O2 Launching Interactive 3D Cinema Game

O2 has announced that they'll be screening the world's first interactive 3D game across Britain this summer. Asteroid Storm will played by an estimated 1 million people in 20 selected Vue cinemas.

The elements of the game are fairly simple both in terms of plot and interactivity. Players will become crew on the Starship O2 and they need to steer the ship back on course. This will be done by waving their arms in the air in accordance with instructions from the Captain. 3D obstacles will race towards them in an effort to put them off.

The craft’s movements are controlled by different areas of the audience putting its hands up, which is made possible by two ceiling-mounted cameras that use infra-red scanners to track hand movements. These sensors are connected to a gaming server which translates the audience’s hand movements into Starship motion in real time. The server controls the cinema’s 3D projector to create the display.

The interactive experience uses floor projectors and was dreamt up by ZenithOptimedia. Creative work was done by VCCP and Agency Republic. The game will be accompanied by the first ever 3D movie trailer reel, by advertising guru Pearl & Dean.

Rolling out across 20 UK-based Vue cinemas from 10 July, Asteroid Storm will appear before screenings of several films, including Ice Age 3 3D and Toy Story 3D. Participating VUE cinemas include those in London, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham.

By Paul Lamkin, TechDigest

Michael Jackson Shot 3D Video Project Before Death

Two weeks before he died, Michael Jackson wrapped up work on an elaborate production dubbed the Dome Project that could be the final finished video piece overseen by the King of Pop. Jackson was apparently preparing to dazzle concert audiences in London with a high-tech show in which 3D images — some inspired by his Thriller era — would flash behind him as he performed on stage.

"It was a groundbreaking effort," said Vince Pace, whose company provided cameras for the shoot, a 3D system he created with filmmaker James Cameron.

"To think that Michael's gone now, that's probably the last documented footage of him to be shot in that manner," Pace said.

Two people with knowledge of the secretive project confirmed its existence Monday to the AP on condition they not be identified because they signed confidentiality agreements. They said it was a five-week project filmed at Culver Studios, which 70 years ago was the set for the classic film Gone With the Wind. Four sets were constructed for Jackson's production, including a cemetery recalling his 1983 Thriller video.

With 3D technology "the audience would have felt like they were visiting the Thriller experience, like they were there," Pace said.

Shooting for the project lasted from June 1-9, with Jackson on the set most days. The project was in post-production, at the time of Jackson's death, and had been expected to be completed next month. It was not immediately clear what would be made of the video footage now.

Producer Robb Wagner, founder of music-video company Stimulated Inc., did not immediately return a message seeking comment on the project.

Michael Roth, a spokesman for Jackson's Los Angeles-based promoter AEG Live, said he hadn't heard about the production but did not rule that it could be part of the company's contract with the entertainer.

By Michael R. Blood, The Associated Press

Eutelsat Looks to Broadband and 3D for Growth

Eutelsat, the French satellite operator, is pushing into new markets such as broadband internet services and 3D television in order to boost revenue as the television market stagnates.

“Normal TV has a limit,” Giuliano Berretta, chief executive of the company, told the Financial Times. “The rate of increase in TV revenues slowed this year. We can’t have double-digit growth unless we can grow the broadband business and a new type of TV consumption.”

Eutelsat, which provides satellite connections for TV companies such as Sky Italia, has seen revenue growth in its main television business slow from double-digit increases to just more than 5 per cent growth in the first nine months of its current fiscal year.

The company has launched a number of pilot projects in 3D TV, in an effort to stimulate development of this market. In July, for example, the company will be sending a 3D broadcast of a concert by French singer Julien Clerc in La Rochelle to several locations around France. The company also worked with Sky Italia to broadcast a basketball game shot in 3D.

3D technology is gaining popularity in the movie industry with a number of recent films, such as Monsters vs Aliens, Coraline, and James Cameron’s forthcoming Avatar, all made in 3D. In TV, the technology is in its infancy, although BSkyB is making investments in it, and has predicted that a 3D TV service could be rolled out within the next two to three years.

Mr Berretta is determined for Eutelsat to be at the forefront of the technology as it develops. “3D is a real revolution. We are creating a specialisation in shooting and transmitting it,” Mr Berretta said.

By Maija Palmer, The Financial Times

Interview with Lenny Lipton

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Source: MacVideo

Panasonic Names Eisuke Tsuyuzaki Chief Technology Officer

Panasonic Corporation of North America today named Eisuke Tsuyuzaki its new Chief Technology Officer. Mr. Tsuyuzaki has served as Managing Director of Panasonic Hollywood Laboratory since 2005. In this capacity, he directed Panasonic's next-generation entertainment R&D activities in the U.S., especially in the Blu-ray Disc format and 3D Full HD TV areas, and deepened the company's relationships with the Hollywood studios and creative community. Before joining Panasonic, Mr. Tsuyuzaki held leadership positions in corporate development and technology functions at Sony Corporation and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

"We are confident that Eisuke Tsuyuzaki will be the right technology strategy leader for Panasonic in North America at a time when converging technologies are creating so many new opportunities," said Yoshi Yamada, Chairman and CEO of Panasonic Corporation of North America. "Eisuke's expertise in technology standards and strategic alliance-building and his understanding of the needs of the content creators will be great assets for Panasonic as he takes on his new role."

Mr. Tsuyuzaki succeeds Dr. Paul Liao, who is leaving Panasonic to become President and CEO of Cable Television Laboratories, Inc. (CableLabs), the non-profit research and development consortium founded by the nation's cable system operators.

Source: PR Newswire

Cinema Expo Pitches 3-D to Theaters

Cinema Expo had one message for Europe's theater owners last week: Get behind 3-D. Other industry concerns, such as piracy and preserving release windows, took a backseat at the Amsterdam confab to a concerted push from Hollywood's 3-D faithful.

There was an extended preview of Avatar presented by James Cameron and Sigourney Weaver, the global 3-D premiere of Fox's Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and a Disney screening of Up in 3-D plus a preview of the studio's stereoscopic slate, including sequences from Robert Zemeckis' A Christmas Carol and the retrofitted Beauty and the Beast.

"Meet us on Dec. 18 with as many screens as you can," Cameron beckoned. "You don't want to be watching everyone driving down the street to the other theater because it has 3-D."

But before Europe can meet Cameron's wishes, 3-D purveyors have some key issues to sort out. One is the choice between 4K projection and 2K. "Suddenly, in the U.S., we all see that huge deals are being made on 4K, plus the Sony 4K becomes ready to show 3-D, which was previously not the case," says Franck Lebouchard, head of Gallic chain Europalaces.

It doesn't help that Hollywood is putting out a mixed message on the benefits of 4K: Sony has committed to 4K film production, backing its equipment interests, but others have not. Disney and Paramount execs at the Expo were lukewarm about whether customers could see the difference.

And then there's that nagging question of 3-D eyewear. There was heated debate over who pays for the glasses.

"As an exhibitor, I want those glasses to have very little cost, and I want that cost paid by the studios," says Lebouchard.

"We want them less expensive, and I'd go so far as to say we want them reusable," said Jason Brenek, Disney's senior VP for worldwide digital cinema and programming. "We need to find either models where consumers bring their own glasses or some sort of a national model where glasses are sponsored."

By Ian Mundell, Variety

Interview with Paradise FX CTO Max Penner

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Source: YouTube

3D Film Factory at Cine Gear Expo 2009

Karl Kozak presents the new line of production-ready, inexpensive, stereoscopic 3D camera rigs available from the 3D Film Factory.

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Source: YouTube

Telcast to Provide Thai 3D

Germany's Telcast Media Group is to produce 3DTV specials for cable pay-TV platform Truevisions TV in Thailand. The contract will be to make the opening and closing concerts as well as contestant highlights for Thailand's hugely popular reality talent show, True Academy Fantasia.

Truevisions TV's chief programme and content officer, and the series' executive producer, Attaphon Na Bangxang, wants to use the 3D experience to bring something new to this, the production's sixth season which launches on 29 June.

Telcast 3D content is broadcast by transmitting the left and right eye images consecutively. Its patented glasses create a fractional time delay in the perception in one eye so that the images of the two signals needed for the 3D perception arrive at the same time in the brain. Viewers without glasses see a clear 2D picture.

Telcast International Sales Manager, Lyn Siew, said: "This is a major logistical undertaking for both parties. Telcast have flown over one million 3D glasses to Bangkok - weighing over 4400 kg. The Telcast/Truevisions TV contract includes over one million branded tickets and the lens deal has been sponsored by Truevisions' sister company mobile network, TrueMove."

True Academy Fantasia is described as a mix between X Factor and Big Brother. The contestants for the song-led talent show live in the same house fitted with hundreds of hidden cameras. Audiences can watch them 24/7 live on TV and online.

By Adrian Pennington, TVBEurope

Fox Pressing for Reusable Glasses as 3-D Films Ramp Up

Fox, a unit of News Corp. is getting into the 3-D game for the first time this year with two high-profile releases - Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs July 1 and James Cameron's sci-fi epic Avatar in December. Indeed, Hollywood studios will release a record number of 3-D films this year, and probably again in 2010.

