Alternative Cinema Content to Pass $500 Mil

Alternative content in theaters is set to become a money-spinner worth more than $500 million globally by 2014 according to a report Monday. The research from Screen Digest puts the global market in alternative content -- think live opera screenings or traditional theater productions -- to hit $526 million in five years, up from the lowly $45.7 million reached by the end of 2008. And while the U.S. market laid claim to two thirds of global revenues gathered from such content, Screen Digest says that will likely fall to under 50% as the appetite for non-movie programming across the rest of the world grows.

The report entitled Alternative Content in Cinemas: Market assessment and forecasts to 2014 says the cinema is fast becoming a "multi-arts venue" with the last two years posting a growth in alternative programming on the back of a boom in digital cinema screen technology.

The report points to there being over 12,000 digital screens worldwide and cites high-profile events such as New York's Metropolitan Opera beaming live into cinemas as pointing the way. Cinema exhibitors have sniffed out the opportunity of screening events at price levels higher than the average cinema ticket. Some opera-in-cinema tickets in the U.K. sell at £35 ($59) and boost occupancy rates in what are often traditional downtimes.

But report author and Screen Digest head of film and cinema David Hancock warns that there are still challenges ahead. "As well as digital cinema, the exhibitor needs to have a satellite infrastructure in place, something that is still in the early stages," Hancock said.

High-profile events such as opera, theatre and some sport have emerged but a range of other content is appearing on cinema screens, including live Q&A link-ups, comedy, music concerts, poetry, President Obama's inauguration and even Michael Jackson's memorial service.

The report cites Digital 3D as a driving force for the development of alternative content in cinemas. Live-action concert films, such as Hannah Montana and U23D, led the first experiments with 3D for alternative content. And now broadcasters such as BSkyB and ESPN are getting closer to launching 3D TV channels, which will serve to bolster available content.

The research says there are over 6,000 3D-equipped screens around the world, and over 10,000 screens committed to installing 3D worldwide.

By Stuart Kemp, The Hollywood Reporter

CyberLink to Integrate SENSIO 3D into the PowerDVD Videoplayer

SENSIO Technologies and CyberLink signed a letter of intent to integrate SENSIO’s software solution, the S3D software decoder, into Cyberlink’s PowerDVD videoplayer. PowerDVD is the leading DVD, Blu-ray Disc and AVCHD movie player software application, chosen by top-brand PCs and optical disc drives purchased by consumers and businesses around the world. The all new SENSIO and CyberLink solution will enable consumers to view movies on their computer in 3D and will be on demonstration as early as January at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The S3D decoder or the "SENSIO Stereoscopic Software Decoder" is a software version of the SENSIO 3D decoder which has been sold for some years on the consumer electronics market. The new SENSIO 3D software application can be integrated into any videoplayer software and allows for the display of 3D contents on a computer equipped with a 2D or 3D screen.

Source: CyberLink

Sky Eyes New Year Launch for 3D TV

Sky could launch its 3D TV channel as soon as next spring, according to executives. Sky Sports head of operations Darren Long told Broadcast: “We’re looking at launch early next year depending on whether everything goes well with our test broadcasts.”

The channel will schedule a mix of sports, arts, entertainment and documentary programming, topped up with premium pay-per-view events. Sky subscribers would require new 3D TV sets to view the service. Although manufacturers including JVC, Hyundai, Sony and Panasonic are bringing 3D TVs to market, Sky will initially launch the service into commercial premises to build momentum.

“We intend to go to pubs and clubs first to generate revenue and awareness,” said Brian Lenz, BSkyB Director of Product Development. “We need people to experience it and understand that HD3D is not anaglyph 3D. We hope to be able to make a launch decision shortly and come to the market when we think it makes the biggest impact.”

This could mean a launch into homes around July next year which heralds not only the start of the 2010-11 Premiership football season but a first opportunity for Sky Box Office customers to watch Avatar, the sci-fi feature produced by News Corp’s Fox film studio. Avatar is released on December 18. Theatrical releases typically receive an eight month window after cinema release before they launch on pay per view.

Sky has spent a week testing live 3D broadcasts of the ATP Tennis tournament at the O2 Arena. It will next cover Fulham Football Club’s home game against Sunderland in 3D and a training ground match where more cameras can be used without interfering with any live coverage.

By Adrian Pennington, Broadcast

Telegenic Wins Deal to Build Sky 3D OB Truck

BSkyB has commissioned Telegenic to build its first outside broadcast truck specifically for stereoscopic 3D production. A competitive tender saw the High Wycombe-based OB company awarded a contract for an expanding unit that will make use of seven dedicated 3D camera rigs, potentially from US firm 3ality. The truck will be used to produce live and recorded coverage of sport and entertainment events for a dedicated 3D channel to be launched by Sky next year.

BSkyB director of product development Brian Lenz said: “You can take an existing HD truck and flip it [so it can do 3D], and this is what we are doing at the moment for our trials. But it will be better to have a truck that is fit for purpose that we can roll in and roll out in the same time frame.”

The 3D part of the truck build will centre on providing gallery space for stereographers and the addition of tools for handling and synchronising two full-resolution signals at the same time.

“We will use one stereographer per camera system,” explained Lenz. “These operators set the 3D convergence point using a specially set up screen and control 3ality’s Stereo Image Processor system that drives the 3D cameras. The director cuts the cameras watching on a 3D screen”.

Lenz said that as 90% of the truck will feature regular HD capable components, it will cost only “marginally more” to build than a standard HD truck. Included will be a Calec audio desk, two Sony SRW-5800 VTRs, up to four EVS replay servers and a graphics system from Vizrt. The 3ality 3D camera rigs are being trialled this week at the ATP World Tour Finals tennis event at the O2 Arena in London.

By Will Strauss, Broadcast

Sony Focuses on 3D

Sony is emphasising the importance of 3DTV to broadcast manufacturers with the arrival of new professional cameras and other production tools to enable 3D live production. According to Sony, it is now in the unique position of offering a complete end-to-end 3D production chain.

"Sony is committed to delivering 3D throughout the content value chain and today's news is yet another endorsement of that," commented Naomi Climer, vice president Sony Europe. "There are always barriers to entry with any new technology, these new product and solutions announcements help drive out many of the technical and cost issues that were stopping live 3D from becoming a reality."

First up, the new 2/3 inch HDC-P1 box style camera delivers the equivalent picture performance of the HDC-1500, but within a compact body, which is ideal for mounting on a 3D rig. It integrates into the current control system and provides a cost-effective solution for dual-camera acquisition.

Capturing a live event in 3D poses a number of creative challenges to successfully manage the 3D image and ensure viewers are not left feeling nauseous. In response to this, Sony Professional has developed the new '3D Processor Box'. While still only at the technology demonstration stage, the box can deliver camera pair alignment and correct for errors introduced in the rig, including image geometry and colour matching. It offers the stereographic engineers another option to manage alignment in addition to mechanical alignment rigs to enable the control of live 3D content capture.

Completing the 3D production chain for the company, the MVS-8000G vision mixer offers dual stream switching and can treat a 3D camera pair as a single source. For recording, the SRW-5800 is unique in the market, delivering direct dual stream recording, which is essential for 3D capture. At the entry-level, the SRW-5100 also provides this ability.

Lastly, the company is also showcasing two prototype 3D monitors, which deliver the final link in the production chain. Announcements on the availability of 3D monitors are expected in 2010.

Source: TVB Europe

Quick Introduction to MXF AS02 and MXF AS03

An interesting overview of MXF AS02 and MXF AS03.

Trial 3D TV Service to Begin This Year

The Korea Communications Commission (KCC), the country's converged regulator for broadcasting and telecommunications, is kicking off the three dimensional (3D) television drive, with the goal of having television stations beam terrestrial 3D broadcasts sometime next year. The KCC will issue a license in January to start the trial services for land-based 3D broadcasting, which is to be delivered in full high-definition (HD) quality.

"Japan and Britain were first to test 3D television broadcasting through satellite networks, beaming programs for about an hour per day. However, we want to take it a step further, being the world's first country to provide 3D television with HD picture quality through terrestrial networks," said a KCC official.

"We are expecting interest from television stations, electronics makers and other members of the technology community. After we license a 3D television broadcaster in January, we expect the preparations to start in February, with 3D trial services beginning sometime between then and the second half of next year. The trial services will be vital for testing the picture quality of the 3D broadcasts, and also prepare the foundation for standardizing technologies."

But it looks like pay-television channels will beat the national networks on the 3D timetable. Cable television heavyweight, CJ HelloVision, and mobile television operator, TU Media, are both planning to begin trial 3D television services by the end of the year.

