3D Steadicam Rolls into Pre-Production

Presteigne Charter is to rollout pre-production models of its bespoke 3D Steadicam-mounted radio camera this week. It is has also made one of the first purchases of Sony’s new 3D Processor Box for rental to the outside broadcast market.

The dual lens single bodied prototype Steadicam unit has been co-developed by wireless systems expert Robin Tomlin and Presteigne Charter and trialed by Telegenic for Sky Sports soccer, Burberry’s London Fashion Week 3D show and by Inition during its recent coverage of the RBS Six Nations.

The PC-RT1000 combines sensors, CCU and a remote control panel to provide a complete camera channel whose zoom, focus, interaxial separation and convergence can be operated at the camera or remotely. It is built using small format Sony F11 sensors with a 5-50mm zoom range housed side by side in a body similar in size to a HDC1500 or LDK 8000.

“We’ve re-engineered the signal processing in house so that both signals, power and data can travel across a single SMPTE fibre,” explained Presteigne Charter’s business development manager Steve Boland [larger rigs typically require three SMPTE links].

The prototype has a fixed interaxial of 54mm but the pre-production models will feature flexible 54-76mm ranges. Two models will be available by the end of this month for wet hire with a dozen anticipated by the end of the year. It can also be used for handheld work.

“Typically this camera will work in the 2m to 8m, range shooting players emerging from the tunnel, line-up shots, touchline action, throw-ins, corners or crowd reaction,” says Boland. “It can also be mounted remotely behind the goal for example.”

Presteigne Charter has equipped itself with a range of additional Sony 3D kit including dual link 42-inch LMD monitors, HDC P1 small POV cameras and two 3D Processor Boxes. It is also examining a number of small, lightweight rigs to offer the hire market.

“3ality and Element Technica rigs are a very substantial size and not mobile,” said Boland. “The solution we bring to market addresses that mobility.”

The MPE-200 boxes which cost north of £20k are “a vital tool if you are not a trained stereographer,” according to Boland. “It offers real time analysis tools and in effect is a legaliser to stop you exceeding the depth budget that’s been set.

“The next phase for these boxes, which we will probably see during the World Cup, is for the technology to become ‘active’ and drive the motors of the rigs. 3D production is very much a series of one-off events right now so we’re not going overboard but Sky is building its catalogue and it makes sense for us to build our 3D inventory also.”

By Adrian Pennington, TVB Europe

Huawei Showcases 3D TVE LTE Capabilities with TMN in Portugal

Huawei, a leader in providing next-generation telecommunications network solutions for operators around the world, announced the successful demonstration of LTE (Long Term Evolution) services with TMN, the mobile operator of Portugal Telecom. The demonstration showcased real life case studies of future consumer demands on a mobile broadband, including high definition 3D television and mobile gaming.

The demo showed how 3D television services, provided through an LTE network, can create an enhanced mobile user experience and open the door for new business models for both content providers and operators. During the demo, 3D content was stored in a media server connected to the core network. The demo consisted of a real-time download of this content, showing them on a 3D screen. In this way, the service highlights one of the most important LTE capabilities: high throughput.

"The promise of LTE will touch countless industries and bring advanced technology to everyday consumers," said Xie Xinping, Managing Director of Huawei Portugal. "In collaboration with TMN in Portugal, we are bringing innovative, next-generation technology to the 3D TV and mobile gaming industries. These LTE capabilities will enable operators in the future to develop new business models and to meet the growing demands for mobile broadband services."

At this year's Mobile World Congress 2010, in Barcelona, Huawei demonstrated downstream data capacity of 600 Mbps for LTE advanced technologies, which would download a 4GB movie in a minute. And more recently, Huawei achieved the world's fastest LTE-advanced downlink speeds of up to 1.2 Gb/s at CTIA Wireless 2010 in Las Vegas.

Source: Huawei

Telekom Kicks Off Live 3D in Germany

With the opening game of the ice-hockey world cup in German town Gelsenkirchen on May 7, Deutsche Telekom will transmit the first live sports event in 3D from Germany for regular TV households.

“Deutsche Telekom plans to broadcast the three-dimensional images from this match on its IPTV platform Entertain,” marketing head Christian Illek told financial newspaper Handelsblatt.

Besides a subscription to sports package LIGA total!, viewers will need a 3D-TV set. They are now available in shops, but not many have found their way yet into consumers’ living rooms. The move, in which Telekom will collaborate – as with its live soccer Bundesliga footage – with production company Contantin Sport Medien, is therefore mainly meant to foster Telekom’s image.

“We want to show the technical capabilities of our platform,” said Illek. “In contrast to our competitors, 3D doesn’t just function as a test over here, but in practise.” Pay-TV operator Sky and commercial broadcaster Sat.1 captured live games of the Bundesliga and Champions League with 3D cameras recently and showcased them to a small audience as part of invitation-only events.

The German live 3D premiere will remain Entertain’s only 3D broadcast for the time being. Telekom says it only wants to carry out further 3D transmissions when compliant TV sets are more spread in consumer households.

By Jörn Krieger, Rapid TV News

Hungarian DTH Platform Considers 3D

The Hungarian DTH platform Hello HD may be the first broadcaster in the country to introduce 3D services, according to its chairman, Peter Szabo.

Speaking to HWSW, he added that it was probably better placed to do so than larger players in the marketplace and that its customers already had the necessary set-top boxes for 3D reception.

By Chris Dziadul, Broadband TV News

MediaTek and MStar Ready to Launch 3D TV Chips

IC design houses MediaTek and MStar Semiconductor are both ready to launch chipset solutions for 3D TVs of which sales are expected to gain momentum in the second half of 2010, according to industry sources.

MediaTek will actually launch single-chip solutions for both Internet and 3D TVs but the launch of Internet TV solutions will come ahead of the 3D TV ones, said the sources, noting that MediaTek has completed the development of Ethernet MAC IP that will be integrated with its in-house developed TV decoders for the solutions.

MStar said that it is still awaiting verification of its 3D TV solutions from clients, and expects to begin volume shipments of the 3D TV controllers also in the third quarter. MStar is currently the top vendor of TV solutions in the China market.

By Cage Chao and Steve Shen, DigiTimes

DEG Enbraces 3D Home Entertainment

The Digital Entertainment Group announced the creation of a 3D Working Group to promote the latest developments in 3D home entertainment. Currently the Working Group includes representatives from DEG members Microsoft, Panasonic Consumer Electronics, Samsung Electronics, Sony Corporation, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment and Warner Home Entertainment Group.

The 3D Working Group’s efforts will embrace all of the 3D compatible products and content that will soon be available via a number of platforms, including Blu-ray 3D, cable, satellite and the Internet. This will enable both retailers and consumers to better understand each platform’s benefits, while creating a united messaging strategy that properly positions and promotes 3D at home.

The new Working Group will coordinate consumer messaging with the DEG Communications Committee and create consumer education materials, including a glossary of 3D terminology. Additional initiatives will include helping to merchandise 3D at retail and exploring potential connectivity issues and audio enhancements with other industry groups.

“The opportunities for 3D entertainment at home are virtually endless,” said Kris Brown, Chair, DEG 3D Working Group and Vice President, Worldwide High Definition Marketing, Warner Home Video. “We have a full agenda working with key industry companies in support of 3D and look forward to having our team help deliver the excitement of 3D to consumers.”

To help drive this concept, the DEG will host a special 3D Forum on June 2 in Los Angeles. It will focus on the key factors affecting 3D development, distribution and deployment over a variety of consumer electronics and IT devices.

Source: The Digital Entertainment Group

Taiwan's LCD Makers Move to 3D

Taiwan's display makers are gearing up to develop panels capable of three-dimensional images as interest in the technology builds along with growth in volume, likely driving down prices. The island's liquid-crystal-display makers, including AU Optronics, Chimei Innolux and Chunghwa Picture Tubes, have fallen behind their Korean and Japanese rivals in upgrading their panel production technologies over the past few years. But the Taiwan companies are shifting focus to 3D panels, looking to boost their value in the TV supply chain, where margins are tightening due to falling set prices.

As flat-panel makers ramp up production of 3D panels and shipments of these panels increase, their average selling prices could fall 5% by the end of this year, and as much as 10% in 2011, said Jason Yang, an analyst at market research firm Digitimes Inc.

TV brands such as Samsung Electronics, Sony and Sharp don't outsource production of 3D panels to other companies because they prefer to rely on in-house technology to ensure quality control. But analysts said that as 3D products become more mainstream and gain ground with consumers, panel makers such AU Optronics and Chimei Innolux may start reaping benefits as soon as they can provide cheaper 3D-enabled panels.

"Chimei is likely to be a key beneficiary in the future from greater outsourcing of 3D panels as the firm is able to provide a one-stop solution for TV brands, from panel-making to set assembly," Mr. Yang said. Chimei Innolux's majority shareholder is Hon Hai Precision Industry, the world's largest contract electronics maker by revenue.

All three Taiwanese panel makers declined to disclose how much they are investing in 3D technology. Global sales of 3D TVs will likely reach 78 million units by 2015, up from 4.2 million this year, according to research firm iSuppli, with industry revenue expected to reach $64.3 billion in 2015 from an estimated $7.4 billion this year.

To be more competitive in the 3D market, AU Optronics is promoting 3D technologies that are compatible with cheaper polarized glasses (those that feed different images by adjusting the light reaching each eye) or technology that doesn't require glasses.

