Archive for June, 2010

Shakira 3D Music Video in honor of World Cup

When is MTV going to add this to their stereo music channel?  That’s when music executives will stand up and take notice.

Roxio embraces 3D for the home

I’ve always been partial to their burning software but I am curious to know what exactly they bring to the table in terms of innovative 3D software or gear.

Roxio is touting the Roxio Cineplayer 3D.

“Roxio CinePlayer 3D enables you to enrich the home PC or notebook experience with the best in high-definition and 3D entertainment playback. Roxio’s latest multi-media player supports the playback of a wide range of 3D video file formats, as well as Blu-ray 3D titles and 3D DVDs. Once available, Roxio CinePlayer will even support the playback of 3D entertainment delivered digitally from Roxio CinemaNow-powered services. In addition to supporting the playback of commercial 3D entertainment, Roxio CinePlayer enables the conversion of standard 2D such as DVDs and personal home movies into 3D.

Roxio CinePlayer 3D delivers the power of 3D cinema to the PC. Eye-popping, realistic 3D entertainment made easy with support for a complete array of hardware configurations including a range of graphics cards and display technologies. The player supports passive polarized and active shutter technologies and is compatible with emerging TV formats.”

Looks like something Apple and Quicktime should be offering but got beaten to the punch.

Disney signs 3D deal with Imax

After successul runs with films like Alice in Wonderland and A Christmas Carol, Disney has penned a new deal with Imax to bring three new 3D titles to the huge screens next year.

A new animated feature called Mars Needs Moms will be the next Disney title to get Imax screenings. That’s planned for a March 2011 release.

Later in the year, Disney will bring the latest Pirates of the Caribbean title, “On Stranger Tides” as well as the Pixar sequel Cars 2, to Imax 3D.

“The Imax experience adds another level of impact and excitement to a movie, and with these new films, made by some of the industry’s most innovative filmmakers, audiences are in for are real treat,” said Walt Disney Studios president of distribution Chuck Viane.

Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 3 is currently playing in 180 Imax theaters across the country. Those screens alone brought in $8.4 million of the film’s $110 million total opening weekend sales.

Source: TGDaily.com

Cross Talk on 3D Home Delivery

There are currently two key methods for delivering 3-D content to the home. Most 3-D sets being sold today rely on the method called “frame-sequential display.” Part of the main 3-D Blu-ray specification, this delivery method consists of a sequence of alternating frames meant for each eye.

Frame sequential lends itself to the active-shutter-based technology used for today’s 3-D TVs. The active-shutter glasses used for viewing must sync with the 3-D TV set to allow the correct eye to view the correct image at the precise time. The active-shutter glasses turn opaque and switch the eyepiece so the viewer can process the correct image at the moment it is intended.

For broadcasters, however, sequential viewing uses too much bandwidth. It is essentially displaying two images — one for each eye. Efforts were made to reduce the bandwidth used for 3-D delivery to be about the same as that used for HDTV.

3-D TV sets are actually computers that can process a variety of formats and perform on-the-fly conversions. Seeking to lower the needed bandwidth for 3-D delivery, broadcasters devised side-by-side technology as an alternative way to deliver 3-D to the home.

When it launches this month, DirecTV will be airing 3-D programming by using the side-by-side 3-D format. ESPN also will be airing 3-D content using a 720p, 60fps side-by-side format for its World Cup coverage.

Side by side uses the same bandwidth as standard HD transmissions and only half that of frame-sequential technology. Using 24fps, it splits the image into two frames — one for each eye. It doubles the length of each segment, and then displays those images sequentially for the shutter glasses.

While not as dense or rich as frame-sequential images, it uses far less bandwidth and requires no new set-top box hardware. Pay-TV providers need only provide a simple firmware update to their equipment.

ESPN has done some testing with 720p side-by-side content for sporting events, and the feedback from initial testers has been positive.