The 3-D feature should result in even bigger box office grosses for the films, but more viewers also means more plastic 3-D glasses that are supposed to be deposited into recycling bins after the show, but frequently aren't despite widespread signage in theaters.

If the current model for glasses continues, Fox projects "hundreds of millions of pairs" of glasses could be thrown out, and that's a serious environmental issue, Julian Levin, executive vice-president of digital exhibition at Fox, said in an interview with Dow Jones.

RealD, whose 3-D system involves single-use recyclable glasses, currently holds about 90% of the market. Its recycling program has collected "millions" of 3-D glasses so far, and it's testing reusable eyewear in certain markets, a spokeswoman said. The reusable program is expected to process "tens of millions" of glasses through the summer and will be operated by RealD as a courtesy, with no additional charge to exhibition partners or moviegoers, she added.

Other industry players are already employing reusable glasses, including Imax, Dolby Laboratories and XpanD, which Fox's Levin noted is better for the environment and makes more economic sense over the long run too. Eventually, he hopes consumers will bring their personal pair of 3-D glasses to the theater.

Recent reports say studios and exhibitors are at odds over who should pay for 3-D glasses - a cost that's been absorbed by studios so far - and that Fox in particular wanted to change things starting with its Ice Age release. Though cost wasn't an issue in 3-D's beginning, when films like Walt Disney's Chicken Little played on fewer than 100 digital 3-D screens, with 3,500 or more screens expected for the release of Avatar, there's a lot more money at stake.

Levin wouldn't discuss any contracts around next week's Ice Age release, but it's been reported that Fox backed off on the glasses issue, at least for now.

Marla Backer of Hudson Square Research said single-use glasses may be easier to deal with, but they're inconsistent with corporations' increasing focus on "being green."

While reusable glasses need to be more durable and therefore cost more, she heard from exhibitors that chose Dolby's system - which like Imax utilizes theater attendants to collect and clean glasses - that incremental costs are small as employees have "downtime" between shows and the training required is minimal.

By Andy Georgiades, The Wall Street Journal

Arena Adds Royal Family to 3D Catalogue

Outside broadcast company Arena Television plans to make stereoscopic 3D images of the Royal Family available to broadcasters. The facilities provider captured the footage at the Garter Ceremony held at Windsor Castle earlier this month using two pairs of stereoscopic cameras.

“Arena has been pioneering a range of 3D filming techniques both for aerial filming applications and outside broadcasts,” said group managing director Richard Yeowart.

“We were looking for a colourful high profile event to use as a test bed and not yet having seen any coverage of the Royal family in 3D, thought this to be an excellent opportunity. The results are absolutely stunning”.

Broadcaster usage will be subject to final clearance from the Queen’s press office. Footage will be also made available to the national archive.

By Will Strauss, BroadcastNow

Lightspeed Releases the New DepthQ Family of Stereoscopic HD Video Software

Lightspeed Design announces the release of its new DepthQ family of stereoscopic software for state-of-the-art capture and playback of HD 3D media. DepthQ is the only 3D software package capable of low-latency (66ms) real-time monitoring with simultaneous capture, highly efficient GPU image processing and smooth, high-resolution media playback.

DepthQ Capture
DepthQ Capture is a powerful software solution for the precise capture, recording and monitoring of stereo 3D video from two simultaneous camera inputs (Analog, HD-SDI, HDMI, FireWire or USB) at dual HD resolution. Features include low-latency, real-time monitoring, a camera alignment aid and visual overlays to assist in optimizing your 3D effects for various target playback screens.

DepthQ Capture captures your two independent camera video sources, concatenates them together as an above/below image to preserve sync, processes the result -- applying any scaling and compression required -- and then serves the final stereo data as a single data stream to any 3D (or 2D) monitoring device at the required resolution, frame rate, and encoding standard for that display.

DepthQ Player
DepthQ Player is a feature-packed software solution for the high-quality playback of stereo 3D movies from a standard PC. Easy to use and designed from the ground up as a professional product, DepthQ Player combines efficient code architecture and superior throughput for high-bandwidth playback of either locally stored or URL-accessible stereoscopic movies, as well as 3D streaming IP video (MPEG2-TS RTP/UDP).

DepthQ Player delivers the most comfortable-to-view stereo 3D experience possible, and allows cost-effective viewing of high-resolution stereoscopic media in a wide variety of environments -- from remote 3D viewing stations, operating rooms and conference rooms to 3D cinemas, museum exhibits, portable theaters, motion simulators, corporate events and trade shows.

Features include:
- Flicker-free 120 Hz stereoscopic 3D video
- Input Formats - above/below, side-by-side, interlaced and more
- Output Formats - Page-flip, DLP checkerboard, dual output, interlace and more
- DepthQ Alignment (real-time X-Y stereoscopic parallax adjustments)
- Time Dependent Event Editor (IN/OUT points, Parallax changes)
- Time Code Capability
- DMX-512 Control of External Devices
- Cg GPU Image Processing (cornerstone, edge sharpening, contrast, brightness, etc.)
- Depth Reference Marks

DepthQ Player software uses Microsoft Direct Show infrastructure working with codecs like Windows Media Player, MJPEG, MPEG-2, and H.264 and is compatible with NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision and NVIDIA Quadro.

DepthQ Player is available in three configurations: Lite, a free-to-download evaluation version incorporating a subtle watermark, with restricted playlength and functionality; Standard, a licensed commercial version at 720P resolution per eye; and Pro, a licensed professional version at full 1080P resolution per eye.

Source: PR Newswire

3D Film Factory Makes Breakthrough in 3D Conversions

The 3D Film Factory, a company specializing in 3D technologies, is now the exclusive, worldwide licensee of 3inD software, a highly developed 2D to 3D stereoscopic image conversion process. Conceived using a new paradigm, the program actually recreates 2D images (video, film & stills) in a 3D space.

Conventional conversion programs merely rotoscope, or cut out selected objects within 2D images, only to push them around and create the illusion of depth. Conversely, the new 3inD system actually recreates 2D images within a three dimensional environment, creating true depth, texture and space. This revolutionary process overcomes most of the inherent problems that plague existing 3D conversion programs.

3inD’s innovative method not only gives conversion technicians unprecedented tactile command over highly complex images (live-action & animated), but takes the manipulation of alignment, perspective, depth, pop, borders, tracking, missing data, motion and stereoscopy – to a higher level altogether.

Like other 3D conversion systems, the resulting 3D images can be output to an array of formats and platforms, including RealD & Dolby digital 3D polarized theaters, dual projection, 3D ready TV, alternate-frame sequencing, and more.

Source: Free Press Release

RNIB Joins Debate on 3D Industry Standards

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has waded into the dispute other whether or not 3D TV should be standardised. The UK broadcast industry is currently divided over whether to support a backward-compatible, full resolution per eye standard, or to initially back BSkyB’s method that would utilise current HD infrastructure and set-top boxes.

In a statement, the charity said: “RNIB is very concerned that the introduction of 3D could result in many people being unable to watch television unless national and international industry standards are set. Whether because of an eye condition, or simply eye strain, it is essential to ensure that viewers are able to change from watching a 3D programme on their TV or set-top box to watching the same programme in 2D. If 3D TV goes ahead without industry standards being set, more than 200,000 blind and partially sighted people across the UK will be affected.”

The RNIB suggests that any viewers with eye conditions that affect depth perception – plus those with cataracts or glaucoma – will have difficulty seeing in 3D.

By Will Strauss, BroadcastNow

DreamWorks, 3D Drive Plan for Disney

Disney may be the most bullish Hollywood major when it comes to 3D, and the Burbank studio put several three-dimensional entries on its film slate front-and-center Wednesday in a Cinema Expo presentation.

Trailers were shown from Robert Zemeckis' motion-capture animated feature A Christmas Carol, set for November release, and next summer's Pixar sequel Toy Story 3. But glimpses of Tim Burton's live action-and-motion capture fantasy Alice in Wonderland were limited to production stills, while May opener Prince of Persia from Jerry Bruckheimer was teased in a sizzle reel, and a early visual-effects shot was used to whet exhibs' appetite for Disney's as-yet-unslotted remake of Tron.

Disney international distribution president Anthony Marcoly noted that Disney has agreed to distribute pics for Steven Spielberg's newly private DreamWorks, aiming to add to Disney's own recently downsized release slate.

"There will be fewer films, but you can count on them being bigger and better than ever," Marcoly said. "And you can expect four to six DreamWorks films per year, starting in 2010-2011."

After its 75-minute slate promo, Disney screened in its entirety the 3D family feature Up. The Pixar-animated pic already has produced $255 million in worldwide boxoffice, including $23 million from its fledgling international campaign. Execs noted the Up tallies feature an estimated $36 million in extra coin from exhibs' marking up ticket prices in 3D venues. Up is playing in a mix of 2D and 3D venues, due to an insufficient installed base of 3D auditoriums.

Those attending the Up screening were asked to wear both 3D glasses and audio headsets, lending an especially high-tech appearance to the audience. Disney used the headsets to offer the film in several language versions, with the special gear needed even for the English track. Most films screened here are offered only in English.

