Math, Not Cameras, Can Create 3D

3D promises to be a big topic at Cable-Tec Expo in Denver this week. CableLabs and the SCTE are co-sponsoring a 3,400-foot 3D TV Pavilion with demonstrations from some top consumer electronics manufacturers. Considering that CE makers such as Sony, Panasonic, and LG Electronics are participating in the 3D Pavilion, there will probably be an emphasis on their 3D-ready TVs.

But the TV set is just part of the puzzle. Video providers need to ensure the necessary throughput to deliver 3D. And programmers need to create more content in 3D. It’s a bit of a stalemate, with all parties waiting for consumer demand to justify the business case. And the technology itself is costly. It’s expensive to shoot video using two cameras for every view – a left eye view and a right eye view - to create the stereoscopic 3D effect.

HDlogix, a company that provides software for high definition (HD) video, has come up with an innovation that may finally help advance 3D. Rather than shooting video with two cameras, HDlogix has developed mathematical algorithms to take the first view and use it to synthesize a second view. So, rather than cameras doing the work, software creates the 3D effect. The engineers at HDlogix came up with the 3D concept a couple of years ago while working on problems converting standard definition to HD.

“A lot of those same processes applied to 3D,” said William Gaddy, CTO with HDlogix. “We found a new way to apply our existing IP portfolio.”

Another benefit of synthetic 3D is that it holds more potential for auto-stereoscopic 3D in the future. Auto-stereoscopic 3D uses several camera views - typically 7-12 views, according to Gaddy. The benefit is that the viewer doesn’t need to wear any kind of special 3D viewing glasses. The drawback is that viewers often begin feeling nauseous. It’s also extremely difficult to coordinate multiple camera views. Gaddy said figuring out scene geometry in 3D requires synching three things: motion, vanishing point and focus.

For now, HDlogix is focusing on stereoscopic 3D and mainly targeting programmers with the message that they can convert their existing content libraries from 2D to 3D, economically. If programmers decide that synthetic 3D is affordable and can provide new revenue streams, 3D technology may advance into the living room.

By Linda Hardesty, Cable360