Feedback:

There are currently two key methods for delivering 3-D content to the home. Most 3-D sets being sold today rely on the method called “frame-sequential display. Part of the main 3-D Blu-ray specification, this delivery method consists of a sequence of alternating frames meant for each eye.

It is important not to confuse the Delivery method with the Presentation method.

The Part of the main 3-D Blu-ray specification consists of a sequence of alternating frames meant for each eye. If you are thinking “deliver to our eyes” you are correct. But, since we are talking about bandwidth it seems far more logical to take “delivery” as the means of transmission.

On the BD disc, I believe the content is MPEG-2 encoded with one eye plus MPEG-2 data to generate the other eye from the first eye. Obviously, non-3D BD players output only the former. (This same system could be used with a 720p60 over the air where the extra data would be sent on an ATSC sub-channel.)

When a 3D BD player outputs 3D over HDMI — it is as two full 1920×1080 frames stacked to create 1920×2200 frames. It is up to each HDTV to take each 1920×2200 frame via HDMI 1.4 and display it for both eyes.

When we talk about “frame-sequential”  this means 2 cable HD channels are used. I don’t think this has anything to do with BD specifications–although a 3D HDTV would need two HDMI ports to input from two cable boxes.

There is no real bandwidth problem with this system! It is an economic limitation. If a cable company wants to do 3D it could cancel one of the channels it now sends you where there is obviously no HD content. Nothing but rescaled SD!

The 720p60 side by side is great for the cable operator, but obviously 1/2 the horizontal resolution is discarded. And with 1280, there isn’t that much to start with. The reason it looks OK is the same reason alternating column thin-film polarized systems look fine.

Despite what Sony claims, our eyes integrate the alternating column L & R one-half horizontal resolution images back to 1920-pixels when we fuse the image into 3D.

Sequential systems are needless because they offer no more greater perceived horizontal resolution–yet require active glasses that allow horrible crosstalk. Sony’s demo at NAB often showed one golf ball as several balls.

JVCs alternating column thin-film polarized system looks just as good and DOES NOT require ACTIVE glasses. Because the passive glasses need not change opacity at high-speed they don’t have crosstalk. Plus, they are cheap.

The correct way to do 720p60 is to use the BD MPEG-2 system with a full bandwidth 720p60 plus a sub-channel carrying the MPEG-2 delta data. Of course, this requires either 2 cable boxes or a new generation of boxes.

Because 720p60 at 19mbps has extra bandwidth for a second sub-channel, I’m not sure how 1080i60 would get the extra bandwidth. Actually, we all know! They simply cut the bit-rate of the main channel to leave bandwidth for a sub-channel carrying the MPEG-2 delta data. Again, this requires either 2 cable boxes or a new generation of boxes.

Source: http://blog.broadcastengineering.com

3-D Without the Glasses

A new type of display from Microsoft produces multiple images and tracks the viewers’ eyes

Today’s 3-D movies are far more spectacular than the first ones screened more than 50 years ago, but watching them–both at the movie theater and at home–still means donning a pair of dorky, oversized glasses. Now a new type of lens developed by researchers in Microsoft’s Applied Sciences Group could help make glasses-free 3-D displays more practical.

The new lens, which is thinner at the bottom than at the top, steers light to a viewer’s eyes by switching light-emitting diodes along its bottom edge on and off. Combined with a backlight, this makes it possible to show different images to different viewers, or to create a stereoscopic (3-D) effect by presenting different images to a person’s left and right eye. “What’s so special about this lens is that it allows us to control where the light goes,” says Steven Bathiche, director of Microsoft’s Applied Sciences Group.

3-D technology has seen a renaissance recently. Thanks to the success of movies like CoralineUp, andAvatar, Hollywood is spending more money than ever to give audiences a stereoscopic experience. And electronics manufacturers are racing to replicate the 3-D theater experience in the home. The market for 3-D-capable televisions is expected to grow from 2.5 million sets shipped in 2010 to 27 million in 2013, according to the research firm DisplaySearch. However, the glasses required to watch 3-D video is a turnoff for many would-be early adopters.