AU Optronics, the world's third-largest flat-panel maker by revenue after Korean rivals Samsung Electronics and LG Display, has been preparing for the 3D market to take off for a long time, said AU Optronics Chief Executive L.J. Chen. As part of its efforts, AU Optronics acquired the rights to 2D- and 3D-switchable display technology from U.K.-based Ocuity in February 2008.

AU Optronics started shipping panels for 3D digital photo frames for Fujifilm in the second half of last year. It is scheduled to introduce a 65-inch 3D TV panel with a Chinese TV brand this year and plans to launch display panels for mobile phones and computers, with or without glasses.

Chimei Innolux, which was formed by the merger of Chi Mei Optoelectronics and Innolux Display in March, has been one of the most ambitious developers of 3D products. It started mass-producing 22-inch 3D panels for gaming and introduced 47-inch 3D panels that don't require glasses in June 2009.

Chunghwa Picture Tubes, which focuses on small- and medium-size panels, has started shipping display panels compatible with shutter glasses for a 3D laptop introduced by AsusTek Computer last year. The company believes that 3D technology will be a market trend and for the past two years has invested resources to develop technology, a senior company official said. "By adding 3D functions, we can add several percentage points to our margins compared to those for ordinary 2D panels," the official said.

Still, technological challenges remain. Most of the available displays require viewers to wear either shutter glasses or polarized glasses. Glasses-free 3D technology remains in the prototype stage and requires viewers to look at the displays from specific angles.

By Ting-I Tsai and Charmian Kok, The Wall Street Journal

Toshiba Develops 21-inch Autostereoscopic High-Definition Display

Toshiba Mobile Display has developed a 21-inch autostereoscopic high-definition display for use in next-generation 3D monitors that enables the user to enjoy three-dimensional images without the need for special glasses. This new product employs an integral imaging system (a “light field” display) to reproduce a real object as a 3D image that can be viewed without glasses over a wide range of viewing angles. Therefore, the display is suitable for 3D monitors used for advertisements and entertainment appliances.

The integral imaging system offers a significant reduction in eye fatigue during long periods of viewing, and features a multi-parallax design that enables motion parallax, which cannot be achieved by systems using glasses. The multi-parallax approach results in images that change depending on the viewer’s position. In addition, the viewing angle is wide, and the resulting stereoscopic image is natural and smooth. This new product creates image data viewed from nine directions.

In some previous integral imaging implementations, there have been issues raised relating to the loss of effective image resolution. In previous implementations, if the number of pixels in the display is kept constant and not increased, then the multi-parallax approach will reduce the effective resolution of the 3D display in an inverse proportion to the number of parallax positions. We have addressed this problem by applying LTPS (low-temperature poly-silicon) technology to develop an ultra-high-definition LCD module for this newly-introduced high-definition and large-screen 3D display.

This 21-inch auto-stereoscopic high-definition display adopts a lens sheet to control reduction in surface luminance intensity, resulting in brightness comparable to standard 2D displays. The power consumption of the display is relatively low. The new 21-inch display is considered to be environmentally friendly with low power usage.

Furthermore, the display can be used in a vertical or horizontal position. When used in the vertical position, the user faces the upright screen from the front as a person would usually use a 2D monitor. However, when used in the horizontal position, the user overlooks the stereoscopic image formed by the display lying face-up, as one would overlook a relief model. Compared with the front view, the 3D images seen face-up from the bird’s eye view are more stereoscopic and realistic.

Product specifications
3-D method
Integral imaging system with 9-parallax design
Screen size (diagonal)
21-inch/53.3 cm
Number of 3D pixels
1,280 (horizontal) x 800 (vertical) / WXGA
3D viewing zone (typical)
±15 degrees (horizontal)
Surface intensity (typical)
480 cd/m2

Source: Toshiba Mobile Display

Nine Moves to 3D for Rugby

Australia’s Nine Network said it will be the first terrestrial broadcaster in the world to offer 3D programming, as it announced plans to film and broadcast the annual National Rugby League State Of Origin series to viewers in 3D, from next month.

With the first game in the three-match series kicking off on May 26, Nine will be ahead of other broadcasters worldwide who are planning to offer matches from the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament in June and July in 3D.

The State of Origin rugby league series is one of the highest-rated telecasts in the country each year. All three games in this year’s series will be broadcast in 3D. Nine has been planning the telecasts for some months with the assistance of local electronic goods retailer Harvey Norman, the NRL and the federal government. The government is providing digital terrestrial spectrum on a trial basis for the broadcasts.

“It’s early days of course because the technology is still developing, and its availability to consumers right now is limited. But 3D is about to arrive with a bang across the world, and the Nine Network and Harvey Norman want to pioneer the revolution in Australia,” Nine Network CEO David Gyngell said.

The broadcasts will use a trial broadcast license using spectrum temporarily allocated by the Federal Government, that will be established to allow consumers, retailers and manufacturers to experience live sporting events and other material. Nine is working with the Australian Communications and Media Authority and transmission service providers to extend the broadcasts beyond Sydney into other capital city markets.

Nine also said it is investigating high-quality proprietary encoding formats from companies such as 3ality Digital, RealD and Sensio to assess the best system for operation in cinema venues and free-to-air terrestrial broadcast.

TV manufacturers started bringing 3D capable digital TV’s into the country this month but its expected that audiences for the initial broadcasts will be largely in cinemas, pubs and clubs.

By Pip Bulbeck, The Hollywood Reporter


French broadcaster TF1 said it will broadcast between three and five of the World Cup football games in 3D. The channel will launch a dedicated 3D channel called TF1 3DTV, which could be distributed on a number of yet to be announced platforms.

By Robert Briel, Broadband TV News

RealD Announces Stereo3D Calculator App for iPhone, iTouch and iPad

RealD, in association with FrameForge Previz Studio, announced the availability of the RealD Professional Stereo3D Calculator app for iPhone, iTouch and iPad, a pre-production and on-set tool for filmmakers shooting in stereoscopic 3D.

Designed for both seasoned stereographers and newcomers to stereo 3D production, this app saves time and budget by calculating parallax and separation to plan stereo 3D depth, helping a filmmaker determine an optimal camera rig, its settings and lens configuration. The RealD Professional Stereo3D Calculator is now available for download from iTunes for $299.99.

The RealD Professional Stereo3D Calculator is an interactive tool for planning 3D film and video capture. Designed to work with any camera and stereo rig combinations, users can select the display size upon which the content will be shown, the camera, its lens or lenses, and customize the rig and camera capabilities and parameters. The Calculator factors together these settings and reports how subjects will look in 3D to assist in determining an optimal rig set-up for the desired 3D effects.

iPhone Screenshots

RealD Professional Stereo3D Calculator features include:

- Parallax - know the depth of a shot by seeing the actual positive and negative parallax values at any distance with the subject in focus

- Separation - learn how various objects in each shot will affect the on-screen image quality based on separation and distance from the cameras (includes "Maximum Positive On-Screen Offset")

- Lens - determine the appropriate lens or zoom to achieve the desired 3D effect

- Shooting Style - choose "Converged" or "Parallel" style to customize shots and plan post-production workflow

- Camera Setup - set camera model, lens type and interaxial range; test real shots with interactive shot settings and quickly rearrange the setup real-time

- Stereo Solver Mode gives the exact settings needed to accomplish any shot while ensuring far objects' parallax never goes over defined maximum on-screen offset

- S3D Calculator Mode functions as a pure 3D reference calculator with interactive value tables

Source: RealD

22.5 Million Homes will Tune into 3D by 2015

Over 20 million TV homes will be watching 3DTV within five years, according to Informa Telecoms & Media. Backed by content owners, broadcasters and pay TV platforms, 3D will be in 1.6% of all homes by 2015. "However, the market will still be very immature by 2015, so significant growth opportunities exist beyond this date," Informa Telecoms & Media principal analyst Simon Murray told TBIvision.

North America will continue to lead the way in terms of number of 3DTV homes with 9.2 million by 2015. Western Europe will be the second largest region with 6.8 million 3DTV homes and Asia Pacific third with 4.6 million. Despite the prediction that it will take off, the absence of a glasses-free system of watching 3D TV will constrain growth.

"We believe that 3DTV will take off, but we also believe that 3D TV viewing will be limited until the technology has progressed sufficiently to remove the viewer's need to wear glasses - which we estimate will be beyond our forecast period," Murray said.

Other limiting factors for 3DTV in the home include a lack of content, high production costs, scarcity of channels, bandwidth constraints and the high cost of 3D sets.

Informa Telecoms & Media analysts will host an interactive discussion about their 3D forecasts and the challenges and opportunities 3D presents the TV industry - to tune into the free webinar register here.

Source: TBIvision

3-D TV Disparities Said to Cause Physical, Mental Strain

Visual disparities in 3-D TV images can cause physical strain in viewers, according to recent research at the University of California at Berkeley. While proper viewing conditions can help avoid most problems (dark room, central seat far from the screen), 3-D cinematographers also need to follow careful rules or risk making people sick, researchers said. The debate over 3-D TV heated up earlier this week when Samsung issued a warning about possible health effects.

Even if the physical strains of 3-D are avoided, other disparities can cause mental strain akin to vertigo, according to other investigators at the University of Washington. "If [cinematographers] confined 3-D to animations, then there wouldn't be a problem [since] the brain doesn't have the same expectations about cartoons," said Aris Silzars, founder of Northern Lights, a display technology consultancy (Sammamish, Wash.)

