3D Will Be a ‘Nightmare’

3D has had more than a few negative descriptions attached to it during IBC, with the word headache usually figuring somewhere. But Kevin Murray, Systems Analyst at NDS, admits that “nightmare” might be a more apt potential description. He told a packed audience at IBC that television was going to force graphic designers and associated disciplines to think very carefully about how they handled 3D graphics.

“While everyone accepts that 3D is going to create the ‘wow’ factor for viewers, get it wrong and you are going to have serious problems.” He explained that over-sudden movements towards the ‘viewer’ might well result in the viewer flinching, and spilling their cup of coffee. “Nevertheless, the vast majority of our test viewers like it and say they want it.”

But the technical challenges, especially for graphics, are huge. “Imagine a 3D image, where is a caption placed? What about subtitles? In the US you have to cater for on screen emergency alerts. Where do you put the on-screen bug? How should you handle EPG-type overlays, or ‘coming next’ updates? What about the interactive layer? How will you handle the huge amount of on-screen data in a 3D sports game? These have all to be thought about, and planned for, and a consistency achieved.”

Murray told delegates that as if this wasn’t enough, there was then the problems of video manipulation. Shrinking a video image to a picture-in-picture was fraught with potential danger unless handled sensibly. Broadcasters are going to have to decide whether or not to even go down this road. For those broadcasters supporting PVRs they’ll have to consider how to cope with simple functionality within 3D, such as the Fast Forward button. “Depending on your ‘trick mode’ algorithm the end result could be...interesting!”

He said broadcasters needed to think long and hard about where to place subtitles and similar captions. “In 2D they are overlaid. In 3D it is extremely easy to introduce troubling conflicts that will not help eyestrain. The visual cues will have the viewer understanding what’s going on, but might find it jarring if captions or subtitles are too far forward. Some viewers will find it difficult to cope if these elements are in the ‘wrong’ place and potentially damages the complete experience.”

By Chris Forrester, RapidTV News