At the Society for Information Display International Symposium in Seattle last month, companies showed off 3-D displays that don’t require glasses. These sets often use lenticular lenses, which are integrated into the display and project different images in two fixed directions. But a viewer needs to stand in designated zones to experience a 3-D effect; otherwise the screen becomes an out-of-focus blur.

Microsoft’s prototype display can deliver 3-D video to two viewers at the same time (one video for each individual eye), regardless of where they are positioned. It can also shows ordinary 2-D video to up to four people simultaneously (one video for each person). The 3-D display uses a camera to track viewers so that it knows where to steer light toward them. The lens is also thin, which means it could be incorporated into a standard liquid crystal display, says Bathiche.

The idea of tracking viewers to make the glasses-free 3-D easier has been around for decades. One of the big challenges, explains Ken Perlin, professor of computer science at New York University, is that the computers used for eye-tracking were too expensive and too slow to make such a system practical. As computers have become faster and cheaper, viewer-tracking systems have gotten up to speed; other components, particularly those needed to target viewers, have remained bulky and impractical to manufacture on a large scale.

Microsoft’s wedge lens is about 11 millimeters thick at its top, tapering down to about six millimeters at the bottom. A traditional lens, found in a projector, sits between a point of light and its focal point–the spot where the light is focused. This is the reason why viewer-tracking 3-D systems are often so bulky. The design of the wedge lens bypasses this problem, explains Bathiche. “Instead of having light travel in air, it travels within the lens,” he says. “It allows us to compress the distance between the projector and the screen.”

The focal point in the new screen is the flat surface of the wedge. An optical trick means that light enters through the edge, bounces around inside the lens (much as if it were in a fiber-optic cable), and, when the light has bounced enough times to reach a specific angle (known as the “critical angle”), it exits through the front of the lens. Bathiche says that the specialized lens design, which includes a rounded, thicker end, dictates how the light bounces around and when and where it can escape.

The direction the light comes out depends on the position and angle that the light as it enters the bottom edge of the lens. This is controlled using an array of light-emitting diodes at the bottom of the screen. The viewer-tracking cameras are also positioned at the bottom edge of the lens; these collect light traveling the other way through the lens. Bathiche says that system’s viewing angle is about 20 degrees, but hopes that with tweaks to the lens design, this can be increased to 40 degrees.

Bathiche says the 3-D lens can replace the traditional backlight in a liquid crystal display (LCD) to create a glasses-free 3-D display. Light from the lens will shine through the liquid crystals, projecting images at the viewers. The quality of the resulting picture is limited by the screen’s refresh rate. A normal 240 Hertz LCD can accommodate two 3-D views, meaning that each viewer’s eye receives a video that refreshes at a rate of 60 Hertz. Any slower, and the frames the video would be jerky. Alternatively, four viewers could watch their own 2-D video using the same display at a refresh rate of 60 Hertz. If the video were split again, then the frames would become jerkier.

The technology is to some degree “at the mercy of what the LCD panel in front of the backlight can do,” says Michael Bove, director of the consumer electronics laboratory at MIT. To address this, Bathiche says Microsoft is pushing display manufacturers to make faster LCDs. Bathiche’s group is also exploring other ways to use the 3-D lens. If integrated into a backlight of a laptop, he says, it could provide a way to instantly toggle between a private view, in which the backlight steers the images from the screen toward a single person’s eyes, and a shared view, in which the backlight shines the images out in all directions.

Source: TechnologyReview.com

Split screen: Microsoft’s 3-D screen can project multiple images simultaneously. Here it is projecting a block of red and a block of blue onto a screen two meters away.

Nascar speeds onto the 3D track

The first-ever Nascar race to be broadcast in 3D will be presented on July 3, available on TV exclusively through DirecTV, but it will also be streamed live in 3D on Nascar’s Web site.