For the emerging crop of 3-D movies that incorporate real-world scenery, movie makers have one extra job beyond those of previous animations: Minimizing the so-called vergence-accommodation conflict. The conflict arises from the fact that 3-D displays often cause distortions in perceived 3-D structure compared with the percepts of the real scenes the displays depict.

"The only thing we have any data on is what we call the vergence-accommodation conflict, which our lab has shown really does cause fatigue, discomfort, eye strain and headache in some cases," said professor Martin Banks, who led the research into 3-D eye strain at the UC-Berkeley, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

According to Banks, when viewers direct their eyes at nearby objects or scenes, their gaze converges. When they gaze into the distance they, diverge, or what optometrists call "vergence." Conversely, focusing the eye muscles to bring something into sharp focus is called "accommodation."

In the real world, vergence and accommodation are synched to the same distance, but in the world of 3-D stereoscopic glasses decouple the two, forcing the brain to cope with a disparity between the vergence and accommodation distances.

"Normally the distance to which you converge your eye and accommodate your focus are the same, so understandably your brain has coupled these together," Banks said. "The problem is a stereo or 3-D display breaks this coupling, and the reason why is that the disparity between the images that are being presented to the two eyes might specify something behind the screen or in front of the screen. In those two cases you have to converge your eyes to a different distance than the screen, but you still have to accommodate the screen because that is where the light comes from."

The Berkeley researchers have performed two studies that reached the same conclusion: 3-D TV induces a vergence-accommodation disparity in the brain that manifests itself in a statistically significant number of people as fatigue, discomfort, eye strain and headaches. So far, test subjects have been between 18 and 30, but Banks plans to test 50-year-olds to determine whether they are immune to the vergence-accommodation conflict, as he suspects, since older eyes do not focus as well.

A stereo viewing chair that rotates was designed by UC-Berkeley researchers to allow manipulation of visual and vestibular cues to self-motion and body orientation

Banks recommends two solutions to minimize eye fatigue and other symptoms: viewers should sit very far from a 3-D TV screen as they would in a theater. The farther from the screen, the smaller the difference between the convergence and the accommodation distances, Banks said. The second is to shoot 3-D videos so that action is located at the front of the screen, not off one side or projecting out of the screen into a crowd. By minimizing the vergence-accommodation disparity, the possibility of fatigue and other symptoms will recede in most people, according to Banks.

"The better 3-D movies, like Avatar and Pixar's Up are clearly trying to minimize this conflict with the way they do the cinematography," said Banks.

Even if the theater experience is duplicated in the home, not all of the potential problems associated with 3-D TV will be resolved, according to University of Washington professor Robert Patterson. Patterson and Silzars presented their results at the 2009 Society of Information Display. According to the researchers, three other cognitive disparities can cause fatigue in addition to vergence-accommodation: binocular disparity, linear-perspective disparity and texture perspective disparity.

For instance, if a 3-D scene depicts a football player running the length of the field, depth has to be compressed into a few yards by the cinematographer to prevent too much parallax, causing viewers to see double-image ghosting. Linear perspective (geometric angles) and the texture perspective (distant objects that are less detailed) signal the brain that the distance traveled was 100 yards, thereby creating cognitive disparities.

"The reason why high-level cue conflict leads to discomfort in immersive stereo displays is that the intuitive reasoning system is attempting to make reasoned sense out of this incoming, conflicted perceptual information," Patterson and Silzars wrote.

These higher-level cues create conflicts in the brain that causes mental strain in addition to the physical eye strain of the vergence-accommodation disparity, they added, which becomes intolerable over time, resulting in a confused state of mind akin to vertigo.

"When you take away cues, you create in the brain what is called the 'doll house' effect. The scene can be very precisely constructed, but it does not look real (it looks like a doll house) because your brain is saying that its missing cues that are always present when viewing real scenes," said Silzars. "It creates a vision-to-brain conflict that can make you feel nauseous and dizzy or worse."

Worse still, according to Patterson and Silzars, is that the closer a set of cues comes to matching reality, the more discomfort viewers experience. That means the problem could get worse as cinematographers attempt to make 3-D experiences even more realistic. One solution, according to Silzars, would be to confine 3-D content to animations since the brain does not expect cartoons to contain the same realism as normal video or film.

"In Avatar for instance, the scenes that were shot with real backgrounds were less convincing than the animated scenes because the brain has lower expectations for animations," said Silzars.

By R. Colin Johnson, EE Times

Live Stereo 3-D Acquisition

The main issue that live-action stereo 3-D projects have to contend with is that no two cameras are exactly alike. The slightest inconsistencies in alignment, distortions and aberrations from lenses, focus breathing, lens flare and spherical reflections can produce discomfort or break the stereo illusion of depth. Some lenses even create subtle anamorphic squeezes.

The problem is particularly acute when zooming. Because no two lenses track identically, even a fractional misalignment will lead to uncomfortable 3-D viewing. The image will not only deviate around the center of the lens during a zoom (horizontally) but also vertically.

Specialized 3-D motorized camera rigs, automated by bespoke software, are designed to control the interaxial (distance between the lens axes) and convergence (the point at which left- and right-camera optical axes converge) parameters and to virtually eliminate pitch, yaw and roll between cameras. Such motorized rigs also ensure that lens length, focus, iris and zoom (FIZ) are linked as closely as possible.

There can still be small inconsistencies because of chromatic and spherical aberrations and zoom breathe, and those may need to be addressed in a post-production environment that allows metadata tracking throughout the pipeline.

For live productions, a reliance on post is not an option, so obtaining accurate results at source is critical. It is vital that time code references are genlocked, and computer control is established over zoom, interaxial distance and focal length while each camera's respective metadata is saved.

Rig Selection
Although some initial tests for broadcast stereo 3-D in Europe used nonmotorized (passive) rigs to reduce costs and did without the zoom function, BSkyB is setting the bar high after striking a deal with 3ality Digital to outfit a dedicated Sky 3-D OB vehicle (in tandem with integrator Sony and OB supplier Telegenic). The technology is perceived as expensive to hire, but is renowned and robust so equipment errors will be minimized.

BSkyB's philosophy chimes with that of other broadcasters looking to produce live events in stereo 3-D. That is, to make as much use of existing broadcast infrastructure as possible and encompass existing investments in cameras, lenses with digital servo drives, production switchers and fiber cabling.

There is an increasing volume and variety of rigs available, and growing competition should drive costs down, although a live stereo 3-D shoot will cost anywhere between 15 percent and 50 percent more than current HD budgets. The cost profile of stereo is expected to mirror that of HD with premiums reducing over time as demand rises, technology proliferates and OB crews become trained stereographers.

The main commercial rigs for live stereo 3-D production are made by 3ality Digital, Pace, Binocle, Element Technica, P+S Technik and imARTis (SwissRIG). A number of standard broadcast cameras, such as SI-2K minicams or high-end imagers such as REDs, can be attached to these rigs or used with T-block adaptors.

Rigs can usually be configured as mirrored (or beam-splitter) for close work with wide lenses or arranged as a side-by-side system for use with longer focal lengths. Mirrored arrangements are indispensable but will lose a stop of light from both lenses and can introduce color distortion to each channel as well as cause issues with polarized reflected light off some surfaces. They also tend to be heavier because of the additional mirror and infrastructure. Lightweight models are available or being developed and will prove more suitable for Steadicam. Either way, a robust rig is vital because the more the cameras shift around, the harder it will be to adjust them.

Regardless of the rig, nothing is more crucial than balancing the lenses before shooting, and it's important to recognize, isolate and diagnose errors when calibrating each dual position.

Monitoring can be conducted locally at the camera or in the truck using professional screens with polarized display surfaces that take in two HD-SDI feeds. The Transvideo monitor takes dual HD-SDI and displays anaglyph (monochrome or color), LCD shutter glasses mode or a 50/50 color overlay. Polarized monitors (from JVC or Hyundai Xpol) take a single side-by-side HD stream (often via the Inition StereoBrain or 3ality Stereo Image Processor). Standard HD monitors can be fed with anaglyph, 50/50 overlay or luma difference by the StereoBrain or 3ality processors.

The motorized rigs are operated in conjunction with software. For example, the 3ality processor enables the creation of a look-up table (LUT) for any given pair of zooms. To set the rig up, the lens pairs are put through a 16-point line-up in which the lenses are pulled to their full focal length and back again. By lining up on close and distant targets, the operator can dial in those points so that the moving baseplate will move accordingly — left, right, up or down — for any given focal length. The processor logs all changes that need to be made to the zoom so that it stays centered. An additional LUT allows for the tracking speed of each lens relative to each other so that the image stays the same size from the beginning to the end of zoom travel. For the rigors of an outdoor shoot (temperature, wind, knocks) there is a manual override to enable an operator to make adjustments live.

3-D Truck Design
To keep costs down, the design of 3-D-capable OB trucks is likely to adhere to the footprint of existing HD trucks as far as possible. Systems integrators are working on the assumption that 3-D is an upgrade path, not a new build. The bulk of a redesign will be remapping the router so that there's enough connectivity around the existing truck to tie left- and right-eye streams together.