CJ HelloVision said it would be able to introduce 3D content on its video-on-demand (VOD) offerings within a week or two. The 3D broadcasts for real-time, regular programs are planned for next year, company officials said. Viewers will be required to have separate set-top boxes for viewing CJ HellowVision's 3D programs, which will mostly consist of cartoons at first.

"We have yet to decide what would be the right level of consumer prices for 3D television services. Providing VOD titles free at first than charging for them later would be an option for us," said a CJ HelloVision official.

Cable television operators have been working with the state-run Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) and other technology institutes to develop 3D television solutions.

CJ HelloVision is moving to pick 300 households in Seoul and Busan to start testing its 3D video-on-demand (VOD) this year. CJ plans to expand its 3D coverage to 1,000 households by 2012. Should CJ HelloVision successfully debut its 3D television service by the end of the year, this might influence other cable operators and pay-television networks to consider leaping on the bandwagon.

TU Media, the mobile television unit of SK Telecom, the country's biggest mobile telephony operator, is planning to release a handset by the end of the year that supports both its own satellite pay-television services and the free, terrestrial mobile television services. TU Media officials said this handset would also be capable of supporting 3D video, with the company considering establishing a separate channel on its satellite network to test 3D broadcasting services for about an hour per day.

Sky Life, a satellite television operator, said it was also planning to start trial services of 3D broadcasting in January.

"It remains to be seen whether 3D television will become a standard for consumer entertainment, or fizzle out as 3D movies did decades ago. If the industry finds a way to lower the prices for the required devices and also acquire more content, 3D television will have a chance to acquire staying power," said Kim Jin-woong, a researcher from ETRI.

By Kim Tong-hyung, The Korea Times

'It' is 3D's Lost Opportunity

The death of Michael Jackson, followed by the success of and mostly positive reviews for Kenny Ortega's behind-the-scenes docu This Is It, has made the cancelled London concert series one of the great what-ifs in showbiz history. The docu at least partly reclaims Jackson's reputation as a musician and performer. But for the handful of 3D companies that were working on the concerts, Jackson's death and the cancellation carries an extra sting. Besides losing a collaborator and colleague, they lost a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase their work and products.

The plan was for the live Jackson to interact with 3D images on the giant video wall during Thriller and Earthsong. The grand finale for the show was to have been M.J. Air: Jackson climbing up a staircase into a projected 707 that would take off over the audience.

"This is something that had never really been done before," said John Meglin, who was producing the concerts along with Paul Gongaware.

The live aud would have watched wearing RealD 3D glasses, but the real innovation was the screen: a 90 foot by 30 foot LED video wall adapted for 3D by Kerner Technologies. Because it was a backlit LED screen, it was bright enough to cut through the concert lighting, says Meglin.

Kerner Technologies CEO Eric Edmeades explained.

"The idea was that, in the concert, you would create this much more immersive environment because the wall would bring a lot of the content right out over the audience," he said.

The concerts were to be the grand unveiling of the Kernervision brand for 3D displays in about the splashiest debut imaginable.

"It's only when I went to see (This Is It) that I really, really got how difficult it will be to find something comparable by way of a launch. Michael was just an unbelievable genius and knew how to move an audience better perhaps than anybody," he said.

Vince Pace, a 3D camera maker whose products were used to shoot the Thriller footage, agrees. "Michael was trying to be out there with something unique and different, ahead of its time. Now you've got to find the next person who's ahead of their time. I'm sure it'll come, but it's unfortunate."

Kerner is actively looking for a new venue to unveil Kernervision, which will be the brand not only for 3D video walls for concerts and sports venues but for home 3D products, including an aftermarket converter to make HD flatscreen TVs show 3D.

While the launch of Kernervision was stymied, at least for now, some of the 3D efforts on the movie were more or less completed, even though after Jackson's death it wasn't obvious where they'd be seen.

I.E. Effects also created 3D visual effects for Thriller and M.J. Air. Bruce Jones directed the live-action Thriller footage, which was shot at I.E.'s Culver City HQ. Among the effects created by I.E. for Thriller were ghosts swinging on a crystal chandelier and a 3D head of Vincent Price, which was to be seen in a crystal ball. All these effects were completed in 3D. So while so far the rumors about a 3D release have proven unfounded, there are 3D elements available for a future release.

And since This Is It was too late for this year's Oscar consideration, it could well get into the race a year from now, when many more 3D screens should be available and there will be plenty of room for a 3D re-release. But there is no replacing the live concerts and the ground-breaking combination of live and digital 3D technology they would have represented.

"If there's one thing I hear again and again from people who saw This Is It," says Meglin. "It's 'I wish I'd seen that show.'"

By David S. Cohen, Variety

Digital Heads East: China, India and Korea Lead the Conversion Race

Following the lead of the U.S. and European markets, in 2009 digital conversions in much of Asia continue to inch forward, propelled largely on a screen-by-screen basis as justified for specific 3D titles. Broad-based 2D conversions are being held back by their expense, coupled with the weak economy. The exception is China, where the government-supported conversion program continues. In addition, India, Korea and Japan have active conversion programs in progress or being planned.

In China, projector manufacturer Barco announced in mid-2009 that it had completed its 1,000th digital-cinema projector installation. With an early start, Barco claims a market share of more than 80% of the equipped screens. Barco has been working closely since March 2007 with Singapore-based server manufacturer GDC Technology. GDC has secured virtual print fee (VPF) agreements with five studios (Sony Pictures, Disney, Fox, Universal and Paramount) and expects these agreements will accelerate the conversion of up to 6,000 cinemas across Asia.

Barco announced in 2006 a major commitment with Dadi Digital Cinemas. Recently, major deals with Chinese exhibitors like Jinyi Zhujiang Movie Circuit Co., Hengdian Entertainment Co., Ltd. and the China Film Group were announced for another 200 systems.

“With the largest number of installations, which is way ahead of its nearest competitor, GDC and Barco are the undisputed leading digital-cinema solution providers in China,” said Mr. Xu Tianfu, general manager of Hengdian. “We have great faith in GDC and Barco’s vast experience and proven track record, and it is the clear choice for our deployment program.”

Christie’s digital-cinema expansion in China has gathered momentum since 2008, largely as a result of their projectors being used during the Olympic Games. Christie is enjoying digital-cinema growth of more than 400% in the Asia/Pacific region. To date, more than 600 sites in the region have installed Christie digital-cinema projectors, with an additional 500 sites scheduled for conversion by the end of this year.

Working with Beijing Time Antaeus Media Tech. Co., Ltd., Christie provided 120 Christie CP2000-ZX projectors. After the games, these projectors were installed in Time Antaeus’ theatres across China as part of the country’s film-to-digital conversion. With plans to install 800 projectors in select cinemas by the end of 2010, these projectors will be installed with Time Antaeus’ own DCI-capable Montage CDCS2000 servers, jointly developed with Doremi Cinema. The Montage CDCS2000 includes a Theatre Management System (TMS) to allow remote content programming and management and can be remotely monitored by a network operations center.

According to Christie, the pilot test of the 120 projectors has proved to be a tremendous success. Since starting operations, they have experienced “zero” failure rates, offering users a high level of stability. The systems are installed with 3D systems from Dolby 3D, MasterImage, RealD and XpanD. In addition, China’s renowned Shanghai Film Group Corporation and Lianzhong have also selected Christie exclusively for their respective nationwide digital-cinema rollout plans.

Also in China, NEC has been rapidly expanding its Asian cinema business with a commitment from the China Film Group to purchase 160 of its NC1600 digital projectors. The agreement follows an initial 100-projector order that was completed during the spring of 2009. USA-based Ballantyne Strong, Inc. announced that its Strong Westrex China subsidiary has been selected to provide and install the 160 NEC projectors in locations across China. Strong Westrex China expects to ship and install up to half the systems in 2009, with initial shipments anticipated as early as Q3, and expects to ship and install the remaining projectors in 2010.

In India, Scrabble Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. was formed in November 2007 with the vision to provide a 2K DCI-grade release platform to Indian and Hollywood studios. As India’s leading deployment entity, Scrabble has the goal of converting around 200 screens annually until every multiplex in the country is equipped. The company has already contracted with India’s leading exhibitors, producers and distributors, and under a VPF business model, Scrabble plans to finance India’s transition to digital by collecting a negotiated fee from distributors and producers. In this capacity, Scrabble will act as the intermediary between the major studios and distributors and India’s vast number of cinema chains and independent exhibitors.