The Coke Zero 400 race in Daytona will be the first major sporting event to be streamed live in stereoscopic 3D online. Users will need a specific 3D computer, as well as active shutter glasses, to enjoy the 3D event. Those with only a 3D TV, though, can also watch as long as they have DirecTV, which is proving itself as an innovator in 3D broadcasting much in the same way it did with a huge adoption of HD content.

“One of our goals here at NASCAR is to continuously explore ways to improve the viewing experience for our fans. Offering the Coke Zero 400 in 3D on NASCAR.COM and select television distributors is a great example of that consistent exploration. Our fans have been asking us about 3D for several months, so we’re excited to deliver that to them for the first time ever in what will likely change how NASCAR is consumed moving forward,” said Nascar Media Group COO Jay Abraham in a statement.

Nascar joins a growing list of sports names that have made the jump to 3D. FIFA is providing unparalleled 3D coverage of the World Cup at this moment, the Yankees have decked out their stadium with 3D equipment, and even golf, with the Masters tournament earlier this year, has gotten the 3D treatment.

The online 3D stream will be available at nascar.com/racebuddy3D

Source: TGDaily.com

UPDATE  6.22.10:

The fans of NASCAR have a reason to be happy as on July 3, 2010 at 7:30 pm EST from Daytona International Speedway the NASCAR Coke Zero 400 race will start and it will be broadcasted online for the owners of 3D Vision. But unlike with the 3D streaming of the Masters Gold Tournament that required you to use the 3D Vision Video Player or the Stereoscopic Player, this time the broadcast will be based on the 3D streaming technology developed with Microsoft’s Silverlight and announced earlier this month. The side effect of using the new technology for streaming is that the broadcast will be available only if you own a 3D Vision equipped PC as on other 3D setups it will most likely not work.

The requirements for watching the live 3D stream of the NASCAR race is that you have a 3D Vision PC, the latest NVIDIA Driver (257.21 GPU and 3D Vision driver), and the latest Silverlight plug-in installed (v4.0.50401 or newer) as you’ll be watching the event trough your browser. Currently it seems that there is an issue if you have SLI running with two or more video cards, so if you have trouble watching the 3D video stream just disable SLI for the moment and then reenable it after you finish watching. It sounds very easy, and the good news is that there is even a demo of the 3D streaming with the Silverlight already available, so that you can try if everything works fine before the actual live streaming in 3D starts. And hopefully there will be some recorded footage after the event to watch if you happen to miss the actual race.

More information about the 3D Streaming of the event on the official NASCAR website…

Source: 3dvision-blog.com

3D Stereoscopic Post Production Examined Pt.4 – Conform, Color, Master

This is the final in a four part series by Tashi Trieu detailing a 3D commercial spot:

On-line Conform

Three versions of the commercial were decided upon. Two 30-second spots and a 2-minute version for a viral campaign.

Using Cineform tools and a few proprietary scripts, the Cineform Quicktimes were debayered and transcoded to 10-bit DPX sequences with a conversion to CPD log (Cineon Printing Density) characteristics to match the rest of our Lustre DI pipeline. The DPX sequences for both left and right eyes were conformed into stereo layers within Lustre 2011 using a single EDL exported from Avid.

Color Grading

Stereo 3D color grading requires a substantially greater time investment than 2D grading.

First both eyes must be matched. While both left and right eye cameras were identical and the lenses matched and exposure was set identically, there were slight inconsistencies between the cameras. The cameras would sometimes have slightly different tints depending on the scene and the sky would render differently due to the beam splitter. Specular highlights also vary from eye to eye depending on the angle. Minor adjustments were made to prevent a difference in luminance that would cause a flickering effect when viewed in 3D.

After matching both eyes secondary masks or geometries would be applied to a single eye and then copied to the other. If the masks were tracking objects with positive or negative parallax, I would offset a parent axis to correctly align it to correct for the disparity without needing to perform another track or create additional keyframes.