With 3-D, the viewer wants more time to explore the image because there's more information — particularly in the main wide shots. There's consensus that a conventional 2-D edit will not work for 3-D, where the direction needs to be slower and fewer camera angles are needed. Consequently, 2-D and 3-D broadcasts of the same live event are likely to be produced separately, and fewer camera positions will be required for 3-D. However, that is balanced by the current necessity to include one additional “3-D puller” per camera pair so trucks may require modification for seating.

The 3-D puller's work will be overseen by a stereographer who is responsible for the overall 3-D design and supervision of the depth balance across all cameras. The stereographer will create a “depth script” for the coverage, perhaps wanting to deliver greater 3-D punch in the first five minutes or to alternate the 3-D effect with the ebb and flow of play.

They impart that information to the 3-D pullers, who are able to view the image difference (foreground and background separations) from their stereo pair on monochromatic displays overlaid with a grid. The grid lines afford them an easy way of controlling the crucial interaxial spacing and convergence by altering FIZ parameters.

Sky Sports, for example, is working to an overall depth budget of 3 percent. The depth budget is defined as a percentage of screen width, and in the main the budget is 1 percent in front and 1 percent behind for a naturalistic feel. SkySports is advising that for most sports, it is safe to go to ±2 percent for occasional actions (such as objects coming dramatically close to camera). As the camera operators pull zoom, the 3-D pullers are changing the convergence and interaxial distance in accordance to stay within the depth budget set by the stereographer.

In theory, all 3-D pulling will occur in the vision control room while the director operates in the production area as normal. The director will be directing from 2-D monitors alongside a final 3-D view monitor and will trust the stereographer's skill that when a cut is called, the camera is prepared with the correct interaxial spacing and convergence. It's possible that each 3-D puller will also have his own small 3-D color monitor to glance at, aside from the black-and-white difference monitor.

Clearly this represents an untenable number of crew for the long term, but software processing boxes such as Sony's are being designed to be capable of managing two camera pairs in the future.

It's also important to note that in BSkyB's tests, the impact of eye fatigue on OB operators looking at monochromatic 3-D screens for several hours was an issue — particularly for sports such as football, where the convergence point is always moving. Its solution is to employ a “floating” convergence technician to rotate staff at intervals.

Mixing 2-D and 3-D
It is likely that additional 2-D HD feeds will be used to augment live 3-D coverage. The 2-D feeds would pass through an image conversion tool that uses software algorithms to artificially push the background layer into positive parallax away from the foreground layer to give a sense of 3-D. This can be performed in real time. There are obvious cost-saving benefits, and an additional camera position will give the director a greater element of choice.

Electronically Controlled Rigs
In the longer term, it's envisaged that a master stereographer will oversee and set the depth while much of the manipulation is taken care of electronically rather than manually. Misalignments, caused by zoom lenses, are also intended to be corrected electronically. Sony is developing such a 3-D processor box that can deliver camera pair alignment and correct for errors introduced in the rig, including image geometry and color matching. It offers stereographic engineers another option to manage alignment in addition to mechanical alignment rigs to enable the control of live 3-D content capture.

What the box will not be able to do, according to some experts, is simulate the change in interaxial spacing, which defines the 3-D volume. This will still need motorization to physically move the cameras closer together or farther apart as the shot dictates. Camera set-up would be quick along as basic adjustments of vertical offsets and interaxial distance were observed, with dual images fed to the camera control unit (CCU) as normal.

From the CCU, the left- and right-eye signals would be fed to the stereo processor (one per camera pair) with the results monitored on-screen by the 3-D puller. A zoom function enables the stereographer to hone in electronically on an image with the processor automatically rescaling the image or adjusting lens tilt.

The next advance is to retrieve data from the lens itself. Such metadata already exists, stored in the front end of the camera, but until now has not been necessary in the OB van. That data can be routed down to the CCU as part of the HD-SDI stream so nothing needs altering in the OB truck; it's just ancillary data encoded into the video stream. The processor will decode the data and, based on the focal length, make corrections electronically to the image without needing to physically shift the rig.

The software processor would include color correction and balance tools so that dual outputs could be matched. Other discrepancies in camera racking would be corrected automatically. The delay incurred in such prototype systems is currently two to three frames. This is likely to decrease and in any case is not unfamiliar to broadcasters used to working with virtual studio style set-ups.

3-D Cameras
Several manufacturers are developing single-body stereo cameras, which would reduce the weight, footprint and probable cost of twin-bodied rigs. Panasonic is the first out of the blocks with a single-body dual-lens camcorder that will ship around IBC2010. The camcorder packs two nonexchangeable 12X zooms, a camera head and a memory card recorder into a 3kg body. In essence, it is two distinct cameras recording two streams compressed with long-GOP AVCHD onto SDHC/SD cards, with each recording maintained separately until post production. A remote control tethered to the camera head enables an operator to adjust the convergence point while in use.

A single-body dual-lens camera will be useful for certain applications, such as goal-line POV shots or the occasional Steadicam, because the apparatus is lighter. For most applications, such as the primary camera position in a stadium gantry, side-by-side cameras are needed to open up the interaxial distance and force the 3-D perspective.

According to a leading stereographer, fixed interaxial devices are a red herring. It is a common misconception that 63mm, because it is the interocular spacing for humans, is some sort of holy grail. Instead, 63mm is just one of many interaxial spacings that can be used for 3-D.

By Adrian Pennington, BroadcastEngineering

Current State of 3D Technology and its Future Prospects Forum

Korea is putting the pieces together to complete a puzzle on 3D TV. Current State of 3D Technology and its Future Prospects forum was held in celebration of the 55 Information Communication Day. President Kim Eun-soo of Korea Information and Communications Society (Professor of Department of Electronics Kwangwoon University) opened this forum at the Plaza Hotel in Korea and said, "Samsung Electronics, SK Telecom, LG Telecom, TTA, ETRI, Korea Cable Television and Telecommunications Association, and KT are garnered here today to seek the best ways to commercialize 3D TV by studying together the 3D TV core technology and policies."

The first presentation was kindled by the President Kim Eun-soo on the note of "Current State of 3D Technology and its Future Prospects", and Professor Chang Suk-kwon lit the passion of the subject, "3D TV Policy Issues and Assignments".

Oh Nam-suk, Chief Director in Broadcasting Operation Bureau of Korea Communication Commission (KCC)
The government has been trying to promote the 3D industry and the role of KCC is to deliver 3D broadcasting to consumers by creating more services and values for the related businesses at the same time. Our first goal is to make people aware of 3D products and contents to raise their interest level. However, there are huge risks involved. We are currently testing the 3D broadcasting technology for major terrestrial network, but currently it is impossible. For satellite and cable network, 3D broadcasting is easier to implement because it has a wide bandwidth frequency, but it is not applicable for terrestrial networks. We are supporting to commercialize 3D broadcasting technology for major networks without assigning an additional broadcasting bandwidth. The major plan is to finish the testing before the G20 Summit and introduce the technology to global leaders. Also, we want to broadcast the IAAF World Championships Daegu 2011, and the international track and field competition, in 3D. Also, Sony is planning to record the World Cup 2010 in 3D and temporary broadcasting is under consideration.

Kim Hyun-ju, President of Korea Association for Broadcasting & Telecommunication Studies (KABS)
After the global economic crisis, 3D is one the most influential industries, which will lead the trend for the next 10 years. The global content market is at the beginning stage, but we are behind the competition. If we miss this lucrative opportunity, we will end up working for foreign companies instead of making our own contents. The content development has to go along with development of technology. Korea has a very fast changing society always looking for new trends, so I believe we have a huge potential. We do not know when the 3D transition will actually happen, but the development of technology and bandwidth will bring 3D technology to our living room and various areas. The total governance is needed to improve the 3D industry.

Lee Sang-kil, Chief of KBS Broadcasting Research Center
3D TV has a long history. Since 2002, we have been researching 3D technology, developing prototype cameras and making a 3D experience booth. However, the demand for 3D was not great enough to promote the business until last year. Currently, the 3D experience booth has reopened and people have a lot of interests in 3D cameras and the broadcasting system. Under the government's support, KBS is planning to broadcast in 3D, but the content production has some difficulties. Also, the movie and TV broadcasting are very different. 3D movies can be serviced through satellites or cable networks, but terrestrial TV broadcasting needs a standardization. The total digital TV broadcasting is scheduled to be completed by 2012, which requires a lot of investment. We have to consider about the investment for 3D transition. The guidelines and policies are needed to be made with the government.

Kim Yong-jae, Director of Samsung Electronics
The demand for 3D LED TV is better than previously launched 3D DTV or PDP. Samsung Electronics have been developing 3D TVs for more than 10 years, but most of our products failed. The reason for its failure was lack of contents. Since we do not know how the content market will form in the future, we have the converting technology from 2D to 3D. We still need to solve eye fatigue problems and other technical issues. When the display gets bigger with higher resolution, the depth of image also gets bigger. New technology like UHD broadcasting is currently being studied. BBC and NHK are already in talk to make standardization for UHD broadcasting. The 3D industry has many applications and we need to see it from a wider perspective other than TV and movies.