Meanwhile, various 3D vendors have been seeking a bit of the promo spotlight at Cinema Expo, where the fledgling technology has been a hot topic of discussion. Masterimage touted its participation in the Disney presentation. On Tuesday, RealD helped Fox screen 3D clips from James Cameron's upcoming Avatar.

RealD on Wednesday announced a new product for use by theater owners in programming live events as alternative programming for their cinemas. When added onto RealD's 3D projector systems, ReadD Live can receive and convert broadcast signals for theatrical 3D presentation.

By Carl DiOrio, The Hollywood Reporter

AMD 3D Technology at Computex 2009

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Source: FirstZoom

Multi-view 3D Display from CPT at OPTO 2009

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Source: FirstZoom

CMO 3D Display panels at Display Taiwan 2009

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Source: FirstZoom

RealD Live to Bring 3D Alternative Entertainment Broadcasts to Theatres

RealD, the world’s leading outfitter of 3D theatres, announced RealD LIVE, a new product that works with the company’s Cinema Systems enabling RealD equipped theatres to display live event broadcasts from anywhere in the world in crisp, clear, fully immersive RealD 3D. With 3D films driving today’s record box office, RealD LIVE promises to open new 3D entertainment opportunities to the over 8,700 screens contracted to RealD with live alternative content broadcast capabilities for concerts, sporting events, theatre and more.

Another technology leap from the world’s leading 3D entertainment company, RealD LIVE is a separate product that when connected to RealD Cinema Systems receives a broadcast signal and converts the stream to a format compatible with digital cinema projectors. RealD LIVE works with the company’s DLP 3D solutions, the Cinema System and XL Cinema System, which is capable of reaching screens up to 80 feet in width, and with the Sony 4K compatible XLS Cinema System. With standard RealD cinema eyewear, audiences will experience the high quality, stunningly lifelike viewing experience RealD 3D is known for.

RealD LIVE will bring worldwide distribution to technology recently used for live broadcasts of sporting events to RealD equipped theatres in the U.S. RealD LIVE is expected to be available in the fourth quarter of 2009.

Source: PR Inside

World’s First Non-Commercial National Digital Cinema Roll-Out

Film & Kino, the Norwegian interest organization for cinemas, announces the world’s first non-commercial complete national digital roll out with agreements with Twentieth Century Fox, United International Pictures (the local distributor for Paramount Pictures and Universal Pictures in Norway), Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International, and Warner Bros. Pictures International.

Film & Kino has served the Norwegian cinema industry for over 90 years, and is proud to announce multiple studio agreements in Norway. This complete digital roll-out will transform all of Norway’s cinemas, big and small, to modern DCI-compliant digital cinema houses. The roll-out will start in late 2009 after the completion of public tenders for the procurement of equipment and services required for the digitization process.

“This is a great undertaking for a small country”, said Jorgen Stensland, Director of Consultants at Film & Kino. “Under these agreements, Disney, Fox, Paramount, Universal, and Warner have committed to deliver wide releases to Norwegian digital cinemas. The deal also covers our own mobile cinema in rural areas. Film & Kino’s goal of delivering quality film all over this country is secured in the future by these agreements. We are happy that Norwegians will be able to experience the perfect quality of a DCI-compliant digital exhibition, which will also give our audiences the opportunity to see the new generation of 3D films that are underway. We look forward to working together with the studios to make this happen.”

The agreements will help facilitate the financing of the conversion to digital cinema. The costs will be shared between distributors, cinemas and Film & Kino.

Source: DCinemaToday

Euro Exhibitors Ponder 4K Dilemma

The spate of 4K digital cinema deals in the U.S. is causing ripples in Europe, with exhibitors questioning their previous commitment to 2K projection.

"Suddenly in the U.S. we all see that huge deals are being made on 4K, plus the Sony 4K becomes ready to show 3-D, which was previously not the case," said Europalaces topper Franck Lebouchard, at Cinema Expo, Monday. The Gallic chain was considering a limited number of 4K installations in the coming months, but is now re-thinking. "My life was simple two weeks ago," Lebouchard added.

Studios present were not prepared to back one system or the other. "We think 2K is fantastic, we think 4K is fantastic," said Jason Brenek, Disney's senior VP for worldwide digital cinema and programming. But he was downbeat about the business case. "There aren't a lot of places around the world where consumers have shown a willingness to pay a premium for 2K digital cinema other than for 3-D, and we don't think that 4K is necessarily going to justify a price premium above and beyond 2K."

Mark Christiansen, executive VP operations at Paramount Pictures, also sat on the fence, having been unimpressed by side-by-side tests of the two systems. "There's a lot more to the image than just the resolution: contrast, color depth, brightness. All these things probably have more to do with what you perceived the quality of the image to be than the resolution."

Competition may make the case, however. "If your competing theater says we have 4K so we are better than the guy down the street who has 2K, you may have a marketing issue," he added.

By Ian Mundell, Variety

Euroscoop and Apollo Cinemas Set to Go Digital

If there was any debate over whether digital cinema would ever roll out in the European market one would hardly know after the past two weeks. Sure there have been lots of discussion at the European Cinema Summit and Cinema Expo about which European countries would be eligible for virtual print fees, which would have to go it on their own and wether the European Commission would offer any subsidies, but at the same time several theatre chains have been announcing their plans to deploy the new digital technology.

After yesterday’s announcement that Hungary’s Palace Cinemas had selected XDC for the conversion of 170 screens, Euroscoop, a chain with theatres in Belgium and The Netherlands, has also signed an agreement with the European integrator. Finance by their VPF agreement, XDC will install DCI-compliant digital cinema equipment on Euroscoop’s 61 screens starting in September and finishing before the end of the year.

Euroscoop will be using XDC’s CineStore Solo server and central library server, the CineStore Plaza. Each of the circuits six theatres will get XDC’s theatre management system and will be fully networked. Euroscoop has elected to go with Barco projectors.

Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, Apollo Cinemas has signed an agreement with Sony for the deployment of 4K equipment on 83 screens. The announcement was hailed by Sony in their press release as a VPF agreement “like no other”, however other than it being Sony’s first VPF deal in Europe there was no explanation as to what makes this news so unique. Apollo cinemas, which was founded in 2002, is the largest independent cinema chain in the UK.

By J. Sperling Reich, Celluloid Junkie

GDC Technology’s SA-2100 Digital Cinema Servers are 4K Ready

GDC Technology (“GDC”), a world leading digital cinema solution provider, is pleased to announce that it is developing a 4K Media Block which will be compatible with the new generation of 4K chip being developed by Texas Instruments. The new product will extend the capabilities of GDC’s SA-2100 line of digital cinema servers and is timed to be ready when 4K capable DLP Cinema projectors become available.

GDC was the first digital cinema server manufacturer to show 4K capability as early as in 2004. This early version of GDC’s 4K servers was used in demonstrations with Sony 4K digital cinema projectors using SXRD technology in China, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong from 2004 to 2005. These early 4K demonstrations with Sony clearly showed that GDC’s state-of-the-art SA-2100 servers were already architected to support full 4K content and bandwidth requirements at that time.

The scalable architecture in GDC’s SA-2100 servers allows GDC to offer a seamless transition to 4K without any changes in the screen and theatre management infrastructure. More importantly, GDC’s 4K capable digital cinema technology will retain all its existing advanced features such as:

- Instant import of data drives – allows instant transfer of data drives (i.e. HDD) from one SA-2100 to another, making it possible to move a movie quickly from one screen to another. The entire movie (data) transfer process can be completed within a few minutes.

- Instant playback from any CRU drive on the SA-2100A for emergency – allows content received on a CRU Dataport drive to play back directly from the drive without ingesting. This is useful in emergency situations where the theatre receives content at the last minute.

- Instant playback of content held on the GDC TMS (Theatre Management System) for emergency – allows content residing on the TMS to play back directly through streaming from the TMS without ingesting at the screen server.

- Built-in RealD’s 3D EQ (aka ‘ghostbuster’) technology – RealD’s 3D EQ technology augments the separation of the left and right eye images, providing the best 3D visual experience.

- Closed Captioning capability – facilitates greater access to motion pictures by displaying closed captions from DCPs on WGBH’s Rear Window Captioning devices.

Source: DCinemaToday

Home 3D Coming of Age

In case you missed it last week, the 3D@Home Consortium signed a memorandum of understanding with the Korea-based 3D Fusion Industry Consortium (3DFIC) to "facilitate the development of global standards that will lead to the successful commercialization of 3-D home-entertainment products and content, including HDTVs, set-top boxes, optical disc players, movies, games and television programs." The statement also said the two groups will share research and information to encourage the development and validation of device test and measurement procedures, and principles and guidelines for interoperability.

Beyond fostering the development of home CE devices the joint collaboration will also work towards developing 3D content creation standards and content authoring processes. Rick Dean, chairman of the 3D@Home Consortium said "Both the 3D@Home Consortium and 3DFIC share a common goal of ensuring 3D is successfully introduced and embraced by content creation community and consumers around the globe."

