Disney has been a pioneer in the current 3-D wave, but to date it has converted only one of its library titles to stereo, The Nightmare Before Christmas. Now the Mouse is breaking new ground by converting the 2-D animated library title Beauty and the Beast.
Producer Don Hahn, who's overseeing the conversion for the studio, says, "We developed some proprietary software to actually inflate the characters and actually create dimension out of them, to really see the width and breadth of Belle's face, or the Beast's body."
Part of the challenge was to keep Beauty's distinct look, he says.
"CG films are fine, but the magic of a film like Beauty and the Beast is it's hand-drawn, it's hand-crafted. So even the backgrounds, even though they're painted with brush and paint, we want a sense of depth so the buildings, the trees and the distant landscape all kind of extrude away from you in space. That was part of the goal."
By David S. Cohen, Variety
Disney has been a pioneer in the current 3-D wave, but to date it has converted only one of its library titles to stereo, The Nightmare Before Christmas. Now the Mouse is breaking new ground by converting the 2-D animated library title Beauty and the Beast.
Enthusiastic consumer response to recent 3-D theatrical releases is demonstrating users’ appetite for 3-D content, and 3-D seems destined to become the next killer application for the home-entertainment industry. Until then, the standardization of 3-D formats for mastering and distribution is critically important for a successful introduction to the consumer market.
This article provides a comprehensive snapshot of the current standards development effort under way at SMPTE, as well as at the Consumer Electronics Associa-tion (CEA), the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA), the DVD Forum, ISO/IEC/MPEG, the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC), and the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE).
By William Zou, Information Display
Thursday, July 30, 2009
There are many predictions that the next stage in the commercial evolution of consumer display technology is the widespread availability of stereoscopic 3-D content for viewing on home 3-D displays. This article describes the types of 3-D displays that are currently available, as well as what technologies are on the horizon.
By Andrew Woods, Information Display
Sky is launching the UK's first 3D TV channel, which will be available to customers from next year. But users will have to sacrifice their "HD Ready" televisions for a "3D-ready" device, which the company says should also be on sale in 2010. And viewers will need to wear "polarising glasses".
3D tricks the viewer by showing two different images, one for each eye. This imitates biology and creats realistic-looking, three-dimensional images. The glasses help fool the eyes. In April, Sky became the first TV company in Europe to broadcast a live event in 3D when it showed a performance by Keane live from Abbey Road Studios.
Media analyst Screen Digest predicts 3D TVs will account for 10% of worldwide sales by 2011, but only if an "industry standard" for the technology is put in place. If a standard is not agreed, the number dives to just 3% by 2015. Marie Bloomfield, an analyst at Screen Digest said: "As it is emerging in the middle of a recession, the home 3D market is in a Catch-22 situation.
"Consumers will not be persuaded to invest in new equipment to experience 3D until there is enough content; and content production will not ramp up until there is a significant audience." However, she added: "Sky is making a play and it will be interesting to see what impact this will have on developments."
Duncan Bell from gadget website T3.com said: "It's a bold move. Someone's got to take the plunge. "It means Sky could set the standard that everyone else ends up following."
Source: Sky News
3ality Digital announced it will introduce live-action 3D production services to Asia via an agreement with IMAGICA, the largest and most versatile media processing company in Japan. The agreement is the first to bring 3ality Digital's state-of-the-art 3D camera rig and image processing technology to the continent.
The first productions resulting from the collaboration are expected to be centered on feature films, concerts and cultural events. The projects will provide unprecedented access to the quality entertainment experience available only from 3ality Digital's proprietary technology, which is commonly regarded as the best in the world.
"There is a great deal of interest in live-action 3D filmmaking in Japan," said Sandy Climan, CEO of 3ality Digital. "As the leading media processing company in Asia, IMAGICA Corp. is the ideal partner for us as we expand the market for our pixel-perfect live-action 3D technology in Japan. This agreement provides us with an important foothold to pursue similar relationships throughout the region."
Operations are moving quickly ahead, as IMAGICA is currently holding an "open house" in Japan with representatives from 3ality Digital to launch the partnership.
"Our technology is going to revolutionize 3-D film production in Japan," said Steve Schklair, CEO of 3ality Digital Systems, the technology subsidiary of 3ality Digital. "Our equipment will enable IMAGICA to capture live-action 3D images of the highest quality. We're also looking forward to showing the Japanese market how our unique, proprietary digital image metadata systems optimize the 3D experience by making it more expedient and customizable."
"Becoming a partner with 3ality Digital enables us to introduce the best 3D camera system to the Japanese market and strengthens our capability to provide technical services," said Mitsuo Inoue, general manager of Production Engineering Support Dept., IMAGICA Corp. "We are ready to support 3D productions with 3ality Digital-trained technical personnel by making the best use of the skills and know-how."
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
ITV is keen to see an alternative 3DTV service to that being readied by Sky, and has called on UK producers to get involved in 3D production.
Sky is understood to have asked at least two TV production companies to pitch for 3DTV ideas, while Channel 4 is understood to be readying a 3D special for the autumn. It would be the broadcaster's first experiment with the medium.
Colin Smith, ITV's technical analyst, said: "It is important to ITV that there is a genuine alternative to the dominant pay platforms in the UK and ITV will consider any commercial service of 3DTV when there is a viable business model."
He added: "We believe that 3DTV will only reach the widest audience when glasses are no longer required, but see glasses technologies as a stepping stone and an important part of the learning process. The duration glasses will be required to view 3DTV will depend on consumer interest in this first generation of 3DTV, and accordingly it will be continually reviewed as to its commercial viability."
The broadcaster has conducted 3DTV tests of animation series Headcases and Thunderbirds and has a creative and distribution partnership with Breakthru Films, whose latest production is the stop-frame stereoscopic 3D feature Chopin. While this will have an initial route to the consumer via digital cinema, as 3DTV markets mature ITV will be able to distribute this content globally in 3D.
"We believe there are opportunities today for 3D productions and this will obviously grow when the displays reach consumer pricepoints, 3D console gaming starts to develop, and broadcast efforts to reach consumers commence. With 3D you have to shoot in a way that requires new skills and practices. Accordingly, the 3D skill set will take some time to evolve and technology to become more readily accessible. So while dedicated 3D channels might be some way off, this does not mean the lessons should not be learnt today for the UK production community."
Smith is making note of the lessons gained during ITV's stereoscopic trials. "One challenge when making shows for 2D and 3D at the same time is to let the 3D experience be enjoyed with the knowledge that the 2D version not being compromised," Smith explained. "Another is how to make best use of the stereo vision - in real life we use other ocular cues such as perspective, motion parallax, etc, and after approximately 20 metres we don't benefit from two separate eye views. A person mid way up a football terrace would only see 3D in terms of the people below him, with the action on the pitch appearing the same as it would in 2D. With 3DTV it is possible to change this, but we don't yet know what people really want: more natural looking 3D shots where a lot of the action was not in 3D, or greater use of 3D effects and new production grammars. These areas will continue to be considered and solutions will develop over time."
Sky's director of strategic product development, Gerry O'Sullivan, said: "Anyone involved in content should look at this medium and notice the change that has happened in the features world. It's not a gimmick when 10 to 20% increase in box office receipts for 3D movies prove otherwise. With HD, there were a lot of sceptics early on, and those sceptics were proved wrong. 3DTV is following the same path. We've got over the hard part which is ensuring that our HD customers are future-proofed. The next stage is learning what appetite there is among consumers."
By Adrian Pennington, TVB Europe
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. on Tuesday reported second-quarter earnings that beat Wall Street forecasts and said cheaper advertising and its bigger film lineup will mean cost savings ahead.
The animated movie house has committed to producing five movies every two years, up from four previously, and has said all of them will be produced in 3-D. Its first 3-D movie, Monsters vs. Aliens, has grossed $377 million worldwide since its March release, around half of which came from theaters equipped to show it in 3-D.
There is a general concern, however, that the conversion of screens to show 3-D movies has been delayed because of the credit crunch that began last year. Today, about 2,500 of the 38,800 movie screens in the U.S. can handle digital 3-D, at least 1,000 screens short of what's necessary for a big event movie premiere. As a result some showings continue to be in 2-D.
DreamWorks Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg addressed the rollout in a conference call on Tuesday.
QUESTION: "I think you envisioned 6,000 to 7,000 3-D screens for Shrek 4 next May. Any updated thoughts there? I mean, are we at risk of not getting to that number given the delay with the digital rollout?"
ANSWER: "I think it is too early to know where we are going to end up. I would say I don't have the same level of confidence that we will be at 7,000 screens. On a worldwide basis, we will be at 7,000 screens ... The good news is that all of the exhibitors independently are now moving forward on very aggressive programs to roll out 3-D ... Everybody has seen the results. There's no question. I mean, you look at the international performance on Ice Age, which is spectacular, and in particular its 3-D performances are kind of off the chart, so pretty much throughout the world, exhibition is now chasing this, as opposed to us chasing them."
Source: The Associated Press
The below is James Cameron's viewpoint on good stereo as notated by Jon Landau. Many thanks to Chuck Comisky from Lightstorm Entertainment for bringing us this information.