Lee Ho-jin, Director of the Telecommunications and Broadcasting Research Laboratory of Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI)
Currently, 3D technology is not perfect. The government and industry has to work together to bring a total solution. People are debating whether 3D is just for events or is it a new paradigm. UHD is another technology on the horizon. UHD gives some 3D effects because of its size and high resolution display. We are moving toward UHD, and 3D technology needs to merge with it. The biggest problem is the terrestrial broadcasting. The standardization and codec technology will improve the condition of broadcasting. The 3D contents are serviced due to its demand, but eventually, it will move to a major TV network. Korea is heavily focused on hardware. We need to develop more contents. Sony has advanced cameras, 3D video production and editing, and more, which raise their competitiveness. We cannot compete in those areas. Instead, we need to develop new technologies like IPTV, UCC, mobile platform, and so on. A 3D DMB could be a good option, because it is small and is easy to create contents. Korea's mobile technology is one of the best in the world. Various services though different displays and platforms will create more business models.

Kim Eun-soo, President of Korea Information and Communication Society
The current 3D technology still has some problems like dizziness after watching movies for a long period of time; therefore safety guidelines are needed. The complete solution is expected around 2015. Consumers will not have problems watching 3D images for 24 hours a day or 365 days a year. But, it is not just a hardware problem; content creators also have to be aware of these problems. The solution is more about how to create contents, not a technical solution. Avatar's success did not come from its 3D creation, but its story. The real 3D images use hologram technology, which is under research and expected to come out after 2015 or later. The other issue is to produce more 3D experts in the field of psychology, optics, and computing.

Chang Suk-kwon, President of Korea Association for Telecommunication Policies
3D still has problems and a lot to accomplish. It is about how to control the free mechanism of the 3D market. However, there is always exists some kind of risks. But at this stage, we need to make a success story to promote 3D businesses. The market will expand based on a success story.

By Chun Go-Eun and Song Kyu-Yeol, The Korea IT Times

Panasonic Announces Pricing and Availability of VIERA VT25 Series

Panasonic announced pricing and nationwide retail availability dates for its critically-acclaimed VIERA VT25 Series of Full HD 3D Plasma TVs. The debut of the VT25 series will expand Panasonic's 3D offerings to four screens sizes with availability at a wide range of consumer electronics retailers.

- 50-inch class (49.9 inches diagonally)
- SRP $2,599.95
- Available week of May 3, 2010

- 54-inch class (54.1 inches diagonally)
- SRP $2,999.95
- Available week of May 3, 2010

- 58-inch class (58.0 inches diagonally)
- SRP $3,399.95
- Available June 2010

- 65-inch class (64.7 inches diagonally)
- SRP $4,299.95
- Available June 2010

All Panasonic VIERA VT25 Series models feature:

Full HD 3D Technology -- For a true Full 1080p 3D image, Panasonic's VT25 Series features new, faster screen phosphors (short-stroke) which, when coupled with the VIERA VT25's 600Hz sub-field drive, outputs alternating imagery at 60 frames per second to each eye.

Active Shutter Eyewear -- All Panasonic VIERA VT25 Series models come with one pair of Panasonic 3D Active Shutter Eyewear (TY-EW3D10U). Additional pairs of Panasonic 3D Eyewear are available at retail with an SRP of $149.95.

Infinite Black Pro Panel -- A new phosphor technology that produces deep blacks (5,000,000:1 native contrast) and vivid images with minimal reflection.

Source: Panasonic

Freesat 'Actively Looking' at 3D

Freesat MD Emma Scott has expressed her excitement about the prospect of 3D on the platform, and said the platform is 'actively looking' at the possibilities for the technology. An interesting interview on Join Freesat dealt with a range of topics including the current favourite 3D – and Scott was enthusiastic about the potential.

"3D is very exciting and it's something we are actively looking at," said Scott.

Freesat boxes are already capable of supporting the technology – although, as with all 3D broadcasts – a 3D enabled television set will be necessary to take advantage of any broadcast.

"We worked hard to make sure that the first generation of receivers were as future proofed as possible – so the great news is that all HD Freesat receivers would be 3D compatible – if you buy a new 3D TV and the specs of course!" added Scott. "We will continue to talk to broadcasters about opportunities in this area."

Of course, at the current time only Sky has indicated that it will invest in producing a 3D channel, with Sky 3D due to launch for consumers soon, but other broadcasters will be watching (progress, not the channel. Although they might do).

By Patrick Goss, Techradar

3D TV Warning Book Launched

A group of Japanese businesses has released a handbook advising viewers on health and safety when watching three-dimensional televisions to counter symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, and eye fatigue.

"There are basic rules to know" when watching 3D images safely, the consortium - which includes Hitachi, Toshiba, Sharp, as well as government bodies - said in its guidebook.

Different perspectives offered by each eye's line of sight enables the brain to process depth perception and therefore see images in three dimensions. Television sets showing 3D images exploit this process by showing a slightly different image to each eye through a filter system operated by special glasses, which alternately shutter each eye's line of sight.

Electronics companies are rushing to bring 3D televisions to market with competition in the sector intensifying ahead of the northern hemisphere summer. Sharp plans to unveil 3D versions of its Aquos model in May, joining rivals Samsung Electronics and Sony Corp in a space the industry hopes will revive profits amid a re-evaluation of the liquid crystal display business.

The guide advises audiences to respect the viewing distance, generally three times the height of the screen, adding that viewers should refrain from watching if they feel they are unable to see 3D images after prolonged viewing.

"If even in that case and after having verified any technical problems, the viewer doesn't see any depth perception and that he sees superimposed images, then he should stop," the handbook says.

It also urges viewers to stop watching if they start feeling sick or tired, saying that "perception varies greatly among people for various reasons".

Parents also need to be informed of risks when infants are involved. "It is desirable that adults judge whether 3D televisions are suitable for their children," the group said.

It also requests makers of 3D televisions to take various preventative measures against potentially harmful symptoms affecting unaware viewers, such as unsynchronised shutters on glasses.

Source: AFP

'Last Airbender' Heading to 3D

Paramount is looking to ignite the July 4th box office with bigger fireworks by converting M. Night Shyamalan's kid pic The Last Airbender to 3D. Studio is keeping the same release date of July 2.

Across Hollywood, studio toppers are furiously working to see what films they can convert. Only hours before Par's announcement, Sony announced it was converting Green Hornet and pushing the film's release back from Dec. 22 to Jan. 14.

It turns out Par has been quietly working with a company called Stereo D for more than a year on conversion testing, including on library titles. Three months ago, Stereo D -- which did some work on Avatar -- began showing Shyamalan converted footage of Airbender.

Shyamalan was ultimately satisfied, and signed onto the conversion, which cost between $5 million and $10 million, according to insiders.

"We thought their work was compelling. When was saw how the Airbender tests were developing, we said, 'now let's see if you can impress Night.' That's why we don't have to make any changes to the schedule. We just wanted to make sure we could deliver a great experience before we made the commitment," Paramount vice chair Rob Moore said.

Moore said converting 2D films to 3D is a challenge, and that Par has "found its team" in Stereo D.

From a competitive standpoint, Airbender is the only new 3D title to play over the lucrative July 4 frame. Airbender opens two weeks after Disney/Pixar's Toy Story 3 bows on June 18.

Conversion continues to raise controversy, with some contending that a glut of converted titles could cheapen the new technology.

By Pamela McClintock, Variety

Canal+ Spain plans 3D for World Cup

Canal+ Spain said it will offer the best technically possible coverage for the upcoming soccer World Cup taking place in June in South Africa. Its pay-TV sports channel Canal+ Liga will broadcast all 64 matches live, 40 of them exclusively, all in high definition and some in 3D.

Digital+'s subscribers with its latest generation box, iPlus, will be able to enjoy the matches in HDTV and the 10 best ones out of them in 3D for the first time in history.

"The great sporting events have always meant the arrival of latest technology to the fans' homes. So the South Africa World Cup 2010 will offer our subscribers a new experience surpassing the screen. This means Canal+ 3D will be the best option for enjoying this big sporting event just like the fans were following the best matches in the stadium," said Carlos Martínez, Canal+ Liga's Sports Manager.

Canal+ 3D broadcasts are a further step in Digital+'s bet for leading the technological avant-garde in Spain and also in its pledge to distribute to its clients the best quality contents together with the latest technological advances.

By Iñaki Ferreras, Rapid TV News

3D World Cup Commercials in Production

Stereo production companies Vision3 and Compendium are producing seven advertising spots in 3D to be aired at cinemas or on the Sky 3D channel during the World Cup. Vision3 is also supervising the 3D shoot for Sky 3D’s Sir David Attenborough documentary Flying Monsters 3D. The two UK-based outfits announced a joint venture partnership, Vision3@Compendium, at the beginning of the month.

According to Vision3 senior producer Adam May: “We are fielding a huge amount of enquiries from agencies and brands who see a unique opportunity to present 3D ads around World Cup programming. We offer a 3D layer of expertise and technology from production to post across features, TV and commercials.”

Feature length documentary Flying Monsters 3D examines prehistoric vetebrates and will be released theatrically in large format and IMAX cinemas but will premiere on Sky 3D. Background plates are being shot on Red cameras coupled to Element Technica and P+S Technic rigs and produced by Atlantic Productions with 3D visual effects by Atlantic’s VFX studio Zoo.

Vision3 was formed in 2008 by experienced post production supervisor Angus Cameron and stereographer Chris Parks. Cameron was in charge of converting Peter Jackson’s King Kong into 3D in 2006. Some 40 minutes of the feature was converted using Weta Digital and In-Three tools but the project was aborted because there were only around 70 digital 3D screens worldwide at the time. Parks has worked on IMAX 3D features including Wings of Courage and Bugs 3D. The company has recently shot the indie features Elfie Hopkins and the Gammons and Dan Films’ Creeping Zero in 3D.

