Stereoscopic 3D: A ‘Game Changer’

NVIDIA has released new drivers for their GeForce 3D Vision product. 3D Vision is a combination of shutter glasses, IR emitter and software for use with a compatible 120Hz 3D-Ready monitor or TV. The new driver includes support for the 2009 model 3D Ready DLP RPTVs from Mitsubishi Electric and 26 additional game titles (beyond the 350 already supported) and reaffirms NVIDIA’s commitment to this market. The v185.85 WHQL (Windows Hardware Quality Lab) GPU drivers were released at the beginning of May and included significant performance improvement for popular games, but the release was not compatible with 3D Vision, prompting some howls from 3D enthusiasts on a number of blogs.

Releasing the latest drivers is very important as 3D Vision only works with NVIDIA GPUs and requires a fairly powerful graphics card in order to play S-3D games.

iZ3D is also making improvements to their driver. The current driver is v1.09, but v1.10 has moved out of beta and has now been issued as release candidate v1.10. This new driver, while still not in its final version, offers improvements in S-3D performance for many games and is also offering support for S-3D YouTube videos.

Did you know that the video game industry is now larger than the movie industry? As a result, many see video gaming as the best path to bringing 3D into the home. There are already video games based on movies and movies based on video games. The movie industry is moving to 3D, but without a clear path to the living room. The video game industry has a clear path to the home via handheld, console and PC-based gaming platforms. This pathway is useful for 3D gaming, but can just as well be used for other content such as movies.

While many games can now be played in stereoscopic 3D (S-3D), the gameplay can be highly dependent upon the way the game was designed, the hardware configuration and the S-3D drivers. But steps are being taken to make S-3D a more integral part of the options that gamers can choose. For example, earlier this year, Blizzard brought S-3D support to their hugely successful MMORPG game, World of Warcraft. With the release of patch 3.0.9, if the installer detects the presence of the 3D Vision drivers, it adds a Stereo tab to the Video Option menu.

As the lead analyst on Insight Media’s upcoming report on Stereoscopic 3D gaming, I have enjoyed many, many hours of playing PC games in S-3D this year. Although the quality of the 3D experience does change somewhat from game-to-game, the reality is that the experience is truly immersive and makes it very difficult to going back to playing games the old-fashioned 2D way. It is a very exciting time to be involved in S-3D as PC games are getting better with every release, S-3D on console games is just around the corner and it won’t be long before these systems will be used to watch 3D movies in the home.

By Dale Maunu, DisplayDaily

3D Gaming Awaits its Day in the Sun

Ubisoft thinks that the unveiling of its 3D technology will be the most memorable moment of E3 – and even influence the design of all future games. The publisher’s executive director of EMEA, Alain Corre, told MCV this week that Ubisoft is confident attendees would be left ‘dreaming’ of the innovation during the first showing of 3D movie tie-in game Avatar.

Corre said: “This is a brand new visual approach to gaming and movies. Hopefully, it will capture everyone’s attention. We know not all the gamers will be able to own that technology. But we’ll be able to get it to many of them. This 3D aspect will one day become must-have. We teamed up very closely with Fox for Avatar. It’s the first time we’ve teamed up like that with a movie company.

We’re helping each other to make a great game and we are also giving them ideas for their movie. It’s a really good combination. People will be dreaming about Avatar after seeing it at E3. People will have never witnessed anything like it before. This is an investment in technology we will be able to put into our future products.”

By Tim Ingham, MCV

HDMI Specification Version 1.4

HDMI Licensing, LLC, the agent responsible for licensing the High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) specification, announced the features that will be incorporated in the upcoming HDMI 1.4 specification. The specification will standardize the input/output portion of the home 3D system and will specify up to dual-stream 1080p resolution.

The HDMI specification 1.4 will be available for download on the HDMI website no later than June 30, 2009.

Source: HDMI

3-D Offers Vision for Bullish Eutelsat

Satellite operator Eutelsat Communications believes that three-dimensional broadcasting could play an important role in its future growth, building on the fast-growing market for high-definition television. Announcing its third-quarter results last week, Eutelsat stressed its “longstanding commitment to innovation” and highlighted the emerging format.

Eutelsat has been running a test 3-D channel on its Eurobird 9A satellite and in March demonstrated a live music performance in 3-D that was shown both on a cinema screen and on prototype models of 3-D television sets.

The company sees deployment of 3-D broadcasting via its satellites as taking place in two phases. Signals would first be delivered to cinemas, with direct-to-home satellite distribution to 3-D television sets, which are only just coming onto the market, happening later. In both cases, viewers would need to wear special spectacles in order to experience the 3-D effects.

Walter Murani, general director of OpenSky said that attempts at creating 3-D television without the need for such spectacles had failed to deliver satisfactory quality. He added that full 3-D channels were unlikely and that it was more probable that broadcasters would include 3-D events within their HDTV channels.

By Paul Davies

Gaming Gears Up for Another Dimension

On the surface, the forthcoming console game Invincible Tiger looks very familiar: a smoothly executed sideways-scrolling beat 'em up with roots that can be traced back to 80s classics such as Double Dragon and Final Fight. But given the right equipment - that means a special TV set and a pair of glasses - it literally takes on a new dimension; vanquished baddies fly out of the screen towards you and the lavish background artwork appears to stretch into the distance. Plenty of games industry executives think this is the future.

Cinema is already experiencing its own 3D revival, with audiences turning out in droves to watch animations including Monsters vs Aliens, Coraline and Pixar's forthcoming Up. Now games companies think they could be on the verge of bringing real 3D into the living room.

Time to Test Out True 3D
At the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco this year, Sony was giving demonstrations of a system it hopes will encourage the take-up of true 3D gaming. And Blitz Games, the British makers of Invincible Tiger, was previewing the title as a way to introduce its new product - a suite of developer tools for making true 3D games.

"When people have actually seen it, they say it's cool - very, very cool," says Andrew Oliver, Blitz's chief technical officer. "Suddenly HD doesn't seem as good."

"A lot of people have said it's a gimmick; it's not," he adds. "It does add something quite significant to the games - if you have the TV and glasses, it adds something, it feels like a fuller world. It's about the immersion."

Moving into this area is certainly a gamble for the Warwickshire company, founded by Andrew and his twin brother, Philip, who first made their names as teenage programmers in the 1980s with the Dizzy series. They are hoping 3D gaming will open up a new business for them, even if they have found it requires considerable technical skill to create a 3D system.

"We thought, 'We've got a fast graphics engine and it's only a TV display - how difficult could it be?'" he says. "We then found it was really difficult. It has to be Full HD and not only does it have to be 60 frames a second, but you have to feed it a left and a right every time, so you're actually rendering everything twice."

Difficulties aside, though, the technology certainly has the backing of some big names, among them Steven Spielberg, who has worked in collaboration with Electronic Arts recently. He told the Guardian that seeing 3D gaming take off was one of his unfulfilled ambitions.

"I have a lot of dreams, but in the short term I would love to start seeing 3D games being developed, where - with a good pair of glasses - we get a real three-dimensional experience in front of an appropriate monitor that is designed just for 3D," he said. "I would love to see 3D start to kick in to the thinking of the powers that be."

Spielberg may not be known for his insight into the future of the games industry; his biggest involvement has been the GameWorks chain of arcades, which went bankrupt after he pulled out his investment several years ago. But in the case of 3D gaming, at least, he is not alone.

Sir Howard Stringer, the chief executive of Sony, has hinted that the company will move even further into 3D in the future, and earlier this year demonstrated a new version of Gran Turismo, which amazed audiences at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. "You've never seen the game like that," he told them.

But while there are big names backing the new technology, plenty of people remain unconvinced regarding long-term prospects for 3D in the home. According to Marie Bloomfield, an analyst with Screen Digest, the development of 3D gaming and television is trapped in a no man's land.

"The home 3D market is in a catch-22 situation," she commented in a recent report on the subject. "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."

Consumers Must Be Convinced
It will be tough to convince cash-strapped consumers who have already been inundated with a number of "must-have" television technologies in recent years to buy into a 3D system. Broadly popular systems such as digital broadcasting, high definition and digital video recorders have required new hardware and significant investment from buyers - not to mention the host of extras offered by manufacturers such as Samsung, Sony, LG and Phillips.

Aren't people going to get turned off the idea of having to splash out yet again?

Oliver says that millions of people have, in fact, already bought 3D television sets but they don't realise it because the manufacturers don't market the capability, as nobody uses it right now.

"You can't sell it because there's no 3D content out there," he says. "The manufacturers realise that 3D movies are being made. It'll be a little while before they sort themselves out, but we'll get on with making the games."

In the meantime, he says, encouraging the games industry to take up the technology could be the best way to get it into people's homes - providing an outlet for a new technology, just as the Xbox and PlayStation 3 proved to be a way to get people watching high definition.

"Gamers are the first adopters of this technology. They don't mind wearing glasses at first, and to get a cool experience like this they think it's well worth it. It's an easy sell to a gamer."

By Bobbie Johnson, The Guardian

Q&A: DDD Group's Chris Yewdall

One of the key issues with the deployment of three-dimensional stereoscopic technologies in the home has been the lack of 3-D content that would drive consumers to buy 3-D-capable TVs and devices. The DDD Group hopes to help this emerging technology overcome that bottleneck by offering software and hardware that automatically converts 2-D video games, movies or television programming into 3-D content. DDD CEO Chris Yewdall talks about some of his company's work in the 3-D space and the likelihood that cable, satellite and IPTV providers will embrace 3-D services.