And the global scope referred to by Dean is not just US and Korea as the US signing event in Washington DC comes on the heels of the much larger "Shenzhen 3D Declaration" where four Asian 3D organizations (including Korea’s 3DFIC) signed an agreement to collaborate on R&D at the 2009 China International 3D World Forum in April. The outcome of this event was agreement among the Asian parties to jointly host the International 3D Fair 2009 at Ilsan, South Korea, in October 2009 under the banner of the "World 3D Consortium" sans any US participation.

On the 3D standards side, committee’s are already forming within the 3D World Forum. For example, we recently reported that both Kopin HK and Shenzhen Estar Displaytech formed the first working group under the Technology and Standard Professional Committee to develop 3D eyewear displays. According to Insight Media analyst Arthur Berman, "Other working groups under consideration include: 3D Display Measurement Standards, 3D Video Coding Standards and Human Factor and Healthy Guidelines for 3D Content."

By Steve Sechrist, DisplayDaily

Europe D-Cinema Rollout Hung Up on Funding

Dithering over funding and other details has European theater operators as frustrated as U.S. exhibitors with the slow rollout of digital cinema. With bank financing still scarce, d-cinema proponents have been left scrambling for innovative other means of tapping into the required capital.

"It's very hard," said Howard Kiedaisch, CEO of the London-based d-cinema integrator Arts Alliance Media. "But we do take heart from the deal we were able to do in December."

In that case, Arts Alliance went to the Brussels-based tech financier Econocom to back its rollout of equipment to convert 400 screens in France. More conventional lenders remain on the digital sidelines on the continent and elsewhere, but there are some other signs of progress.

Presently, at least two Hollywood majors are poised to announce virtual print fee agreements covering screen conversions throughout Norway, using government funding to get things going. A similar, more limited arrangement is also being mulled for German exhibitors.

But much of the d-cinema talk at Cinema Expo -- the annual exhibition confab that opened its four-day run at the RAI convention center here Monday -- amounts to so much grumbling.

"Many of us are frustrated that it hasn't been going stronger," European Digital Cinema Forum chief Dave Monk acknowledged in an opening-day presentation. "That's because we've been struggling with recession and financial meltdown. But the boxoffice shows digital cinema is real -- not just some fancy-pants, one-off kind of thing."

Of course, the real sweet spot in digital cinema is 3-D, which allows exhibs to charge a premium price for movie tickets. Gino Haddad of Beirut-based Circuit Empire said eight of the Middle East exhib's 92 screens have been converted to digital, and six of them now also boast 3-D capability.

"It's only for the difference between 35mm and 3-D that the customer is willing to pay the premium," Haddad said.

At Empire that means a markup of $2 to $3 on general ticket prices running $6 to $8, depending on location. EDCF's Monk said 3-D's global footprint reached 4,000 screens in the second quarter.

Beverly Hills-based 3-D vendor RealD announced Monday that its European footprint has grown fivefold this year, with its worldwide installations now totaling more than 3,200 screens in 45 countries.

"RealD 3-D continues to defy global financial trends with consistent boxoffice results multiple times that of 2-D screens," RealD chief Michael Lewis said.

Digital projection also saves studios big bucks on distribution costs -- which is why they've been willing to sign VPFs around the world to help cover most installations costs. The studio agreements provide payments stretching over several years. But upfront bank capital still is generally needed to get hardware shipped and installed. And that's been the sticking point for longer than anybody likes to think about.

"Digital cinema is a small business that really requires a lot of work," Fortis Bank exec director Christophe de Winter shrugged during a d-cinema panel discussion.

The banking stall has kept exhibs from implementing thousands of planned screen conversions for the past year. In the U.S., execs at JPMorgan hope finally to go to market in July with a long-stalled lending syndication on behalf of the nation's three biggest circuits.

"These things are extremely complicated and frustrating," Disney senior vp Jason Brenek observed.

Once installed, d-cinema does offer another notable benefit for exhibs besides 3-D: alternative programming. Arts Alliance numbers among distributors of cultural and sporting fare that now regularly supplements film programming in theaters around the world. The company also occasionally distributes niche-market specialty films such as Iron Maiden, Flight 666, a heavy-metal concert documentary whose one-day theatrical success Arts Alliance hopes to replicate in September with the eco-drama The Age of Stupid.

The Pete Postlethwaite starrer will promote its global release with a "solar cinema tent" premier in New York's Central Park in September. Arts Alliance may extend the Stupid run beyond its opening day if results match the pic's well-received recent run in the U.K.

By Carl DiOrio, The Hollywood Reporter

Coming to a Classroom Near You...3D!

In addition to all of the digital video, digital signage, and tiled display products being exhibited at InfoComm, a number of projector manufacturers were showing demos of 3D imaging for the classroom. You read that right! Classroom 3D projection is a hot item, and Texas Instruments and its manufacturing partners are ready for it.

That’s because low-cost (below $1,000), off-the-shelf DLP projectors can already handle the rapid sequence of left eye/right eye images needed for active 3D viewing, synchronizing to stereoscopic eyewear using TI’s DLP Link protocol. DLP Link employs some of the pulses from the white color wheel segment to provide picture synch information, and is also compatible with the new crop of LED-powered DLP projectors that were shown in Orlando by Vivitek, projectiondesign, and Christie.

Unlike 3D in the home, which is in my opinion problematic to deliver and view consistently and correctly, 3D projection in the classroom has a strong upside. Imagine a comparative anatomy class wherein a cutaway image of the human body can be rotated, flipped, expanded, and examined at any angle. How about an auto mechanics class on engine disassembly and repair using exploded views? Imagine sailing through the planets in an astronomy class, or walking the framework of a skyscraper under construction?

Based on the demos I saw and test-drove, 3D projection can certainly provide one of the immersive learning experiences that so many educators talk about and dream of having in the 21st century. While it’s not a substitute for all forms of teaching, 3D does make any hands-on instruction much simpler to comprehend, particularly for those students (like I used to be) who have an easier time with the Mr. Wizard approach to learning, as opposed to memorization pages of abstract numbers and formulas.

The list of classroom applications for 3D projection is endless. All that’s needed are appropriate software applications, which were provided by companies including Discovery Education, Safari Montage, Eon Reality and NeoTech for the TI and partner InfoComm demos. 3D projection was also on display in the Sharp, Mitsubishi, Optoma, projectiondesign, BenQ, Christie and other booths.

The timing for 3D classroom projection couldn’t be better, what with federal economic stimulus funds coming to every state from Washington over the next few years. What’s more, interest in and growing mainstream acceptance of 3D projection is being facilitated by each successive 3D movie release from Hollywood.

On another note, it was refreshing to see TI focus on a new application for its DMD chips in Orlando, instead of rehashing the annual ongoing "ours is better than theirs!" spats with the 3LCD trade group that have characterized past InfoComm shows (and which, frankly, have become tiresome to sit through).

Instead, with 3D DLP, TI has a clear marketing and technical advantage in an emerging projector market segment that’s poised for plenty of growth, from my perspective. Now, the question is - how will the 3LCD camp respond to this classic Texas "3D throw-down?"

By Peter Putman, DisplayDaily

Screen Count The Big Hurdle for Smaller 3-D Films

Indies and minimajors are seriously getting in on the 3-D act. While most of the attention -- and box office -- for 3-D surrounds big studio titles like Disney-Pixar's Up and DreamWorks' Monsters vs. Aliens, smaller companies are riding the format wave as well.

“There are more 3-D indies than tentpoles in development,” said Bob Johnston, executive producer at 3D company Paradise FX.

Johnston said that Paradise has been in some level of discussion on nearly 40 potential independent 3-D features, the majority of which are aiming for the $6-18 million budget range. The company's indie 3-D work includes Dark Country, which was acquired by Sony but does not yet have a release date; and titles that are seeking distribution, including The Hole, which is post, and Street Dance, which is in preproduction.

The cost of 3-D will vary by the complexity of a production, but Johnston said that a film with $10-15 million budget, for example, would likely need an additional 10-15% for 3-D.

Exhibitors and 3-D TV stakeholders -- who have been asking for a steady stream of 3-D content to justify their investments -- will no doubt view this activity as good news. But others point out that there are pitfalls. Some of these involve production and screen count. Estimates are that there are slightly more than 2,000 3-D ready screens in the domestic market. Securing those screens for a theatrical release can be a challenge.

“There are not enough screens for indie movies right now, and too many big budget 3-D movies are coming out,” said Steve Schklair, CEO of 3Ality Digital Systems, the company behind U2 3D. (Separately, RealD announced Sunday that it has doubled its installation base of RealD 3-D equipped cinema screens worldwide and notched 400% growth in Europe in the first half of 2009.)

Last weekend, for instance, Vivendi opened Call of the Wild 3D. But with Disney/Pixar’s Up playing in the majority of the 3D auditoriums, the indie opened on only 14 screens and at press time had generated a paltry $16,688.

In contrast, Lionsgate’s My Bloody Valentine 3D found success in a three-week window last winter, during which it had access to 1,033 3-D screens. The film was made for $16 million and generated $51.5 million at the domestic box office. On My Bloody Valentine, an estimated $3 million of the $16 million total budget went to the 3-D engineering.