By Adrian Pennington, TVB Europe

Europeans to Buy 700,000 3D TVs in 2010

Stereo 3DTV (S3D) is currently one of the hottest topics in the consumer electronics industry and European market research specialist Meko has released a new 3D TV forecast which predicts that around 700,000 sets will be sold in Europe this year. That will rise to 3.8 million in 2011 and 8.1 million in 2012.

"Although there is a lot of excitement about 3D, only about 2% of TVs in Western Europe that will be sold in 2010 will be S3D equipped. The sets will be made available in just the larger sizes (over 32"), will be in the premium model ranges and will not be sold through all channels", said Goksen Sertler, senior TV analyst for Meko Ltd.

"When there is new technology, consumers also like to reduce their risk so will tend to go for the top brands", she added. "Compared to markets such as the US, European buyers tend to want smaller sets and so we expect 40" and 42" sets with FullHD resolution to be the best sellers. Customers will also be looking for high quality sets that have other features that will keep costs up, such as LED backlighting. That will limit the spread of sets which will typically cost €1,500 or more. However, there will be lots of content, from Blu-ray and Sony's PlayStation 3 upgrade, and in addition TV stations around Europe will be looking to show sports such as the World Cup in S3D".

Meko will be hosting the 7th DisplayForum event at the London Heathrow Hilton on the 3rd of November on the subject of 3D TV in Europe.

Source: Meko

Panasonic to Increase 3D Production

The head of Panasonic’s TV business, Mr Hirotoshi Uehara, says the Japanese electronics company will boost its 3D-TV output, following the “sell out” in less than 7 days of its entire US stocks. The demand was enjoyed by other 3D set-suppliers following the announcement that TV network CBS would capture the US Masters golf tournament in 3D.

Panasonic sets should hit European stores in May and Mr Uehara said Panasonic was seeing bulk orders rising “day by day”. Panasonic has increased 3D production output by 30% to cope with the demand.

He also predicted that the initial lack of broadcast 3D content was not so much of a worry because all of Panasonic’s sets are capable of Internet connection, and this would probably lead to a strong demand for 3D-content from YouTube and similar sites.

"Recently more people are watching television via the internet, and that is unlimited, so I think there is a chance that the breakthrough for 3D will be via internet TV," he said.

By Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News

World Cup Soccer to Be Available in 3D in Japan

Sky Perfect JSAT Corp and Sony Corp announced that they will broadcast the FIFA World Cup Soccer games in June and July as 3D TV programs in Japan. Starting from the Japan-Holland game that will take place June 19, a total of 25 matches that were announced by Sony and FIFA April 8 will be broadcast in 3D on the "Sukachan 3D169" channel. Sony will participate in the broadcast as a sponsor.

The 3D TV programs can be watched by those who subscribe to the "Sukapa HD" or "Sukapa Hikari" channel and have a 3D TV based on a "side-by-side" multiplex. In Japan, many of the 3D TVs that will be recently released, including the one Sony will launch June 10, support the side-by-side multiplex.

Though the 3D programs are basically subject to fees, depending on subscription contract, it is possible to watch them without paying any extra fees, Sky Perfect JSAT said.

By Tetsuo Nozawa, Nikkei Electronics

Directors Fall for 3D 'Walls'

Pascal Sid and Julien Lacombe are to direct Behind the Walls, which they tout as the first Gallic live-action feature shot in 3D. Pic is produced by Paris-based Sombrero Films' genre label Studio Mad. The 1922-set fantasy thriller turns on a young novelist who goes to the countryside to write a book and falls victim to terrifying hallucinations and nightmares.

Gallic mini-major MK2, which has converted its entire theater circuit to digital, will handle theatrical and international sales. French paybox Canal Plus has pre-bought the film.

Behind the Walls is modestly budgeted at E3.7 million ($5 million) with the 3D component eating up 30% of the budget per producer Thomas Verhaeghe.

"Making it in 3D represents an opportunity to reach out to a broader audiences in France and abroad," he said. "The success of Avatar and other U.S. 3D films in France have shown that there's a large audience for 3D in every country so we think it's time for us to take some of that market share."

Producers have applied for coin from the CNC's support fund for local S3D projects, which handed out $706,000 to eight 3D projects in the last half of 2009. The org's also set up a policy for converting all screens to digital.

There are at least three French-majority S3D toons in production or pre-production -- Pascal Herold's Cinderella, Team To's Occho Kochoi and Onyx Films' Mune -- plus Wim Wenders' docu Pina.

"France stands as Europe's digital frontrunner," per 3D pioneer Ben Stassen, director of NWave's Sammy's Adventures.

France has 959 digital screens, including 710 3D screens, according to Screen Digest.

By Elsa Keslassy, Variety

Russia Eyes Satellite-Delivered 3D TV

Future Russian direct broadcasting satellites will set a priority on the delivery of HD and 3D TV services. AKTR reports that RSCC, the country’s national satellite operator, plans to allocate at least 25% of the capacity on Express-AT1 and Express-AT2 to such services. It is currently preparing the documentation for Express-AT1, which will replace Bonum-1 at 56 degrees East in 2012 and cover European Russia, the Urals and eastern Siberia.

Commenting on future developments, Yuri Prokhorov, acting DG of RSCC, said that “systems of satellite direct broadcasting, which are already widely used in Russia, will in the next 2-3 years be intensively developed in the area of HDTV and 3D broadcasts.”

By Chris Dziadul, Broadband TV News

SES ASTRA Will Deliver Europe’s First 3D Demo Channel

SES ASTRA informed that it will launch Europe’s first 3D demo channel on ASTRA. Following initial testing, the channel will go live on 4 May 2010 right in time for the opening of ANGA Cable, the international trade fair for cable broadband and satellite taking place from 4-6 May in Cologne, Germany.

ASTRA’s new 3D demo channel will be available free-to-air via ASTRA’s orbital position 23.5 degrees East, and will initially target retailers and installers featuring high quality 3D content including sports, music and entertainment.

Ferdinand Kayser, President and CEO of SES ASTRA, informed: “With the first 3D television sets now available in the market, the launch of Europe’s first 3D demo channel comes right in time to support this exciting technology. The new ASTRA 3D demo channel demonstrates the huge advantages of satellite for the transmission of high quality 3D TV signals, and the leading role of SES ASTRA in driving innovations in broadcasting technology. By working closely with leading TV set manufacturers, broadcasters and other industry partners, we once again demonstrate our ability to position ourselves at the forefront of new technological developments, and to bring together key-industry players to foster innovations.”

Many broadcasters which are customers of SES ASTRA have already engaged the new technology and either started first test transmissions or launched regular 3D broadcasting. While British pay-TV operator BSkyB has been broadcasting soccer matches in 3D to pubs and clubs across the U.K. and Ireland since early April, French pay-TV operator Canal+ announced the launch of its first 3D channel in December 2010.

Transmission details for the new ASTRA 3D demo channel will be communicated at a later date.


Overview of MPEG Standards for 3DTV

The MPEG committee has been anticipating the widespread deployment of 3DTV for some time. As early as 1996, 3DTV capabilities were included in the MPEG-2 standard. Over the past several years, MPEG has worked to amend MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 to include Multiview Coding (MVC), which is a way of improving compression between multiple views (camera angles) of the same content. Last year, Stereo High Profile was added to deal specifically with the case in which the multiple views of MVC were the left- and right-eye stereo views.

Also last year, Frame Packing Arrangement Supplemental Enhancement Information (SEI) messages were added to MPEG-4 AVC (SEI messages inform decoders about any special attributes of the compressed video.) The Frame Packing Arrangement SEI message tells the decoder that the left- and right-eye stereo views are packed into a single high-resolution video frame either in a top-to-bottom, side-by-side, checkerboard, or other arrangement. Packing both left- and right-eye stereo views into a single video frame makes it possible to use existing encoders and decoders to distribute 3DTV immediately without having to wait for MVC & Stereo High Profile hardware to be deployed widely.

All this activity at the standards committees is now playing out in the commercial realm. Several broadcasters have announced plans to deliver 3DTV using MPEG technologies. Most will use frame packing methods to leverage existing infrastructure and will benefit from the new signaling protocols provided by Frame Packing Arrangement SEI messaging and HDMI connections. The Blu-ray Disc Association announced that they have adopted full 1080p resolution MPEG-4 MVC as part of their specification. And as the 3DTV market grows, it is easy to foresee that broadcasters will also move towards MPEG-4 Stereo High Profile.

Source: Motorola

Samsung's 3DTV Advert

Samsung's doing its darnedest to try to make recalcitrant consumers excited about its forthcoming range of 3DTVs, and here's the first step - a TV advert. It'll be split up over several weeks, with earlier ads only showing the preparatory stages of the clip, before the whole thing is eventually revealed in all its glory. Click play on the video below if you can't wait that long.

Some of the TVs are already available, with others due soon. The company said: "Starting with the LED 8 Series, LED 7 Series, the LCD 7 Series TVs and the BD-C6900 Blu-ray player, the first 3D models will roll out in key markets beginning in March, with additional models such as the LED 9, the Plasma 7 Series and the HT-C6930W Home Theatre System coming in late spring".

By Duncan Geere, Pocket-lint

China to Pilot 3D TV Shows this Year

China will start trialing the broadcast of 3D TV shows in some cities this year, said Du Baichuan, a deputy chief engineer of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT), the Guangzhou Daily reported Wednesday.