Brain Shear: "the brain's inability to reconcile the images received by the left and right eyes into a coherent stereo image, which causes it to send corrective messages to the eye muscles, which try to compensate but can't fix the problems baked into the image on the screen, creating an uncomfortable feedback loop and physical fatigue of eye muscles, which causes the eye muscles to scream at the brain to fuck off, at which point the brain decides to fuse the image the hard way, internally, which may take several seconds or not be possible at all --- all of which leads to headache and sometimes nausea."
People will not pay extra for this.
To prevent brain shear you should follow the New Rules of Stereo, also known as…
10 RULES FOR GOOD STEREO
1) THERE IS NO SCREEN. Whenever somebody starts talking about stuff coming "off the screen", ignore them. They are charlatans. The brain does not think there's a screen there at all. It is fooled into thinking there is a window there -- a window looking through into an alternate reality. In fact, the brain is barely aware of the boundaries of that window, or of how far away that window is, which is why objects which break the frame edges may be shot at distances closer than the actual screen plane -- which classical stereography texts will tell you won't work. Not only does it work, it is ESSENTIAL to doing good narrative 3D that this old rule be broken as frequently as possible. The exception to the new rule is when doing an "eye-poker" gag. If you're bringing something very close to the audience's noses as a featured visual flourish, that object (or the nearer part of it) should not break frame.
2) Stereo is very subjective. No two people process it exactly the same. Dr. Jim of course has the reference eyes, also known as the Calibration Eyes. But it's important to get a group consensus. We need to please the majority of eyes out there amongst the Great Unwashed.
3) Analyzing stereospace on freeze frames can be misleading. You can work this way, but the final judgment needs to be done with the shots flowing, ideally in the actual cut. Generally they look worse stopped than moving, because the eye gets depth cues from motion as well as parallax. However, excessive strobing caused by the 24P display rate may actually worsen the comfort factor in some shots.
4) Convergence CANNOT fix stereo-space problems. This is critical to remember. Correct convergence does two things and ONLY two things: it allows the eye to fuse very quickly (ideally instantaneously) when cutting from one shot to another. And it can be used to reduce ghosting caused by bleed through of the glasses on high-contrast subjects in the background depth planes. The eye will fuse a given object in frame in direct proportion to how closely converged it is -- more converged, faster fusion. You can only converge to one image plane at a time -- make sure it is the place the audience (or the majority of the audience) is looking. If it's Tom Cruise smiling, you know with 99% certainty where they're looking. If it's a wide shot with a lot of characters on different depth-planes doing interesting things, your prediction rate goes down.
5) Convergence is almost always set on the subject of greatest interest, and follows the operating paradigm for focus -- the eyes of the actor talking. If focus is racked during the shot to another subject, then convergence should rack. An exception to the rule of following focus exactly is a shot with a strongly spread foreground object which is NOT the center of interest (such as in an OTS), in which case a convergence-split may be used (easing the convergence forward slightly, to soften the effect). This should be combined with control of interocular to yield a pleasing result. Convergence splits are limited by high contrast edges at the plane of interest, which may cause ghosting in passive viewing systems.
6) Interocular distance varies in direct proportion to subject distance from the lens: The closer the subject, the smaller the interocular. The farther the larger. A shot of the Grand Canyon from half a mile away may have a 5' interocular. A shot of a bug from a few inches away may have a 1/4" interocular. Interocular tolerance is subjective, but there is a constant value of background split which cannot be exceeded.
7) Interocular and convergence should both vary dynamically throughout moving shots.
8) In a composite, the foreground and background may want to have different interoculars. For example, in an OTS, the stereo-space between the two foreground characters may be compressed, and the stereospace in the background not. Conversely, in a problematic greenscreen comp where the interocular was baked in too wide, the background may be brought closer to some extent by shifting one eye horizontally relative to the other. These fixes only work in shots with an empty mid-ground between the foreground elements and the nearest objects in the background. This technique can be used or abused.
9) When stereo looks bad to the eye (visual cortex) it is important to eliminate the possible problems sequentially:
- Synch -- the number one killer of young eyeballs.
- Reverse-Stereo -- this will look equally egregious. Some shots may actually appear to almost work as stereo, but foreground objects will look "cut out", as if you are looking through a window. Turning the glasses upside down is the test. If it improves, it's reverse stereo.
NOTE: when a shot is FLOPPED editorially, the L and R eyes must be reversed, or you'll get reverse stereo.
- Zoom Mismatch (technically it's focal-length mismatch) -- characterized by a radial interference pattern when L-R images are viewed overlaid. This can be a vexing source of brain shear.
- Vertical Alignment. The eye can tolerate a lot of horizontal alignment mismatch (this is equivalent to incorrect convergence) but very little vertical misalignment.
- Color or Density Mismatch. The brain is more sensitive to density mismatch than color, but both should be matched.
NOTE: with linear polarization, there will always be a slight magenta/cyan shift between the eyes. This should NOT be corrected in the color timing of the master, because some systems use circular polarization, which doesn't have this shift.
- Render Errors or element drop-outs between eyes -- some actual thing, object, shadow or lighting artifact is missing from one eye.
- Specular Highlights -- because the angle of reflection is different for glossy or mirror surfaces as viewed from left or right eyes, highlights may exist in one eye but not the other.
- Lens Flare, matte box shadows -- these may strike one lens, not the other.
- Image Warping -- this can happen at the edges of frame with certain lenses, and can happen with warped beamsplitters.
- Movement or vibration which is different in L-R. This shows up in some camera systems (not ours). It takes a lot of jiggle between eyes to become apparent.
ONLY when all these possible sources of brain-shear have been eliminated, should inter-ocular be re-examined.
10) Some shots just can't be fixed. If they are photographic shots with the interocular baked in, they must be re-done or they must be left in the film as non-stereo shots (L-L). If they are CG shots, the interocular can be reduced to a very low value, to give a sense of some stereospace, even though it is inconsistent with the rest of the sequence -- in the dramatic flow it will work.
Monday, July 27, 2009
When James Cameron directed his first 3-D film, Terminator 2: 3-D, for Universal Studios theme parks more than a decade ago, the bulky camera equipment made some shots awkward or impossible. The 450-pound contraption -- which had two film cameras mounted on a metal frame -- was so heavy that producers had to jury-rig construction equipment to lift it off the ground for shots from above. The cameras, slightly set apart, had to be mechanically pointed together at the subject, then locked into place like an unwieldy set of eyes to help create the 3-D effect.
At $60 million, the 12-minute film was the most expensive frame-for-frame production ever.
Now, five months from its release, Cameron's Avatar, the first feature film he has directed since Titanic (1997), promises to take 3-D cinematography to an unrivaled level, using a more nimble 3-D camera system that he helped invent.
Cameron's heavily hyped return also marks Hollywood's biggest bet yet that 3-D can bolster box office returns. News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox has budgeted $237 million for the production alone of Avatar.
The movie uses digital 3-D technology, which requires audience members to wear polarized glasses. It is a vast improvement on the sometimes headache-inducing techniques that relied on cardboard cutout glasses with red and green lenses and rose and fell in popularity in the 1950s.
Avatar also raises the bar on "performance capture" technology, which creates computerized images from real human action. The movie depicts an ex-soldier's interactions with 10-foot-tall aliens on the luminous planet of Pandora.
"I'm speechless," said Nahum Villalobos, a 19-year-old Navy recruit from Vista, Calif., who watched 25 minutes of exclusive footage of Avatar along with 6,500 people at the Comic-Con convention in San Diego on Thursday. "It's more extraordinary than any other movie that is out there, or has been."
The $237 million production is not as expensive as some 2-D fare such as Spider-Man 3 (2007), which was made for $258 million. But it blows away Monsters vs. Aliens (2009), a 3-D animation movie made for $175 million.
Then again, Cameron's last film grossed $1.84 billion worldwide. Titanic is the highest grossing film ever.
"If you know Jim Cameron, it's all about pushing the envelope," said Vince Pace, who helped him develop the 3-D camera system used in Avatar.
Cameron tweaked his cameras through two 3-D documentaries he made for IMAX theaters, Ghosts of the Abyss (2003) and Aliens of the Deep (2005).
His camera rig is now lighter -- up to only 50 pounds -- and the two camera lenses can dynamically converge on a focal point with the help of a computer, which is crucial for sweeping camera moves and action sequences.
In some of the Avatar footage released at Comic-Con, humans filmed with his 3-D camera rig are mixed with the computer-generated images of the movie's avatars -- beings created with mixed human and alien DNA. Cameron said he wanted to have the filmmaking techniques fade into the background as the story took over.
"The ideal movie technology is so advanced that it waves a magic wand and makes itself disappear," he said.
Cameron himself was behind the lens in many scenes that were framed using a "virtual camera" -- a handheld monitor that lets the director walk through the computer-enhanced 3-D scene and record it as if he were the cameraman. The effect on screen is a "shaky cam" effect that makes action sequences seem up close and sometimes focuses the audience's gaze at something in particular.
"It allows Jim to approach this process with the same sensibilities that he would have approached live-action filming," said producer Jon Landau.
The ability to capture human emotions in computerized 3-D has also advanced. Unlike past methods that captured dots placed on human faces to trace movements that are reconstructed digitally, now each frame is analyzed for facial details such as pores and wrinkles that help re-create a moving computerized image.