Scrabble announced its Hollywood alliance in March 2009, and has signed nonexclusive agreements with all the major studios which include Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros., Walt Disney Studios and Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures and Sony Pictures. The presence of digital screens will make it easier for film fans in India to enjoy more movies in 3D, which is fast becoming a popular medium. Scrabble is also looking to showcase alternative content and digital advertising.

Ranjit Thakur, CEO of Scrabble Entertainment declares, "We are in process of changing the way movies are shown in India. Going 2K digital is a revolutionary change for the exhibitors in India and the patrons love the experience.”

Thakur believes that the digital release will help both Indian and Hollywood distributors maximize their revenues by providing a much wider day-and-date release and flexibility in show placement at a reasonable cost. The digital transition will also help Hollywood studios release more 3D titles and will also help reduce the effects of piracy from the Indian entertainment sector, which according to the U.S.-India Business Council brings an estimated loss of four billions U.S. dollars per year.

Hollywood contributes less than 10% of the Indian box office, but the percentage is expected to increase in the future. Industry experts feel that there is potential for Hollywood films to rise to over 20% of the Indian market, and certainly going digital with more day-and-date releases is one of the ways for them to get there.

Currently, all the multiplexes in the eight top cities of India collect over 75% of the total Indian box-office collection. By virtue of DCI and JPEG2000 technology, the theatres are happily adapting to the solution that Scrabble offers. Scrabble is pleased with the success they have achieved in a short span of one year.

Christie continues its close collaboration with Scrabble as the preferred projector vendor. So far, Christie has delivered over 200 projectors for Scrabble’s deployment. Christie projectors are now installed in theaters owned by PVR Cinemas, Fame Cinemas, INOX and Fun Theatres across the country.

XpanD, the leader in active-glasses technology, has also entered a strategic partnership with Scrabble targeting a rollout of 100 XpanD 3D screens beginning this November.

Thakur believes that 3D will catch on with Indian audiences depending on the merit of the content. Also, Scrabble is working with Bollywood production houses to create regional and Indian 3D titles.

Scrabble plans to install at least 200 systems each year, so by the end of 2010 there should be 400 screens spread across 40 different sites, each with at least one or two 3D screens. The sites with digital installations have been identified with plenty of marketing materials, so that audiences are aware of the quality differences between them and their analog competitors. Digital has been well-received by the Indian patrons and they recognize the difference in quality. Theatre management also loves the flexibility of shows which the digital platforms provide.

South Korea is in a tight race to become the first fully digitized country in the world. South Korea-based D-Cinema Korea Co. Ltd (DCK), the joint-venture company established in 2008 by CJ CGV and Lotte Cinema, has also announced its own VPF deals with Paramount, Fox and Universal that will launch the deployment of up to 2,000 Korean screens. For the initial deployments, DCK has selected Christie CP2000 series projectors and Qube XP-D servers. It is expected that almost 400 of Korea’s screens will be digital by the beginning of 2010.

Japan has more than 200 DCI-capable systems installed, primarily as a result of the recent flow of 3D titles. Broad conversion plans are being considered by various companies where there is interest in securing VPF studio support that should move things along faster.

Most of the progress in Japan is being driven by one company, T-Joy Ltd., an entertainment organization specializing in the operation of multiple chains as well as the financing and development of digital content. Founded in August 2000 in a partnership with the Toei Company, T-Joy launched as Japan's first multiple digital-cinema complex in Hiroshima. According to T-Joy’s CEO Naoshi Yoda, T-Joy has taken an early lead in Japanese digital cinema and introduced an innovative theatre environment and new dimension of choice to the moviegoers. “We call the next generation in the movie industry an ‘entertainment complex’ and focus on promoting digital cinemas, improvement of digital film technologies and expanding the new and existing digital content.”

Aside from its main operation as standard multiple theatres, T-Joy provides its audiences with various alternative content, such as football matches, extreme sports, musicals, rock concerts, TV programs and many other forms of both real-time and pre-recorded events via digital data-transmission systems.

T-Joy currently owns 119 screens at 13 sites, of which 43 screens are currently equipped with DCI-grade digital projectors. Fourteen of these are equipped with 3D. With two new multiplexes opening in Yokohama and Kyoto, T-Joy will operate a total of 68 digital screens by spring 2010. For the future, T-Joy is planning only fully digital sites, with at least two 3D screens per site. T-Joy has also signed agreements with Sony to add screens featuring Sony’s 4K projectors beginning next July. T-Joy through their subsidiary company, Laterna Co., has also made a joint venture with Korea’s CJ Entertainment for future investments and the distribution of Korean digital titles in the Japanese market.

The rest of Asia, specifically, Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore and the Philippines, is deploying digital equipment as needed to take advantage of the increased 3D revenues. In these cases, most exhibitors are self-funding their own conversions or working in conjunction with one of the vendors or deployment entities that have secured studio-approved VPF plans.

Down Under, exhibitors in Australia and New Zealand have installed enough 3D systems to support the current Hollywood 3D movie slate and key exhibitors, specifically Hoyts, Greater Union, Village Roadshow and Reading, are finalizing their own VPF plans. It is expected that over 300 digital systems will be in place by the beginning of 2010, with a full rollout beginning mid-2010.

By Bill Mead, Film Journal International

The 3DTV Decoder Ring

The intelligence to handle multiple 3DTV display formats will reside within the TVs themselves — independent of the method used for the transmission, according to David Broberg, CableLabs vice president of consumer video technology. CableLabs hosted a demo at the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo last month to show the transmission of 3DTV signals, originating from the Comcast Media Center, going to different television sets from Hyundai IT, LG Electronics and Sony; a home-theater system from Panasonic; and a Sony “mini-theater.”

Different 3DTV sets use different methods to render stereoscopic 3D images; common technologies in use today are polarized and active-shutter glasses. But those display mechanisms are completely independent of the method used for transmission in the same way native HD resolutions are independent, Broberg said. Ergo, he says, there won’t be a need for a 3DTV-enabled set-top, as suggested by Motorola.

“What is needed is a conversion circuit within the television designed to accommodate all the requisite conversions,” Broberg said. “All stereoscopic 3D televisions will include such a circuit, to the same degree that all HD televisions are capable of handling multiple resolutions.”

Broberg drew a parallel to the debate between the proponents of 720p and those of 1080i during the early days of HDTV. Companies had built HDTV prototypes for each format, which were incompatible and required the proper input signals to operate.

“Yet when the products finally reached the market these format converters were a common feature of all HDTVs,” he said, and now the same thing is happening with 3D stereoscopic displays.

By Todd Spangler, Multichannel News

Odeon's 3D Race for Olympics

Cinema giant Odeon hopes to strike gold by screening the London 2012 Olympics in 3D. Bosses are in talks with the BBC to relay the action to cinemas around the country. Sports fans will get special glasses to watch stars such as Usain Bolt in action.

Odeon boss Rupert Gavin told Your Money: "We're also working on showing everything from concerts to boxing matches in 3D." It follows the booming success of 3D films - despite tickets being more expensive.

Gavin revealed his firm's 3D takings could top £29million this year, with Ice Age 3 and Up among the big hits. Odeon, which has 3D projectors in 80 of its 110 UK cinemas, hopes to screen next year's World Cup finals in 2D.

By Clinton Manning, The Daily Mirror

Kodak Digital Cinema Undergoes Major Strategy Shift

For the past several weeks there have been whisperings in conversations throughout the motion picture exhibition industry about organizational changes at Kodak Digital Cinema. To put an end to the conflicting reports that were coming my way I did the most simple of things; picked up the phone and spoke with someone directly at Kodak. Strange, I know, given that this business has gotten us all so used to playing our cards close to the vest, but sometimes a direct approach actually works.

Indeed, Kodak Digital Cinema is dramatically changing the focus of its business. Bob Gibbons, Director of Marketing and Communications for Kodak Digital Cinema lived up to his title by being very upfront in explaining the company’s new strategy. “We’re going to really concentrate on areas that build more directly on our unique capabilities of service and intellectual property licensing,” said Gibbons. “We’re going to discontinue all development and manufacturing of our preshow advertising systems, our Kodak screen management servers, our Kodak theatre management systems and what I refer to as our role as a feature systems integrator, putting the packages together and marketing the packages.”

Acting as a systems integrator has been the most visible part of Kodak’s digital cinema business up until now. Moving forward, Kodak Digital Cinema will instead develop and license digital cinema technologies to be commercialized by others while continuing to provide services and support for existing systems. Though Kodak may not be manufacturing preshow video players any longer, they will continue to prepare and distribute preshow content and playslists.