How do you see the immediate prospects for 3-D in the home?
Clearly, the catalyst for the interest in 3-D has been the success of 3-D movies in the digital cinema market. It's shown that if the quality of the content is good and the story is good, the consumer has no problem wearing glasses for a couple of hours for the 3-D experience. The other thing is that the digital display technology has reached a point where it is possible to deliver a very, very high-quality 3-D experience very cost-effectively. Our focus has been to make sure that the consumer who wants to buy that 3-D TV can see 3-D content. While the 3-D movies that have been released have been very successful, you can't buy any of those on DVD or Blu-ray.

Which platforms do you think will be the first to play an important role in popularizing 3-D in the home?
It is interesting, because the most widespread 3-D device delivered to the consumer market so far has been Sharp's 3-D mobile phones that have been sold in Japan. Between 2003 to 2005, they sold just under 3 million of them. I think that eclipses the installed base of DLP [3D-capable] televisions that Mitsubishi and Samsung shipped over the last couple of years. But we're now seeing a more-concerted effort to expand the technology. Sony, LG, Samsung, JVC, RCA, Hyundai, were all demonstrating 3-D TVs at the Consumer Electronics Show this year. The whole industry believes 3-D technology is at the right quality level where it can delivered to the home cost-effectively and that the consumer will buy it.

The content makers are creating some really good content. I think there are 40 3-D movies scheduled to be produced in the next year, and in early 2010 we will see a lot of those TVs making their way into consumer distribution channels.

Clearly the multichannel operators, companies like satellite-TV provider Sky, which has been producing 3-D content in the U.K., are interested. CableLabs has obviously been educating their members about the different options. There is a recognition by the cable, satellite and telecommunications operators that 3-D is going to be an enhancement to their business, and I don't think anyone of those wants to be left behind.

I think the jury is still out on which platform will be first, but it's important to remember that the TV experience is far different today than when we made the transition from black-and-white to color and that there are many more things that people enjoy on TV.

As you mentioned, satellite providers have already experimented with 3-D. As it moves into the multichannel landscape, do you think they'll offer it on a regular basis before cable or the IPTV providers?
I think there are already experiments happening on all three platforms. Some of them have been more highly publicized than others. You've seen what Sky announced and publicly demonstrated in the U.K. Obviously the largest U.K. cable operator Virgin just announced in that they will do some high speed broadband tests and that 3-D HD would be part of those experiments. Certainly, the broadcasters and programmers in the U.S. have bought 3-D TVs and are experimenting with them. Cable companies are experimenting with them, as are technology providers to the cable and satellite industry.

I think the Hyundai TVs are really a watershed product. It is the first product that people can simply plug into their existing infrastructure. With it, you can take content coming from either cable or satellite, through an existing MPEG delivery stream from the head end into the set-top box and into the TV and have it appear in full HD in 3-D with very comfortable glasses. It allows engineers to take this to their management team and say "look this is the sort of 3-D visual experience that is sitting just around the corner, for our consumers." It has gotten their management teams very excited. I think it really helps crystallize a lot of cable, satellite and IPTV operators' interest in taking a serious look at 3-D.

By George Winslow, Multichannel News

Spain's First 3D Transmissions

Two audiovisual groups from the South East of Spain have started 3D broadcasts at the University of the Region of Murcia. These are the first pilot 3D transmissions over digital-terrestrial TV in the world, those conducting the tests have claimed.

In order to be able to get these signals the testers have needed an auto-stereoscopic monitor specifically made to show the images, although a screen adapter can also be used. Also needed is a specific receiver.

This, claim those responsible, is a pioneer project in the world. Elsewhere, Telefónica is carrying out 3D tests in Brazil but in this case on the internet and not on DTT.

By Iñaki Ferreras, RapidTV News

3D: Brighter is Better

In the May issue of Large Display Report, we covered a summary of a demonstration run by Inter-Society of Digital Cinema Forum (ISDCF) last March. The demonstration had originally been closed and targeted at studio executives but details leaked out, as could be expected. This test involved 3D content mastered or re-mastered for showing at different luminance levels. 4.5 Ft. lamberts served as a baseline since that is the specified luminance of 3D content in the theaters. The material was also re-mastered for showing at higher luminance levels. The different versions of the material were then shown at 4.5, 6, 10 and 14 Ft. Lamberts. 14 Ft. Lamberts is the normal theatrical luminance for 2D material. Video material in the home is typically shown at still higher levels, from 30 Ft. Lamberts on up.

Why is this important? The way the eye perceives color changes rapidly as a function of light level at these very low luminance levels. 14 Ft. Lamberts was chosen as the standard for 2D cinema for two reasons. First, it is well within the range of film projectors with reasonable sized lamps. Second, and perhaps more importantly, at this low light level, the eye does not normally perceive the flicker produced by the 48 Hz field rate of double-flashed film. While digital cinema is more commonly triple flashed to 72 Hz, eliminating flicker as a problem, it continues to use the 14 Ft. Lambert standard. This allows digital and film theaters to have a similar "look and feel," an important property to the movie industry.

3D digital cinema projectors are very inefficient compared to the same projector showing 2D content, 14% efficiency is a typical value. By using a larger lamp and a high gain screen, the current generation of 3D digital cinema projectors can make about 4.5 Ft. Lamberts on the screen but not 14 Ft. Lamberts. In general, 3D presentations have been in the smaller auditoriums of a multiplex, since it is easier to achieve 4.5 Ft. Lamberts on a small screen than a large screen.

Since human perception of color is different at 4.5 and 14 Ft. Lamberts, studios need to color correct their 3D movies twice: once for 2D screens and once for 3D screens. This is an expensive process and studios would like to eliminate the second color correction.

There are two approaches to doing this. First, they could color correct for some intermediate light level, say 6 or 10 Ft. Lamberts, and use that color correction at both the higher 2D and the lower 3D light levels. The ISDCF demo showed that this might actually be an acceptable path.

The other approach would be to increase the light level on 3D cinema screens to a value closer to the 2D light level. From a studio’s point of view, this would be ideal: only one master would be required and the 3D experience would then match the 2D experience, with the addition of depth.

Theater owners would not like this, however. Current digital cinema projectors strain to achieve 4.5 Ft. Lamberts, especially on larger screens. Lamps must be run at maximum power, leading to high electric bills and short lamp life. High-gain screens help but there is an upper limit to acceptable gain. Going to a high enough gain screen to achieve 14 Ft. Lamberts in 3D means that only the seats on the theater centerline will get an acceptable image. When brighter 3D projectors are available, theater owners want to put them into larger auditoriums with more seats, not make brighter images on the same screens.

Some famous large-screen theaters are embracing projector technology that will allow 3D material to be shown on their large screens. For example, NEC announced yesterday that a single NC2500S-A projector will be used in Clearview’s 1,169 seat Ziegfeld theater in New York City to produce 3D on the Ziegfeld’s 15.8M (52') screen. This tops the normal 12M upper limit on screen size for a single projector.

This higher throughput of the NC2500S-A is enabled by the higher bandwidth electronics driving the DLP imagers. In the past, bandwidth issues limited DLP cinema projectors to using a 1628 x 880 subset of the 2K imager. The higher-bandwidth electronics allow use of 1998 x 1080 pixels, the same as is normally used in 2D projection. Being able to illuminate this larger image area leads to about a 30% increase in light output compared to previous 3D single projector installations.

Another famous theater, the 1300 seat Empire Theater in London, will be using a dual-projector 3D installation from Dolby to produce an image on its 20M (66') screen. This setup consists of two Barco DP-3000 DLP cinema projectors. Passive color filters are used both at the projectors and on the audience’s glasses.

Expanded versions of the Ziegfeld and Empire theater stories will be published in the upcoming issue of LDR, as will other details that emerge on high-brightness 3D cinema projection.

By Matt Brennesholtz, DisplayDaily

SpaceSpex Anaglyph — The Only Way to Bring 3DTV to the Masses

An interesting paper provided by Michael Starks about his SpaceSpex orange/blue anaglyph technique.

Theater Advertisers May Consider Deal

If you're looking for a compelling drama at the movies this summer, check out the ads — or, more precisely, the companies that sell them. Two firms, National CineMedia (NCMI) and Screenvision, control the 20 minutes or so before showtime at the vast majority of theaters. But they soon may try to merge, which would raise the curtain on a debate about concentration of power in one of the few resilient media businesses in this miserable economy.

"I'm not sure that (a combination) is possible from an antitrust perspective," says Lazard Capital Markets analyst Barton Crockett. "It would affect some advertisers, studios and independent theater chains that like to play those two (companies) against each other."

Yet Screenvision's owners, French technology company Thomson and British TV network iTV, need cash. They've hired UBS to sell the firm.

"The process is commencing shortly and should be completed by the end of the year," Screenvision CEO Matthew Kearney says.

National CineMedia is intrigued with the prospect of controlling an industry that generated about $658 million in sales last year, up 56% since 2004. The company is publicly traded but controlled by the three largest movie theater chains: Regal Entertainment, AMC and Cinemark.

