3D to see at IBC 2010


Bob Pank#
IBC2010 marks the fourth year when the new wave of Stereoscopic 3D took hold at the show. That’s three years of time for development and implementation. While cinema is racing ahead, taking a good extra percentage of people at the door who pay a 3D premium price – television in Europe is only just beginning. Sky is the pioneer for the UK, going on air in October – soon after the show. This will, surely be a defining moment when 3D comes to TV not just for a special event – but to stay.
So, with Sky on air, S3D is all done and dusted. Well, probably not. There are still plenty of people trying to work out the best way to do it. One such organisation is 3D4YOU (www.3d4you.eu - appropriately exhibiting at 3.D11! in the New Technology Campus). They say ‘The first generation of 3D television, currently being introduced on the market...’ So we are still only at the beginning! This is an EU funded research project that’s ‘developing the key elements of a more advanced future 3D television system that will support both glasses-aided as well as glasses-free 3D viewing.’ They are also looking at viewers being able to adjust the 3D depth effect to suit their personal preferences. They have shot some demo footage so this should be a good mind opening experience to start your 3D tour.
Whilst on your tour please keep a lookout for a really good autostereoscopic (glasses-free screen). I’ve not seen or heard of one yet so if you find one, that will be interesting!
Like all major new technologies it’s the big companies that are first in the market. Sony already has 3D kit to stretch nearly all the way from scene to screen so a visit to the stand (12.A10) would be a chance to see all aspects of production and, no doubt, some good consumer, and maybe cinema, displays. The company also has the benefit of recent experience with its 3D cameras broadcasting live at the US Masters Golf - just before NAB. It looked promising. And Sony was heavily involved with 3D production at the World Cup football. So this stand should be a good place to discover the truth about working at the 3D broadcast coalface. A key element in its camera chain is the ‘3-D Processor Box’ that sits between the two camera channels to correctly align the their images and deliver the required 3D experience. 3D video mixers should also be on show. Of course there will be 3D monitoring but I’m also hoping to experience the Full HD 3D Bravia TVs. Unsurprisingly these display frame-sequential 3D and use active-shutter glasses. I read that they also include 3D upconversion from 2D. Having understood that anything other really good 3D is horrid to watch, and knowing that this ‘upconversion’ would involve a lot of processing to do a sufficiently good job, I’m looking forward, I think, to seeing the results.
Processing boxes are essential for good live 3D TV material. Another one to see is FOR-A’s (2.A51) CEQ-100HS. The catalogue calls it a ‘colour equalizer’ but it has a lot of stereo image processing that makes it worth considering for that vital between-the-cameras role.
Quantel (7.A20) helped to kick-start the modern 3D wave and has continued its development programme. Check out Pablo 3D for high-end post. It has a well-developed 3D toolset and developed a reputation for fast throughput. The company has recently extended its 3D reach with ‘the world's first complete Stereo3D broadcast workflow, from ingest to desktop editing, craft editing and playout using Enterprise sQ server-based production technology.’ Hopefully this will give an insight into fast flowing 3D broadcast workflow.
Still on the subject of post, the show is the opportunity to see different approaches to the GUI and the workflow with SGO’s Mistika (6.A11) and Assimilate (7.K01) both worth a visit.
If you want to produce 3D on a smaller budget and scale take a look at VidiGo’s new Live 3D (stand 7.H30). This company aims at making broadcast and AV production affordable for every AV and TV producer – and at IBC they are extending this to 3D. To date they have applied a fresh user-oriented approach to their products that make up whole systems and pack up into very few small boxes. Here you can dip your toes into 3D production without burning a hole in your pocket.
Working in 3D post presents some mind-bending challenges, for instance, how do you invisibly re-touch 3D video? The Foundry (7.J18) has been developing some really useful tools for post including the NUKE compositor and now NUKEX that includes 3D tracking. There is a lot to see including a host of plug-ins – among which OCULA offers 10 to ‘solve common stereoscopic imagery problems and boost productivity’.
NVIDIA (7.J38) is the company that, for the last decade, has been pushing the power of GPUs (they invented them in 1999) to drive live video graphics applications. First have a strong coffee and then go and discover where they are up to this year with 3D processing on their new Quadro Digital Video Pipeline. You must have a head for big numbers to grasp the scale of what’s going on, as you are probably looking at the next generation of the engine that’s driving some very realistic virtual 3D on display around the show. Hopefully this will give you a feel for what’s achievable in the months to come.
Beyond the major items there has to be infrastructure – often HDSDI. Doremi (10.B10) is the world’s major supplier of DCI digital cinema players, all of which are 3D capable. It also makes useful converter boxes, such as Dimension-3D, to connect between most sorts of 3D coding, dual channel HDSDI, HDMI, DVI, picture sizes and even frame rates. This has many uses from recording 3D on 2D equipment, monitoring 3D, etc, so one thing will plug into another.
Confused? Why not take advantage of IBC’s ‘Added Value’ (= free) track? On Sunday 12th there are two sessions; 9.30-10.30 ‘What Caught My Eye - What's new in 3D’ with Telegenic stereographer Adam Sculthorp and at 16.00-18.00 ‘Post producing 3D features’ with four speakers.
In the end it’s about entertainment and you can experience that, in 3D of course, in the big screen auditorium after the exhibition closes with ‘Toy Story 3’ on Saturday and a special edition of ‘Avatar’ on Monday.
Four years ago this article would have listed every stand with anything to do with 3D. Things have changed and this year it has only been possible to mention a small sample of all the ‘3D to see at IBC’. There is much more to say and there will be even more to discover at the show.

Tags: ibc2010 | 3d | 3d diaries | s3d | s-3d | 3d4you | HDSDI | HDMI | DVI | iss045 | Bob Pank#
Contributing Author Bob Pank#

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