Gibbons puts the number of Kodak digital cinema servers out in the field at around 300 and he was firm in reiterating that the company would absolutely continue to provide service and support for their equipment. However, he stated, “If you are thinking of working with Kodak as an integrator and having us put a package together for you, well we’re not going to do that anymore so you’ll have to move on and work with somebody else.”

Other aspects of the business that will continue is Kodak’s network operations center which monitors the health of digital cinema equipment on a round the clock basis. Kodak’s diagnosis most of the problems that occur with installed equipment remotely from their NOC. They are often able to fix the problem without sending technicians. As for any intellectual property the company may be working on for digital cinema, Gibbons said, “Kodak has a long history in imaging and different aspects of picture quality. We have somewhere around 500 patents in the digital area alone and so we’re going to continue to develop some of that and so far as people want to license that and put it in their products we’d be happy to talk with them.”

According to Gibbons, Kodak has no plans to sell any assets developed by Kodak Digital Cinema that may no longer be called for due to their new strategy. This includes their proprietary secure media server and theatre management system. Though never say never, because if you gave Kodak a call and were interested in licensing the intellectual property Kodak built for its servers, “we sure would be interested in talking to you,” he said. “I don’t want to say we’re not doing that, but at this point we are not doing it.”

Of course, whenever a company like Kodak shifts its business strategy there are bound to be a few casualties when it comes to personnel. Since Kodak is such a large company some of the engineers may well end up in other assignments. Same goes for those working in sales. But in the end there will be some layoffs, however small. “We’re not talking about a gigantic operation here,” said Gibbons. “When we get all done with the number of people who will be let go because of jobs being eliminated it will be in the dozens. A couple dozen. It won’t be more than that.”

Speaking about the news with exhibitors who had been working with Kodak as system integrators, the reactions ranged from disappointed to bitterly angry. Some theater owners had been with Kodak for years, while others had only recently signed on. All of them seemed to question digital cinema’s current business model given that both Kodak and Technicolor have gotten out of the systems integration business over the past year.

On a side note, all references to Kodak Digital Cinema have been removed from Kodak’s corporate website.

By J. Sperling Reich, Celluloid Junkie

Sony’s Stringer Sees 3D as Next $10 Billion Business

Sony Corp. Chairman Howard Stringer forecast 3D movies, pictures and games will be the electronics maker’s next $10 billion business, challenging investors and analysts who say the technology isn’t ready to become mainstream. The maker of Bravia televisions and PlayStation 3 game consoles said 3D-related products, excluding content, will generate more than 1 trillion yen ($11 billion) in the 12 months ending March 2013. The Tokyo-based company will begin offering TVs, Blu-ray players and game consoles that adopt the technology starting next fiscal year, it said.

Stringer’s bet that 3D will spread from the movie theater to the living room highlights part of his strategy to revive a company that’s forecasting its first back-to-back annual losses in half a century. The move may signal a shift in focus as the Welsh-born executive nears his target of cutting 330 billion yen in costs by eliminating 20,000 jobs and shutting 10 factories.

“We plan to make all the existing PS3 systems to be stereoscopic 3D compatible through a system software update but the timing is not yet decided at this time. As for the stereoscopic 3D game titles for PS3, the plan is to release them in conjunction with Sony’s 3D TV launch next year,” a Sony Computer Entertainment America spokesperson confirmed.

“I doubt 3D will become a hit,” said Naoki Fujiwara, who helps oversee $4 billion as chief fund manager at Shinkin Asset Management Co. in Tokyo. “Investors want to see how the company will make money.”

Sony is not alone in pushing 3D. Osaka, Japan-based Panasonic Corp. and Tokyo-based Toshiba Corp. also aim to introduce 3D TVs by as early as next year as Japanese electronics makers seek to compete against South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc.

Kyung-Soo Ahn, the executive vice president in charge of Sony’s business products unit, said this week sales of projectors, cameras and other equipment capable of producing 3D images are expanding faster than expected. Sony received orders for more than 11,000 3D projectors in the U.S. as movie-theater companies such as Regal Entertainment Group and AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. adopt the technology, the company said yesterday.

Stringer, 67, said Sony’s reach in the entertainment industry puts the company in position to lead the 3D market. The company’s movie unit, producer of 2012 and Michael Jackson’s This Is It, is Hollywood’s third-largest studio, generating $1.3 billion in ticket sales this year through Nov. 15, according to researcher Box Office Mojo.

“Sony is the only company with end-to-end filming production, 3D conversion, home delivery and home display of 3D content,” Stringer said in briefing in Tokyo yesterday. “This is another example of how the breadth of Sony’s operations give us a significant advantage versus the competition.”

While Sony hasn’t disclosed prices of its 3D TV models, Fumiyuki Nakanishi, a strategist at Tokyo-based SMBC Friend Securities Co., said such sets will probably be too expensive initially to attract a mass audience.

“These 3D products will no doubt be pricier and it will take years for them to penetrate the market,” said Nakanishi. “Sony often makes bold statements to shore up its share price and I see its 3D plan as being one of those announcements.”

Not all analysts are skeptical. Because its operations span from hardware to content, Sony will be able to expand 3D related products without “huge” investments, said Yoshiharu Izumi, an analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Tokyo.

“It may not be so hard for the company to attain the 1- trillion-yen goal,” Izumi said.

The company is projecting sales to fall 5.6 percent this fiscal year as Sony seeks to weather through the global recession, which led Sony to cut jobs, shut plants, outsource production and reduce its number of suppliers. Sony pushed back its key profitability targets -- a 10 percent return on equity and a 5 percent operating margin -- by two years to the 12 months ending March 2013. The company is forecasting a net loss of 95 billion yen this fiscal year after losing 98.9 billion yen the previous year.

“Before dreaming about 3D, the company needs to achieve real profits,” said Masahiro Mitsui, a Tokyo-based investment analyst at Federated Advisory Services Co. “The technology requires users to wear specialty glasses and it may work with games, but not for sports and documentaries.”

By Mariko Yasu and Maki Shiraki, Bloomberg

SFP Takes 3DTV Wireless

SFP (Société Française de Production) has successfully completed its first 3D live wireless production with the help of Axon's Synapse HXH160 module. SFP was the first company to cover a major French cycling race fully in HD. This year the same cycling event has marked another achievement by SFP: the world's first live 3D HD coverage from a motorbike. For the event a motorbike was equipped with a specially developed HD stereoscopic camera system provided by Binocle, a French company specialised in 3D shooting.

For the 3D transmission the two left-eye and right-eye signals were combined into one HD-SDI video stream. This was done by squeezing both pictures to an anamorphic half horizontal size and combining them into one (side-by-side) video signal which is fully compatible with the standard HD MPEG transmission system and also can directly be fed to standard 3D consumer TV sets which then will create the 3D effect. The Axon HXH160, which was mounted onto the motorbike, performed this task for SFP. It furthermore did the required synchronisation of the two streams. The HXH160 is also available without the integrated audio shuffler (HXH150) and in a 3Gbps-version (GXG150 and GXG160)

"Axon, like SFP, is at the forefront of innovation" said Luc Geoffroy, CTO at Euro Media Group. "Axon presented the 3D solution at this year's IBC and therefore we turned to them when we required technical assistance for our 3D project. Axon came up very quickly with a compact and portable solution suitable for use on the motorbike. The project was a great success resulting in some astounding 3D footage. This breakthrough allows us to seriously consider 3D for future live outdoor sporting events."

Source: TVB Europe

Sony Showcases 3D Video Production System

Sony Corp and Sony Marketing Inc exhibited a set of 3D video production system for business use at International Broadcast Equipment Exhibition 2009, which runs from Nov 18, 2009, at Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefecture, Japan.

"Not only movies but also other moving images will go 3D in the near future," the companies said.

The two companies showcased a business-use camera, processor to compensate and adjust 3D images, switcher and recorder for editing, monitors to check images, projector and so forth. Among them, there was the "SRX-R320," a digital cinema projector that can project 4k2k 3D video and was released Nov 9, 2009. The "HDC-P1," a multi-purpose camera for taking 3D images, and a "rig" will be launched in February 2010. The rig is a mount for the camera, and it enables to combine two units of the HDC-P1 and a half mirror to shoot 3D video.

The front view of the 3D camera. A half mirror can be seen.

There are two units of the HDC-P1, and one of them is vertically placed.

A real-time 3D video editing system.

This time, Sony and Sony Marketing exhibited the "3D LED Wall," a 280-inch LED display that is 6.4m in width and 3.4m in height and can switch between 2D and 3D video. It seemed to be made by combining 70 LED displays, each of which measures about 28 inches.