The SARFT is preparing a standard for the country's 3D TV industrial chains, and its technological base is almost ready, Du said.

The recent successes of 3D movies are attracting consumer electronics enterprises, which hope to profit from the 3D family entertainment sector, Xie Biao, vice president of Sony Corp (China), said Tuesday, adding consumers are eager to have a 3D cinema in their home.

By Zhang Jiawei, China Daily

Hardware vs. Software

While a lot of gaming companies are just starting to focus on stereoscopic 3D, nVidia has been exploring the technology for some time. It recently released its GTX 400 series graphics cards for 3D gaming on the PC. Variety spoke with Phil Eisler, general manager of nVidia's 3D Vision unit, about 3D on the PC -- and the hurdles it faces.

"3D gaming has been around for a long time. There were shutter glasses back 10 years or more. CRT monitors could be used, but as displays moved to LCD, it made 3D difficult. We kind of took a step backwards when we went to LCD screens."

"There's a little bit of a chicken-and-egg problem in that there's not a lot of hardware out there that supports 3D, so people aren't creating games. And because they're not creating games, there's not a lot of hardware supporting the technology."

"I think there will be more spillover from Hollywood. Gamers watch a lot of movies, and something like Avatar gets people to try the 3D experience. Once they experience it, they want to see that in their games."

"The gamer will be more willing to wear the glasses than the average television watcher. The problem with TV is it's usually a multiperson, social experience. You watch with friends or family members. PC gaming is a little less so. And many players are already wearing headsets, so there will be less resistance."

"3D has changed dramatically in the past year from a niche to where you can hardly turn anything on without being bombarded by talk of it. The game industry, on the marketing side, is a little bit behind in the marketing of 3D, but we're seeing more and more eagerness to partner with nVidia."

By Chris Morris, Variety

Speed Still Stymies Stereo

On the hardware side, the vidgame industry is embracing 3D at a rapid clip. Sony plans to make the PlayStation 3 3D-capable later this year, and Nintendo will introduce a 3D handheld system in June. But, so far, developers have been a bit less eager to embrace the technology.

The problem, ironically, is tied to hardware. To achieve stereoscopic 3D effects on today's consoles, developers generally have to compromise the frame rate of their games, which is a lot to ask.

"If your game is pushing the hardware it's running on, that's a challenge," says Christian Svensson, veep of strategic planning and business development at Capcom. "There are some companies that are showing console 3D games that were previously running at 60 frames per second that are now at 30."

That's something that's unlikely to change in this vidgame generation. But when the PlayStation 4 and next Xbox start to roll out (which is expected to be sometime around 2015), 3D could be a major component.

"I think we're just at the tip of the iceberg with it," says Marc Rein, VP at Epic Games. "The consoles aren't powerful enough to really do it now. My minimum vision for the PS4 is to have the power to run at 1080p at 120 frames per second. I hope to see something that can do a lot more than that, but that's my minimum."

Even then, developers agree it's going to take a truly epic release to convince gamers that 3D is the wave of the future for the industry. In other words, the vidgame industry is still in search of its Avatar.

"I think it will be kind of like 3D movies right now," says Lorne Lanning, co-founder and president of Oddworld Inhabitants. "If you don't have 3D for an animated film now, you're just not going to perform as well. When games start to go 3D, it will be the same. We've already seen Modern Warfare 2 set a new bar with visual fidelity. Imagine adding 3D to that. When that happens, there's going to be a greater rush to 3D in gaming."

One big advantage 3D gaming has in its favor is price. While transitioning games to high definition was extraordinarily expensive, there's very little cost in making the jump to 3D, say developers. Most additional expenses come from engineering tweaks and extra testing costs.

Nintendo's push to embrace the technology could also spur interest. The 3DS, a handheld gaming system that does not require the user to wear special glasses, could be a good litmus test for how players will react to 3D gaming. While Nintendo has a tight gag rule on developers about system specifics, those familiar with the system think it could give the technology a significant boost.

"While there's not a lot I can talk about, there are some applications of 3D technology (with the system) that may open people's eyes in a way they're not expecting," says Svensson.

By Chris Morris, Variety

Sigma Designs Licenses Stereoscopic RealD Format

RealD and Sigma Designs jointly announced delivery of support for the stereoscopic RealD Format incorporated in Sigma Designs' Media Processors. The integration enables manufacturers of set-top boxes, televisions and other consumer electronics to take advantage of the RealD Format for the delivery and display of high definition 3D content with no additional hardware required. The integrated design is available from Sigma Designs today.

The RealD Format is an enhanced version of the company's patented side-by-side 3D delivery method that includes a unique set of technologies to identify, manage and deliver stereoscopic content. The RealD Format multiplexes a left-eye and right-eye 3D image into a single channel and is capable of delivering high definition 3D content to any 3D-enabled display type using today's HD infrastructure across cable, satellite, packaged media and the internet (H.264, Windows Media and MPEG2 compatible).

Source: RealD

Ash Fallout Affects Films' World Premieres

The London world premiere of Iron Man 2, planned for Monday (April 26), and the European charity premiere of Julie Anne Robinson's The Last Song (April 20) are the first major movie events to be grounded by the continued volcanic dust cloud that has shut down airspace across the whole of continental Europe.

"Due to the continuing air travel uncertainty, Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment have taken the decision to move the Iron Man 2 world premiere and junket to Los Angeles," the companies said.

International distribution of the movie seems as yet unaffected. "Luckily, we had the copies of Iron Man 2 delivered a week ago, just before the volcano erupted," said an employee at German distrib Concorde, which will be bowing the Marvel actioner next month. "If they had been delayed, it would have been tight getting the film dubbed and mixed for the May 6 release."

If the Icelandic ash continues to keep European planes grounded, the widespread use of digital distribution technology means that majors will be better shielded from any ill effects. An increasing proportion of copies for Hollywood tentpoles are now delivered digitally to cinemas via satellite, making air traffic regulations irrelevant. And virtually every major studio uses SmartJog or a similar digital delivery system to provide its international outlets with press and marketing material.

"We had some sound material scheduled to be sent on DVD by Fed-Ex that was held up," said Alexandra Meister of Germany's Senator Film. "But we were able to switch over to an FTP server for that. There haven't been any major problems so far."

Europe's big TV players are adopting a wait-and-see approach to the mounting confusion arising from the dust cloud of volcanic ash still hovering over the continent five days after European air space was totally shut down, with a slew of companies including NBC Universal, Fremantle, Disney, Zodiak Television and Endemol maintaining that they were monitoring the situation.

By Mimi Turner and Stuart Kemp, The Hollywood Reporter

China Market: 3D CBHD Players to be Available by End of 2010

A technical working group formed by members of the China High-definition Disc Industry Promotion Association (CHDIA), which promotes the development of the home-grown blue-laser standard China Blue High-definition Disc (CBHD), has been developing 3D technology to support CBHD through pooling patents, and expects 3D-enabled CBHD players to be available in the China market by the end of 2010, according to the group.

In the China market, CBHD has the price advantage in competition against Blu-ray Disc (BD), CHDIA said. Only two members - TCL and Shinco Electric - make CBHD players at present, but the number will grow to 10 by the end of 2010, CHDIA indicated, adding an estimated one million CBHD players will be sold in China in 2010.

In addition to China-based providers of content, CVA Warner Home Entertainment, a joint venture of US-based Warner Home Video and China government-owned China Audio & Video Publishing House, has released about 80 CBHD movies and over 200 more will be coming later this year, CHDIA said, adding that about 1,000 CBHD movies in total will be available in China by the end of 2010.

By Erica Yen and Adam Hwang, DigiTimes

Russia Prepares for 3D

The Russian channel Rossiya 2 expects to start experimental 3D transmissions next year. Quoted in Satkurier, its director Dmitrij Mednikov said that preparations for the transmissions on the channel, which is part of the state owned network VGTRK and was itself launched only at the beginning of this year, began two months ago.

The first 3D TVs, produced by Samsung, are likely to appear in Russian shops sometime this month.

By Chris Dziadul, Broadband TV News

TV Stations Fighting Over 3D Bragging Rights

There is no love lost between the "big-three" national Korean television networks KBS, MBC and SBS, as seen by the brewing legal dispute over SBS's exclusive broadcasting rights over the FIFA World Cup slated for June. Now, the ill-tempered competition seems to have boiled over to the three-dimensional (3D) television efforts, with both KBS and SBS insisting on becoming the first station to beam stereoscopic images to Korean living rooms.

SBS is one of the media companies that will be involved in the global test for 3D televisions during the World Cup in South Africa, as it also holds the live 3D rights. Collaborating with Japanese giant Sony, FIFA plans to provide 25 World Cup matches in 3D, which the technology industry hopes will help motivate customers to make the leap of faith to 3D televisions and content.

However, KBS looks intent on stealing SBS's thunder, as it plans to push 3D televisions out of the gate a month earlier than its rival by providing the 3D broadcasts of the 2010 Colorful Daegu Pre-Championships Meeting in May. The track meet precedes the 2011 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships, which will be held in the same city.

Korea is aspiring to become the world's first nation to deliver high-definition (HD), 3D television over terrestrial networks, with trial services scheduled for October. The earlier 3D programs promised by KBS and SBS aren't at the "full-HD" level, but rely on the "side-by-side" method, which works by broadcasting two different angles in one frame to create the 3D effect.