“We were lucky that we released when we did,” director Patrick Lussier said. “Our production budget was low, and we could afford to come out on just 1,033 screens and still make money. But the more you spend, the more screens you have to have.”

Despite the bubbling up of 3-D indies, Schklair still suggested, “I wouldn’t pin my 3-D indie on theatrical, but I would plan for direct-to-disc. And the investor needs to understand that it is a five year -- not one year -- payback, as it will take time to get the 3-D TVs in homes.”

But 2009 was the year in which lower-rung companies got into the 3-D act. Following My Bloody Valentine, Focus Features opened Laika-produced Coraline. Henry Selick's 3-D stop-motion animated film earned $75.3 million domestically and just over $105 million worldwide.

In August, New Line-Warner Bros' 3-D release The Final Destination is slated to open August 28.

New Line found success last summer with the surprise hit Journey to the Center of the Earth, which grossed $240 million worldwide on a $60 million budget. To be fair, it didn't have to share any screens with other 3-D titles but it still showed what a format title can do given the opportunity.

And nWave Pictures, which produced last summer's Summit-distributed animated indie Fly Me to the Moon, is working on its next 3-D movie titled Around the World in 50 Years 3D.

As interest in the format grows, the indie community is starting to produce and view more 3-D projects, including at demonstrations and conferences. But some are reporting getting headaches during some of these screenings, and that has stakeholders concerned.

“What scares me the most are bad 3-D movies coming out,” Schklair said. “That is what killed it in the ‘70s.”

To address this concern, numerous stakeholders are participating in production education for the community.

Schklair noted that proper budgeting is also a consideration: “It’s not quite a low budget medium yet. Some projects end up with shots that will hurt your eyes, but they don’t have the money to fix it in post.”

But it really comes back to screen count. “We need enough screens to support three or more 3-D film at once, that is when independents can take advantage of the format,” Lussier suggested. “Some people say one day every movie will be in 3-D, but until they can release all those movies in 3-D, it going to be a while.”

By Carolyn Giardina, The Wrap

Video Equipment Rentals' 3D LED Display

Video Equipment Rentals is showcasing an 8mm indoor/outdoor 3D LED display:

Click to watch the video

BenQ MP772 ST 3D Projector

The MP772 ST projector is BenQ’s newest version of a 3D projector. Able to display both 2D and 3D content, this projector features 2500 ANSI lumens, XGA (1024 x 768) resolution, and DLP display technology. In addition, this model also comes with a short-throw lens, which allows it to project a big display from a short distance. The MP772 ST will also be part of the AVRover 3D VS24, which is the first-fully integrated mobile 3D multimedia system, designed for schools and education facilities.

Source: AboutProjectors

German Film Board Moves on D-Cinema

The German Film Board (FFA) has pledged up to €40 million ($56 million) over the next five years to help convert German cinemas to digital technology. Germany lags behind in the digital race. Unlike countries such as England, where exhibitors have been rapidly upgrading their equipment, the digital rollout in Germany has been bogged down by fights between distributors, cinema owners and film funding bodies over who will pay for it.

The Film Board hopes its cash will help kick-start digitalization. But the FFA said it would only be able to pay out if multiplex owners Cinestar and UCI, as well as other smaller theater chains, drop their ongoing suit against the FFA. The exhibitors sued over a levy -- between 1.8%-2.3% of their boxoffice revenue -- that they are forced to pay to the FFA to help finance and promote German films.

Earlier this year, Germany's federal administrative court ruled the levy unconstitutional because cinema owners are required to pay it while a similar levy on German TV channels is voluntary.

The FFA is adjusting its financing structure to appease the court but still hasn't reached an agreement with exhibitors on the original suit. In the meantime, cinema owners are paying the levy under caveat, meaning the FFA cannot spend their money until the suit is resolved. Without that cash, the FFA's digital cinema plans could be dead in the water.

By Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter

Call for 3D Olympics Screenings

Digital technology could enable the 2012 Olympics to be shown in 3D in cinemas across the UK, former film producer Lord Puttnam has said. It should be possible to show the London Olympics "every single day in 3D on every screen in the country", he said at the Edinburgh Film Festival.

3D sport, he said, could be a "real game changer" that could put cinemas "at the heart of digital Britain". He was speaking in the wake of Lord Carter's Digital Britain report. That report, published on Tuesday, laid out the government's strategy for broadband and digital content.

Best known for producing such films as Chariots of Fire, Local Hero and The Killing Fields, David Puttnam was made a Labour peer in 1997.

Sir Sean Connery, patron of the Edinburgh Film Festival, was among the audience as he offered his thoughts on cinema in the digital age. "Digital technologies, including broadband, have the potential to transform the role of cinemas," he said. "The film industry, and film culture in general, have a fantastic opportunity to play a pioneering role."

Currently, he continued, just 10% of cinema screens in the UK were equipped for digital presentation. Its flexibility, however, enabled cinemas to become "incredibly valuable focal points, especially in smaller and more rural communities".

Lord Puttnam - who described himself as a "quasi-politician" and "something of an outsider" - said the film sector must prepare for "a new round of change". Cinema, he went on, had a "significant political role in moments of crisis" and could speak to people of all ages and backgrounds.

However, he continued, contemporary cinema "remains far too timid about using its ability to positively influence young minds". Climate change was one issue filmmakers should tackle more often, he said. They should also shake off the notion that films could be either worthy or successful, but rarely both.

By Neil Smith, BBC News

Now Disney Eyes Up 3D Gaming

Disney will beat Ubisoft to the punch with its release of the first major game supporting 3D this summer. But games boss Graham Hopper says the jury’s still out on how quickly consumers will embrace such releases.

At E3, Ubisoft unveiled its 3D game Avatar, made with Hollywood legend James Cameron – but Disney was also demonstrating its Toy Story and G-Force movie spin-off 3D games on the stand next door. G-Force, based on a Jerry Bruckheimer movie, is released in July. Toy Story Mania hits in the autumn.

Disney Interactive Studios’ sister companies Disney Animation and Pixar have been part of a major drive behind 3D in cinemas as a way to excite audiences about the silver screen. Hopper says it could help consumers see games in a new light, too.

He told MCV: “G-Force is in 3D on next-gen consoles – PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions come with the glasses included. Most important is that you can turn it off, so players have the option either way or if they lose the glasses. I’m very interested to see what the consumer reaction will be. So far the reaction from everyone who has played it has been very, very positive. 3D’s not easy to do – but there’s a huge amount of expertise at Disney when it comes to 3D given the way it has been used in our movies. We were able to call on that for the development of G-Force. I see 3D becoming part of what people do in gaming as it evolves. But we’ll listen to gamers very carefully – and if they say they want more, we’ll deliver more.”

The industry’s move towards 3D gaming is a part of the overall trend towards new interfaces, as demonstrated by the Wii, plus Microsoft’s Natal and Sony’s Motion Senor controllers, said Hopper.

“There is no doubt in my mind that long-term 3D and natural interfaces will be a big part of the industry’s future, but these changes don’t happen over night.”

By Michael French, MCV

3D Cinema Shows Strength in Depth

This time last year, at the annual Cinema Expo conference in Amsterdam, the conversation was dominated by 3D exhibition and whether it could be made to pay. This year, the industry can start to draw some conclusions.

As the first wave of 3D features to be released in 2009 complete their theatrical runs, the early indications are that the format is living up to its promise. And with Disney/Pixar’s Up opening on a record 1,530 3D screens in North America, the market is moving towards the point at which there will be enough screens to support wide releases that are entirely 3D.

In the majority of markets for a film released in both the 2D and 3D formats, including North America, 3D screens are generating a bigger percentage of the release’s total gross from a smaller percentage of total screens. In the UK, 3D screens playing Paramount Pictures International’s Monsters Vs Aliens (the biggest 3D release to date worldwide) accounted for $15.1m, nearly half of the film’s total gross in the market, while playing on only 28% of the available screens. Italy provides an even stronger illustration, with 27% of the screens accounting for 56% of Monsters Vs Aliens’ total Italian gross.

But questions persist as to how much 3D growth is being driven by an expanding audience looking for a 3D experience — and how much is being driven by higher ticket prices. For Monsters Vs Aliens, the only release so far for which full figures are available, the 2D screen average was $40,500 during its run, while the 3D average was $102,000.

Paramount has no doubt 3D is a selling point that pulls in bigger audiences who are prepared to pay up to 50% more for a 3D experience. A comparison of the performance of 2D vs 3D screens for Monsters Vs Aliens in the UK suggests 3D boosted gross by 28.2%, from $23.8m to $30.5m.

“The 3D element of the Monsters Vs Aliens release was a very important component to the success of the film,” says Andrew Cripps, head of distributor Paramount Pictures International, on the film’s international release. “Only 18% of our [international] locations were in 3D yet they generated an astonishing 43% of our total box-office gross and the public clearly went out of their way to see the film in 3D.”