3D images are shown by using two overlapping images for the right and left eyes. And polarization glasses are used to separate those images. Home-use TVs and Blu-ray players that can show 3D images are expected to be released in 2010. But it is still impossible to predict when terrestrial TV broadcasts will support 3D images in Japan.

"In the United States, 3D images are already broadcast in live sports and music programs via cable TV networks and satellite broadcasting," Sony said. "In the future, such movements will occur in Japan, too."

In a demonstration, real-time 3D video was shown on a 280-inch LED display.

Visitors watched the demonstration by wearing glasses that have polarizing films instead of lenses.

By Tetsuo Nozawa, Nikkei Electronics

Kerner, Emily Carr University Team Up to Produce 3-D Movies

Thursday's announcement that the Kerner Group will set up a stereoscopic 3-D research studio at Emily Carr University (ECU) will help British Columbia's film industry make the transition from a two-dimensional production centre to a place where 3-D movies can be made by local crews.

Several high-profile 3-D movies have been made in B.C. in recent years, including Tron: Legacy, but they always have Americans in the key crew positions. The Emily Carr studio, expected to be operational by late spring, is the first step to building a 3-D movie infrastructure.

The studio, which will be housed in the university's Intersections Digital Studios (IDS), will be used for live-action filmmaking, and will be available to the school's faculty, graduate students and undergraduates, as well as to film industry professionals and Kerner staff.

Lynn Leboe, director of international research and development for Kerner, said the decision to come to Vancouver was partly the result of lobbying in the past year by "four or five" production executives from the B.C. film industry.

"The 2-D industry is dying on the vine here, and we've had filmmakers come to our studios in California and plead with us to come up to B.C.," said Leboe, a B.C. native. Kerner is based in San Rafael, Calif.

Stating "nobody's making 2-D any more," Kerner said all technology points to 3-D filmmaking, but Vancouver hasn't had the tools.

"There is no infrastructure in Canada to be able to do this. We feel this stereoscopic lab will be a catalyst for growth for the entire creative supply chain. We'd been looking to come to Canada for some time. Because of Emily Carr's photographic visual arts background, we felt this was a really good fit," said Leboe. "Our enabling technology does not replace existing work crews. Unlike our competitors, who just come in and displace all of the work force in the cinematography area, we include and expand the work force."

Robert Inkster, ECU's director of research and industry liaison, said the studio will have all the tools needed for stereoscopic 3-D filmmaking.

"The data capture, which is the camera systems and rigs, and the data processing systems and the display are all unique to stereo 3-D," said Inkster.

A filmmaker would be able to use the studio to make a prototype, create a portion of a scene from a movie in 3-D to show potential investors.

Rob McEwen, president of the International Photographers Guild (IATSE Local 669), welcomed the news.

"I'm supportive of this venture," McEwen said, adding that the two IATSE Local 669 members who trained with 3-D equipment on the Vancouver production of director Joe Dante's The Hole 3D were then hired to work on Tron Legacy.

"I don't know if 3-D is ever going to the be-all, end-all, but certainly many other projects will use it," said McEwen. "Time goes on and technology changes, and it will become easier and easier. We'll have 3-D television sooner rather than later."

By Marke Andrews, The Vancouver Sun

German Exhibs Battle over Digital Cinema

German theater owners and the German Federal Film Board (FFA) are engaged in a high-stakes game of chicken with the future of digital cinema in the country hanging in the balance. The film board wasn't blinking this week when it told exhibitors they could kiss goodbye about 40 million euros ($60 million) in FFA funding toward a digital upgrade of German cinemas.

The FFA pledged the cash -- part of a 300 million euro, five-year, all-industry digital rollout plan -- on the condition that exhibitors drop a lawsuit against it. But UCI Kinowelt, the German arm of the Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group, refused to back down. So the FFA offer is off the table. Local exhibitors association the HDF, whose members operate about 75% of Germany's theater screens, is holding a two-day powwow in Berlin this week to decide on a response.

At issue is Germany's ticket levy, the share of boxoffice revenue German movie owners are required to pay to the film board. The FFA uses the cash to subsidize production, distribution and exhibition efforts across Germany. Some German exhibitors -- most of them big multiplex owners like UCI -- say the levy is unconstitutional and have sued to have it eliminated. The HDF offered to pay 25% of the ticket tax, and that with reservations, but the FFA said no.

"That's completely unacceptable," FFA spokesman Thomas Schultz said. "Not 25%, not 75% -- it's 100% or nothing."

While the two sides duke it out, Germany is falling behind its European neighbors in the digital cinema race. While UCI and other big multiplex operators have been upgrading their equipment, many smaller owners are having trouble financing the changeover. They are losing out as audiences flock to digital screens to watch the 3D versions of blockbusters such as Up and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.

By Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter

Introducing the ASUS Republic of Gamers G51J 3D Gaming Notebook

As the first notebook capable of producing realistic 3D visuals in games and videos, the new ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG) G51J 3D is designed to deliver a truly immersive gaming and multimedia experience to gamers everywhere. Equipped with NVIDIA 3D Vision, the ASUS G51J 3D delivers ultra-realistic graphics that come to life before the user. A pair of 3D Vision active-shutter glasses coupled with a wide-range infra-red emitter delivers stereoscopic images with clarity, brightness and depth-of-field (DOP) at full resolution without any viewing angle restrictions.


The GPU driver and a 120Hz 3D panel render each scene twice, delivering up to 60 images evenly to each eye, amounting to a total of up to 120 images at any given time. Gamers can experience total immersion into their games from what were previously flat 2D worlds, to true-to-life 3D. With up to 400 PC games that work out-of-the-box with 3D Vision, gamers can experience a whole new dimension of gaming never-before seen, with recently released games such as Resident Evil 5, Borderlands, World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, Batman: Arkham Asylum and Star Trek D-A-C.

The ASUS G51J 3D notebook will be available in North America soon from authorized resellers. The introductory MSRP is $1699.99 USD.

Source: ASUS

World Cup 2010 to be Broadcast in 3D

Football fans could be watching World Cup matches next year live and in 3D in plans being drawn up by FIFA, writes Adrian Pennington exclusively for TVB Europe. FIFA TV, the broadcasting division of the sports governing body, is working with World Cup host broadcaster HBS and official FIFA sponsor Sony to broadcast live stereoscopic feeds of as many as 32 of the 64 tournament games.

The project has yet to be officially greenlit, but 3D stereo recording of at least some of the World Cup matches are highly likely with FIFA understood to be keen to see extensive 3D coverage, over and above the production of select 3D footage for archive. Discussions include the practicalities of transmitting games to large screen venues such as cinemas for paying customers or outdoor fanzones (where factors such as the distribution of glasses come into play) with the main stumbling block centring around the financing of the project.

HBS, the logical candidate to be tasked with producing the coverage, would be able to draw on its experience of 3D broadcasts of the 2008 IIHF World Championship in Canada and the Lyon vs. Paris Saint-Germain soccer match broadcast over the Orange cable network in April. The Swiss subsidiary of Infront Sports & Media is contracted to produce the broadcasts for all French Ligue1 matches and would likely perform test shoots on matches between now and June to hone its editorial production. At least 30 dual rigs will be needed for the tournament with 6-7 rigs deployed per game.

A source close to the production said: "The biggest challenge is not so much technical as editorial. We don't want to waste the opportunity by producing second class 3D. We're insistent that in seven months time we need a 3D production as good as 2D otherwise no-one will watch it. We are setting the bar high."

HBS chief executive, Francis Tellier, told an audience at sports fayre Sportel last month: "It must be a commercial application to get revenues."

A Sony spokesperson confirmed that it is talking with FIFA about the project. The company is also readying a series of Bravia 3D home displays for release in 2010.

By Adrian Pennington, TVB Europe

Duo Team on HD 3D Concerts

AEG Live and Action 3D have partnered to produce a series of filmed concert events shot on HD 3D and slated to be released theatrically in 3D for limited, one-week engagements. The first film to roll out will headline the Dave Matthews Band, culled from footage shot at the three-day Austin City Limits festival in October, scheduled to be released Dec. 11 by Cinedigm Entertainment on 300-400 digital cinema screens in the U.S.

Since partnering in the spring, AEG and Action 3D have already compiled footage from 56 artists from five different festivals, with the goal of upping that figure to 150 artists in 2010. The strategy has been to pinpoint fests like Lollapalooza, All Points West and Austin City Limits, allowing the filmmakers to film multiple artists over the course of one event.