Using Lustre’s stereoscopic toolset, I also adjusted convergence and rotational alignment to improve the stereo effect beyond what was originally captured. Production was very intense and there were a number of takes that made it to the final edit, but were not ideal for stereo. Those shots received a bit of extra attention to make the stereo effect either more pleasing. Sometimes this meant adjusting the vertical alignment or setting a new convergence point deeper in the scene.

Stereo 3D Compositing and Title Generation

All of the titles, captions, and animated logos were generated as 2D sources, but needed to be delivered in stereo. To do this, I used the native stereo toolset in Autodesk Smoke 2011. Smoke’s FBX camera was the primary tool I used. The FBX camera creates a 3D compositing environment where the convergence of stereo images can be manipulated and the stereo effect can be created using 2D images.

One shot required compositing of a 2D source into the stereo scene. Using the FBX camera within Action, I brought the 2D image into the scene and adjusted the convergence to create artificial depth. The stereo tools in Smoke made this very process very fast and easily repeatable for all of the different versions of the commercial.

Text overlays, 3D titles, and logos were all authored as mono images, but went through the same process as the stereo composites. The Action node in Smoke/Flame allows for repeatability of setups so the creation of many versions of the commercial was very fast and easy.

If you would like a PDF containing the entire series of posts, you may request a copy: info@mercerfilm.tv

Toy Story 3 make its own stereo history

Update 6.19.10:

Pixar/Disney is enjoying a $104 million weekend and it’s 11th number #1 opener.  Toy Story 3 is only the 3rd animated film in history to gross over $100 miilion in a 3 way weekend, thanks in part to the 3D upcharge

Woody, Buzz and the whole gang are back. As their owner Andy prepares to depart for college, his loyal toys find themselves in daycare where untamed tots with their sticky little fingers do not play nice. So, it’s all for one and one for all as they join Barbie’s counterpart Ken, a thespian hedgehog named Mr. Pricklepants and a pink, strawberry-scented teddy bear called Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear to plan their great escape.

Toy Story 3 will be the only new 3D movie for June, but in July we are going to get three new titles, two of which are most likely a 2D to 3D conversions

Source: http://3dvision-blog.com/

June 18th: Toy Story 3
Animation
Movie trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_FfHA5whXc
More information: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0435761/

July 2nd: The Last Airbender
Live action (2D->3D conversion)
Movie trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YgaVe19zs8
More information: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0938283/

July 9th: Despicable Me
Animation
Movie trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOKtRJWBFL8
More information: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1323594/

July 30th: Cats & Dogs 3: The Revenge of Kitty Galore
Live action (2D->3D conversion?)
Movie trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkeN2o0QRSE&feature=fvst
More information: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1287468/

August 6th: Step-Up 3-D
Live action
Movie trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89TLbK6o-og
More information: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1193631/

August 11th: Around the World in 50 Years 3D
Animation
Movie trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3A55eR0c … re=related
More information: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1230204/

August 27th: Piranha 3-D
Live action (2D->3D conversion)
Movie trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQz4fSHtpxk
More information: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0464154/

September 10th: Resident Evil: Afterlife
Live action
Movie trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dc5iiT0f1s
More information: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1220634/

September 24th: Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole
Animation
Movie trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pikm7QJSmOM
More information: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1219342/

October 1st: Alpha and Omega
Animation
Movie trailer: n/a
More information: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1213012/

October 15th: Jackass 3-D
Live action
Movie trailer: n/a
More information: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1116184/

October 22nd: Saw VII 3D
Live action
Movie trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U55iSekiBIw
More information: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1477076/

November 5th: Megamind
Animation
Movie trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wtf2vk0BCsc
More information: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1001526/

November 19th: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I
Live action (2D->3D conversion)
Movie trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MP7CHMeVjo
More information: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0926084/