"We're interested in Screenvision as we'd be in any media company that would make sense for our shareholders," says Cliff Marks, National CineMedia's chief marketing officer.

If they try to unite, then antitrust regulators would have to decide whether it would be a whale in the market for movie ads or a minnow competing with TV networks and newspapers for national ads. "We don't consider ourselves to be in the cinema market as much as in the national media arena," Marks says.

National CineMedia and Screenvision typically transmit ads via satellite to digital projectors they install next to the ones used for feature films. That enables them to tailor ads to the audience by film and location.

Because it costs theater owners little to run ads, the revenue is "very significant," National Association of Theatre Owners CEO John Fithian says. "It's one of the reasons in the last five years we've been able to keep ticket prices reasonable."

Executives say this year's ad sales likely will be flat but should take off again when the economy recovers. To encourage that, the firms are trying out 3-D ads and interactivity — for example, enabling audiences to vote via cellphone on a music video to run.

"You really prove the quality of your product in bad times," Kearney says. "2009 has been one of the grimmest years that anyone's ever experienced, and Screenvision's doing fine."

By David Lieberman, USA Today

LG Display Develops Full HD 3D Monitor Panel with Enhanced Brightness

LG Display, a leading innovator of thin-film transistor liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD) technology, announced today that it has succeeded in developing a Full HD 23-inch 3D LCD panel with enhanced brightness for monitors. The 3D panel employs LG Display’s proprietary technology to realize Full HD images with twice the brightness of conventional 3D LCD panels. The product boasts the world’s highest brightness among 3D displays.

LG Display's Full HD 23-inch 3D LCD panel

3D LCDs apply time-sequential technologies so that the right and left eyes see different images. This makes the images look three-dimensional for human eye. In conventional 3D LCDs, the technologies were generally installed outside the panel or into the viewing glass. However LG Display embedded most of the 3D technologies directly in the panel, which enabled this product to make 3D viewing brighter and overcome the previous technical limitations. Specifically, 3D viewing is possible with low-priced polarized glasses — translating into economical benefits for the consumers, while conventional 3D LCD panels usually require special viewing glasses which are costlier.

LG Display’s CTO and Executive Vice-President In-Jae Chung said, “The display industry players are shifting their focus from two-dimensional to three-dimensional technologies in order to deliver more vibrant and true images. LG Display will step up development of 3D technologies and products to provide customers and consumers with differentiated value.”

LG Display will showcase its new Full HD 23-inch 3D LCD panel with enhanced brightness and more during the upcoming Society for Information Displays (SID) 2009 in San Antonio, Texas U.S.A.

Source: LG Display

How Sky 3D is Drawing Closer

It's been almost six months since Sky showed off its 3D showreel to the world's media and revealed that it could broadcast it through its existing equipment. Head of Product Design and Innovation, Brian Lenz, is the man pushing to bring a third dimension to UK televisions and, in an extensive interview with TechRadar, he explains how tasks like filming the world's fastest man running through Deansgate and making the National Ballet 3D are allowing Sky to learn valuable lessons.

It was December that Sky opened its doors to the media and showed off its 3D, how have things progressed towards it arriving in our living rooms?
So I think that what we saw back at that event was between 60 to 80 per cent of what I would consider broadcast quality, with the footage of Ricky Hatton boxing at maybe 80 per cent and the football clips and Gladiators at 60 per cent. What we wanted to see was how close to broadcast quality we could get and make it a genuine option rather than a decision that is fraught with technical complexity and a logistical nightmare to film things in 3D.

Simultaneously we have looked to move 3D into the other genres we cover. We've targeted some arts content to get away from sports and test on something completely different. We've been shooting with the National Ballet and it's the most beautiful footage that we've shot so far.

It's absolutely broadcast quality, we hit that mark and we've proved to ourselves that we can do it and shown the value of 3D visually. John Lassiter said about 3D that it is "removing one more of the barriers from the suspension of disbelief". You are removing the screen from the equation and to see the depth that it brings to the National Ballet is the best version of that we've managed so far.

TechRadar covered the fact that you had filmed the highly publicised Usain Bolt 150 metres run in Manchester recently – what challenges did this create for your team?
3D can enhance the visual experience of a range of genres and the opportunity came up with Usain Bolt. How do you shoot someone so fast in a setup that is not necessarily set up to be that dynamic in two dimensions? How can we rise to the challenge to do something different in that regard?

The big thing we did was that we used a combination of cranes and a rail cam. The rail cam was probably the most significant thing. What was important was that we could mount two cameras to shoot 3D on a rail and keep it steady enough. There were problems with the bounce when we started, and the impact of cameras not in perfect alignment in 3D is massive. The 3D impact was nauseous – it felt as if you were in a barrel rolling down a hill! What we managed to do was add some dampening which gave us a perfectly smooth run.

We ended up with stride for stride footage in 3D – we were blessed with the rain clearing up at the right time – and with the moisture glistening on the track that footage was beautiful.

There are obviously a lot of lessons to be learned in how to film things in 3D, with a full-sized IMAX screen, things popping off the side don't matter as much as with a small screen where it really jars, for instance. What tips are you picking up?
With all that shooting we feel we're hitting the quality mark and we know what we need to do, but for live 3D shooting we still need to get the efficiency. Right now because it's not every event being filmed in 3D we are still getting a lot of "didn't expect that" moments.

There's different challenges that you need to work through, but we want to be able to roll in with an OB truck the night before, film in 3D and then roll out again the next day. It is a different way of filming; what we are finding is that it's coming down to how you frame the shot. Cameramen have really good ideas of the mechanics and physics and the artist's eye to frame shots and if you show them 3D footage it's a pretty quick turnaround for them to start framing shots.

The bigger thing is more around getting them comfortable with not having to pan off of something as fast. You have to let the action roll out of frame rather then trying to keep it in the frame. To be honest the biggest thing we have to get right now how to make that point of convergence across all the different cameras so you don't get that jarring sensation when you switch between different shots.

'Avatar' is obviously hotly anticipated, but do you feel like it could be a pivotal moment in bringing 3D to a wider audience and, ultimately, pushing it into our living rooms?
I think so. James Cameron seems to like putting pressure on himself. He took Titanic, where everyone knew how it was going to end, and took realistic CGI to a new level, and if he takes the same artistic sense along with his technical knowledge to 3D then it will be huge.

I'd hesitate to say that it's a make or break moment, but I do think that it's a significant moment. If he pulls it off – and personally speaking I don't doubt that he will - then it will be absolutely massive in terms of making 3D more popular.

How important was being able to show that you could put 3D through existing Sky boxes?
The big question was can we get 3D through our existing infrastructure and if we hadn't then I don't think we'd be doing anything like what we are doing now. If we hadn't been able to use the existing HD boxes then I think it would just be a novelty on our timeline; something that we might be doing in the future.

Because we don't touch infrastructure it means that all the investment can go towards the content, which is where you want to be.

The credit crunch is really biting into people's budgets, do you feel like this has delayed the arrival of 3D sets in living rooms and delayed the chance to get Sky 3D into homes?
I'm not sure if it has. From our perspective we see that next year has significant launches of 3D televisions, which is probably about the reasonable time frame anyway.

I won't proclaim to be an economic expert but consumer electronic sales seem to be holding quite well and Sky has gone from strength to strength. I don't want to pretend that it doesn't have some impact. If people aren't moving home then there's not that need to buy the big television. I think you'll see stuff happen next year because the TV manufacturers themselves want and need something new.

Everyone hoping [3D] is not a flash in the pan and it all circles back between symbiotic relationship between content and televisions – if the content is there then the push for TVs will start to accelerate.

The most common criticism of 3D is that it is a gimmick, are you convinced that 3D is something that the consumers want enough to invest in?
I think so. I think that there is something intriguing there and of the people who wouldn't be impressed by technically gimmickry many of those are gobsmacked by the footage we have already shot so I would say there's something different about this.

I'm not sure that in five to ten years that the whole schedule will go into 3D, but appropriate events, movies of the weeks, special documentaries and things like major football matches can absolutely be worthwhile. You put on the glasses to watch something that you are keen to see in a special way rather than a whole evening's viewing.

By Patrick Goss, TechRadar

Brighton TV and SGO Team Up for 3D

Brighton TV has agreed to help Spanish manufacturer SGO develop the stereoscopic 3D toolset within its Mistika post-production system. The south coast facilities company will add a Mistika to its digital cinema suite, allowing it to do 2D grading and provide a full 3D stereoscopic service. And, as part of a "strategic partnership", it will also help with Mistika's ongoing development as a 3D post-production tool.

A spokesperson for Brighton TV said: "The partnership is for six months to begin with. The benefit to SGO is that we have several 3D projects we will post this summer, so we'll be able to help develop the toolset. We needed the suite to complete these projects and to increase our 2D grading services."

Mistika is a high-end post-production system capable of dealing with SD, HD, 2K, 4K, stereoscopic 3D and real-time Red workflows. It is an integrated timeline product that provides the ability to edit, conform, composite, colour grade and restore images.

Brighton TV, based in Brighton, is currently involved in several 3D projects for unnamed customers.