"Our goal was to mimic a concert," said John Rubey, president of Network Live, a division of AEG Live, comparing the Matthews film to U2 3D, the first live-action digital 3D film, released 2008, which consisted of pieced-together concert footage shot over the course of the Latin American leg of the Irish band's Vertigo tour of 2006. That film took more than a year to complete, while the Matthews footage was shot Oct. 3 and will hit the screens in December. According to Rubey, the release date was chosen to take advantage of the window between the release of 3D tentpoles Disney's A Christmas Carol, released Nov. 6, and James Cameron's Avatar, which bows Dec. 18.

To date, only U2 3D and Fly Me to the Moon have been released only in 3D, and neither tallied huge box office in the U.S. Other 3D pics have opted for a mixed 2D/3D release. Of 3D concert releases, only Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: The Best of Both Worlds has been a major success. AEG has seen boffo numbers for 2D concert release Michael Jackson's This Is It, released through Sony, with $186 million worldwide.

Wednesday's announcement comes on the heels of Sony Pictures' Hot Ticket division's plans to make its first foray into the 3D realm with the concert pic, Kenny Chesney: Summer in 3D, set for a limited engagement run in April.

AEG claims to have the largest library of 3D music concert content, which, in addition to Matthews, includes a number of leading artists currently in negotiation with the producer. It has already been reported that AEG filmed several 3D live sets of Phish from Festival 8 in Indio, Calif., in late October. According to Rubey, the company plans to roll out "best of" edition from Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits as followups to the Matthews feature in 2010.

By Steve Chagollan, Variety

Epson Unveils 4K Imager

Seiko Epson Corporation (Suwa City, Japan) has revealed that they have developed the world’s first 4K-compatible high-temperature polysilicon (HTPS) imager for 3LCD projectors. Measuring 1.64 inches diagonally, the new panel supports displays with resolutions up to 4096 × 2160 pixels.

Texas Instruments has announced it is in development of a 4K DLP panel, but JVC and Sony already have commercial 4K LCOS panels used in Digital Cinema and other professional applications. Epson has now joined this club. This panel has the resolution of four FHD imagers. Notice in the photo of the panel that there are four connectors to drive this panel - one for each FHD part of the image.

Epson will manufacture the panel, which could be used in an Epson-branded projector or in a projector manufactured by other companies. Sanyo, NEC, Sharp, Hitachi and Panasonic for example, might be good candidates. Epson will use its latest D7 process technology to manufacture the panel. It will also incorporate its C2FINE technology, which is a vertically aligned LCD mode which offers high contrast. New driving methods for the 4K panel also needed to be developed. The panel uses pixels that have a 9-micron pixel pitch - not the smallest that Epson has made, but very close.

We also suspect that Epson’s TFT group is talking to potential projector customers about a 3D version of the 4K projector. The easiest way to do this would be a dual-engine approach that would allow the use of passive polarized glasses, but it would require a polarization preserving screen. That should be okay for Digital Cinema where the current DLP solutions require a similar screen, but it may be less desirable in other commercial applications. Therefore, a shutter glass solution is going to have to be found for 3LCD, we suspect.

By Chris Chinnock, Display Daily

3D Stereoscopic Content MEDIAPRO’s Investment for the Future

MEDIAPRO has taken the decision to make 3D content production one of the pillars of its future business strategy, investigating its application in a whole range of different contexts. MEDIAPRO Research, the MEDIAPRO R+D unit has recently carried out a series of tests during televised football matches and include stereoscopic recording of games in situ as well as the projection of the content in cinemas. For the current football season, MEDIAPRO Research has planned a series of tests which involve all the participating elements in the process from production through to the broadcast of live events.

The broadcast of live TV events using the 3D stereoscopic system will require the modification of a whole range of technical and artistic procedures used up to now. MEDIAPRO Research is leading the team in the MEDIAPRO group and is making significant strides in the creation of this type of content. Until now all the stereoscopic production experiences and live broadcasts around the world have been carried out in test format and a standardization protocol has yet to be established and several challenges have yet to be resolved. MEDIAPRO Research is working together with both American and European audiovisual companies towards technical solutions which will move the technology forward.

Sergi Sagás, technical head of the MEDIAPRO Research unit, highlights that the implementation of 3D live broadcasts “will oblige technical units to modify not only the mobile units and the TV cameras but also their physical location, their use and the broadcast production itself into a new visual language”. MEDIAPRO Research coordinates and integrates all the production processes involved in this new format. To this end, all the tests programmed for the current football season will be carried out with the participation of all the parties involved in the production chain. In technical terms MEDIAPRO Research is investigating solutions to some of the problems of stereoscopic camera calibration and convergence adjustments.

MEDIAPRO Research was created in 2007 and is made up of 15 researchers (graduates, engineers and Ph.D graduates) in a variety of different lines of research linked to the production and broadcast of audiovisual content. Since March 2008 it has taken part in the Europe wide 2020 3D Media research project focused on the development, integration and broadcast of stereoscopic and advanced immersive technologies.

Source: Mediapro

3D@Home Consortium Releases Requirements for Digital 3D to the Home

The 3D@Home Consortium announced the completion and transmittal of key documents to be used in the creation of digital 3D standards by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) working groups. The document ST2-01 3D Digital Interface Requirements enables the standards committees to have input from the wide cross-section of the industry which 3D@Home represents. The documents ST4-03 3D Passive Glasses Database and ST4-04 3D Active Shutter Glasses Database assist the standards committees in understanding the range of products that will be interacting with the 3D systems. Both documents were requested by CEA working groups as part of their discovery process before working on the technical details of the standards.

3D@Home maintains liaison with the CEA working groups as part of its charter to speed the commercialization of 3D technology for the home. As such, 3D@Home provides its members, representing a diverse group of companies involved in 3D, a forum for discussing technological and market developments. 3D@Home has four primary Steering Teams that address specific parts of the supply chain.

“CEA welcomes the submission of the documents from the 3D@Home Consortium. Having digital interface requirements and a glasses database will help CEA as it considers extension of its CEA-861 interface standard and creation of new standards and recommended practices for stereoscopic eyeware interface & control”, remarks Mark Stockfisch, chair of 3D Task Force and co-chair of the 3D Technologies & Uncompressed A/V Digital Interface work groups at CEA.

The document 3D Digital Interface Requirements, created by Steering Team 2 – 3D Distribution, Storage and Transmission, contains requirements for functions and features of the digital interface for 3D video data between source devices such as set-top boxes, media players, portable computers, desktop computers, and sink devices such as 3D TVs and monitors. The document is focused on non-anaglyph 3D content as 2D interfaces are sufficient for anaglyph 3D.

The members of Steering Team 4-3D Display Technology began developing a database of 3D active and passive glasses at the request of CEA. As an important peripheral in 3D viewing, the glasses must be taken into consideration when defining standards for interoperability and interface between devices. Through a careful vetting process of a confusing landscape of rebranded and obsolete products, a database of the primary manufacturers was developed along with key specs and pricing data where available.

"This was a team effort that resulted in a good first step in CEA’s efforts to understand how 3D glasses may be used in the home," noted Chris Chinnock, Chairman of ST4. "Developing a standard for 3D glasses will be challenging, but something that is desirable to help with compatibility issues. We will continue to work with CEA to support their standardization effort by providing information and recommendations from the experts who are members of the 3D@Home Consortium."

Source: 3D@Home

Laser-Driven 3D HDTV to Hit Market in 2010

HDI Ltd. has announced that it has entered into a manufacturing agreement to mass-produce their proprietary 100-inch diagonal laser-driven 2D/3D front-projection televisions. The company’s 2D/3D switchable system delivers a stereoscopic 1920 x 1080p 3D image from two RGB laser-illuminated LCOS display panels. The system, which uses polarized glasses to deliver 3D images, refreshes at 360 frames-per-second on each eye, possibly the fastest refresh rate on any mass-produced television or projector. A price range of between $10,000 and $15,000 is expected, the latter for a 100-inch display.

A green-friendly product is promoted as well. According to the company, the displays draw 80% less power than existing 2D plasma displays of the same size, offer a 95% reduction in manufacturing pollution, and provide a 100% reduction in harmful chemicals and radioactive components currently used in existing televisions. At 10-inches thick, HDI’s 100-inch diagonal display weighs 75% less than similar plasma and LCD displays, and is expected to have a street price potentially 60% less than current 2D flatscreen plasma and LCD displays.

The light engine uses three 1-watt lasers for illumination, which are coupled to a beam-combining prism by fiber-optic cables. A mechanical scanning system scans red, green and blue laser light from top to bottom on the LCOS panels. Light output at the screen has not been disclosed, but the company claims an incredibly-high 40% - 50% of the light from the lasers ends up in the viewers’ eyes. Speckle reduction on a prototype rear-projection unit was by means of a diffuser and mechanically rotating screen. For front projection, a screen-vibration system has been suggested. Rear-projection is also possible, according to HDI’s chief scientist Edmund Sandberg.