One of the best ways to measure 3D performance is to compare a 2D film with its 2D/3D sequel. The split release of Twentieth Century Fox’s Ice Age: Dawn Of The Dinosaurs day and date on July 1 in both 2D and 3D formats will provide the first opportunity to do this (the original Ice Age grossed $383.3m worldwide in 2002, and Ice Age:The Meltdown took $650m in 2006).

But the 3D format’s current performance can only quicken its roll-out to more screens in North America and international markets.

By Jack Warner, ScreenDaily

3D Means New Rules for Directors

Say good-bye to gut-wrenching drops off cliffs and swoops through asteroid fields to call attention to 3D effects. Be prepared for directors to use slower pans, less cutting, and more deliberate camera moves to blend the technology into the story. These new 3D movies may look boring in 2D, but they'll end up feeling more engaging when seen in three dimensions.

"Unfortunately, the history of 3D is bad 3D," says Sandy Climan, CEO of 3ality Digital, a company that makes, as he calls it, "end-to-end technologies from image capture to processing" for three-dimensional entertainment. The technology hasn't been up to snuff until recently, he says. He claims his company's tech is leagues better, naturally. But the art hasn't advanced, either, and no amount of technology can fix that. Directors need new rules.

I talked with Climan about the changes coming to cinematography and television in the move to 3D, as well as to Didier Debons and Isabelle de Montagu, CEO and business development manager of 3DTV Solutions, which makes 3D video recording products, and Tuyen Pham, CEO of A-volute, a 3D audio encoding company. The short takeaway: if you're in the video or entertainment business, forget what you know about directing and editing. 3D changes everything.

Think 3D is a gimmick and that professional cinematographers and television directors don't take it seriously? Financials, Climan says, dispute this. 3D films in 3D theaters gross two to five times what the 2D versions of those films do. Commercials in 3D yield better recall rates. And it's not just the novelty factor, Climan says. If so, the trend would have faded. Grosses for 3D films are growing.

"The family movie business has largely moved to 3D," Climan continues, pointing to films like Journey to the Center of the Earth, Coraline, and Up -- the last two having being taken far more seriously than standard 3D matinee fare. On the grownup front, Climan says that for sports and concerts, there's nothing like the 3D movie or TV experience. The upcoming James Cameron film, Avatar is a 3D production and is expected to be a watershed for mainstream 3D entertainment.

For now, the growth of 3D looks inevitable. The next step for the medium, after family films and fantastic blockbusters, is for 3D to move into independent and artisan films. Climan thinks the technology is becoming straightforward enough to make that likely.

How Do You Zoom?
If you accept that 3D on-screen entertainment is a growth market, how do you create the content for it? Companies like 3ality and 3DTV Solutions will deliver camera systems for you, but they don't direct your shows. Using the technology effectively requires a new art.

De Montagu of 3DTV told me, "If you are looking at 3D it is because you want to be as close to reality as possible." That means, she said, you need to write more realistic shooting scripts. Using 3D primarily for special effects is counterproductive. "The brain doesn't get it," de Montagu says.

The purpose of 3D has to be to render reality. You can push a viewer's willing suspension of disbelief quite far in a 2D show, since we've been trained to "read" movies and accept unreal conventions, like zooming and cutting. But in 3D, if you push it too far, you break the illusion. The viewer has to feel like they're in real life.

And that means no reliance on many standard cinematic methods, including zooming and cutting back and forth between people talking to each other. The viewer can get confused, even physically sick if you immerse them in a world that's constantly shifting. "You don't zoom in real life," A-Volute's Pham said. And if you do rapid-fire cuts and move the sound stage around the audience with the visuals, he says, plainly, "you will get sick."

Climan says, "In 2D, you move the camera to create a sense of motion. In 3D, you leave the camera since the audience is in the middle of things. You need to have many fewer camera moves. In sports, you just leave the camera in a low position, and you feel like you're on the field. You have a much more clear view of the players in 3D due to the dimensionality."

3ality is launching a service, "3DIQ," to train people in 3D video and cinematography, but it's clearly an emerging art form. As 3DTV's de Montagu says, "We are going back to the fundamentals of audio and vision."

Climan says that educating a film crew to shoot for 3D is not terribly difficult. To turn out an episode of Chuck, in 3D, he says, it took about one and a half days to get "the 2D crew" adjusted to the new medium. "They didn't miss a beat."

However, while a film shot for 3D might play fine on 2D equipment, it clearly won't feel as engaging if displayed in 2D as a show shot for the old-fashioned flat medium, with its jump cuts and zooms and sweeping pans. So directors will have to make a choice of primary format or shoot things twice. In big sports events, Climan says, "there will be a director for 2D and a director for 3D."

(Personally, I hope no video, movie, or game ever gets released without a 2D version alongside it, since I'm one of the small percentage of people -- about 7 percent, I'm told -- whose eyes and brain don't process true 3D correctly. Every 3D demo I have ever seen either looks like double vision to me, makes me queasy, or both.)

Emerging Technologies
Anyone who's watched 3D content knows that the technology to play it is evolving, to put it kindly.

"The good stuff requires glasses," Climan says, which makes the at-home experience troubling. Who wants to walk to the fridge wearing glass that make the real world look odd (which they do)? But there are technologies coming out that get us part of the way there without it.

The 3DTV team showed me a demo using another company's monitor with a lenticular grating on it ("It puts the glasses on the screen," Didier Debons said) that gave what appeared to me a decent 3D experience without requiring that I wear glasses. However, to support this and all the other 3D technologies, the company's camera system has eight lenses on a horizontal mount, not the usual two lenses most people think of when they imagine a steroscopic camera rig.

The 3D audio technology by A-Volute does not require any special equipment at the listener's location, and is quite remarkable. Using signal processing and a model of how the inner ear, outer ear, and a person's head changes the shape of the sound the ear hears and that the brain translates into positional information, it can play, over ordinary stereo speakers and without relying on bouncing sounds off walls, sounds that you will swear are coming from behind you or above you.

The demo I heard made my jaw drop. The technology can add positional cues to sounds in real-time, making it useful not just for movies and TV shows, but for games and for military and transportation applications as well. Bose has competitive technology.

3D is still seen as gimmick by most consumers, but it's becoming more mainstream. That means content producers and artists will be thinking about 3D content more in the near future: Not just how to have it call attention to itself, but rather how to have 3D fade, as it were, into the background of the storytelling.

By Rafe Needleman, CNET News

Fox to Buy 3-D Glasses for 'Ice Age'

20th Century Fox's high-profile stare-down with exhibitors over who would pay for digital 3-D glasses to go with Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs has been settled. But the issues underlying the dispute will almost certainly flare up again.

Fox, which had initially threatened to make theater owners bear the costs, has agreed to pick up the tab, according to several people familiar with the matter. The glasses are supplied by RealD, a Beverly Hills company that provides 3-D technology to theaters.

In the past, studios have paid 75 cents to $1 per moviegoer for the glasses. That can easily add as much as $10 million to the cost of a successful film's release.

It's a sore point for studios, which complain that they shouldn't have to pay that fee, particularly because theaters can reuse glasses. The studios are already incurring additional costs of about $15 million a picture to make a movie in 3-D. Tickets for 3-D movies come with a $2 to $3 surcharge, which is split between theater owners and studios.

Theater owners note that they already are investing heavily in the new format. They typically pay RealD a one-time upfront licensing fee of $5,000 to $10,000 a screen to use its equipment, plus a royalty of about 50 cents a ticket.

Fox was the first studio whose concerns became public, when word got out during the ShoWest film industry trade show in March that it was pressuring exhibitors to pay for the glasses to go with Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, which comes out July 1 and is the studio's first 3-D movie. Theater chains balked, with Regal, the nation's biggest, threatening to play the movie in 2-D only.

With nearly 50 3-D movies due out in the next two years, the issue of who will pay for 3-D glasses is hardly settled. Fox is expected to keep pressuring theaters to pick up the tab and push for them to reuse the glasses. The studio has ample incentive: In December it will release James Cameron's 3-D sci-fi action movie Avatar, the director's first major film since 1997's Titanic.

By Ben Fritz and Richard Verrier, Los Angeles Times

Optoma Partners with Texas Instruments to Develop 3D Ready Projectors

Optoma Technology announced it is partnering with Texas Instruments to launch a new series of 3D enabled projectors during the second half of 2009. Utilizing Texas Instruments’ DLP technologies, Optoma’s new projectors will enable 3D imagery from a single projector, driving greater cost efficiency, easier installation and usage.

According to Grodem, the 3D projectors produce enhanced dimensional viewing with specially produced 3D content aided by polarized glasses.

Source: Optoma

Europe Plans for Digital Conversion

The European Commission has unveiled three options for ways to help European cinemas convert to digital projection. A decision will be made at the end of July. All three options will require a commitment from exhibitors to screen a minimum number of non-national European films. Target cinemas are those outside existing economic models for conversion. This is tailored to suit multiplexes with high film turn-over, or without access to government subsidies.

One option involves converting the digital cinema bonus offered by the Europa Cinemas network into a subsidy awarded in advance.

"This is the simplest option," said Hughes Becquart, the official overseeing the project, at the European Cinema Summit on Thursday. "Europa Cinemas already exists, we co-finance it, and they know the majority of the cinemas that interest us."