By Will Strauss, BroadcastNow

Dolby 3D for Large Screens

Dolby Laboratories announced today that the Empire Leicester Square has become Europe’s first auditorium to utilize the new Dolby 3D Digital Cinema large screen solution. The Empire installed the Dolby 3D system in time for the United Kingdom premiere of Walt Disney Pictures’ Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience. The movie will premiere in front of an invited audience of more than 1,300 guests.

The new Dolby 3D large screen solution combined with Barco’s digital cinema twin-projector allows exhibitors to project Dolby 3D onto standard, non-silver screens ranging from 12.5 to 21 metres, surpassing the previous size limit of 12 metres. The Empire Leicester Square, one of the UK’s oldest and largest cinema venues, regularly hosts movie premieres. With its 20-metre screen, the Empire boasts one of the largest screens in the country.

Without requiring a special silver screen, Dolby’s colour filter technology and lightweight passive Dolby 3D glasses give every member of the audience a memorable and mesmerizing 3D experience. The Dolby 3D system provides realistic, full-spectrum colour reproduction and extremely sharp images, while the environmentally friendly glasses — designed for repeated use — significantly reduce the cost per viewing for exhibitors.

Source: DCinemaToday

NEC Unveils New Ultra Bright NC2500S-A Projector

NEC Corporation of America today unveiled the new NEC NC2500S-A digital cinema projector. As Hollywood studios begin requiring a higher level of brightness for 3D movie releases, NEC is the only provider to offer all pre-existing customers this new feature in their current models with a simple upgrade. The world-renowned Ziegfeld Theatre will be among the first of NEC’s customers to embrace these new projectors.

The NEC NC2500S-A’s new technical enhancement allows 3D content to utilize the full 2K resolution of the 1.2" DMD from Texas Instruments using triple flash technology for smooth motion. With an increase in resolution and brightness of up to 33 percent, compared to previous generations, the boost in performance means a greater viewing experience for theatergoers.

The exhibitors can now display content on larger screens to bigger audiences than ever before. Current NEC DLP cinema projector customers will be able to make this upgrade easily and in the field. NEC is offering this service to customers through both NEC factory engineers or through factory training provided to the exhibitor and independent service engineers, allowing for a flexible transition to the new NEC NC2500S-A projector. All digital cinema 3D technologies will benefit from this upgrade.

Source: DCinemaToday

3-D Heads to TV with 'Wu Cheng-en'

A Chinese shingle is planning to take the country's current 3-D craze to the small screen with a 45-episode costume drama Wu Cheng-en and the Journey to the West, based on an ancient Chinese legend. Producer Wu Qiuyun told the Beijing News that he believes the 130-million-yuan ($19 million) skein is the first 3-D TV series in the world. The project has been five years in the making and still has 18 months of post-production to complete. Some 90 million yuan ($13 million) of the budget went on the 3-D effects.

Keen to ensure the drama is not seen as a gimmick because of its high-tech credentials, the producers have reunited the original stars of the 1986 skein Journey to the West, a production which is one of the most famous TV shows in Chinese history.

The drama began shooting in Hengdian studios two years ago, but the producer did not release the fact that it would contain 3-D scenes, because they were worried the technology would not work. Each 45-minute episode will contain around 10 minutes of 3-D scenes.

"This drama is about the arduous process of Wu Cheng-en's writing The Journey to the West. But if the main storyline was only Wu Cheng-en, that may affect the audience ratings. So we put the same actors in The Journey to the West together, and re-filmed some parts of it, and then made those into 3-D," said Wu.

The producers have created special glasses for watching the skein, and plans to distribute them through large-scale marketing events.

"If the audience watches the drama without three-dimensional glasses, the image will be slightly doubled," he said.

China's first 3-D toon, The Carnival of The Animals, was released earlier this year. It was produced by the animation unit of the giant state 'caster CCTV, and includes the voices of some of CCTV Children's Channel leading hosts Ju Ping, Dong Hao and Liu Chunyan.

By Clifford Coonan, Variety

MasterImage 3D

Sperling from DTS shows us the MasterImage 3D system. This system uses polarising filters by using a spinning wheel in front of the DCI projector lens. It can be moved from projector to projector and requires a silver screen like all polarising 3D system. It also makes use of the inexpensive/disposable 3D glasses:

Click to watch the video

Source: Cinema Tech Geek

DigiTurk Goes 3D

Turkey’s DigiTurk pay-TV platform is to start carrying 3D programming, with shows coming from media giant Dogan, and its ‘Cool Smart’ HDTV channel. Programming itself will be supplied by Munich-based Telcast Media Group. Cool Smart will feature Telcast’s major 12-part travel series 3-D Planet, its 3-D Safari specials made in Africa and Indonesia and Mega Shark. Telcast claims a worldwide leadership in 3D programming, “thanks to the vision of CEO Thomas Hohenacker known as one of German television’s great innovators.”

The link with Dogan will be helped by Dogan’s huge publishing operation (it publishes two out of the top 3 Turkish daily newspapers), and the distribution of free 3D glasses to view the 3D output, which uses Telcast’s True Reality system. “Telcast’s 3D productions offer magical 3-D quality with 3D glasses but, unlike its competitors, also guarantee crystal clear picture quality to the naked eye,” says the company.

Angelika Stebbings, Telcast International Senior Sales Manager who negotiated the deal said: “I am delighted that Cool Smart will be showing Telcast’s 3D programming on HD as it recognizes the extraordinary 2-D quality of the programmes. However to ensure that Cool Smart viewers get the full breathtaking effect of 3D the group’s listing magazine D-Smart will carry free 3D glasses for every reader. This is Telcast’s first agreement with Dogan and I hope it will be the beginning of a long and mutually beneficial relationship.”

By Chris Forrester, RapidTV News

Interview with Jerry Bruckheimer

Recently Jerry Bruckheimer previewed and discussed his new 3D live-action/animated film G-Force. The 3D is being created using the multi-mode approach, utilizing both CG for the animated characters and In-Three's Dimensionalization for the live-action that was shot in conventional 2D.

Why is it important for you to make 'G-Force' in 3D, and what’s the difference between 3D today, and the way it was years ago?
Well, I think the technology’s so much better. You don’t get the fatigue you used to get with your eyes the way the projection is, the whole technology. We’re doing things that no other movie has done before as far as 3D goes. And so it’s so exciting that you can actually bring things out to an audience, especially since this is a kids’ movie, so it’s great. They love it, they grab at it, they have a blast when they see it.

But from the start, what sold you on the idea?
James Cameron invited me over to his place and showed me what he was doing with 3D and showed me a bunch of tests that he’d done, and it was really exciting — it adds another experience for the audience. And that’s what we try to do. We try to draw in as many people as possible and show them new experiences.

What did Mr. Cameron show you?
He showed me some tests that he did, not for his movie, just tests of various scenes that he’d done that he actually shot in 3D. Which I thought were superb. We actually didn’t shoot in 3D. Since all our animated stuff is done digitally, it’s easy to convert it to 3D, but the live actors were shot with conventional technology.

I’m curious if this 3D experience has influenced you to possibly take any of your other films in the future and go into the 3D medium.
Yeah, I would love to. You know, it’s going to depend on how quickly they convert the normal theaters into ones with 3D projectors. It’s gotten slowed down a little bit with the economy right now. So it’s not quite going as quickly as we had hoped it would be at this point.

Well could you see something like a 'Pirates 4' or any of your future films being in 3D?
It’s possible. It’s all possible.

Do you think the 3D could also get into the TV side of the business in a few years, or is it going to be too tough?
I think that’s a little harder, you know, but listen, anything’s possible. I was at the Consumer Electronics Show about three years ago and they were showing video games in 3D. You know, it’s fantastic, when you play these car racing games and it’s all 3D. But I don’t know if it’s hit the consumer markets yet. I haven’t seen it. It might be in Japan, but it’s certainly not here yet.

How important is that side of the business — when you compare the story, the director, the filmmakers you are working with — the technology side of the business?
Well, the most important thing is the story, the characters, the themes. You know, no matter how you dress it up, if those things don’t work, it doesn’t matter...whatever kind of bells and whistles you put on, 3D or otherwise. It’s all about the story and characters.

As a producer, when a new medium like 3D comes out, it must be really exciting, but at the same time it’s expensive and difficult to get. What is more important to you?
Well, anytime I can bring something new and fresh to an audience, it’s exciting to us. Anytime you can give a better moviegoing experience, if you do it right with the story and the characters, and then you add something on that’s new.

How long do you think it will take the 3D technology to become a major trend with the regular movies and when do you think that can happen?
I think that the economy has a lot to do with it, so if the economy turns in the next year or so, let’s hope it turns a lot sooner than that, it’ll happen fairly quickly. But again, it comes down to the economy. But, you know, fortunately for us movies have been up, attendance has been up for about the last three or four months, so that’s good. So maybe that’ll fuel the conversion to 3D projectors faster.

By Steve Weintraub, Collider

Broadway Shows to Go 3D In Cinemas Near You

Fugobi, a new entertainment partnership, announced its arrival on the scene last week at a meeting of The Broadway League, with plans for a 21st century model for theatrical distribution.

Fugobi principals Dale Smith and Tim Hickson addressed an audience of Broadway producers, tour presenters and industry professionals at the Broadway League's annual Spring Road Conference, sharing their excitement about a new era in Broadway's magical and storied history and the potential for growth and innovation in the face of the grave economic challenges we are facing.