HDI emerged from stealth mode earlier in September. The company, which had been self-funded, is hoping to license its technology or build its own front-projection systems and flat-panel displays. Engineers and 3D experts from Sony, Sharp, JVC, Hitachi and even Mitsubishi crowded into HDI’s workshop in Los Gatos, Calif., recently to see a prototype 100-inch display. Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computers, has seen a demo, and said, "Without a doubt, the best demonstration of 3D technology I have ever seen."

According to co-founder Ingemar Jansson, "The first production run of 100-inch HDI Ltd. 2D/3D switchable displays should quickly put product into a multitude of B2B and public demonstration venues." He’s not said when the units will make it to the retail market, but says that the simplistic and inexpensive design and manufacturing techniques used "will have product in the marketplace faster than one would expect, either with the HDI logo or that of another leading manufacturer." He also says that, "It costs $4 billion to get a large screen plasma or LCD plant on line. Our technology will require five percent of that investment to produce HDI 2D/3D Switchable Dynamic Video Projection displays in quantity."

Will the display make a big splash? Introducing it for business use will create public awareness, as would a potential exhibit at CES in January. But the company will have to move this quickly to the mainstream, if you can call it that for a display of this size. If they hope to make inroads into the flat (or nearly-flat) display market, they’ll have to price it (and spec it) competitively with emerging 3D LCD and PDPs. And they better make sure they have the speckle issue completely licked.

By Aldo Cugnini, Display Daily

Kodak Digital Cinema Restructures

Digital Cinema Report has learned that although no formal announcement will be made, Kodak's Digital Cinema division is being significantly restructured and, according to a spokesman, "dozens of employees" initially, possibly more in the future, will lose their jobs. As part of its changing strategy, Kodak Digital Cinema will discontinue the manufacture of pre-show technology and theatre managements systems. The company will also discontinue its systems integration operation.

Kodak will continue to provide service and support to its existing customers, some 300 exhibitors worldwide. Among other opportunities in digital cinema, the company is currently exploring the idea of licensing its technology to hopefully capitalize on its long legacy in motion picture imaging.

Source: Digital Cinema Report

Lightspeed Design to Debut Polarization Modulator

Lightspeed Design announced that it will debut the new DepthQ Polarization Modulator for single lens HD 3D projection solutions at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Expo. The new modulator, available in two sizes, will be paired with the DepthQ HD 3D Projector to demonstrate small applications and the Christie Mirage Projector to demonstrate large theaters.

The new DepthQ Polarization Modulator electronically switches the polarization orientation of light passing through it. In combination with a polarization-preserving screen and a single-lens stereoscopic 3D projector, the modulator enables high-brightness, low-ghost viewing using lightweight and comfortable passive 3D eyewear. The DepthQ HD 3D Projector with the small modulator can produce image sizes up to 9ft. (2.74m) wide. Larger HD 3D projectors with the large modulator can produce image sizes up to 25ft. (7.62m) wide.

DepthQ Polarization Modulator

The DepthQ Polarization Modulator is manufactured by LC-Tec Displays, a company with extensive experience in developing, manufacturing and bringing to the market novel LCD products based on emerging technologies. The modulator utilizes a unique combination of separate liquid crystal elements bonded together, enabling both high polarization efficiency over visible wavelengths from 400 to 750 nm (predominantly achromatic spectral response) as well as fast transition switching speeds (<0.5ms at room temperature) between polarization states at frequencies such as 120Hz, 144 Hz (maximum 400Hz). Efficient, high-speed switching between the eyes ensures bright, low-crosstalk, flicker-free operation.

The system includes both the liquid-crystal modulator with its mounting and its control unit. A standard sync output from your graphics card or projector is supplied to the control unit, which then conditions the signal to match the modulator's required input. The optical window is also heat-tolerant and can operate at temperatures up to 75 degrees Celsius.

Source: Lightspeed Design

Virgin Media 3D TV Showcase

This week Virgin Media showcased what it is calling 'the first public demonstration of 3D TV in the UK', at the company's brand-new Oxford Street store. The store marks the 44th Virgin Media outlet in the UK and by showcasing 3D TV within it, Virgin hopes to show the public that there will be some interesting innovations to come from the cable company.

Peter Taddeo, Executive Director of Consumer Sales at Virgin Media, said about the 3D demo: "For the very first time we're showcasing exciting 3D television which I hope will give people a fun break from the hectic rush of Christmas shopping."

The demo TechRadar caught was five minutes from Coraline, a movie that was shown off in cinemas using 3D technology. Using polarised glasses, the 3D looked sharp and was presented through the use of a 3D-enabled JVC television. Don't get your hopes up too much about seeing 3D in the home from Virgin anytime soon, however. This is very much a showcase of things to come rather than a declaration of love for the format.

This is something to be expected for a company who has the subscribers of Sky firmly in their sights. Sky is the cable company's biggest rival in the pay-for TV world and it has already shown off its own trials of 3D in the home to a select number of journalists and executives. Sky hopes to install 3D into homes in the UK by 2010.

Virgin has conducted trials of its own using similar technology - an HD stream interlaced with two pictures - but these were also closed to the public, using a private VOD network. This is why the first public showing of 3D TV in the UK is an important one as it shows to consumers for the first time just what they can expect from the technology in the home.

Virgin Media told TechRadar that its V+ set-top boxes are already compatible with 3D, so the demo shows that if/when the company do decide to start piping 3D content through its boxes then consumers won't have to upgrade their equipment.

By Marc Chacksfield, TechRadar

3D Coming Home in 2010

An interesting white paper by Chris Chinnock, 3D@Home Consortium.

3D TV: Sure Win or Long Shot?

If a panel at a display conference is any indication, the possibility of 3D entertainment in the home is a foregone conclusion, at least if you believe Japan consumer electronics giants such as Sony and Panasonic. More accurately, 3D is a matter of survival for these companies, whose two-dimensional sales continue to decline.

At FPD International 2009, top executives promoting Blu-ray systems—from Panasonic and Sony, respectively—made clear that they are ready for a 2010 launch of full HD 3D-equipped Blu-ray players and matching 3D TV sets. The new 3D Blu-ray format, whose standardization is scheduled to finish at the end of this year, will use two 1920 x 1080p full HD resolution frames, one for the right eye and another for the left eye. 3D disks will maintain backward compatibility with 2D Blu-ray players, so that new disks can be played back in 2D on current Blu-ray hardware.

While there will be a single standard for 3D Blu-ray disks and players, the market is likely to see fragmented 3D display technologies on new 3D TV sets.

Different Formats
To further complicate matters, broadcasters who want to reach mass audiences for the minimum investment in infrastructure, hope to offer 3D programs in a format different from the 120Hz, full-HD frame sequential method adopted by the Blu-ray Disc Association, according to Ikuo Matsumoto, executive director at Fujiwara-Rothchild, a 3D market research firm based in Tokyo.

Some satellite operators and pay TV companies plan to use a so-called "half-HD" format, which crams two pictures—left eye and right eye—in one frame. There are various "half-HD" methods, because the information going to each eye can be arranged in "line by line," "top and bottom," side by side" or "checkerboard sampling" configurations.

Speculation abounds in Japan over whether Blu-Ray promoters, who are also leading large-screen TV manufacturers, are willing to offer multi-format 3D TV sets. But so far, they're all mum on their 3D TV strategies.

However, Masayuki Kozuka, general manager of the storage devices business strategy office at Panasonic Corp., hinted that Panasonic 3D TV will be adapted to broadcast by allowing "side by side" signals. Such signals will then convert to frame-sequential by using special circuitry inside TV sets, he said. Akira Shimazu, general manager of BD strategy at Sony Corp., agreed that Sony has similar strategies. It is not clear what other 3D technologies will be incorporated into these companies' 3D sets, however. But one thing is clear: the adoption of Xpol stereoscopic 3D technology is "unlikely," indicated Kozuka.

Xpol 3D, developed by Arisawa Manufacturing Co., is an optical device based on a micro-polarizer. By bonding it to a flat-panel display, such as LCD, users can view flicker-free 3D stereoscopic content simply by wearing cheaper polarizer glasses, claimed the Japanese company. Kozuka, however, complained that the Xpol filter on 3D TV could limit viewing angles for consumers.

Market researcher Matsumoto stressed that a multi-format 3D TV is "ideal" for broader 3D market adoption, but integration of a host of new 3D technologies could result in a cost-prohibitive product, because of the variety of intellectual property involved.