"It's all going to advance the whole concept of 3-D one leap higher," said Marty Shindler, a filmmaking consultant with The Shindler Perspective Inc.
Yet even with four years of preparation and the attention surrounding Avatar, there will not be enough U.S. screens adapted to the technology for a full wide release only in 3-D. Of the 38,800 movie screens in the U.S., about 2,500 are capable of showing digital 3-D movies. Theater chains have been adding about 90 to 100 per month this year, but they're still short of the 4,000-plus screens that have been used for major event movies.
With the conversion costing $100,000 a pop, theater owners are wary of moving too quickly, said Patrick Corcoran, director of media and research for the National Association of Theatre Owners.
"The successes of Monsters vs. Aliens and Ice Age (Dawn of the Dinosaurs) in 3-D aside, this is still really early days for this format," he said.
Studios are pushing theater owners to convert more screens, partly because people pay about $2 more per ticket and cram theaters for 3-D releases. Revenue per screen is up to three times higher than for the same movie's 2-D version.
Walt Disney Co.'s chief executive, Bob Iger, said this week that his studio has 17 3-D films in development, including A Christmas Carol. That movie, directed by Robert Zemeckis, adopted many of the same performance-capture techniques used in Avatar but comes out a month earlier, in November.
Jovan Cohn, a 43-year-old systems engineer from Newport Beach, Calif., watched the Avatar preview at Comic-Con and expects to line up with his son for another free look on Aug. 21, when some IMAX theaters will show 15 minutes of the film. Cohn also plans to catch the full movie's release Dec. 18.
"It takes you into a new world of moviegoing and we really think that it's going to be a hit," he said. "No question on that. James Cameron just hit another home run."
By Ryan Nakashima, Associated Press
Videogame publishers are launching their first high-profile stereoscopic 3D titles, Resident Evil and Avatar, even though few consumers own the equipment to enjoy such advanced eye-popping effects at home.
About 2% to 3% of U.S. households own a 3D-enabled TV, which is required to enjoy the same 3D technology used in theatrical movies. Many DVD studios have been forced to downgrade big-screen stereoscopic 3D projects to lesser-quality anaglyph imagery to fit the majority of consumers’ TV display equipment. Paramount Home Entertainment is not releasing DreamWorks Animation’s Monsters vs. Aliens in 3D on DVD or Blu-ray Disc because it would be inferior to the theatrical version.
However, publishers think gamers are uniquely primed to adopt advanced 3D for their homes sooner rather than later, especially due to the increasing prevalence of 3D-capable PC display screens. For that reason, Capcom is introducing Resident Evil stereoscopic 3D solely for PCs this fall. Manufacturers began launching such displays, with necessary 120HZ refresh rates, in a big way starting this year.
“This is the first major PC release developed with 3D in mind,” said Chris Kramer, Capcom senior director of communications. “There are more 120HZ computer screens out there than 3D-enabled TVs.”
To play Resident Evil in 3D, viewers need this type of high-speed display plus the Nvidia 3D Vision software kit. People will be able to buy Resident Evil, with both 2D and 3D playback options, on disc or as a download.
Nvidia 3D software has enabled advanced 3D gaming on a number of PC titles, but Capcom insists that Resident Evil represents a major step up in stereoscopic technology.
“This is one of the first games to really support out-of-screen experiences throughout, where arms, hands, everything, literally jumps out,” said Kramer.
Ubisoft is so confident that advanced 3D at home is the future, it will debut a stereoscopic Avatar for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, which are connected to TVs, later this year. This version also can be played in 2D on the consoles. The Avatar game, likely hitting a few weeks before James Cameron’s film of the same name bows in theaters on Dec. 18, also will be available on advanced 3D for PCs.
“We need to prove to everyone that it’s possible to do a great 3D game right now,” said Patrick Naud, Ubisoft executive producer. “People expect 3D to be those basic red and blue [anaglyph] glasses. We want to take that risk and go all in to break that perception.”
Like Capcom, Ubisoft sees benefits in cornering the stereoscopic 3D game business early. Ubisoft has no formal plans to develop additional advanced 3D console games after Avatar, but will be using the title to gauge consumer interest in the technology.
“We want to build technology capital with Avatar,” said Naud. “We’ll be the first ones to have [stereoscopic] 3D for consoles. And if 3D is the next big thing, then we will be a few years ahead of everyone.”
Disney Interactive also is throwing its support behind 3D, albeit with baby steps, by launching the company’s first anaglyph titles with G-Force and Toy Story Mania. Both G-Force (due July 21 for PS3 and Xbox 360 in 3D) and Toy Story Mania (coming Sept. 15 exclusively for the Wii) will contain glasses that can access 3D effects with any current TV display. Titles also will include a 2D playback option.
The publisher recognizes the resulting imagery is not up to theatrical, stereoscopic standards. But Disney Interactive similarly wants to bow its first 3D game titles at the same time that consumers are viewing 3D content on the big screen.
Walt Disney will bow the 3D G-Force feature film on July 24. The studio is expected to launch 3D versions of the two Toy Story theatricals in October.
“We’re obviously very aware of what’s going on in the theaters,” said Brian Leake, VP of technology at Disney Interactive. “It’s early days for that display technology in homes today. But if you want to reach the mass market consumer today, the easiest way to experience it straight out of the box is through anaglyph technology.”
By Susanne Ault, Video Business
Fujifilm Corp will release what it claims is the world's first digital camera that enables to see three-dimensional pictures on the back monitor without special glasses Aug 8, 2009, in Japan. The expected street price for the camera, "FinePix Real 3D W1," is about ¥60,000 (approx US$636). And the price of the "FinePix Real 3D V1," a 3D digital photo frame, is expected to be about ¥50,000. When purchased as a set, they will cost about ¥100,000.
The 3D camera is based on the prototype exhibited at photokina, a trade fair for the photographic and imaging industries, in 2008. The largest difference from the prototype is a new user interface that enables to easily adjust parallax, which influences the effect of 3D representation. The width of the image shown on the LCD monitor is different in each picture (see Fig 2 and Fig 3). It is because I changed the degree of parallax by pressing the two buttons under the left thumb.
This time, Fujifilm realized such an easy method to adjust parallax anytime after taking a picture. As a result, it became easier for users to watch 3D pictures.
The FinePix Real 3D W1 features a function to automatically adjust parallax in accordance with the object of shooting. But the distances between the eyes and the monitor and between the two eyes differ in individuals. Therefore, the function to manually adjust parallax is convenient.
However, the camera is not currently equipped with a function that records each user's adjustment and automatically reproduces it in the next use.
With the method of taking two pictures at the same time, near- and long-distance pictures normally do not look three-dimensional enough. To address this issue, Fujifilm added new shooting modes, "3D double shooting" and "3D time-interval difference (TID) shooting."
The former mode requires the user to slightly move the camera and take a normal 2D picture twice by using one of the two camera modules. The latter mode is used, for example, to take a long-distance picture when the user is on a train or an airplane.
"Taking two pictures successively from different viewpoints provides stereoscopic effects to the pictures of grand sea of clouds and mountains seen from an airplane," Fujifilm said.
Furthermore, the company introduced new modes that allow users to change the settings of the two camera modules to take 2D pictures. They are "tele/wide simultaneous shooting," "two color simultaneous shooting" and "high-/low-sensitivity simultaneous shooting."
The following are the important points of the component mounting:
- Fujifilm used an aluminum die-cast built-in frame to prevent the positional relationship between the two camera modules from changing (Fig 4 and Fig 5). The company called the frame "the core component of the 3D camera." Partly because of this built-in frame, the camera weighs 300g (including the battery and memory card), relatively heavier than other lens-integrated cameras.
2. The two camera modules have the same specifications (Fig 6), incorporating a flexible optical system. The recommended shooting distance for 3D pictures is more than 1m at the widest angle and more than 2m at the narrowest angle (when the automatic parallax adjustment function is on).
3. When I examined the exhibited main board, I thought the cost could be lowered by integrating and downsizing the substrates (Fig 7). The number of connectors for flexible substrates is as many as 10, and the component density is not high enough.
By Tomohiro Ootsuki, Nikkei Electronics
Friday, July 24, 2009
SENSIO Technologies announced that its pending patent application has just been allowed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (the “USPTO”). SENSIO should soon receive its American patent number, covering the heart of the SENSIO 3D technology. This acceptance is the result of SENSIO’s request for continued examination to enable official evaluation by the USPTO of prior art documents.
The patent application filed by SENSIO covers its technology for distribution and formatting of stereoscopic content for various 2D and 3D screens. Basically, it covers the method developed and marketed by SENSIO over several years, which enables distribution of 3D content over conventional 2D distribution channels.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Going to the movies costs a lot in China because there are so few screens - just around 4,000. But expanding cheap digital cinema will bring down prices. Over the past four years, the sale of half-price tickets on Tuesdays by all city cinemas has delighted moviegoers.
Tuesday screenings, of course, are packed for blockbusters like Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Last Tuesday when Kevin Yang, an IT supervisor, and his girlfriend rushed to a downtown cinema at 6pm to see Transformers 2, they were out of luck. The next available screening was after 10pm. They gave it a pass since they needed to get up early for work the next morning.
