TV Globo Keen on 2D/3D Conversion

One of the main themes to emerge from the 3DTV World Forum in May was the relative merits of shooting native 3DTV content versus up-conversion from 2D to 3D material. The most popular view was that creating native 3DTV is the best approach but it was also clear that 2D/3D conversion also has its supporters.

One of them was Jose Dias, Director of Multimedia R&D Department at TV Globo, the Brazilian content producer and broadcaster. And he backed his faith in the technology with a number of demonstrations including soccer and soap operas.

“We are very interested in the market opportunity for 3D but we need a continuous flow of 3D content if we want to open a television channel,” he told the London conference. “I believe conversion of 2D into 3D could be a key factor in opening a channel fairly soon. TV Globo has 2,500 hours of production every year. If we were to show our soap operas in 3D the cost would be maybe 30% higher and we would also need a large investment in equipment. So we did some trials to convert our soap operas from 2D to 3D.”

The content was converted in real-time and the effect is what Dias calls ‘negative 3D’ meaning that all the depth is behind the screen. This is actually an approach that seems to work well when content is shot natively in 3D and the demonstration TV Globo provided at the conference, with glasses, seemed reasonable quality. The company also provided examples of soccer that had been converted in the same way. The depth was clear on the close-up shots but wide angle views did not seem to provide any additional depth to the action compared to 2D viewing.

“It is not as good as shooting 3D, of course,” Dias noted. “But it is the beginning of something and it is important if you are a content producer, like we are, and you have lots of material and you want that material converted to 3D. We have some dilemmas about going to 3D, like the limitations of cameras and rigs and whether, if we shoot soccer, we should have different production crews [for 2D and 3D] or one crew for both.”

Dias offered a number of 2D to 3D conversion demonstrations, even including a sequence from a soap opera that very effectively combined studio shots with computer generated images of the background.

TV Globo also shot live 3D coverage of the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro this year, working in partnership with Sony using their new cameras, a 40 camera OB operation in total, and a six man production room. The content was transmitted as side-by-side (frame compatible) 3DTV.

By John Moulding, Videonet