"Musicals have never been more prominent in the pop culture psyche than they are right now," Smith said. "However, it has also never been more challenging to build a successful Broadway musical."

"The crisis in our financial markets has jolted us awake. We are compelled to think about changing the way Broadway works and to reimagine how we reach out to and interact with the members of our audience, as well as those we have yet to reach," Smith continued. "How do we deliver first-class entertainment to our audiences and lower risk for investors, while increasing profit potential and expanding our reach into the international community, with a Broadway model that is inflexible and out of date?"

In response to what they describe as an increasing demand for interactive, integrated and inclusive entertainment options, Smith and Hickson have created Fugobi Broadway 3D: a fully immersive, universally accessible, "larger than live" experience that will be a fundamental part of a show's road to Broadway, as well as successful touring engagements and international productions. Fugobi Broadway 3D combines the unique thrill of live performance with the captivating experience of 3D film, bringing the Broadway experience to digital cinemas across the United States and around the world. Smith and Hickson created Fugobi Broadway 3D to give Broadway fans a new way to enjoy and interact with their favorite shows and to expand Broadway's reach by giving new audiences the chance to see the best that Broadway has to offer without having to travel further than their local cinemas.

"To expand the creative and financial potential of Broadway we must anticipate our audiences' needs and wants and the choices they will make as they consume entertainment," Hickson said. "We must provide an opportunity for them either to rediscover Broadway, or to experience its wonder for the first time."

Smith and Hickson are confident that by making Broadway theatre more accessible and affordable, they will attract new audiences. And in so doing, Fugobi Broadway 3D will also provide direct benefit to producers, presenters and investors. Broadway producers and presenters of touring productions are looking for innovative ways to lower their costs and bring in new audiences; investors are seeking ways to mitigate their risk while staying connected to the Broadway community that they love. The Fugobi Broadway 3D business plan turns the traditional Broadway model on its head by uniting film and theatre much earlier in a show's journey, thereby creating a unique opportunity for producers, presenters and investors to build a stronger community of partners and audiences, and to deliver first-class entertainment to digital cinemas around the globe, while simultaneously focusing audiences' attention on the live Broadway show.

Smith, a producer and a member of the Broadway League, is currently in discussions with his fellow producers and presenters, exploring the possibilities for making Fugobi Broadway 3D a fundamental part of a show's journey to Broadway. By simultaneously leveraging the relationships they have established in the film community, Smith and Hickson project that Fugobi will capture five 3D films of Broadway shows for international release within the next eighteen months.

Smith's theatre producing credits include the 2008 Tony Award-nominated musical Xanadu on Broadway. Other current initiatives include business interests in telecommunications and weather modification. Smith specializes in reengineering business process and change management. Hickson recently vacated his management position with Australia's premiere television network "The Nine Network" to develop his own production company, TDH Media. He has been involved in more than twenty number one Australian television shows. TDH opens its first international office outside Australia in New York this year. Fugobi Broadway 3D is currently in talks with a variety of partners and expects to announce its first project within the month.

Source: BroadwayWorld

CEA Announces New Working Group to Address 3-D Technology

The Consumer Electronics Association’s (CEA) Video Systems Committee announced the launch of a new working group, R4 WG16. The new working group will address issues with 3-D technology including investigating and drafting standards for 3-D glasses.

“As evidenced by the range of 3-D-enabled products at the 2009 International CES, the 3-D video market is growing quickly,” said Brian Markwalter, vice president of Technology and Standards for CEA. “The creation of CEA’s new 3-D Technology working group reflects industry enthusiasm for ensuring interoperability among 3-D displays, glasses and video sources.”

A recent CEA study in conjunction with the Entertainment and Technology Center at the University of Southern California, 3-D TV: Where Are We Now and Where Are Consumers, showed that more than 26 million households are interested in having a 3-D content experience in their home signifying the importance of standardizing this growing technology. For more information, or to join the R4 WG16 working group, please contact Alayne Bell.

About CEA
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is the preeminent trade association promoting growth in the $172 billion U.S. consumer electronics industry. More than 2,200 companies enjoy the benefits of CEA membership, including legislative advocacy, market research, technical training and education, industry promotion and the fostering of business and strategic relationships.

Source: CEA

Orange at the Heart of the 2009 Roland Garros French Open

Orange, in partnership with France Télévisions, the Roland Garros’ host broadcaster, will be repeating its 3D TV experiment from May 31 to June 7. In this way, the two partners will be setting up a live 3D channel during the Tournament’s second week for all the matches played on the center court (Philippe Chatrier) all the way through to the final.

This channel will be able to be watched on 3D screens at the Roland Garros site, as well as in five Orange stores in France (Bordeaux, Lille, Nantes, Paris Champs Elysées, Paris Madeleine).

Source: Orange

Interview with Panasonic VP Eisuke Tsuyuzaki

Eisuke Tsuyuzaki first came into the home entertainment spotlight when Panasonic emerged as the CE community’s most vocal supporter of the Blu-ray Disc format. Now, with Blu-ray poised for a sharp growth trajectory, the hardworking Tsuyuzaki has immersed himself in another technology he believes will be The Next Big Thing: 3-D.

Already the rage in Hollywood theatrical circles, 3-D is still several dimensions away from the home. The latest development: The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) says it is “moving forward” with the integration of 3-D technology into the Blu-ray Disc format and has formed an official 3-D task force of member companies from the movie, consumer electronics and IT industries.

To what do you attribute the extraordinary success 3-D has enjoyed in theaters recently? When 'Monsters vs. Aliens' opened, 58% of its opening weekend box office came from 3-D showings. Is this just another mini-boom for 3-D — after all, it’s been around since the 1950s, with pictures such as Creature From the Black Lagoon — or is it something bigger?
It’s more than a sustained fad when leaders such as Disney and others, including DreamWorks, announce that their upcoming mainstream movies will be created and delivered in 3-D, unlike the 1950s. Another difference is that new digital technologies are enabling consumers to enjoy a more comprehensive, immersive experience and are adding another expressive texture for directors, much like sound and color when they were introduced. Digital technologies not only create an enhanced theatrical experience but also can enable significant cost savings. Taken together these factors are the catalyst behind digital cinema rollout, which in turn is the foundation for today’s theatrical 3-D.

It was actually Dick Cook at Disney who convinced us that we should get moving big time. As demand for 3-D production grows, it’s natural that studios will consider amortization across all revenue streams, including home entertainment, as soon as practically available when significant standards prevail in 2009 and products are subsequently introduced in quantity beginning in 2010.

What’s driving this demand among consumers for 3-D?
A common reaction is that many feel that they are being pulled into the story itself. I will agree with Bill Mechanic, producer of Coraline, who told me you’re not watching what’s on the screen but, rather, with the added subtle depth of perception, you feel as though you are a witness to the story.

Several scenes from Lionsgate’s My Bloody Valentine and Battle for Terra all seem to take the consumer from the theater to a theme park ride. As there are black-and-white and color movies, 3-D is another expressive art form. Here at Panasonic, we dub this engaging experience the “window to reality” which can provide an enhanced and often more satisfying storytelling experience.

You appear confident we can duplicate this demand, and the 3-D theatrical experience, in the home. What do we have to do to get there and, specifically, what is Panasonic doing to further along this cause?
At the close of the BD format war, we spoke to several of our closest studio partners on what to develop next. The resounding response based upon those conversations was 3-D. Through Fox, we have gotten to know Jim Cameron and Jon Landau at Lightstorm as well as Vince Pace, who are working on the first major live-action 3-D action adventure movie, Avatar.

The Disney relationship has extended to new discovery in conjunction with Pixar and with Zemeckis’ groundbreaking motion-capture movie A Christmas Carol and Jerry Bruckheimer’s G-Force. Through these dialogues, we discovered that the predominant 3-D production is based upon capturing left and right eye perspectives, or having two video streams. By working closely with some of the pioneers in Hollywood, Panasonic’s objective is to bring Hollywood directly to the home. This was true for DVD, significantly so for Blu-ray, and will be even more so with 3-D.

Based on the left/right eye frame sequential process, Panasonic has already developed 3-D Full High Definition HDTV and 3-D Blu-ray player prototypes demonstrated in 2008. At the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show, we announced 3-D Full HD Blu-ray Disc authoring development and production capabilities. Most recently at the National Association of Broadcasters convention this April, Panasonic announced the start of development of 3-D Full HD broadcast cameras, editing and professional monitors.

It’s important that we create an ecosystem, and make 3-D into an open standard such as the BDA (Blu-ray Disc Association) did with Blu-ray, so we can create a much bigger market more quickly and avoid causing any consumer confusion. And, given the recent BDA announcement of its 3-D task-force, it is significant that Panasonic’s R&D group continues to lead in standardization efforts of Blu-ray and HDMI, two key building blocks for 3-D that will allow a whole range of 3-D-ready products to be connected. We believe home entertainment is where there is the most initial momentum.

What makes Blu-ray Disc such a good vehicle for the 3-D experience? Could 3-D be one of the high-definition’s "killer apps"?
There’s no doubt that Blu-ray has been successful as the best way to watch prerecorded entertainment in the home, period. I’ve mentioned before that Blu-ray was designed as an extendable platform. BonusView and BD Live enhancements will eventually create additional new streaming and portable services and create a new reoccurring revenue stream (VHS had rental, DVD had sellthrough, Blu-ray will have incremental-click revenue). Similarly, 3-D Blu-ray is a very clear identifiable distinction from the past, something consumers could not experience before.