Reasons for 3D Push
Participants in the panel stressed several key reasons why they must seize the moment now to push 3D into the home.

First, it's all about digital.

While acknowledging consumers' lukewarm reaction to the 3D cinema experience in the past, Panasonic's Kozuka made it clear that "all digital 3D technologies today make a world of difference from analog 3D experiences we used to know." He added that all-digital 3D offers less crosstalk and dramatically improves the sense of dimension.

Second, Hollywood studios' enthusiasm for 3D is building at full speed right now.

There will be at least 4,000 digital cinema theaters worldwide by the end of this year. Hollywood has discovered that profitability per theater triples for 3D movies, compared to 2D.

"We want to ride the momentum, not lose it," said Sony's Shimazu.

Third, Blu-ray by itself has done nothing for Hollywood studios' home video business.

Home video business revenue has been on a slight downward curve over the last few years, acknowledged Panasonic's Kozuka. In order to reverse this trend, "We need to give consumers a good, visible reason to buy Blu-ray," he said. That, in the eyes of Blu-ray promoters, is 3D. "We've offered interactive Blu-ray based on Java. We also connected Blu-ray to the Internet," said Kozuka. "But we think 3D is the biggest differentiator—clear to everyone."

Fourth, 3D, if successful, will create whole new opportunities for a range of product lines including both professional and consumer electronics devices.

Sony's Shimazu claimed that Sony is ready to go 3D not only with its game console PlayStation 3 but also its Vaio PCs. Naturally, new 3D TV sets will also play a key role in differentiating their hardware, he added. Both Sony and Matsushita stand to gain by developing professional 3D video cameras and other 3D related services for movie studios and TV production houses.

Possible Roadblocks
While 3D promoters remained optimistic, the Q&A session at the panel offered a long list of reasons why 3D is still a long shot, or could once again, prove a fad that fizzles in the end.

First problem: subtitles on 3D content.

How to deal with subtitles, or more importantly closed caption information which is mandatory in the United States, on a 3D TV remains an unresolved issue. One can put a subtitle on a 3D film, but when an image jumps off the screen, the subtitle follows. "It all depends on depth of a screen for now, we don't have a definitive solution," acknowledged Panasonic's Kozuka.

Second, sports and live events broadcast in 3D.

No videographers and producers have enough experience with shooting live events in 3D. In a live 3D baseball game, for example, cameras would have to be relocated from long-familiar 2D vantage points in order to follow the flight of a 95-mph fastball from pitcher to batter, and again from batter to wherever the ball lands. In a football game, a long pass might be impossible to capture in a single panning shot with one 3D camera. But if a camera switch is necessary, the whole play could be lost in transition.

Third, animation in 3D is fine, but what about others?

So far, Hollywood studios have been able to demonstrate the effective use of 3D in animation films. "But animation is after all depicting a fantasy world," said Reiji Asakura, an author and audio/video critic in Japan, who moderated the panel. The real test is in a regular film, shooting the real world. "Even a slight discrepancy shown in 3D will turn the audience off, because we all have a real-life 3D experience," he noted.

Fourth, what about those cockamamie glasses?

Whether using active shutter glasses or polarizer glasses, the question is: "Will consumers be asked to wear them all the time?" asked one of the attendees. The inconvenience factor would be substantial. "Most people today watch TV while doing something else—whether eating supper or reading a newspaper," he pointed out.

Fifth, how much is it?

No vendors have disclosed how much a new 3D Blu-ray player or a 3D TV set will cost—yet. At a time when the global economy remains weak, it's unclear who's ready to jump on the newest gadget, except perhaps for the gadget-happy consumers of Japan.

Sixth, did you say "3D PC?"

In different parts of the world, PCs continue to gain momentum as a primary device for entertainment. Sony says it has a plan for 3D Vaio PCs, but the company offers no details on how to enable a PC with 3D.

Seventh, is 3D safe for your eyes?

The biggest question mark, and a potential deal breaker for 3D, is—no kidding—optical safety. There is not enough evidence to determine whether watching 3D intensely on a game console for hours is harmless. Vendors claim they will be taking precautions and working on guidelines. But the safety issue, if mishandled, could send 3D back to the same drawing board where it died in 1954.

By Junko Yoshida, EE Times Asia

3M Film Realizes 3D Panel Viewable with Naked Eye

Sumitomo 3M Ltd exhibited an optical film that can realize a 3D LCD panel viewable with the naked eye at FPD International 2009. The film does not sacrifice spatial resolution and enables to easily switch between 2D and 3D representations. Sumitomo 3M has already started volume production of the film for small- and middle-sized LCD panels, and the film has already been adopted for some devices.

The 9-inch 3D LCD panel and the optical film that can make a 3D panel viewable with the naked eye

Dome-shaped lenses are seen on the top side of the film, and the back side has prism-like structures. When the film is placed on the light guide plate of an edge-lit backlight unit that has LED light sources on the right and left sides of a panel, directionality is added to the backlight. Sumitomo 3M utilized the directionality so that the light from the left LED light source comes to the right eye and the light from the right LED light source comes to the left eye. And the company enabled to view 3D images with the naked eye by synchronizing the lighting of the left LED light source and the display of the image seen by the right eye (and the lighting of the right LED light source and the display of the image seen by the left eye).

The 2.8-inch 3D LCD panel

Furthermore, it is possible to show 2D images by using the right and left LED light sources at the same time and displaying the same image for both the right and left eyes. Therefore, it is easy to switch between 2D and 3D images. At the exhibition site, Sumitomo 3M showcased 9- and 2.8-inch LCD panels equipped with the new film.

The details of the film

By Naoki Tanaka, Tech-On!

BBC's Digital Olympics Group to Bring the 2012 Olympics in 3D

The publically funded corporation has formed a Digital Olympics Group, which is drawing up a paper to decide which events would be best to capture stereoscopically.

"We are looking at how this might be achieved and whether it would be possible and useful to show the footage at some stage in cinemas or on big screens," said BBC technology publicist Sarah Mines.

"The 2012 Olympics is a massively important event so as we have said before it is likely that broadcasters will seek to capture elements of the games in 3D."

Currently Super HD, a format significantly higher in definition that current HD standards at 7680 × 4320 pixels, and 3D technology are far from being consumer friendly. However, it is possible that the footage will be stored on archives for when the technology is adoped en masse.

The public could also view the 3D broadcasts on 3D cinema screens like the iMax. The BBC has not yet begun puchasing av equipment to capture the 2012 Olympics in these formats.

By Tom Hall, AV Interactive

U.K. Exhibitor Inks Digital Deals

U.K. based Digital Deployment Associates signed long-term deals with 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures International and Walt Disney Studios to roll out digital projectors and technology across Odeon and UCI Cinemas Group, the parties said Sunday. The deal will see Europe's largest cinema chain and the three distributors share the costs of the rollout.

The digital deal with the trio of studios means more digital screens for the studio's output to exploit. Currently Odeon and UCI Cinemas Group operate 187 digital screens across its circuit, allowing it to offer 3D and alternative content. The deals will see DDAL convert the rest of its screens, which will unlock the additional benefits of full digitization to both exhibitor and distribution alike. The total investment being made is over £70 million ($125 million), funded over time by a combination of contributions from studios and exhibitors, as well as the earnings derived from the improved programming offer.

20th Century Fox's Julian Levin said: "With Odeon and UCI Cinemas Group's broad footprint across seven important markets, we anticipate a dramatic increase in digital projection in the years ahead. And with our total commitment to digital releases, the Fox slate, including blockbusters, such as the upcoming Avatar, digital projection will deliver an enhanced 2D and 3D image quality and viewing experience to the ultimate beneficiaries of the transition, the moviegoers."

Paramount Pictures' Roger Pollock said: "This agreement signals yet another important step forward for the future of d-cinema and will also have a major impact on the availability of 3D projection in Europe."

Walt Disney's Anthony Marcoly said: "We feel strongly that this new technology is essential to keeping the film industry vital and competitive. With this major new commitment from Europe’s leading exhibitor, moviegoers will soon have the benefit of seeing and hearing films in new and dynamic ways and be able to experience the latest in 3D technology."

Odeon and UCI CEO Rupert Gavin added: "These deals represent a crucial step forward in delivering full-scale digital cinema in Europe, with all the benefits that this will deliver for the industry and most importantly for our customers. The strength of demand for innovations such as 3D and for alternative content demonstrates the benefits that will result from the digital revolution in Cinema."

Negotiations are ongoing with the remaining Hollywood majors in anticipation of starting the full rollout in 2010, the exhibitor said.

By Stuart Kemp, The Hollywood Reporter