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Category Archives: Consumer Electronics

Yes, we know we said our next blog post would be our answers to Questions for Your 3D Tech Provider.  Consider this a warm-up, because we felt that these issues were so important that we needed to address them right away.

In many emerging markets, folks often start offering products and expertise before they’re fully-baked.   There’s a bit of that going on in terms of 3D technology right now, and we thought that pointing out the following facts might be helpful to people who are interested in mounting world-class 3D sports productions.

If you’re planning to shoot and broadcast live sports in 3D, the 3D system you use absolutely MUST HAVE the following capabilities.  Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for disaster.  Granted, you may consider “disaster” an extreme sport, but if you don’t, look for these things:

1) Zooms. And not just any old kind of zooms:  automatic, repeatable, perfectly-aligned zooms that can be done remotely.  Picture this:  Tracy Porter has just snagged an interception 80 yards away and is hoofing it down the field.  Your cameraman has Porter squarely in his sights.  Would you prefer to wait for someone to adjust the zoom by hand, and adjust it again and again during Porter’s mad dash, stopping to check alignment all the while and trying to ignore the fact that the lenses don’t match — or would you just prefer it to WORK, as it does in a 2D shoot?  We thought so.  (3ality Digital’s systems feature motorized, sub-pixel-accurate and repeatable zooms.)

2) Fast set-up – that stays set up. Unlike feature film production, sports is an every day business.  Hoops playoff this day, baseball all-stars the next.  You need to bring in your gear, set it up, and conduct a perfect shoot.  The fact that you’re shooting in 3D shouldn’t have an impact on your schedule.  You should be able to move fast and not worry about whether or not your cameras are working in concert, just as in a 2D shoot.  And you should be able to do it all yourself — no 3D “middleman” telling you it’s all very seriously complicated and only he can do it for you — right before he takes eight hours to set up.  Yup, you just missed Van der Sar’s first big save, while you were waiting.  (3ality Digital gear can be up and running in about an hour, and that includes alignment time.  Once aligned, the system stays aligned.  If something untoward happens — say that midfielder turns out of bounds and crashes your rig — settings are recorded and repeatable, quickly and easily.  And we train you how to use our systems, so you can do it without us.)

3) Perfectly aligned images, right out of the camera. Sports fans like graphics with their games.  Graphics help them keep track of what’s going on.  Unfortunately, graphics must be generated on the fly and placed dynamically.  (If we all knew what was going to happen during each game, we’d be in Vegas right now, wouldn’t we?)  If the images are not aligned, those beloved graphics are going to give sports fans a headache and maybe even make them a bit ill.   Not the general reaction we’re expecting to a front-row POV at a Lakers game.  (3ality Digital’s systems let you track and adjust alignment on the fly, down to the sub-pixel.)

4) Metadata feeds for graphics. Unfortunately, it’s just not enough to generate perfectly-aligned images for the guys who do the graphics.  They also need to know where to place the graphics in 3-space.  Another picture for you:  Manny Ramirez has just pounded a big fly ball, and is on his way to first base … running right through the stats box.   By providing a constant stream of detailed metadata on things like inter-axial distance between lenses, convergence, and depth parameters, you help your graphics guys know exactly where to place their boxes, every time.  (3ality Digital’s systems constantly provide dynamically-generated metadata that can be passed along to all parts of the workflow.)

5) Consistency in depth, especially between edits. Your EVS guys work hard for you:  cutting together games, creating instant replays, throwing in a little slo-mo for dramatic effect.  Meanwhile, in 3D, if depth parameters jump around from shot to shot, your EVS guys are going to generate a hodge-podge of clips that run the risk of making your audience feel woozy and perhaps abandon the game for reruns of “Two and a Half Men.” (3ality Digital’s systems let you set depth parameters, and automatically adjust settings when those parameters are about the be violated.)

So, there it is.  The five essentials for shooting sports in 3D.  Don’t believe us?  Take a look at our resumé.  We’d be happy to provide references, as well.

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Bloomberg Television came to see us last fall and shot this segment.  Not only is it an excellent primer on the 3D marketplace (albeit before DirecTV, Discovery & ESPN announced 3D TV broadcasts), it puts us in illustrious company — we’re happy to be mentioned in the same breath as our friends at DreamWorks Animation any day.

Enjoy.

At 3ality Digital, we’ve long been evangelists for 3D to the home.  We’ve also been convinced that sports will be a key driver for this new medium — and it looks like we now have a very significant flock of believers.

In action at the Sony press event.

Earlier this year, Sony announced their commitment to 3D in a big way, and we were delighted to participate in their press event yesterday, where our 3D camera and image processing platforms were used to shoot a live performance of the lovely and talented Taylor Swift singing “Romeo” (our personal favorite of her repertoire).   In addition to rolling out their new line of 3D-enabled Bravia televisions, Sony also announced the expansion of the Playstation network – which will carry 3D content — a groudbreaking partnership with Discovery Channel and Imax to produce a 3D channel, and last, but not least, a year-long sponsorship of ESPN’s new 3D sports channel.

We were also lucky enough to be present at Panasonic’s press conference, where they not only showed off their new 3D TV line (the amazing 152-inch screen was not in the room, sadly), but also announced their partnership with DirecTV on that company’s 3 new 3D channels.  A slew of networks are also joining the party, including Turner, CBS and NBC (we’re hoping they show off the digital 3D version of “Chuck vs. the Third Dimension,” which we shot for them.)