"We postponed it until an early weekend morning when tickets are half price," he says. Before noon many cinemas also sell reduced-price tickets.
Tickets for big films costs 100 yuan (US$14.7) at most cinemas, a lot for many moderate-income people like Yang. That means the cost of a date is more than 300 yuan, including eating out and transport. In the United States last year, the average movie ticket cost US$7.18. A recent survey by the Chinese film industry shows that spending on movies represents 5 percent of a person's monthly salary. That's higher than in the US and South Korea.
The high cost of tickets in China is determined by the market, says Emi Lin, general manager of Dadi Digital Cinemas. Compared with the 40,000 or so screens in the States, China has only about 4,000, according to Lin.
"The small number of screens can't satisfy the demands of a large population," he says. Just as cell phone and computer prices fell when output increased, ticket prices will fall when there are more theaters and economies of scale, he observers.
Even for Transformers 2 and Harry Potter, Dadi Digital Cinemas only charges 10-30 yuan per screening at its four new theaters in the suburbs. The price is lower both because the theater is more distant and the digital technology is cheaper.
Though many Chinese moviegoers have little idea about digital cinema and can hardly tell it from standard one, developing digital cinema is a big trend worldwide. In 2008 there were 8,614 digital screens worldwide, 33 percent more than in 2007, according to entgroup.cn.
China has around 800 digital cinemas, ranking second after the US that has 5,474. The Chinese government is encouraging domestic cinema chains to adopt digital cinema. The National Film Supervisory Bureau under the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) gives financial support to new digital cinemas. The plan is to expand it to small and medium-sized cities as well as major urban centers.
"The rate of development in digital cinemas is close to that of America," Lin adds. By the end of this year, the number of digital screens in China is expected to reach 2,000.
The state-owned Shanghai United Cinema Lines, the city's largest chain, is rapidly developing digital capacity. By the end of this year it plans to have 160-190 screens.
"It is an inevitable trend," says Bao Yifan, an official from the cinema chain. "Digital cameras will finally replace traditional film cameras among common households. So will digital cinema."
The advantages include high quality, low screening cost and anti-piracy technology.
Instead of using film, digital movies are all computerized, which means digital screenings don't have the scratches, flickering images and other problems of film. A digital movie screened hundreds of times is still sharp, with bright color resolution.
A digital cinema only needs a single digital cinema projector compared with standard film cinema which requires two projectors. A digital movie hard disk only costs around 1,000 yuan and can serve as the "mother disk" for a whole city, which dramatically brings down the cost of movie projection.
It can thwart piracy because each screening of the digitally projected movie can have its unique code buried in the pixels, invisible to the audience but copied into pirated DVDs. It can be used to track a movie right down to the theater and the time it was shown.
Digital cinemas are also good news for young film makers. Lin, from Dadi Digital Cinemas, says that distributors for low-budget films usually can't afford to develop several hundred traditional Data-Transmission System (DTS) film copies around the country.
"But with the increasing number of digital screens, their dream to promote films at major theaters will come true," he says. "Going digital can also drive diversity in Chinese cinemas."
According to film professor Gu Xiaoming from Fudan University, the rapid development of digital cinemas will give movie theaters new functions.
"Besides movie screenings, cinemas can also provide digital projection of a live broadcast of a performance, a game or other events," Professor Gu says. "Many Western theaters can also reap big profits from acting as a meeting room or a 3G product demonstration center."
Experts suggest that theaters offer lower ticket prices for second runs of popular films and for less-desirable seats closer to the screen.
By Xu Wei, ShanghaiDaily
Thursday, July 23, 2009
We could say it’s the day the planets aligned (literally) for the Home 3D market. First, Home 3D just got a big shot in the arm as on-line video hosting giant YouTube is reportedly working on a 3D stereoscopic video player for the world’s most popular shared video web site.
On the 3D display front, Canada based Sensio reported they just inked a 3D licensing agreement with TV maker Hyundai IT Corp to integrate Sensio’s 3D decoding technology into Hyundai’s LCD-TVs. And, in 3D home distribution, Sonic Solutions reported they will team with Nvidia to add 3D content to its Roxio / CinemaNow Internet distributed movie service allowing for download and decoding of 3D films for both 3D ready TVs and PC displays in the home. Collectively, these events show building momentum for 3D in the home as manufacturers begin to tackle the barriers of mindshare, display platforms and distribution. Let’s take a closer look...
Evidence of YouTube support for 3D is now conclusive and a modified 3D player is on-line for users to upload their content. Some YouTube 3D video test results can be seen on the site that includes a new "3D View Style:" menu bar with several style options available from a drop down menu located on the bottom right of the player.
This "enables different (primitive) 3D formats," said a developer on the YouTube support web site. The potential impact for spreading the word on Home 3D is immense. The YouTube site is ranked the third most visited web site on the world wide web by San Francisco based Alexa. The web ranking company, says YouTube is viewed on average, by about 20% of all Internet users daily and tracks almost 500K web sites linking in to YouTube. By providing a new cutting-edge stereoscopic 3D player, YouTube is doing its part that should go a long way to building 3D at home mindshare by initiating the next generation into the third dimension of display technology.
The bad news is that the site only supports anaglyph 3D right now. We, and many others, are very worried about the negative impact of this weakest form of 3D on the perception of 3D. Exposing 3D to a mass audience is great — exposing the lowest quality 3D to a mass audience is not so great.
On the other hand, we clearly applaud the news from Sonic Solutions / Roxio CinemaNow. This approach will allow home cinema viewing of 3D films using the CinemaNow player and PCs with the popular Nvidia GeForce video cards (with GTX 295, -85, -75 processors). The output must be coupled to an Nvidia 3D Vision or Vision Ready display, such as the Samsung SyncMaster 2233RZ and ViewSonic FuHzion VX2265wm. These are both 22" 120Hz page-flipping LCD monitors that require active shutter glasses. The monitors offer a very good 3D image, so this initiative will help drive demand for more 3D content and display platforms.
And speaking of display platforms, Korean TV maker Hyundai, may be looking to leapfrog commodity flat screen TVs with the future proof message of 3DTV support as well. They will join the ranks of Mitsubishi and Samsung with 3D ready TVs and will start selling them in the fall of 2009. But beyond the TV maker, this is a big win for Sensio and their flagship Sensio 3D technology that allows 3D content to be distributed over conventional 2D channels.
3D technology has been around for a long time, and even pre-dates photography, but momentum is finally building for 3D in the home. Perhaps this is happening now because the technology breakthroughs like enhanced HD displays, Internet distribution and embedded media PCs have finally reached the masses. An alignment of planets you might say that eclipse the old way of viewing things, blossoming before our very eyes, in our own living rooms.
By Steve Sechrist, DisplayDaily
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
SENSIO Technologies announces that it has signed a licensing agreement with manufacturer Hyundai IT Corporation for integration of SENSIO’s technology into Hyundai IT’s LCD HD 3D televisions, developed for the consumer electronics market. Consumers will be able to obtain televisions that integrate SENSIO 3D decoding technology in the fall of 2009. Hyundai IT plans to market this television model in the American, European and Asian markets.
The contract provides for quarterly royalty payments for each of the units sold, and the royalty amount is established based on annual sales volume. The financial terms will not be disclosed for competitive reasons.
The industry debate over 3DTV has moved up a gear with Cambridge Research Systems backing the call for standardisation and the ITU canvassing its members about a practical timetable for technological uniformity.
In the UK there is currently a divide over whether to support a backward-compatible, full resolution per eye standard, or to initially back BSkyB’s method that would utilise current HD infrastructure and set-top boxes. Various broadcasters and the Royal National Institute for Blind people have already voiced their support for standards. While Sky believes that no new standards are needed to get home 3D off the ground
Now Don Jackson from Cambridge Research Systems is suggesting that the possible side effects of 3D demands that pictures are switchable.
“Basically we at CRS agree with RNIB that 3D should always have a 2D viewing mode. The potential for visually induced motion sickness, visual fatigue and photosensitive seizures from 3D means that those most at risk from these effects need to be able to fall back to 2D to help minimise their discomfort and risk of harm. The 2D-Plus transmission model supports this and is preferable in our view.”
The 2D-plus-Depth format stores a greyscale representation of an image side-by-side with the ‘real’ image. The great advantage of this format is that it is compatible with various display devices, regardless of the technology used.
Meanwhile, the ITU is canvassing the opinions of its members. The ITU-R Study Group 6 (Working Party 6C) wants to develop a practical timetable for standardization and its members are being asked to complete an online questionnaire.
“There are a variety of potential technical methods of broadcasting such systems, some of which would require new television receivers, and some of which would not. Though there are different views about whether current technology can provide a system which is entirely free of eyestrain, for those who wish to start such services, there could be advantages in having a worldwide common solution, or at least inter-operable solutions, and the ITU-R Study Group 6 specialists have been gathering information which might lead to such a result.”
Findings of the survey will be shared at the next meeting of Working Party 6C in November.
By Will Strauss, BroadcastNow
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
DDD Group, the 3D software and content company, announced that it has received notification from the United States Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO") that DDD's Dynamic Depth Cueing ("DDC") 3D encoding and transmission patent has been granted in the United States.
