material, as embedded in the DCI specification, would not be satisfactory.

The CineLive demonstration in Orlando included two sources of content: pre-recorded 3D content and live 3D cameras. With the live cameras, the content passed through the CineLive encoder and were decoded by a CineLive decoder at the TV sets used for the demonstration. According to B. Scott Cassell, vice president of operations at AccessIT, Miracube and SpectronIQ 3D LCD TVs were used to show the content in the AccessIT booth. These displays use the same type of passive polarization glasses used in cinema applications, according to Cassell. When asked about ghost busting for the RealD installations, Cassell said AccessIT was aware of the problem and was working on it but could not give any details at this time.

CineLive was initially announced at ShowEast in October 2007 and has been developed in conjunction with International Datacasting Corporation (IDC) and Sensio. Sensio provides the IP for the 3D encoding of the signal for 3D broadcasts.

"We are excited about the future of live 3D and our demonstration on the showroom floor is the next step in securing major live events for theatres around the world. We hope this demonstration will encourage more exhibitors to go digital with AccessIT committing to the digital cinema and 3D future, and that it will encourage more live 3D programs to accompany our proven 2D live broadcasts," said Bud Mayo, chairman and CEO of AccessIT.

By Matt Brennesholtz, DisplayDaily