Taylor Swift in 3D

Although not out on the show floor (they’re in a private suite),  our partner Nagravision will be demonstrating  the 3D TV user interface we helped them develop using knowledge gleaned from our 3play™ image optimization technology.   You may just see this on your cable or satellite set top box in time for this summer’s World Cup in 3D.

If you’re at the show, please come see our newest camera platform (under glass in the Sony booth!), or keep an eye out for our footage on Sony, Samsung, LG and Mitsubishi televisions, or in the Broadcom booth.  We also may pop up in a keynote.  We’re just sayin’.

Photos from Engadget.

The 2009 BCS Championship was the first 3D sports broadcast open to consumers.

No form of entertainment will do more to feed home viewers’ appetite for 3D than sports. Sports are compelling, dynamic, and downright pulse-pounding. And fans are, well, fanatical.

But they are also fickle, which creates a challenge for 3D sports broadcasters. All the action that makes a sporting event so exciting to watch also makes it incredibly difficult to produce pristinely. With no second takes and no marks for the “actors” to hit, there’s little room for error in image capture and transmission.  Shooting and broadcasting in 3D requires systems with rock-solid reliability, easily repeatable configurations, and a high degree of automation.   After all, if you screw up the “money shot” in a sports broadcast, you don’t get a second chance, and you certainly can’t “fix it in post.”

That new third dimension also presents challenges that were solved long ago for 2D broadcasts:  Where do you place the graphics?  How do you handle quick cuts from one hot spot to another?  How do you generate instant replays in slow-mo?  The flexibility and adaptability provided by camera rigs integrated with software-based 3D image processing become key.  Using mechanical 3D rigs that require manual settings won’t get you to the goal line:  it’s like playing the game with your third-string QB.

Given all the interest in 3D sports broadcasting being generated by the upcoming Winter Olympics, World Cup soccer events and the 2010 launch of Sky’s 3D channel with its heavy emphasis on sports, this is a critical moment for the medium.

The industry needs to deliver a state-of-the-art experience to the fans of global sporting events. If it does, game over: 3D is a bona fide hit with home viewers. If it doesn’t, even the medium’s most ardent supporters will be left with a (literal) headache and the disappointment of a pivotal opportunity lost.

Sky Trials 3D Broadcasts at the O2
World Cup Games To Be Filmed in 3D
Sports in a new dimension

I'll take them in tortoiseshell, please.

I gotta wear shades.  3D shades, as a matter of fact.   The geniuses at Microvision Optical have been working away on special polarized lenses that work with passive-glasses 3D displays (see our friends at RealD for the most popular in-cinema system).  Bonus feature:  they also double as sunglasses.  And they’re stylish, to boot, as you can see from the photo of our newly-acquired tortoiseshell pair, above.

We hear that the folks at Microvision may not even get a holiday break, they’re so busy working on special versions of the glasses for companies like Fox and Coca-Cola.  And lest you think the glasses are only good for movie theaters, please be advised that they work with the new polarized 3D TV’s from JVC and Hyundai — and are also useful for those giant LED displays from the busy bees at Sony.    Meet me in Times Square — and bring your 3D shades.

Top consumer electronics manufacturers are preparing to unveil several new lines of 3D-enabled television sets and Blu-Ray players, but their laptops will represent the tipping point for in-home 3D.

Reasonably-priced, Blu-Ray ready and capable of delivering Internet-based entertainment content straight to their screens, 3D-enabled laptops are a triple threat.  As a critical mass of these familiar devices hits the market, consumers will be only too happy to open their doors and let them in.

Hard-core gamers, the earliest of the early adopters, already are getting hooked on the immersive at-home experience that 3D delivers.  They won’t be going back.  And neither will sports fans and other consumers, who are growing increasingly accustomed to downloading their entertainment content and watching it on their computer monitors.

There’s no question the forthcoming 3D-enabled big screens will have enormous appeal and grow the in-home 3D market.  But in the short term, consumer electronics companies can get laptops into stores (and in turn, into homes) quickly and inexpensively.  Seeding demand for ever-more 3D content with laptops will only help the sales of televisions down the road.

How Will the First 3D Laptop Change Gaming? PC World

ASUS Ups the 3D Laptop Game Gadget Crave

Wistron Lands 3D Notebook Orders from HP and Dell Cogadget

IBCOnce again, it’s time for the annual confab for the European broadcast community:  IBC in Amsterdam.   We’re making the trek across the great Atlantic to join them, and wanted to let you know where you could find us.   Our fearless co-founder, Steve Schklair, and our esteemed stereographer, Ray Hannisian, will also be sharing their expertise with a couple of presentations.  So, if you’re in Amsterdam, come join us for some spectacular stereoscopic 3D, and hopefully, one or two good Dutch beers.

3ality Digital equipment and technology will be featured in the following booths (or “stands,” as they say across the pond):

EVS –  Hall 1, Stand 8.B90

Assimilate – Hall 1, Stand 7.J09, 7.K01

Quantel – Hall 1, Stand 7.A21 

Nagravision – Hall 1, Stand1.D69 

Presentations:

Monday, Sept. 14th, 9:00 AM — 3D at the Movies, presenters Steve Schklair and Ray Hannisian (with a live 3D camera demo!)

Monday, Sept. 14th, 3:45 pm — Alternative 3D content, presenter Steve Schklair