The new US patent extends DDD's coverage of technologies that allow the conversion of existing 2D content libraries to 3D and their delivery in a format that remains compatible with today's 2D digital delivery formats. When the Dynamic Depth Cueing patent was initially submitted to the USPTO, the Company was required to subdivide the patent into claims relating to the conversion of 2D content to 3D and the claims relating to the encoding and delivery of 3D content in a 2D compatible format. The 2D to 3D conversion patent was granted in 2002 under US patent number 6,477,267.
The DDC patents have important ramifications for enabling a range of mass market 3D applications including the conversion of existing film and video libraries for viewing on the emerging 3D consumer devices supplied via a single broadcast signal, digital media stream or optical media disc that can also be viewed in 2D on conventional displays.
The Dynamic Depth Cueing transmission patent enables 3D depth data to be discretely embedded alongside its corresponding 2D image. This results in an efficient method of delivering 3D content to consumers that can be viewed in 2D or 3D depending on the consumer's preference. DDC encoded content is compatible with a broad range of 3D display technologies including passive polarized, electronic shutter glasses and the emerging glasses-free displays.
Dr. Julien Flack, Chief Technology Officer of DDD said: "With the growing number of consumer devices in the PC and TV markets and the first 3D broadcasts now occurring, we expect that the efficient delivery of 3D enabled content will become an increasingly important consideration for broadcasters and telecommunications companies seeking to offer 3D to their viewers. The DDC format facilitates a seamless transition from 2D to 3D that is analogous to the transition from black and white to colour that took place several decades ago."
Monday, July 20, 2009
Chaired by 3D Producer and Consultant Phil Streather this year’s major 3D session has a narrative with a beginning, middle and end: a beginner’s guide, followed by tutorials on how to previzualise 3D before shooting, how to shoot, and finally how to edit.
The session begins with a primer offered by Bernard Mendiburu, renowned LA-based CGI stereographer whose credits include Meet The Robinsons and Monsters vs. Aliens. A respected industry consultant and author of the newly published book, 3D Movie Making: Stereoscopic Digital Cinema From Script To Screen, Mendiburu will offer an overview of the latest developments in 3D workflow which will enable delegates to get the best from the three presentations that follow.
The second part of the session will be led by Ken Schafer, President of Innoventive Software, who will look at pre-vizualization. A provider of cutting-edge software solutions for the film and television industries since 1991, Schafer will demonstrate how Innoventive Software’s latest package, FrameForge Previz Studio 3, allows users to prep live-action stereo 3D shoots.
The session’s third presentation will be by the acclaimed stereographer Steve Schklair, CEO of 3ality Digital, who returns to IBC to demonstrate the tools that are needed to capture the very best stereo images. Schklair, whose most recent work includes overseeing the production, post-production and completion of U2 3D at the 3ality Digital studio in Burbank, California, will use projected images from live cameras positioned outside the Auditorium to demonstrate alignment, misalignment, image correction, interaxial and convergence shifting, and much more.
Editing and image manipulation take on new importance in the 3D movie-making process, with stereoscopic depth and acquisition inconsistencies needing to be processed to ensure viewer comfort and the proper deployment of dramatic effect. The morning’s final presentation, hosted by David Newman, CTO of CineForm, will demonstrate how the company’s neo3D plug-in for Final Cut Pro can manipulate images, correct vertical misalignment, perform Horizontal Image Translation and more; all using the revolutionary and virtually lossless CineForm codec, as used on the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire.
Commenting on the programme, Phil Streather adds: “The second, third and fourth sessions will be a complete antidote to the theoretical, PowerPoint-based approach of so many industry seminars. Using the IBC Big Screen in the RAI Auditorium, which holds 1,000 people, our speakers – who are all professionals at the top of their game – will demonstrate the latest 3D imaging techniques in real time, using real-world content, in a real cinematic environment. This will give delegates an opportunity to see not just how stereoscopic effects can be created, but also some of the problems they may typically encounter along the way – along with appropriate solutions.”
The programme will end with a round-table Q&A session chaired by Streather and attended by all four speakers, during which delegates will get the chance to discuss the most pressing issues surrounding 3D movie-making.
“After they’ve attended this session, we just don’t want delegates to get started making 3D content,” concludes Streather. “We want them to create movies that are effective, appealing, impactful, future proof and, above all, profitable.”
Date/Time: 14 Sep 2009, 09:00-12:45
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Ivan Radford attempts to rustle up controversy about ticket prices for 3D films (Cinema's Hidden Dimension: Riding the 3D Gravy Train). "It's the perfect formula for the future," he claims. "Beat piracy, appeal to the kids, and raise the prices."
Radford accepts that digitisation of the British cinema sector, now well underway, offers the potential benefit of "better picture quality" (the days of a film looking tired and scratched two weeks after release will become a thing of the past). But it also provides audiences with the opportunity to experience "alternative content" – live concerts, opera, theatre and sport as well as jaw-dropping 3D cinema – and such developments inevitably come at a cost.
The article claims that "the cost of a new digital projector is about £30,000": in fact a state-of-the-art digital cinema projector generally costs anything from £50,000 upwards, with the required upgrade to show 3D content a significant sum on top.
The observation that "we [the audience] are footing the bill for cinemas to upgrade", and that cinemas are "taking a cut" of the box office from 3D films implies that this is some kind of underhand move by cinema operators. The truth is that those companies which have sought to provide their audiences with the cutting-edge experience of digital 3D have, to date, met the bulk of these costs from their own pockets. It is the understandable desire to recoup this investment that underpins the uplift in ticket prices.
In this regard, cinemas are no different from other entertainment and leisure industries whose pricing policies reflect the additional costs of providing a premium service. Given that cinema prices averaged £5.18 last year, which the article acknowledges, and given the levels of investment involved, an average premium of £2 per ticket seems admirably modest.
Radford also points the finger at RealD – the leading provider of digital 3D in Britain – as the source of the increase in ticket prices. In truth, there are a number of competing systems, each with different costs and business models. This is no monopoly situation – such a competitive market benefits the customer now and will continue to do so.
And members of the public continue to vote with their feet. Even in a recession, cinema attendances continue to grow, with admissions for the first five months of this year 16% higher than for the same period in 2008, itself a strong year.
Digital 3D cinema is a key element of that story. The 3D films we see on our screens today are materially different – not just in terms of technology but also the calibre of the creative talent behind the camera – from those experienced by previous generations. Radford is certainly correct in his assertion that we "should not expect digital 3D cinema to go away anytime soon".
This month's opening of Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs shows every sign of repeating the pattern of each recent digital 3D film, where admissions have been at least double those of the more traditional presentation.
By Phil Clapp, chief executive of the Cinema Exhibitors' Association, The Guardian
According to Nevafilm Research, by July 1, 2009 there were 127 sites in 54 cities operating 162 DLP Cinema screens; a remarkable increase considering the first digital systems began opening in Russia only two years ago. Even more significant is that almost all digital screens are 3D (only two screens still without this opportunity). It is a turning point for the market of cinema equipment: the amount of new digital screens rises increasingly.
So, if the first 50 digital screens in Russia were opened during almost 2 years (21 months), the other 50 took just 8 months, and another 50 - 3 months. Along with this 3D exhibition is a main driver for national cinema operators installing digital cinema equipment. That is, according to our forecasts the market growth rate will slow down by autumn.
1/4 of all Russian digital screens are located in Moscow - 42 screens in 26 sites. Moscow is followed by Saint-Petersburg - 13 screens in 10 sites. 7 digital screens are in Ufa. Krasnodar, Krasnoyarsk and Novosibirsk have 5 digital screens in each. Tyumen, Vladivostok and have 4 screens in each.
Today digital cinema equipment is installed in every tenth movie theatre in Russia.
Cinema Park network holds the position of leader in Russian digital cinema exhibition market - 29 screens of its chain are digitally equipped. Rising Star Media is on the second place with 12 digital screens. It is followed by Luxor and Karo Film cinema operators - each has 8 digital screens. Kinomax and Formula Kino have 6 screens each, Illuzion operates 5 screens. 42 digital screens belong to independent cinemas.
As for companies that provide digital cinema equipment installation and integration services, in the middle of 2009 the leaders are Nevafilm - 33% of all digitally equipped cinemas, Kinoproject and Cinemeccanica - 18% each, and ASK - 11%.
Most popular digital projector brand in Russia is still Christie. It dominates with 55% share of the market (though within 3 months it has drop by 3%). Cinemeccanica holds 21% (also drop by 5%), NEC - 12% (+2%), Barco - 10% (+4%), and newcomer Kinoton - 2%.
Dolby has a priority in Russian market as digital cinema server and 3D system provider with 65% and 64% shares respectively. The market of digital cinema servers is also presented by Doremi Cinema, which has 33% market share (-3% within 3 months). There are also Kodak and Qube - 1% each.
As for Digital 3D systems, the market leader Dolby, which share has increased by 2% since April, is followed by Xpand that occupies 26% (-5% within 3 month) of the market. RealD has entered Russian digital cinema market and since April its share increased by 4% to 7%. There are also few digital 3D systems from MasterImage, Dual Projection and IMAX. And just two screens are still without 3D technology (one in Moscow and one in Magadan).