From a Blu-ray player development standpoint, to extend from BonusView or Picture-in-Picture (HD + SD video streams) to two HD streams for 3-D is not as difficult as it may first seem. It is critical to emphasize that within this common standard, we continue to maintain the highest picture quality possible. And, therefore, Panasonic will continue to advocate for full resolution (two 1080p video streams), with graphics and other current Blu-ray features. Everyone has worked hard to create a benchmark for quality, and we should not be distracted by any half step or interim home video solutions. Because the success of 3-D is directly linked to its visual impact, we must take care not to jeopardize that success by doing anything that could limit its ability to achieve maximum image quality.

Graphics is another exciting area of development we are developing at breakneck speed, based upon studio requirements and input. Since the Panasonic 3-D proposal is based upon established video codecs and is an extension of the current BD-Java environment, we believe that the verification and completion of the standard will be completed swiftly for licensing as early as late 2009.

If we all get behind this, I believe 3-D will be a major boost to make Blu-ray even more successful and predominant. This is a boon for the creative community, the studios, the allied industries, computer and consumer electronics industries, and the retail trade.

How big could the home 3-D business get, and how soon? Do you agree with Jeffrey Katzenberg’s assessment that the home 3-D market won’t develop for another five to seven years?
I have the greatest respect for Jeffrey Katzenberg. However, I believe that 3-D will create such a compelling home video experience that it will grow as a business much more rapidly than one might otherwise anticipate. I’m not saying that every Blu-ray disc will be in 3-D. Instead, I expect that when the content warrants the extraordinary experience that 3-D makes possible, consumers will demand to see that content in 3-D.

I think several research companies, such as Screen Digest, Futuresource and others, have mentioned the demand for 3-D HDTVs to be a quite realistic 10% of all flat-panel televisions by around 2012. Panasonic is encouraged by such positive findings, and is committed to sell 3-D Full High Definition HDTV at a price in the “realm of reality” from 2010. After all, after the June 12 digital broadcast transition, all televisions must be HDTV capable. And if 3-D is to become the next trend, it’s only appropriate to offer consumers a 3-D option as soon as possible.

The first step is 3-D with better glasses than the traditional cardboard red-and-cyan anaglyph glasses in use. Ultimately, do you see a day when no glasses will be necessary and the 3-D experience will be brought to viewers solely through the screen?
The quicker we can all move away from anaglyph, the better for all of us. The antiquated and degraded visual experience is a disservice and in the long term may turn off the consumer on the whole concept of 3-D. Therefore, as there is now strong interest in 3-D, there is an urgent need to provide a proper transition path quickly.

For the immediate future, just as in theaters, the glasses are an integrated part of the immersive high quality experience, especially when it comes to large-screen living room environments. As for developing something beyond that...I have a few ideas, but, as always, Panasonic will dig deep in its engineering roots, as well as consult and collaborate with the Hollywood community, who know what it takes to create a truly compelling visual experience. So, check back again with us after 3-D has taken off.

By Thomas K. Arnold, Home Media Magazine

NHK to Exhibit 33-Mpixel 3D Display

The Science & Technical Research Laboratories (STRL) of Japan Broadcasting Corp (NHK) revealed details about the main exhibits of the exhibition that the company will hold from May 21 to 24, 2009.

One of the main features of this year's exhibition was the "Ultra-high Definition TV" with a resolution of 7,680 x 4,320 (approximately 33 Mpixels). STRL has exhibited the Ultra-High Definition TV last year and the years before. But this is the first time that the company will showcase a truly 33-Mpixel TV, according to the laboratories.

The "integral 3D TV" will be exhibited for two consecutive years. The 21-inch 3D TV was realized by using a lens array that covers an ultra-high definition panel. In addition to the use of the true ultra-high definition display, STRL reduced the lens array pitch to 1.34mm. The resolution of the 21-inch model is equivalent to 400 x 250.

"Compared with the last year's model, the vertical and horizontal resolutions of 3D images were both doubled, quadrupling the resolution in total," STRL said.

NHK's 33-Mpixel integral 3D display

By Tetsuo Nozawa, Nikkei Electronics

James Cameron's "Avatar" Gets 3 Months on IMAX Theaters

James Cameron's Avatar will be airing in IMAX theaters for three months. The film is so highly anticipated that IMAX has not scheduled any film from the 3D sci-fi flick's release in December until March. IMAX venues will be showing Cameron's film from its debut on December 18 until the arrival of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland on March 5, according to New York Times.

However, nothing is set in stone yet. Things could still change, whether the three months are enough for the filmmaker's first feature film since 1997's Titanic. Next weekend, Ben Stiller's Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian will be showing on the IMAX circuit.

By Anne Lu, All Headline News

Lightspeed Design and RealD PRO Introduce 3D Bundle

Lightspeed Design, a developer of 3D stereoscopic projectors, and RealD PRO, a division of leading 3D technology and visualization equipment provider, RealD, are pleased to announce the release of the NEW DepthQ/RealD PRO Bundle.

The DepthQ/RealD PRO Bundle consists of a DepthQ HD 3D projector, four CrystalEyes 3 professional liquid crystal shutter eyewear, and an EXXR long-range wide-angle IR Theatre Emitter for a total price of $7500. In addition, customers purchasing a DepthQ/RealD PRO Bundle from Lightspeed will be able to purchase additional CrystalEyes 3 eyewear under special pricing.

DepthQ HD 3D Projectors offer rock-solid, 120Hz stereo 3D at 1280x720 resolution. These bright, professional-level 3D projectors can easily display 9 ft (2.7m) wide 3D high-definition images using the latest Texas Instruments DLP and BrilliantColor technologies for stunning colors and a 2000:1 contrast ratio.

CrystalEyes 3 is the industry standard for engineers and scientists who develop, view and manipulate 3D computer graphics models in CAVEs, theaters and immersive environments. CrystalEyes 3 is the leader for 3D visualization in molecular modeling, virtual prototyping, and aerial photography/mapping.

The EXXR Long Range Theatre Emitter offers a 130 degree infrared spread transmitting up to 70 ft (21m) making it the most powerful active eyewear synchronization emitter in the world.

Source: PRNewswire

2D/3D Stereoscopic Displays for LCDs

One problem with the conventional structure of flat-panel LCD displays is that it limits viewing angles and distances. To remedy that, Pavonine, a Korean company, has developed two types of a structured 2D/3D switchable stereoscopic LCD display by changing the structure of the conventional thin-film transistor (TFT) LCD. Multiple viewers can watch a 3D image on this display simultaneously and the company expects it to be used as a 2D/3D switchable LCD panel in the next generation of flat-panel LCDs.

Read the full article

Evans & Sutherland to Debut New 8K x 4K Pixel Laser Projector

Evans & Sutherland Computer Corporation (E&S) announced it will demonstrate its revolutionary new laser projection system at the InfoComm09 tradeshow, booth 2372, June 17-19 in Orlando, Florida. This newest E&S Laser Projector (the ESLP 8K) is the world's highest resolution production video projector, and will offer research labs, control rooms, creative studios and indoor venues worldwide a
window into worlds both real and imaginary, with fidelity that exceeds the limits of the human eye.

Evans & Sutherland ESLP 8K

Laser projectors with NanoPixel technology are already in use in a growing number of planetarium theaters around the world, as part of the successful E&S Digistar Laser fulldome planetarium system. With the ESLP 8K, available in the second half of 2009, E&S is delivering this technology to the general projection marketplace with newly available flat-screen and panoramic-screen form factors. The new projector is also capable of displaying 3D in the highest resolution from any single projector: 4K x 4K.

NanoPixel Technology Generates Superior Picture Quality
The ESLP 8K laser projector system displays content the equivalent to 16 times HD 1080p resolution, or the difference between 2 million pixels and 32 million. It is powered by a set of revolutionary laser light sources which offer multiple benefits, including low cost of operation. The hue of the lasers does not degrade or shift over time. Furthermore, the lasers yield a much wider useable color spectrum (200% of NTSC/HDTV) than is available in conventional LCoS, DLP, LCD, or other lamp-illuminated projectors.

E&S’ unique NanoPixel silicon imaging chip is at the core of this high-resolution machine. Its 8,192 microscopic moving ribbons provide an image free of artifacts, with no visible gaps between pixels and absolutely zero persistence (smearing) in moving images. The control of these ribbons is fine enough to yield a 36-bit/pixel (12-bit/color) usable precision in intensity.

The 550-pound projector uses three nanopixel chips (one for each color channel), each with more than 8,000 reflective elements. Using a "micro electro-mechanical system," the chips display all pixel rows in an image simultaneously, along with a horizontal scan mirror operating at 60 Hz to 120 Hz. It offers a response time (full on to full off) of less than 200 nanoseconds. E&S said the system has zero persistence (i.e., no smearing of moving images) and produces no visible boundaries between pixels. The laser projector does not use lamps; its lasers have a life expectancy of more than 30,000 hours.