The commitment to European content required to join this network would be lowered for the advance subsidy, he added, to broaden the offer.

A more ambitious option would be to establish an intermediary organization that would equip and service selected eligible theaters. Plans are still sketchy, but giving the job to an existing digital cinema integrator is ruled out since it would distort the market.

A final option is for the EU to help set up a favorable line of finance for cinemas converting to digital.

In July, national reps overseeing the Commission's Media program will be asked to choose one or more options and set a budget. This is likely to be Euros 5 million-Euros 10 million ($7 million-$14 million) a year, from 2010 to 2013.

A broader strategy on digital cinema in Europe will be published by the Commission later in the year. Topics will include clearer guidance on state subsidies for digital conversion and how to encourage European producers to make digital masters.

By Ian Mundell, Variety

Christie Introduces New 4K DLP Cinema Product Line for 2010

Christie is pleased to introduce the new Christie Solaria series digital cinema projectors, based on Texas Instruments’ DLP Cinema technology. The five new products in the series offer a wide range of resolution and brightness levels for exhibitors who require projection from the smallest to the largest screens.

The new product line includes the Christie CP2210, Christie CP2220 and the Christie CP2230 – all available at 2K and 4K-ready; as well as Christie’s premium 4K projectors for screens up to 100 feet: the Christie CP4220 and the Christie CP4230, delivering an unprecedented 30,000 lumens of brightness.

All projectors in the Christie Solaria series utilize Texas Instruments’ next generation electronics which are designed to meet the Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) requirements. Each of the five projectors feature a new modular architecture for improved serviceability and ease of maintenance, an optional integrated media block, and incorporate Christie’s Brilliant3D technology for the most realistic and brightest 3D presentations. Additionally, due to the ability to deliver higher brightness with lower power lamps, all current and next generation Christie projectors offer up to 25% lower cost of operation than competing technologies.

The Christie CP2210, Christie CP2220 and the Christie CP2230 will be available in the first half of 2010. The Christie CP4220 and CP4230 will be available in the second half of 2010.

Source: DCinemaToday

Cinemark and Barco Sign Exclusive Partnership

Digital cinema pioneer Barco is proud to announce that Cinemark Holdings, Inc., the world's second largest motion picture exhibitor, has entered into an exclusive agreement with Barco. As part of this agreement, Cinemark is also partnering with the DLP Cinema product group from Texas Instruments and media server provider Doremi to secure the industry's best-in-class and brightest digital cinema solution. This group of partners will employ the full spectrum of Barco's upcoming new family of enhanced DLP Cinema next generation 4K projectors.

Cinemark plans to deploy digital cinema as part of the DCIP initiative. More than 3,000 digital projectors are to be installed in nearly 300 theater sites throughout the US, which include Cinemark's Century, Cine Arts and Tinseltown brands. Every theater will show the industry's biggest and brightest images, projected from Barco DLP powered projectors and driven by Doremi's 4K integrated media block. The agreement also includes plans for Cinemark's international locations in Latin America, which would bring the overall deployment to more than 4,600 screens.

Source: DCinemaToday

Doremi Cinema to Build 4K Integrated Media Block

Industry leader Doremi Cinema announced it will repackage its current 4K server technology into a 4K integrated media block (IMB) for DLP Cinema next generation electronics. This will secure a full solution for Texas Instruments’ and their OEM’s upcoming 2K and 4K projectors.

Doremi has been working with Texas Instruments’ DLP Cinema team for over a year to ensure compatibility of Doremi’s IMB with its next generation electronics. The IMB utilizes Doremi’s patent pending (USPTO 20070263937) 4K media block technology. Doremi’s 4K patent allows Doremi to capitalize on its 2K knowledge and technology by only adding the 4K portion to the back end of the processing. This eliminates Doremi’s need to design a whole new media block which would add a significant amount of time to any production release.

Engineering samples of Doremi’s IMB will be made available to TI’s OEMs for integration into their next generation projectors in Q3 2009. Production IMBs will be available in Q1 2010.

"Our ability to provide exhibitors with a 4K road map is vital," stated Michael Archer, Vice President, Doremi Cinema. We give them the opportunity to utilize a single server manufacturer across the multiplex. Exhibitors can mix and match 2K and 4K technology while keeping the same external server hardware, SMS and TMS. They also benefit from all the features available on Doremi servers, such as closed captioning, server generated 2D/3D subtitles and live event playback."

Source: BusinessWire

LG Korea Releases a 3D Version of its 47LH50 LCD TV

The 47LH50, a 47” Full HD TV, is now available in Korea with 3D Technology, enabling its owner to enjoy 3D effect once wearing 3D glasses, and this without the needs to any additional 3D Video cards or the usage of a PC.

LG 47LH50

Source: Akihabara News

Sharp Announces a 3-D DLP Projector

Sharp will be showing a prototype BrilliantColor 3-D DLP model at InfoComm 2009. Using Texas Instruments' 3-D DLP technology, this prototype projector will enable interactive learning and enhanced 3-D presentations for classrooms and conference rooms.

The high resolution active stereoscopic single-chip DLP technology delivers applications for scientific visualization, simulation and entertainment environments. Using 3-D shutter glasses with 120 Hz refresh rate for flicker-free images, the projector is designed to offer compatibility with both 3-D and 2-D content.

Source: MarketWire

3D Not Yet Ready to Be Major Player in Sports Arena

While sold on the virtues of the high-definition format, executives on a Promax/ BDA panel here Wednesday afternoon were more guarded in their appraisal of 3-D as a game-changer for sports programming.

Mark Waller, senior vice president sales and marketing for the National Football League said pro football was "a mind-blowing experience in 3D, better than HD." However, Waller, speaking on the panel entitled, "The Top of Their Game: Sports Summit," said the impediment to broader availability fell to the "relative cost" of consistently delivering a high-quality telecast in the format.

Similarly, ESPN executive vice president of sales and marketing Sean Bratches said that while the total sports network has various committees examining 3D, it won't really consider the product to be ready for primetime (or other dayparts) until it's "an in-home experience without glasses."

Brian Diamond, senior vice president sports and special at Spike didn't see 3D becoming a major factor for TV for another five to 10 years.

By Mike Reynolds, Multichannel News

TI Leaping into 4K Fray

Texas Instruments has announced that its "next generation technology platform" for digital projection will include a 4K option, providing four times as many pixels as standard 2K projectors, and it has already lined up exhibitor Cinemark to buy its 4K tech.

The platform will be available by year's end, with 4K to follow some time in 2010, depending on how quickly projector makers include it in their designs.

Alan Stock, CEO of 2,700-screen Cinemark, said TI's DLP platform will be "our exclusive platform of choice for 4K deployments."

TI does not manufacture projectors under its own name but licenses its DLP tech to Barco, Christie Digital and NEC. All become potential competitors for Sony Electronics, which has had the 4K d-cinema market to itself.

"When DLP cinema decided to do 4K, I think the reaction has been 'Wow, that's great, because we wanted DLP and now we have the option,' " said Nancy Fares, business manager for DLP Cinema Products Group.

Sony has pacted with AMC and Regal to outfit their screens with 4K projectors. Sony has been a proponent of 4K filmmaking and projection at the studio and corporate levels, as has Warner Bros. Paramount has also released pictures in 4K.

Gary Johns, VP at Sony's Digital Cinema Systems division, said, "We feel 4K is the right resolution for this industry, and if TI has decided to endorse that resolution, we're happy they agree."

TI says its platform will improve color on DLP-based projectors and make them bright enough to show 3-D on 75-foot-wide screens.

Fares said the 4K DLP chip will be the same size as the standard 2K DLP chip already in use, which should make it easier for projector makers to adopt the higher-resolution standard.

By David S. Cohen, Variety

Smartjog Deploys its Digital Cinema Library to Theatre Chain, Europalaces

SmartJog, the leader in managed digital delivery worldwide, announced that French theatre chain, Europalaces, the owner of Gaumont and Pathe cinemas, has signed an agreement for the purchase and deployment of its high capacity SmartJog Digital Cinema Central Library Servers.

The first phase of deployment was recently completed to 33 sites in France, with planned Phase 2 to start shortly. While SmartJog has been deploying its Libraries since last year to theatres in France, Europalaces is the largest chain to commit to a substantial rollout in Europe. Over 65 theatres and 400 digital screens are currently connected to the SmartJog delivery platform.

With this major deployment into Europalaces theatres in France, Switzerland and the Netherlands, the TDF Pan-European Digital Cinema Network, a secure satellite and fiber delivery service operated by TDF subsidiaries, SmartJog and Media Broadcast, will grow to over 200 theatres by the end of 2009.

SmartJog's Digital Cinema Central Library Server is the only hardware on the market which is capable of storing very large amounts of data and receiving Digital Cinema Packages (DCPs) via satellite and fiber. This agreement will enable Europalaces to receive all its digital content via SmartJog.