The number of digital releases in Russia is growing. In the first half of 2009 52 movies have been released digitally in Russian cinemas, including Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs 3D, released in Russia on July 1, 2009 (vs 63 in a whole Y2008). Among them are 7 movies of local production. 7 movies were screened in Digital 3D.
The slate of digital 3D movies for the rest of the year includes Sea Monsters: a Prehistoric Adventure, Oceans 3D: Into the Deep, Little Hercules in 3D, G-Force 3D, Final Destination: Death Trip 3D, Rolly and Elf: Unbelievable Adventures 3D, Toy Story 3D, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 3D, A Christmas Carol 3D, The Descent: Part 2 3D, Avatar.
It is necessary to note that Digital 3D is the main driver of digital cinema opening in Russia.
In the first half of 2009 the first practices of alternative content distribution and presentation in digital cinemas took place. Nevafilm Company has launched Nevafilm Emotion, a new department specializing in theatrical distribution of alternative content, special events and live broadcasts in cinemas - the first of its kind in the country.
It has successfully organized the first alter-event for digital cinemas in Russia - Iron Maiden Day on April 21st with the screening of Iron Maiden: Flight 666 (42 digital screens in 35 cities) and on May 26 - Tribute to Pavarotti: One Amazing Weekend in Petra (30 screens/23 cities) in cooperation with More2Screen.
The nearest project will start in August 15, 2009 - special screenings in digital of Last Hero. 20 Years Later documentary dedicated to cult Russian rock musician Victor Tsoi. Opera and ballet programs will be presented in digital cinemas of the country. 2009/2010 season will feature series of performances prerecorded in High Definition in Mariinskiy Theatre in Saint-Petersburg and 8 operas from LaScala.
Svetlana Mudrova, Nevafilm
Twentieth Century Fox's Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs has quickly hatched into one of the most powerful players of the year at the foreign box office, grossing a boffo $332.6 million in its first 10 days. For the July 10-12 weekend -- its second sesh -- the 3-D toon grossed $101.9 million from 12,057 runs in 101 markets to stay No. 1 internationally.
Overseas auds are proving every bit as willing as moviegoers in the U.S. to pay a premium for 3-D films. Of the 11,652 screens that Dawn of the Dinosaurs opened on, only 2,126 were 3-D screens, or 18%. Yet the 3-D playdates generated $51 million in ticket sales, or 34% of the total opening gross.
The dazzling overall results underscore the revenue potential of 3-D titles, as well as the value of a family franchises like Ice Age, of which Dawn of the Dinosaurs is the third installment.
Dawn of the Dinosaurs should ultimately gross more than any summer tentpole besides Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It's already passing Sony's Angels and Demons ($334 million to date) and should soon overtake Paramount's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen ($365.1 million to date).
Theater owners also say the return on the investment they made to install 3-D screens has been quicker than expected.
Moviegoers in France remained delighted with the animated dinos. The pic's French cume through July 12th was a hefty $34.6 million.
Dawn of the Dinosaurs also continued to dominate the box office in Germany, dropping a mere 7% in its sophomore frame to $14.9 million, as rainy weather and summer holidays helped boost the overall cume to $37.8 million, the highest of any territory.
In Spain, Dawn of the Dinosaurs stayed at No. 1 in its second frame. Better yet, grosses from 3-D screens dropped just 36%, while grosses from 2-D screens slid 45%. Exhibs say this provides more evidence 3-D pics not only gross more, but give the film longer plays. Total cume in Spain is $17.2 million.
By Pamela McClintock, Variety
Highlighting the rapid growth in stereo 3D, Brighton TV and Electric Sky have co-produced a 3D version of Swan Lake for Opus Arte. Opus Arte is the production and DVD distribution arm of the Royal Opera House (ROH), and the 2hr 15 min piece is intended for future theatrical release.
Working with 3D consultancy Vision3, Brighton TV hired P+S Technik (mirrored) and Calcutta (side by side) stereo rigs from Axis Films and shot the performance in front of a full house at the ROH in March. The rigs were fitted to the ROH's in-house Sony HDC950 and hired-in 1500 split block cameras in three positions over two separate performances. Stereo footage was shot simultaneously with a standard HD six camera shoot.
"We explored using the higher image quality of Red, but because we were shooting in a live environment we wanted equipment with which the live TV operators are familiar and so could integrate seamlessly in to a normal HD OB set-up," explained Brighton TV Technical Director, Jon Lee.
Footage was recorded to HDCAM SR 5800s which have dual-stream record capacity and the facility is currently using SGO Mistika to edit and grade the footage.
"The intention was to film the ballet from the best seat in the house," Lee explained. "The screen plane became the front of stage with all the depth information behind the screen. The idea was not to be gimmicky - there are no ballet dancers thrust into the crowd - but to provide an immersive dimension to the show."
Brighton TV, whose first 3D project this is, has formed a development partnership with Spain's SGO to further advance Mistika's 3D toolset. Mistika was originally developed from compositing and grading platform Jaleo.
"Mistika is arguably the most powerful machine on the market in terms of its grading, compositing and dual stream throughput for stereoscopic post," said Lee.
The facility has also installed a full 3D grading suite with Barco DP 1200 2k cinema projector fitted with the XpanD 3D viewing system, a 1.8 x 3.3m screen and 5.1 sound.
"One of the biggest realisations we had was the amount of light loss produced by the 3D system when projected and viewed, particularly with dark performances," Lee says. "Around 85% of light can be lost when output, which we will take further into account next time by making additional compensation to the camera's exposure and racking settings."
Swan Lake will be output to DPX or Tiff files to be made into digital cinema prints and mastered to HDCAM SR dual stream. The facility is also conducting tests for Blu-ray authoring.
"The predominant demand is for digital cinema, with many parties interested in making alternative content, whether for music or other arts content. That generates demand for 3D advertising and a lot of this demand is for 2D-to-3D post conversion because the cost of rotoscoping a 30 second spot is naturally far less than that of a full length feature. There's also some demand for 2.5D dimensionalisation, in which elements of existing 2D ads are made to float in 3D space."
Stereo production can cost up to double that of HD programming currently, due to the need for twice the camera systems, operators with stereographic skills and time taken in the online, Lee commented. "It will be 12 to 18 months before 3D content will be made directly for TV. Wildlife and factual features would be attractive in 3D when distribution to the home comes along."
By Adrian Pennington, TVB Europe
Thursday, July 16, 2009
ZDF has started transmitting a series of HD showcases in the last month as part of its migration to HD and has chosen 720p50. ZDF's HD service will officially start with the Winter Olympics.
It chose 720p50, "mainly because it compresses better and gives higher picture quality at a given data rate," (in this case 12Mbps - the constant bitrate ZDF has to use because it is sharing transponders with other broadcasters), Tobias Schwahn, TV systems engineer, Technical Innovation Office, ZDF, told the HD Masters conference. It is using 720p-native cameras (Ikegami in studio and Panasonic camcorders).
Germany is a problem market for rolling out HD. Cable is the main delivery method, but the availability of cables capable of delivering HD is patchy, with only about 25% of cable currently digital. As the analogue switch off for terrestrial has just finished, with SD now on DTT, it is too early to make another change to HD. Besides, DTT in Germany is designed for robustness, with about 13Mbps per multiplex, because it is primarily used for mobile and secondary services. Analogue switch off of satellite services is due in the next few years, with about 70% digital now.
ZDF is currently building two HD OB vans. The first, which should have been delivered by now, replaces a 17-year-old vehicle, while the second, due in 2010, replaces a 14-year-old OB. It also has a fly-away studio that it will use in Vancouver and South Africa next year. It has also recently built an HD news studio, although it has started operations in SD initially. "We have a lot of HD equipment already, but not fully put together," said Schwahn.
It has installed a new, fully HD-capable playout infrastructure for five channels and one backup, which it is just starting the transition to, but it is using an interim solution for the showcases. Any new core infrastructure it is putting in (such as cables, switchers and routers) will probably be 3Gbps capable.
A remaining question is what it should to do with Teletext. This is very popular in Germany, so it needs to be able to transition to HD. "It's not as easy as we thought. We cannot transport it in HD-SDI," he explained. But as ZDF will simulcast in SDI, it could handle it in that. It had used MHP services for several years, but recently shut it down - with no complaints, as it wasn't widely used. Instead, he believes hybrid broadband broadcasting services will be the eventual replacement for Teletext.
By David Fox, TVB Europe
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Labels: IT Broadcast
This was supposed to be the summer of 3D but instead it has quickly become the summer of 4K or, at least, the summer of the 4K press releases. The real question is this: What does any of this really mean to exhibitors, the people who are already trying to integrate new technology into their actual day-to-day businesses?
First, some history:
The 4K-2K debate has been ongoing since the very earliest days of digital cinema. In the run up to the formation of the Digital Cinema Initiative, Sony and a few others lobbied strongly to have 4K included as a central component of the original specifications. The initial response from the Texas Instruments people who were involved at the time – many of whom are no longer with the company – seemed to be to resist, or at least to ignore, 4K at every turn. And once TI successfully demonstrated its first 2K chip to the movie community the digital cinema era began in full force.