There will be two configurations of the projector once it ships, one offering a brightness of 5,000 ANSI lumens and a contrast ratio of 2,500:1 and one offering a brightness of 2,000 ANSI lumens with a contrast ratio of 2,500:1. Lenses are available for flat screens, domes, and panoramic or cylindrical screens. Connectivity options include DVI, HDMI 1.3, HDSDI, and 10/100 Base-T Ethernet for control and diagnostics.

Environmentally Sensitive
Despite its capability, the ESLP 8K comes with a surprisingly small environmental footprint. Its unique solid state laser light sources require only modest, quiet cooling and allow the projector to be powered from an ordinary wall outlet, thereby using significantly less power than other lower resolution 2K and 4K projectors. Furthermore, the laser light sources do not require periodic replacement (and disposal) as is the case with conventional lamp-driven projectors.

Prices for the ESLP 8K laser projector will range from $500,000 to $750,000.

Source: Evans & Sutherland

Imax Execs Downplay Importance of Screen Size

Imax executives sought Tuesday to wow the media at a company presentation while also performing a bit of damage-control amid a controversy over the size of the specialty exhibitor's new digital screens. That might sound like an awkward dance step, but corporate twists and turns are nothing new for Imax veterans.

Long known as a "giant-screen exhibitor" thanks to a circuit of movie screens as tall as 76 feet, the Toronto-based company is maneuvering into digital projection by rolling out hundreds of new venues. The move is connected to Imax's other recent strategy of regularly programing its auditoriums with commercial movies like last summer's The Dark Knight and current hit Star Trek.

Most of Imax's original venues were based in museums, and for years the exhibitor showed mostly nature and space films. "Most of the films were bears, whales and seals," Imax co-CEO Rich Gelfond recalled.

The transition into Hollywood-oriented digital cinema has been good for Imax shares, which have steadily risen during the past six months. The stock dipped 3 cents to close at $7.03 on Tuesday.

But investors were jarred briefly when actor Aziz Ansari of NBC's "Parks and Recreation" complained in a Twitter-fueled blast that he felt duped into thinking he would be seeing Star Trek on a giant screen, only to discover its digital screens were close to conventional size. Ansari noted he paid a $5 premium to see the sci-fi action film in an Imax auditorium.

Imax officials dealt with the matter by labeling it an old issue that hadn't kicked up a fuss until now. The average Imax screen size has been just slightly bigger than conventional screens for about six years, ever since the company began offering less expensive Imax-format systems for easier implementation in multiplexes, they noted.

The newer systems cost just $1.5 million to get up and running, compared with about $5 million in start-up costs for an original Imax system. The digital systems now being rolled out -- with multiplex-installation costs of just $150,000 in many instances -- are of the same dimensions as the second generation of Imax's analog systems, officials said.

The company's multiplex agreements allow the removal of the lower portion of seating in stadium-seat venues, creating the perception of greater screen size and viewing immersion, they added, and Imax's remastering of commercial films boosts image resolution and brightness. The move into Hollywood programing came after technological innovations made possible a similar lowering of costs to distributors.

"Now virtually every studio wants to release their films to Imax, because the costs are just incremental," Gelfond said. "And that's because instead of telling the studios they have to get into the Imax business, we got into their business."

Imax Filmed Entertainment chief Greg Foster, who oversees the company's relationships with major Hollywood studios, said he expects Universal soon to join other Hollywood majors in agreeing to release films in Imax venues.

"We have multi-picture deals with every studio, with that one exception, and we're having conversations with them," Foster said.

The broad interest in partnering with Imax has given the specialty exhibitor a nice problem: Having to choose among films offered for release. Those set for summer release include this weekend's Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian from 20th Century Fox; Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen from DreamWorks and Paramount; and Warner Bros.' Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which will have select 3-D scenes viewable only in Imax presentation.

By Carl DiOrio, The Hollywood Reporter

Bolt Races into a Third Dimension

Bolt appeared at the Bupa Great CityGames on Sunday (17 May), sprinting 150 meters around a specially built running track installed on the city's Deansgate. The race was filmed using five dual-camera 3D rigs including one mounted on a rail cam. Sky led the production which used equipment and facilities provided by outside broadcast company Telegenic, camera kit suppliers Arri Media and Aerial Camera Systems.

The broadcaster was working with FilmNova, a division of the company that organised the event, and 3D specialists Can Communicate and will distribute the content in Odeon cinemas later this year. Bolt's stay in Manchester, including a trip to Old Trafford to watch Manchester United, was also captured in 3D.

"It's great for Sky to be involved in capturing another compelling piece of content in 3D, to add to the catalogue of events we've recorded so far," said Sky head of product design and innovation Brian Lenz. "As part of our on-going research and development work, we're continuing to assess how 3D can work across a range of events and programming genres."

Sky has already completed 3D shoots featuring boxing, football, ballet and pop music.

Paul Foster, director of FilmNova said: "Capturing Usain Bolt's appearance in 3D is a fantastic opportunity to showcase our event, and athletics in general. Nova are committed to staging world class sporting events, and covering them in new and creative ways."

By Will Strauss, BroadcastNow

Wenders Pairs with Bausch for 3-D Dance Feature

Director Wim Wenders' next project is Pina, a collaboration with avant-garde choreographer Pina Bausch on what is being called the first 3-D dance feature. Shooting is set to begin in September, with digital film enthusiast Wenders' Neue Road Movies shingle producing in collaboration with Bausch's dance theater in Wuppertal, Germany.

"Only mainstream 3-D films have been available so far," Neue Road producer Gian-Piero Ringel said. "With Pina, we (will) offer the first highly artistic 3-D film. We will set a new benchmark for 3-D."

Bausch, whose choreography is credited with revolutionizing the language of modern dance, will act as choreographer for the dance performance Wenders plans to capture on film. French cinematographer Alain Derobe will lens the film.

Wenders, who won the Cannes festival's Palme d'Or for Paris, Texas, premiered his last feature, Palermo Shooting, in 2008 in competition at Cannes.

By Scott Roxborough, Reuters

Blu-ray Disc Assn. Takes on 3D Home Standards

The Blu-ray Disc Assn. has formed a 3D task force to formally integrate advanced 3D technology into the Blu-ray format. Studios, consumer electronics manufacturers and information technology companies are all represented in the task force. The group will work toward forging a universal 3D home entertainment specification. A meeting timetable for the task force has not been specified.

Due to its large capacity, Blu-ray has long been talked about as a perfect disc source to house advanced 3D theatrical projects. The BDA’s task force underscores the industry’s commitment to getting high-quality 3D to homes.

Today’s lack of 3D home standards has meant that current theatrical pictures are downgraded to weak anaglyph 3D imagery when released on Blu-ray or DVD.

Enhancing Blu-ray with 3D capabilities should additionally prop up the format with advantages over standard-definition DVD. Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment is already moving toward making 3D a Blu-ray premium (although currently in anaglyph style). June 30 release Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience will only be available in 3D on Blu-ray; Jonas Brothers: The Concert Experience will roll out on standard DVD.

“Blu-ray Disc is the ideal platform for bringing 3D technology to mainstream home entertainment,” said the BDA in a statement. “The format has been widely embraced by consumers, and the 1080p picture quality and overall experience have become the standards against which all other high-definition delivery platforms are measured. Blu-ray Disc’s capacity, flexibility and incomparable picture quality coupled with the activities of the BDA’s 3D task force sets the stage for a 3D home entertainment specification that establishes another industry standard and enables an in-home 3D consumer experience unmatched by any other delivery mechanism,” said the BDA in the statement.

By Susanne Ault, VideoBusiness

China, Korea Team on $30 mil 3-D Project

Investors from China and Korea have teamed to produce Legend of the Magic Bell, the first stereoscopic 3-D film from the two countries. The $30 million picture is backed by John Woo and Terence Chang's Lion Rock Entertainment, Kimjonghak Production and Tosoa Entertainment and produced by Chang.

Kim Jonghak will direct the Mandarin-language picture from a screenplay by Guo Zheng (Red Cliff). It will shoot beginning early next year and is set for delivery in late 2011 or early 2012. Hong Kong's Golden Network Asia is handling international sales.

The story was inspired by Chinese classic Shan Hai Jing (The Classic of Mountains and Seas) and is set in a world where humans co-exist with demons. It follows a human warrior who falls in love with a beautiful demon bodyguard, setting off a cycle of love and death spanning 5,000 years.

"I intend to shoot the film in 3-D so that the audiences can feel the dangers and delights of the story as if they are really traveling alongside the characters on their epic journey, feeling their emotions and heartache," Kim said at a news conference in Cannes.

Kim is known as one of Korea's leading TV directors and was responsible for the hit Legend.

By Patrick Frater, The Hollywood Reporter

3-D Movie Projects Get a Push at Cannes

The Cannes Film Festival has no shortage of big-budget 3-D spectacles: It opened with Pixar's 3-D animated film Up, and Disney on Monday showed footage from its upcoming 3-D holiday movie A Christmas Carol, while fake snow decorated the landmark Carlton Hotel in the 80-degree Cannes weather.

But the immersive technology also is attracting a growing crowd of independent filmmakers, some of whom are making -- and trying to sell -- 3-D movies on a fraction of Pixar's and Disney's budgets. They are convinced that the stereoscopic effect can help separate their films in a cluttered marketplace and drive moviegoers into theaters.