November 24th: Tangled (Rapunzel)
Animation
Movie trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-ANTQwZ5b0
More information: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0398286/

December 10th: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Live action (2D To 3D Conversion)
Movie trailer: n/a
More information: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0980970/

December 17th: Tron Legacy
Live action
Movie trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9szn1QQfas
More information: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1104001/

December 17th: Yogi Bear
Animation
Movie trailer: n/a
More information: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1302067/

December 22th: Gulliver’s Travels
Live action (2D To 3D Conversion)
Movie trailer: n/a
More information: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1320261/

ESPN uses World Cup as living room guinea pig

ESPN (and its parent company Walt Disney) is operating a special laboratory in Austin, TX, where researchers are analyzing user response to the 3-D channel and its ads. The data will be used to enhance and shape future 3-D broadcasts. In a controlled living-room setting, scientists measure heart rate and skin conductivity and track the gaze of up to 4000 participants who will be exposed to new ad models over the Internet, mobile devices and TV screens.

After the World Cup ends, ESPN plans 3-D broadcasts of the MLB Home Run Derby on July 12, the ACC Championship and the BCS National Championship games in college football, and next year’s Big East tournament in college basketball. The network said it expects to carry about 85 3-D broadcasts this year. The rest of the time, the channel goes dark.

Beginning with the World Cup tournament, ESPN has required all commercials for the new channel to be produced in 3-D. As a result, it was estimated that the cost of 3-D commercials increased by 30 to 40 percent. Sony, Pixar, Gillette and Proctor & Gamble were the first to advertise with 3-D spots. The channel also aired a new 3-D “This is SportsCenter” spot, which showed anchor Stan Verrett demonstrating 3-D to Los Angeles Dodger Andre Ethier who accidentally breaks a 3-D camera with a baseball bat.

So far, there aren’t that many 3-D TV set owners to watch ESPN’s broadcasts in their homes. Certain ESPN restaurants are carrying the programming, as are participating 3D movie theaters, and Sony, a sponsor of the channel’s launch, supplied a number of its new 3-D LCD sets to “ESPN Wide World of Sports” facility in Orlando, FL, where ESPN hosted a viewing party for fans.

Niclas Ericson, TV director for FIFA, told Wired magazine that he expected an audience of “at least a few hundred thousand per match” worldwide to watch the games in 3-D. That’s an inconsequential number compared to the more than 26 billion cumulative viewers estimated to be tuning in to the regular HD broadcasts, but that is expected given the cost and other hurdles consumers must overcome.

Source: http://blog.broadcastengineering.com/

Pssst… wanna buy some 3D glasses? Cheap!

Who knew that a whole industry would come around to just selling and trading in new and used shades?

At least by now distributors understand that a cheap and plentiful supply of glasses is necessary for a successful release.  During the second 3D wave in the 1980’s a shortage of frames impacted one of the more successful film’s bottom line:

Comin’ at Ya! a modestly budgeted 3D “spaghetti western” enjoyed a limited release with solid B.O. in the late summer of 1981. It prepared to go wide despite an R rating (some violence and nudity) in the fall, but it stumbled badly.

“The reason: They’re weren’t enough glasses to supply audiences. Polarized viewers had not been manufactured in sufficient quantity to meet the demands for this picture.  By the time glasses production could be increased to cover the situation, most theatres were already booked into their Christmas schedules”.

Source: 3-D MOVIES, A History and Filmography of Stereoscopic Cinema by R.M. Hayes  McFarland Press 1989



Return top

About 3D & Digital Cinema

If you are a tech head, cinema-phile, movie geek or digital imaging consultant, then we'd like to hear from you. Join us in our quest to explore all things digital and beyond. Of particular interest is how a product or new technology can be deployed and impacts storytelling. It may be something that effects how we download and enjoy filmed entertainment. It may pertain to how primary and secondary color grading will enhance a certain tale. The most important thing is that you are in the driver's seat as far as what you watch and how you choose to consume it.