Meanwhile, and for some time the Hollywood production and post-production communities have been solidly behind a move to 4K. The almost cult-like acceptance around the world of the Red One camera has helped lead that charge. Other camera manufacturers are competing strongly at the high-resolution end. Sony’s own newly released F35 camera is currently being used on several productions in Hollywood, Panavision’s Genesis camera is a favorite of many cinematographers and JVC has announced that it will soon bring to market its own professional 4K camera.
A growing number of studios support at least the idea of 4K-movie distribution. This Spring Sony Pictures Entertainment released Angels & Demons in 4K, which is to be expected but, in a sign of a growing trend, Paramount and Twentieth Century-Fox both recently released movies in 4K, The Soloist and X-Men Origins: Wolverine respectively. The dream of many in Hollywood is to have a production, post-production and exhibition workflow that is built – seamlessly they envision – on 4K technology. Agree or disagree, but some have made the case that a 4K workflow from start to finish most closely mirrors the current worldwide celluloid workflow that digital cinema was designed (and is destined) to replace.
Which brings us to the most recent 4K developments. They began, of course, with Sony’s announcements that first AMC and then Regal would incorporate Sony 4K technology – projectors and servers – across the board in all their theatres. These press releases were followed rather quickly by a series of 4K announcements including:
Texas Instruments DLP Cinema’s plans to incorporate enhanced 4K technology as an extension of the next generation electronics platform for DLP Cinema projectors. TI says it will continue to innovate on and further the development of its DLP Cinema 2K chips. The new chip is designed for theatre screens as big as 100 feet and 3D screens as big as 75 feet.
Cinemark says it will work exclusively with TI when adopting 4K. In tandem with that announcement Doremi Cinema says that it has entered into an exclusive agreement with Cinemark to provide 2K and 4K-server technology for their digital cinema deployment. And Barco says that it will supply Cinemark with 4K projectors.
Also, and in a move that is likely to be followed by other server manufacturers, GDC Technology says that it is developing a 4K Media Block, which will be compatible with the new generation of 4K chip being developed by Texas Instruments.
Finally, Christie says it plans to introduce its Solaria series digital cinema projectors, based on the new TI 4K chip. The new product line includes the Christie CP2210, Christie CP2220 and the Christie CP2230 – all available at 2K and 4K-ready; as well as Christie’s premium 4K projectors for screens up to 100 feet: the Christie CP4220 and the Christie CP4230.
All of the above developments are set to go into effect next year – at the earliest.
When Texas Instruments announced that it would introduce a 4K chip next year Nancy Fares, TI’s manager of DLP Cinema, made a point of emphasizing that the company has said for a long time that, “There’s nothing to keep us from doing 4K except timing and the market.” Fares continues to stress both the success of 2K versus 4K and that TI has no intention of abandoning 2K technology as a viable option. When projecting 3D, she says, “We have more pixels in 2K than 4K projectors do. Our 4K is not a replacement for 2K. It’s an option for 4K for exhibitors to use on big screens. We will continue to innovate in both areas.” She called offering a choice, “The reality the industry deserves.”
Making a case for offering choices is sensible for Texas Instruments and its OEM partners if only for the fact that, for now at least, Sony seems to be sticking to its 4K guns and has no plans to introduce a 2K projector.
Gary Johns, vice president, Digital Cinema Systems Division, Sony Electronics, says, “Sony has always maintained that 4K is the right choice for digital cinema, and that fact continues to be embraced by both exhibitors and studios. The adoption of 4K technology now by other companies is just further endorsement of the position to which Sony dedicated its financial and technology investments five years ago.”
He says that, “4K technology is still the most effective foundation for a digital cinema system, with a noticeable improvement in picture quality. It allows exhibitors to future-proof their operations for the expanding number of 4K motion picture releases. It gives theatres the flexibility for high-quality 2D playback as well as the increasingly important ability to display spectacular 3D releases. It is also capable of displaying 2K content better than 2K projectors. Sony has no plans to offer a 2K-only projector for digital cinema.”
For market leader Christie the move to 4K seems to an inevitable step in the ongoing evolution of the digital cinema era. Jack Kline, Christie’s president and COO, says, “The industry told us they could see no difference between 2K and 4K projection on screens of 40 feet and smaller, the standard in exhibition. But – in some cases – exhibitors said they would prefer higher resolution. We listened to our customers.”
Nevertheless, he says, “We still believe that DLP 2K will continue to be the dominant platform in theatres.”
The lone holdout – at least for now – among the three OEMs for Texas Instruments has been NEC, which has so far made no announcement one way or the other about 4K.
Jim Reisteter, NEC’s general manager of digital cinema, says as a matter of corporate philosophy NEC believes in listening to customers first. Reisteter says he has spent the summer talking with customers and prospects to gauge their interest in 4K. Prior to this summer no one had ever even mentioned the subject of 4K to him and, while some have done so recently, he attributes this to all of the publicity generated by the recent announcements. He says he still hasn’t seen a groundswell of demand for a move up from 2K.
“We really don’t rush to market [with new technology],” Reisteter says. “I’ve been listening to customers and their main question for 2K or 4K is still: ‘Where is the money going to come from?’”
That is the sentiment I got from the exhibitors I spoke with about the issue. None of them wanted to speak on the record because they have relationships with many manufacturers and don’t want to be seen as taking sides.
One industry veteran, whose entire small chain has been 2K digital for years, was typical. He didn’t want his name used in this article but he had plenty to say and summed the situation up beautifully:
“I think all these announcements are just meant to keep their hats in the ring. As we both know, anyone can craft a press release. But given the sudden about face of TI’s position on it, I would question their ability to deliver. Separately, Sony is cutting back production and it remains to be seen if they can deliver at the pace required on their existing contracts. The presentation difference presently doesn’t justify the expense. Additionally, until the Studios see the need to spend more producing a 4K version, they probably won’t be big supporters. 4K will probably be in our future somewhere, but prices will have come down beforehand. I think price is the final arbiter. 4K is nice...at 2K prices.”
Source: Digital Cinema Report
Rafael Alvero, the former director general of Universal Pictures Spain, is launching the country’s first company dedicated to producing alternative 3D content for cinemas. La Quinta Pared will make 3D music and dance films that will be shown on all of the country’s 120 3D screens. The films are also expected to be shown on up to 400 screens elsewhere in Europe.
Flamenco On Screen, which will have of footage of live performances from the world’s leading dancers including Antonio Canales, will be the first project. It is hoped that it will be ready in time to be screened at the San Sebastian Film Festival in September.
Alvero said: “We will be working on it this month in the hope of having it in post production by August where we will transfer it to 3D.”
The company will also be producing The Fifth Wall 3D, an assortment of ballet, dance and opera, and World Music On Screen.
Alvero, also a former vice president of the European Association of Cinemas (UNIC), predicts that alternative 3D content will generate $476.5m (€340.9m) in turnover and $140m profit by 2014, due to an increase in the number of 3D screens that will be available in the coming years.
The move comes as Warner Music Entertainment and More2Screen, the alternative content provider, announced plans to theatrically release Chess In Concert, which celebrates 25 years of musical Chess. The film, which has been directed by Hugh Wooldrige, was recorded at a 25th anniversary concert at the Royal Albert Hall.
The musical, which was writted by Tim Rice with music by Abba’s Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, was a success from its opening in 1984. It feature songs including “I Know Him So Well, performed by Barbara Dixon and Elaine Paige. It will be released in cinemas for two days in September and will be launched in home entertainment formats later in the month.
By Chris Evans, ScreenDaily
As the development of 3D technologies intensifies, opportunities within B2B applications become more attractive, with Digital Out Of Home (DOOH) systems offering an ideal proving ground for ‘no glasses’ 3D systems. Across the planet, vast numbers of static poster sites are available for replacement by 3D digital billboards, while theme parks, museums, casinos and flagship retail stores are all prime real estate for these new attention-grabbing installations. Research indicates that brand recall could be as much as four times higher in 3D campaigns when compared with their 2D counterparts, but in order for the potential to be realised there are serious obstacles to overcome, according to a new market report from Futuresource Consulting.
“One of the major issues we’re facing is the limited amount of 3D content available today,” says Mike Fisher, Convergence & New Technologies Consultant at Futuresource, “and both the high cost of creation and a shortage of trained content designers will remain significant barriers to industry growth.
“The industry’s crosshairs are firmly fixed on the long-term view. With mainstream consumer adoption of auto-stereoscopic (glassless) technologies at least five years away, the B2B market provides first-mover opportunities for the major CE vendors, allowing them to develop revenues, field-test products and build investment in their R&D labs with a view to advancing the technology primarily for the home market. Our research indicates that by 2012 nearly 8% of all B2B panel sales will be 3D, rising to 30% by 2015. The real battle will be fought at consumer level, and any competitive edge that can be gained within the B2B market will hold a vendor in good stead for the consumer marketplace.”
Though expanding rapidly, the DOOH market remains a relatively immature industry, with keystone developments required in order to build much-needed commercial traction.
“Traditionally, innovation within the digital out-of-home marketplace has been driven by the niche network owners, while the first tier outdoor agencies have tended to adopt a more conservative approach,” says Fisher. “However, premium consumer brands will start to demand integrated 3D campaigns as a core component of their promotional mix, necessitating serious investment from first tier outdoor agencies.