"KBS has applied for the license to offer trial 3D television services on May 19, during the athletics event in Daegu. We will decide soon on whether to approve it," said an official from the radio policy bureau of the Korea Communications Commission (KCC), the country's converged regulator for broadcasting and telecommunications.

There is much at stake for the television stations to come in first in the 3D television race, as KCC is offering just one channel the 745 megahertz (MHz) band for terrestrial 3D broadcasting. Although there will be enough room for KBS and SBS to provide their 3D offerings when sharing broadcasting stations, this also means that the network that comes in second will be forced to borrow the facilities of the one who gained the license first.

"This is a serious battle over bragging rights, as both stations would prefer to deliver 3D television through their own transmission towers, especially when the trial services for HD-level broadcasting starts in October," said the KCC official.

By Kim Tong-hyung, The Korea Times

3D TVs New Battleground for Plasma, LCD Display Makers

Plasma display panel (PDP) technology makers are pinning high hopes on the emerging but uncertain 3D TV market to claw back market share after falling behind popular LCD flat screen backers. LCD or liquid crystal display has led the replacement of cathode-ray tube (CRT) television, as its technological edge over PDP in producing smaller sizes helped it attract consumers trading in their bulky and boxy CRT sets.

"PDP won't be able to challenge LCD as a mainstream flat panel technology as LCD also continues to evolve into better one," said Will Cho, an analyst at Daewoo Securities. "Having said that, it still does have strength over LCD, especially in 3D market. So the stronger 3D market grows, the better PDP technology will be able to recover," he said.

PDP has been a choice of technology in large sized panels over 40 inches, although LCDs are rapidly expanding into the market with free-falling prices. Prices of 42-inch LCD panel dropped around 40 percent over the past two years, which were moderated by severe glass shortages last year, according to industry data. LCDs account for around 70 percent of global TV market of around 210 million units in 2009, with CRT less than a quarter and PDP with only 7 percent, according to DisplaySearch.

PDP makers are making a last-ditch effort on 3D TVs, which usually come in big size screens where PDP scores on pricing and boasts wider viewing angle and quicker response time. Global TV makers including Samsung, LG Electronics and Panasonic produce both LCD and PDP sets and if PDP takes off, then Panasonic, which is making the strongest push for plasma technology, might emerge as the biggest winner.

"We believe plasma TVs are the best device to offer 3D images thanks to its high response speeds and all this attention on 3D TVs is a strong tailwind for our plasma business," said Toshihiko Shibuya, a spokesman for Panasonic, the world's top PDP set maker.

A 42 inch LCD panel costs around $340, while the same-sized PDP panel is 40 percent cheaper at around $200, according to analysts at Citigroup. PDP has also evolved into better display to overcome major weaknesses and its design has also got slimmer.

Demand for 3D TVs will likely grow more than tenfold to 27.4 million units in 2013 from an estimated 2.5 million units this year, according to DisplaySearch. The research firm expects the ratio of plasma TVs to LCD models in the 3D TV market to come to one to three in 2013, indicating relatively strong standing of plasma TVs in the 3D arena. In the same year, LCD TVs are expected to outsell plasma models 15 to one in the overall flat TV market.

"PDP is still more popular in large-sized markets of over 50 inches and it is viewed as more competitive technology in 3D TV markets where delivering vivid images is critical, which is one of PDP's strengths," said Jason Kim, a spokesman for Samsung Electronics, the world's top TV brand. "We've also improved major shortcomings of PDP. Power consumption of our PDP models, for example, dropped by half last year and we plan to cut another 40 percent this year."

Risky Bet
Most PDP makers are increasing production but cautious in expanding capacity as sales growth is set to lag overall market expansion. The technology will also be mainly targeting niche markets such as 3D TVs before eventually replaced by new technologies such as organic light-emitting diode.

Analysts said Panasonic may start running its PDP lines at full capacity from September as supply of 3D TV panels increases. But LG Electronics suspended one of its PDP production lines in 2007 and converted it into solar cell production line to restructure its less profitable PDP business.

"It's a technology that will disappear some day and its growth rate is not explosive, which is why we don't plan more investment into the technology," said Lee Kwan-sup, vice president of LG's Home Entertainment Marketing strategy. "But it is selling well, just as there is still demand for CRT sets, mainly from emerging markets. So we are running production at maximum capacity."

Analysts say rapidly falling prices and weak demand mean many PDP makers will struggle to make money. "It's really difficult for PDP sets to make profits because prices keep falling and demand remains weak," said Cho at Daewoo.

And the dominant LCD technology is also getting smarter by adopting LED technology, which is thinner and has longer lifespan and lower power consumption than traditional LCD sets using CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent lamp) technology.

DisplaySearch forecast plasma TV unit shipments to rise about 6 percent this year to just over 15 million units, after falling 2 percent in 2009. That will be dwarfed by more than 180 million unit sales of LCD sets, a 24 percent jump from a year ago, against the global TV market estimated at 228 million units.

Source: Reuters

NAB 2010 Canon Broadcast 3D

Canon’s Larry Thorpe discusses how Canon lenses are being designed for, and used in, 3D production rigs:

Click to watch the video

LCD Panel Makers Vying for 3D Notebook Panel Orders from Asustek

LCD panel makers including Chimei Innolux Corporation (CMI), Samsung Electronics and LG Display (LGD) are eyeing the opportunity to supply 3D panels for Asustek Computer's 17-inch 3D notebook that is expected to be launched in the third quarter of 2010, according to market sources. Asustek's decision will base on the quality of 3D displays, the sources added.

For the 3D PC market, CMI currently is the major supplier of 3D monitor panels, but both LG Display and Samsung have started mass production of their 3D monitor panels. Digitimes Research noted that CMI and Chunghwa Picture Tubes (CPT) are major suppliers of 3D notebook panels.

By Rebecca Kuo and Yvonne Yu, DigiTimes

3D’s Eastern Promise

Just this week we have seen Russia’s General Satellite enter into a landmark agreement with Eutelsat to provide the satellite operator’s All-3D channel with up to 500 hours of content. The first transmission, of a classical ballet performance from St Petersburg, followed shortly afterwards.

Meanwhile in Romania, ANACOM has given CME-backed Pro TV, the country’s leading commercial broadcaster, the go ahead to undertake 3D trials. Furthermore, it has been projected that 3,000 3D TVs will be sold in the country this year, with Panasonic accounting for a third of the total.

In Poland, Canal+ is preparing what will be the country’s first 3D transmission. Set for May 15, it will feature one of three matches from the Ekstraklasa (Polish premier football league) being played on that date and be accessible not only in public showings but also to individual Cyfra+ viewers with a HD receiver and 3D TV set. The screening will be organised jointly with Eutelsat and LG Electronics and should establish Canal+ as the driving force for the introduction of 3D services in Poland.

Late last year it aired the country’s first 3D commercial in cinemas, and it is also a partner in Projekt Chopin, Europe’s biggest animated production of 2009 and the first film project in Poland using 3D. Developed by BreakThru Films and listing the Polish public broadcaster TVP as another partner in its production, Projekt Chopin will be released in cinemas in August/September this year. There will also be 24 short film etudes developed for distribution via IPTV and mobile phones, as well as downloadable over the internet.

Although 3D TV is also being discussed in several other Central and East European countries, these are still early days. There has been much talk in the Czech Republic, for instance, about the recent appearance of 3D TVs in the shops. Any enthusiasm has nevertheless been tempered by the lack of content and admissions of the country’s leading broadcasters that they at present have no plans to offer services in the format.

On the other hand, both UPC Czech and Telefónica O2 have said they are technologically ready to do so. Yet they, too, concede that they will first require sufficient content.

Given the speed with which HD is now being rolled out throughout Central and Eastern Europe, the prospects for 3D in the region, once it, too, becomes available, are likely to be extremely good.

By Chris Dziadul, Broadband TV News

Eurosport to Serve 3D Tennis across the Continent

Eurosport has said it will deliver live coverage of the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros to over 3,000 retail stores in partnership with the television manufacturer Panasonic, Orange and the Fédération Française de Tennis (FFT). Coverage from Court Philippe Chatrier will be filmed and shown live in 3D. The French IPTV operator Orange will launch a dedicated 3D channel for its subscribers and selected retail stores.

“We are excited to be part of an innovative partnership that is taking this new and complex technology, combining it with an exceptional sporting event and bringing it to TVs in stores throughout Europe,” said Eurosport Chairman and CEO Laurent-Eric Le Lay. Through this in-store 3D experience around the Tennis French Open at Roland Garros, consumers witness and enjoy first-hand the impact of great technology on a prestigious sports event.”

Eurosport will have the rights outside of France, broadcasting to 3,000 retail stores in 58 territories. Details of participating dealers can be found on the Panasonic website.

“The collaboration between Panasonic, Orange, Eurosport and the FFT is a major step forward to show the potential of not just of Hollywood blockbusters but also live broadcast events. For such a prestigious sporting occasion to be available live in 3D will really spark the audience’s imagination and provide a blueprint for the future of 3D broadcasting,” said Laurent Abadie, CEO and Chairman, Panasonic Europe.

The project has been timed to coincide with the launch by Panasonic of a range of 50 inch Full HD 3D Viera TVs and Blu-ray players.

By Julian Clover, Broadband TV News