The Central Library Server, which combines up to 12 Terabytes of storage with central management features, is backed by a 5-year warranty and 24/7 remote system monitoring via terrestrial connection. Upon arrival of DCPs in the library server, automatic checks are performed to ensure the integrity of the files and DCPs can be automatically ingested into the local digital cinema playback servers or theatre management system (TMS). Content can also be loaded locally from a physical medium or via an internal network. A secure and easy-to-understand web interface is available for the management of deployed Central Library Servers.

The theatres that were part of the first phase of deployment, are already electronically receiving trailers and pre-show material from Mediavision, the leading cinema advertising company in France.

The SmartJog Digital Cinema Library, a hardware device with added-value software, is now available for purchase throughout Europe from SmartJog and its network of resellers.

Source: DCinemaToday

It’s Official: TI Targets 4K

TI announced that it plans to develop 4K as an extension of its next-gen DLP Cinema projection technology. The new platform — which TI said would comply with the DCI spec — is slated to launch at the end of the year and initially support 2K. TI aims to offer 4K sometime in 2010.

Meanwhile, Barco inked a deal to deploy TI’s developing 4K technology to the Cinemark theater chain — a notable move, as additional DCIP members Regal and AMC both recently announced deals with Sony.

“Regal and AMC are no stranger to DLP Cinema,” said Nancy Fares, business manager for DLP Cinema Products Group. “I hope this will give them an option to think about.”

Fares reported that a 1.2 inch 4K chip would be developed and released first, “but there are not limitations.” She added that TI would also continue 2K development. 4K, she said, would offer choices, including support for 2D screens as big as 100 feet, and 3D screens as big as 75 feet. It’s not expected that the developing technology will be able to be retrofitted to the current system.

Even before the announcement was made, speculation about the impact of such news was beginning. Some ask if a 4K announcement would potentially slow the pace of 2K installations. Meanwhile, a few well placed sources have questioned if TI will be able to have 4K technology ready in 2010.

According to TI, DLP Cinema technology is installed at 6,000 2K digital screens in North America. Sony has deployed several hundred of its systems. As to screen count for the DCIP partners, Regal represents 6,775 screens, and AMC, 4,628 screens. Cinemark offers 3,814 screens in the U.S. and 1,032 in Latin America.

Public demos and side by side comparisons of the developing TI technology are currently not anticipated.

By Carolyn Giardina, Celluloid Junkie

Ireland’s DCL Rumoured to Have Closed 3 VPF Deals

Irish third-party digital cinema integrator Digital Cinema Limited (DCL) is said to have closed VPF deals with at least three Hollywood studios according to well placed sources. Rumour has it that DCL will be announcing that they have VPF agreements, which could be announced as early as next week.

It seems DCL already have 20th Century Fox, Walt Disney and Warner Bros, of which the first two have been broadly supportive of VPF deals in Europe, while WB had previously signed a deal with XDC. DCL is said to have told the studios that they want the deal done before Cine Expo. Paramount is said to also be in the mix, though it is not known if its complete just yet. Sony Pictures appears to be the hold out and speculation is that it is because there is holdout for installtion of SXRD 4K projectors from Sony Electronics.

DCL needs VPF agreements with four distributors to release their financing, according to people in the know. Ireland has roughly 500 screens and DCL has been trying to convert the country for many years now, with limited success to date. The VPFs would be for the entire country, including Northern Ireland.

As we have written before, getting a VPF deal is no big deal these days. The proof will be in rolling out and operating such a network profitably. Next up will be an announcement from Norway, also timed to coincide with Cinema Expo.

By Patrick von Sychowski, Celluloid Junkie

Austria Embraces 3D Technology

3D service company RealD has signed a deal with Austrian exhibitor Cineplexx to equip around half of its 200 cinema screens with 3D capabilities. The rollout will start with 15 screens, with an additional 45 due to be upgraded to 3D by the end of September. The remainder will be equipped within a year.

The aggressive expansion could see the much smaller Austria (population 8 million) overtake its much larger neighbor Germany (pop. 80 million) in the 3D race. Germany still has fewer than 100 3D-capable screens. Germany has lagged behind much of Europe in its embrace of 3D technology as exhibitors, distributors and state-funding bodies bicker over how the cost of upgrading should be shared.

Earlier this week, German multiplex operator CineStar announced a much smaller initiative to upgrade 10 of its theaters with 3D. CineStar will bear the entire $2 million cost.

By Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter

'Valentine' Gets 3D Treatment on VOD

Comcast is pushing ahead with 3D video-on-demand, showing Lionsgate’s My Bloody Valentine as its second such offering. Starting today, people who order the HD version of the title will be able to see the film in 3D. People also will need to pick up one of the million pairs of 3D glasses Comcast is making available at its payment centers and at various shopping mall kiosks.

Pricing for the HD version will vary between $5 to $6. My Bloody Valentine also will be offered in standard-definition VOD, without the 3D option, for about $1 less. Consumers have 48 hours to view the title, under a new extended viewing policy just implemented by Comcast and some studios.

Comcast is presenting the film in 3D anaglyph technology, which is of lesser quality than what can be seen with state-of-the-art 3D theatrical films. However, many studios, cable/satellite operators and consumer electronics manufacturers are trying to create guidelines in order to develop a high-quality 3D at home business.

Last August, Comcast was the first company to roll out 3D content in VOD with Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment’s Hannah Montana: The Best of Both Worlds. In that case, Comcast included instructions on how to make 3D glasses at home.

Next in the pipeline from Comcast is a 3D VOD bow of Disney’s Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience. Comcast declined to give specifics, including exact dates and information about glasses distribution.

“We’re always looking at innovative technologies we can explore and what will make a good consumer offering,” said Comcast spokeswoman Alana Davis.

By Susanne Ault, Video Business

Sources Say TI Moving Toward 4K

TI is developing but has not commercialized a 4K DLP Cinema system and is pushing for a big exhibitor—perhaps DCIP partner Cinemark—to come onboard, Celluloid Junkie sources report.

Nancy Fares, business manager for DLP Cinema Products Group, was contacted for comment. She only responded: “We have always said our technology is capable of going higher to a resolution of 4K and even higher. It’s about what the market needs and wants.”

AMC and Regal—DCIP’s two additional participants—have demonstrated interest in the resolution, as both recently announced deals to deploy Sony 4K digital cinema projectors. Some insiders opine that a 4K announcement from TI might lead AMC and Regal to review their Sony deals. Considering the stakes, other insiders question why TI would not have already made the alleged development public.

DLP Cinema projectors are installed in an estimated 6,000 sites in North America, compared with Sony’s estimated 400. But Regal represents a total of 6,775 screens in the US and AMC encompasses 4,628, giving Sony the potential to overtake DLP Cinema with these installations.

Meanwhile, any announcement by TI of a move into 4K may potentially slow further 2K deployments. One insider pointed out that many exhibitors remember the shift from 1.3K to 2K, with 1.3K projectors have to be written off. It has also been suggested that while DCI specifications approve of both 2K and 4K projection, there might be a fear of a competitive disadvantage of 2K, particularly as major Regal and AMC have already committed to 4K.

By Carolyn Giardina, Celluloid Junkie

Chi Mei Optoelectronics New 3D Displays

Haven taken the lead in 3D LCD panel mass production back in 2007, Chi Mei Optoelectronics (CMO) is currently the largest 3D LCD panel supplier in the industry. CMO will debut three 3D LCD display technologies, including the 23.6” 120Hz shutter-glasses monitor panel, 18.4” micro-retarder notebook computer panel with polarization glasses, and 47” naked-eye barrier 3D TV panel for both TV and public display applications.

Following last year's successful development and production of the world's first 22” 3D display with 120Hz processing and shutter glasses, CMO has launched a new 23.6” 3D display model this year. Its 16:9 widescreen format and 1920 x 1080 high resolution give gamers the most refined image quality while enjoying the 3D experience. The most attention-grabbing of all, however, is the panel's 120Hz 3D technology. Its advantage of maintaining the panel's original resolution while displaying left and right images without disruption has earned this product the distinction of being the best 3D display technology in the industry today, which has been recognized with the 2009 Taiwan Excellence Award.

Chi Mei Optoelectronics 23.6” 3D display

The 18.4” notebook computer panel using micro-retarder technology targets the multimedia gaming notebook computer market. Combining 120Hz refresh rate, 16:9 aspect ratio and Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution, its 3D screen for entertainment purposes quickly switches to 2D screen for work purposes. When used with polarization glasses, moving picture is presented in vivid 3D effect, providing consumers with sophisticated 3D visual enjoyment that will not dent their pocketbooks. Furthermore, being the industry's first panel that provides 4-lane eDP interface for high bandwidth data processing, consumers will enjoy high quality, high bandwidth 3D animation effects when using their notebook computers.

The 47” naked-eye 3D display uses barrier type technology, which creates a discrepancy between the left and right eyes, to give viewers the experience of true 3D imaging. Its multi-view design also allows viewers to see the different aspects of the 3D image from different viewing angles, as though looking at a true object floating in the air. In general, multi-view 3D displays are flawed by decreased resolution but CMO’s proprietary 47” panel has an ultra-high resolution of 2560x1440, which is four times that of normal high definition images, allowing viewers to enjoy 3D images while maintaining the fineness of the original image.

Source: Chi Mei Optoelectronics