“Supplier fragmentation, some media agency scepticism and the lack of industry-wide metrics for measuring passer-by viewing statistics are all significant barriers to market development. Couple this with the complex supply side – in the UK alone there are over 80 different networks, with around 60 different network owners – and we’re going to see significant issues for media agencies seeking to plan and purchase time on a digital network.”
However, many network aggregators such as OVAB, Digicom and DOOH Booking are starting to make headway in consolidating and aiding niche network owners with pitches to media agencies. Moving forward, the DOOH market could skyrocket, fuelled by continued fragmentation within the media landscape and the increasing impact of PVRs, which allow viewers to skip through TV ads.
“Brands are increasingly seeking more innovative ways to reach customers via creative and impactful campaigns, and the economic recession could be benefiting the DOOH market, as media planners are being forced to investigate new campaign models,” says Fisher. “The core objective of developing auto-stereoscopic 3D displays for mass market consumer devices remains key to the success of 3D applications for digital out of home. Without the long-term consumer goal, B2B is unlikely to provide vendors with enough mid-term return to outweigh the R&D costs.”
Source: Futuresource Consulting
From the increasing flurry of market activity, it would seem that 3D video is building momentum, but is it a good bet, on its way to commercial success, or are we just seeing a lot of empty hype, with the format destined to fizzle as yet another fad?
To help predict the trend, consider some recent industry activity:
- The year is seeing increasing delivery of blockbuster films in 3D, as well as a growing number of 3D independent productions. Theater installations are on the rise. RealD announced last month that it has doubled its installation base of 3D equipped cinema screens worldwide and has achieved 400% growth in Europe so far in 2009. Warner Mycal has doubled its number of 3-D screens in Japan over the past three months.
- More displays are becoming available, especially for production use. Victor Co. of Japan (JVC) recently developed a business-use 46-inch 3D LCD display. Hyundai has introduced four widescreen 3D IT displays designed for professional users, ranging from 22 to 46 inches.
- 3D consumer products are emerging. The advanced TV products showed by Sony, Panasonic and others at CES earlier this year are being joined by other players. Acer recently announced plans to deliver a 3D laptop this fall, and Optoma has announced a 3D home theater projector, to be available by year’s end.
- 3D content production is becoming more widely available. Sony and Panasonic are separately starting to produce 3D content, for theaters and Blu-ray, respectively. New applications are emerging. UK Mobile operator O2 has just released what they say is the first in-theater interactive 3D game, controlled by audience arm movements.
- Despite the performance of state-of-the-art 3D systems, however, the anaglyph process still hasn’t disappeared. Disney is releasing anaglyph 3D video games for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Nintendo Wii, based on well-known theatrical releases such as Toy Story, Avatar, and G-Force. Dreamworks, on the other hand, has decided not to release 3D DVD and Blu-ray versions of Monsters vs. Aliens, saying that the original RealD production did not translate well to the anaglyph process. They did say, however, that they are awaiting TVs that can deliver a "theater-like" 3D experience.
Is this the usual combination of trial and error, or is a viable and long-lasting format emerging? In order to market any new product successfully, several key factors are necessary: usability, affordability, entertainment value, and product value over competing options. While many of these elements would appear to be present, there are some issues: will anaglyph releases for PCs and games help or hurt the market? Will consumers prefer to spend their (limited) dollars on an inferior format, given the cost of an alternative better display? Will consumer electronics lag behind theatrical venues?
In his 2000 book, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell describes three factors that lead to an inflection point in a social phenomenon: The Law of the Few, where success is heavily dependent on the involvement of key socially-gifted people; Stickiness, where the content of a message is critical; and Context, where the trend is sensitive to current conditions and circumstances.
I’d say that the jury is still out. While we might be on the verge of a viable entertainment and information display format, the report card is mixed. Theatrical releases have provided the best visibility of what the format can offer. Certainly, the talents of many in the content production industry provide a base for "gifted" artistic expression, and the content is all-important, as has been said many times before.
The wildcard, however, is the current business climate: while industry appears to be taking the right steps, and investing in the medium, the ultimate decider is the consumer. Recent signs suggest that discretionary spending may be loosening up, so film studios and distributors beware: you are at the forefront of the medium — charge a premium for 3D releases at everyone’s peril!
By Aldo Cugnini, DisplayDaily
The New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) is known for its pioneering role in computer graphics and for the large number of alumni that eventually settled at Pixar and other Silicon Valley graphics companies. However, NYIT was also the birthplace of some novel processing techniques that could be the heart of future 3D video storage and distribution.
Back in the late 1980’s, a number of their researchers were investigating ways to squeeze more video information into the available bandwidth. To do this, they wanted to determine how humans perceive video data; that way, they might be able to figure out how to reduce the amount of information in a video stream without affecting the perceived image quality.
It turns out that the human visual system (the eye, combined with the brain) perceives video detail quite differently depending on the orientation of the detail. If there is fine detail in the horizontal direction, the human visual system is very good at detecting it. Likewise, humans can also perceive fine detail in the vertical direction. However, if the video detail is off-axis, in the diagonal direction, our sensitivity to detail drops dramatically.
The chart shown below (on the left) illustrates that relationship. The entire chart represents all of the spatial frequencies (or “detail” in different directions) that are contained in a video. The yellow line shows our sensitivity to detail in the different directions. At the top right portion of the chart, where the detail is primarily in the diagonal direction, you can see that our sensitivity drops dramatically.
Perhaps evolution had a hand in this: if you are hunting for your dinner, or a carnivore is hunting you, having better image perception in the horizontal and vertical directions might be a distinct advantage in picking out something moving along the horizon or up in a tree. For whatever reason, the impact of this relationship is significant. This shows that, at a reasonable distance from the screen, a viewer’s overall perception of video quality is based on less than half of the detail actually stored in the video. Consequently, if we can remove some of the diagonal detail without reducing the horizontal and vertical detail, we can reduce the bandwidth requirements without affecting the viewer’s perception of the video quality.
This “HVS” technique, so-called since it is based on the characteristics of the Human Visual System, consists of first removing the spatial frequencies in the diagonal direction via a 2-dimensional low-pass filter (also known as a diamond filter). Once this is complete, we can comfortably decimate the image in a quincunx pattern (basically, a checkerboard pattern) without affecting the remaining information.
The effect of this technique is graphically illustrated in the chart shown above (on the right); the HVS filter removes many of the diagonal spatial frequencies that humans just don’t see very well. In fact, we are able to remove fully 1/2 of the video data without significantly impacting the perceived image quality. This frees up enough bandwidth to fit a second video stream in the same amount of space; which is exactly what we need to store and transmit a 3D-pair of high-def videos.
I have personally demonstrated this technique to a variety of video experts, most recently at the fmx/09 conference in Germany. I displayed two identical high-def images side-by-side, with one of the two images being HVS-filtered to remove the diagonal detail. Even on a ~5 meter screen at 1-2 screen heights viewing distance, video experts were unable to see any significant difference between the two images. And when asked to guess which one had been filtered, 1/2 of the participants guessed wrong! Considering that most viewers watch their HDTVs at a distance of 3-6 screen heights, this distribution format will not affect consumers.
This is a great advantage for video providers that want to aggressively pursue the 3D market but can’t afford to upgrade their infrastructure or increase their bandwidth. For example, a PC-download website could encode 3D movies using this technique and then supply viewers with existing 3D playback software to decode and display the movie using a wide range 3D display technologies. Cable/satellite operators may already have the capability to implement this decoder in their existing hardware, with only a firmware update. If so, they could test market 3D movies to early adopters using their existing pay-per-view channel infrastructure. This could be a relatively simple way to extract a premium for 3D movie content.
This is not just theory: some of the leading companies in 3D encoding and distribution have publicly discussed and demonstrated similar, but proprietary, techniques for their home distribution solutions.
Finally, using the characteristics of the Human Visual System to intelligently compress video data is not uncommon and certainly not unique to 3D. In 1947, RCA demonstrated a color television that implemented Alda Bedford’s principle for chroma subsampling. Chroma subsampling takes advantage of the human eye’s poor ability to perceive color detail and its various “flavors” are pervasive throughout all of today’s video applications. For example, 4:2:2 chroma subsampling removes 50% of the color information, while 4:2:0 subsampling removes 75% of the color information. And these standards are commonly used in all home systems, including Blu-Ray! But these are perfectly reasonable design trades: by throwing away information that the eye can’t detect, more bandwidth is left to minimize compression artifacts, add special features to the disc or, in this particular case, add an additional 3D image to a video stream.
So what is needed to implement this technique? Well, you need a good diamond filter to minimize any artifacts, a versatile video processing program to pack the data properly, and a good way to play back the stereographic video for your particular 3D display. I’ll leave these, and other issues, for a future post.
For a detailed discussion of this topic direct from the NYIT researchers themselves, check out the SMPTE paper by Robert L. Dhein and Irwin C. Abrahams, “Using the 2-D Spectrum to Compress Television Bandwidth” presented at the 132nd SMPTE Technical Conference, October 12-17, 1990.
By Keith Elliott, Beyond the Screen’s Edge