In a tiny booth not far from where the Up filmmakers walked the Cannes red carpet, 34-year-old Pavel Nikolajev was trying to drum up interest in Duel 3D, an action-fantasy film that the writer-director made for less than $100,000 in North Carolina. A distributor from Turkey was watching scenes from the film on a 3-D-capable TV as Nikolajev, who was born in Kyrgyzstan and holds a master's degree in information technology, tried to drum up business.

"Everybody is shooting digital movies these days," Nikolajev said after the distributor, who seemed interested but signed no contract, left. "It's not that 2-D is boring. But it's not that interesting anymore." Asked how sales were proceeding, the filmmaker said, "I've got a lot of interest from all over the world. Just not from the United States yet. But because it's not a million-dollar production, I don't have to sell it for a lot."

Of the 4,500 movies being sold and 900 films being shown in the sales convention that runs parallel to the film festival here, there are more than a dozen new 3-D films, some of them completed and others just screenplays looking for underwriting.

Duel 3D is almost certainly the cheapest of the bunch. Several others are far more ambitious. The already filmed Oceans 3D: Into the Deep cost $14.5 million to make; and Station 21: 3D, scheduled to go into production next year, is budgeted at $45 million.

The films' producers and sales agents hope that the strong box-office receipts for recent 3-D movies such as Monsters vs. Aliens will improve their chances for sale.

In some international territories, the same film can do five times as much business in 3-D theaters as 2-D screens. Pixar Animation Studios, DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. and Walt Disney Co. have made a commitment to produce an array of 3-D titles in the coming years. Lionsgate is now developing a number of 3-D movies, convinced that the success of its My Bloody Valentine means 3-D horror, action and even sex-comedy titles can profit from the format.

Several sellers at Cannes said they were hopeful that director James Cameron's 3-D movie Avatar, which debuts Dec. 19, would open the floodgates for 3-D exhibition and distribution.

In a booth just a little bit fancier than Nikolajev's, Isabel Pons was trying to catch buyers' eyes with large posters for Magic Journey to Africa 3D, a $15-million family adventure and fantasy movie from Orbita Max, the same Spanish producers that made the documentary Mystery of the Nile. Pons acknowledged that there's a potential obstacle to 3-D theatrical distribution: There aren't enough theaters equipped to show such movies.

"We have about 100 3-D screens in Spain," Max said. "But every week, we are adding more screens."

A shorter, documentary version of Magic Journey will be created to be shown in Imax theaters, most of which can show 3-D movies.

Some of these 3-D movies may never make it into wide release in U.S. theaters. The Latin American division of 20th Century Fox produced The Happy Cricket and the Gigantic Insects, a 3-D animated sequel to The Happy Cricket, a 2001 Brazilian film (O Grilo Feliz) that was released in the U.S. on DVD in 2006.

"That movie was a blockbuster in Russia," said Helder Dacosta, whose Tropicalstorm Entertainment is in Cannes selling its 3-D sequel. He said the movie has been sold during the film festival to distributors in Turkey, Poland, Germany and Russia.

One of the most elaborate of the independently financed 3-D movies is the Australian production Station 21: 3D, a futuristic thriller. The film has at its center a holographic character who should benefit from 3-D viewing.

"It will look a little bit better than the hologram of Princess Leia in the first Star Wars movie," said producer Laura Sivis, who has not yet started filming the movie and is trying to generate buyer interest from test footage.

"Three years ago, when we talked about making a 3-D movie, people just rolled their eyes at us. They thought 3-D would be a passing phase."

By John Horn, Los Angeles Times

SMPTE Prepares for 3-D to the Home

While the debate continues on whether consumers are willing to buy new HDTV sets and wear funky glasses in their living rooms to view 3-D content, the Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers (SMPTE) is preparing for the future of television.

The success of stereoscopic 3-D technology for feature films in movie theaters over the past year has prompted a growing discussion within the broadcast industry — including everyone from terrestrial networks to Internet-only content providers — to figure out how to bring those high-resolution, bandwidth-hungry movies and special events to consumers’ homes. The recent NAB convention featured numerous panels and technology papers dedicated to it.

In the middle of this discussion is the SMPTE organization, which formed a special task force last summer representing multiple industries, from consumer electronics manufacturers to the brightest broadcast engineers, to look into it. They comprise what Wendy Aylsworth, vice president of engineering for SMPTE, called the largest collection of individuals working on a task force within SMPTE.

Aylsworth oversees all of the organization’s standards development, including the group that, over the past six months, investigated how to get 3-D into the living room. Their exhaustive report, entitled “Report of SMPTE Task Force on 3D to the Home,” details several different scenarios for delivering and viewing 3-D content in the home — from over-the-air broadcast to high-capacity removable media, including a new generation of dual-sided Blu-ray DVD.

The task force’s mission was to define what standards would be needed to establish the adoption of stereoscopic A/V content from content mastering to consumption in the home via multiple types of distribution channels. There’s also talk of downconverting 3-D content to support display on portable and mobile devices.

The group started in August of 2008 and at the NAB show in April released its report, which has been published and is available on the SMPTE Web site. The development of a “home master” that would be distributed after post production is the first step in the 3-D broadcast chain.

The home master would be used to extract different formatted versions for all of the various distribution platforms now available (including broadband and fixed media). It would also provide a reference to help broadcasters understand what type of content they are getting and how it should be handled. The goal is to have the resolution and synchronized images look as good in the home as they do on a monitor in post production.

Now, the next step for SMPTE is to gather industry consensus on the report and begin the process for creating a universal standard. SMPTE members are encouraged to download the SMPTE requirements report and provide feedback.

Aylsworth said that there is a combination of market forces that are now driving the need for a set of defined specifications for how to produce and distribute content that can be viewed either with special polarized glasses or without. Interest has come from both movie studios in programmed content and broadcasters in “special events” for live sports and entertainment telecasts. A number of real-world trials to theaters thus far have resulted in positive viewer feedback, albeit it with little real profit for those involved.

“The current success of 3-D movies in the theater the past year has been one of the biggest reasons why the [entertainment] industry is interested in bringing this excitement into the home,” Aylsworth said. “The technology for producing 3-D content has been around for a while, in various forms, but in the past there have been difficulties getting the right combination of technology and human visual systems to perceive 3-D comfortably. That was true in the film analog world. The digital cinema world has caused a lot of those issues to go away and we’re seeing consumers really taking a liking to 3-D content.”

Virtually everyone involved in the broadcast chain, from content creation to compression and on to the home, was represented on the SMPTE 3-D task force. SMPTE’s role now is to get the conversation started, focus on a number of the details associated with the various broadcast steps along the way, and ultimately define a 3-D home master content standard. Defining the requirements for a 3-D home master was a critical first step.

Aylsworth said she’s spoken to many organizations that are waiting to see if one technology platform catches on before they commit their content and economic resources to 3-D.

“What’s become clear is that it’s important to have a standard way of producing 3-D content so that everyone around the world can set up an infrastructure to handle it,” she said. “If we don’t have a standard established, we would end up with proprietary solutions based on different assumptions. This would cause the market to become fragmented, which would in turn result in a more protracted and difficult rollout of a 3-D service.”

However, the infrastructure for getting 3-D into the home is still a long way from being a mature and reliable system. Most content providers (e.g., cable, satellite, telco and terrestrial) are currently working with a 1.5Gb/s pipeline that is inadequate for 3-D unless a lot of compression is applied.

“I think the broadcast channels have some unique challenges in terms of both their bandwidth and methods of distribution, which have been developed over many years to handle 2-D viewing,” Aylsworth said. “Those distribution platforms might lag a bit in terms of transmitting 3-D, but the use of optical media is very promising right now and industry-wide adoption is just around the corner.”

She said that after movie theaters, subscription-based TV providers, including the Internet, would probably be the next adopters of 3-D. For free, over-the-air broadcasting, the challenge is ensuring that anybody who’s receiving that 3-D signal but doesn't have a 3-D-capable set will still be able to watch it in 2-D.

“Terrestrial broadcast is a bit more challenging because that infrastructure is the oldest and there’s a bit more legacy infrastructure to deal with, but 3-D to the home is still viable for over-the-air broadcasters in the future,” Aylsworth said. “The ATSC, DVB and others in Japan are all starting to work on ways to distribute it on their existing channels. So, there’s hope for a practical solution.”

However, do people really want 3-D in their homes? Aylsworth said studies have shown that consumers are interested in 3-D and, for economic reasons, the industry will support that desire.

The Consumer Electronics Association and the University of Southern California’s Entertainment Technology Center recently released a study using stereoscopic color anaglyphs (moving or still pictures in contrasting colors that appear three-dimensional when superimposed) to get a feel for how well consumers will like 3-D in their home, and the response was very positive.

Aylsworth said any new 3-D-to-the-home standard should be resolved in about a year, which is typical for most SMPTE initiatives. SMPTE is actually working on a series of standards related to 3-D, including defining the image parameters as well as ancillary metadata, such as subtitles and closed captions.

“I think we’ll see stereographic 3-D in the home, akin to what you now see in the theater, by 2012,” she predicted, adding that those telecasts will most likely be sporting events that require special polarized glasses to see the 3-D effects.

Time — and a number of market forces — will tell whether she’s right.

By Michael Grotticelli, BroadcastEngineering