Glasses-Free 3D Goes for Gold

Advances in tech and content point toward 2012 Olympics
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While much of the hype surrounding 3D TV in the home has thankfully faded over the last year, a number of notable developments seen at IBC2011 offered some positive news for the technology, both in equipment and content.

Shortly before IBC, at major European consumer electronics trade fair IFA in Berlin, Toshiba announced that it will start selling a 55-inch glass-less 3D TV in Germany by the end of the year. There’s been no word as yet on availability or pricing in the U.S., though the sets are sure to be very expensive.

Until now, most of the glasses-free or auto-stereoscopic displays on the market have been for smaller screens. The quality of glasses-free 3D images on larger screens had been limited by the lack of pixels and by the fact that viewers needed to sit in a specific number of limited spots to be able to see the 3D effects.

Toshiba’s new 55ZL2 tries to overcome that problem by using a very high-resolution 3,840-by-2,160-pixel panel—a much higher resolution than the typical 1,920- by-1,080 HD screen. That allows for up to nine positions where viewers can sit to comfortably view the effects.

Following on the heels of that announcement, there were also some high-pro! le demonstrations of glasses-free technology and 3D product launches at IBC2011.

SES Astra and iPont partnered to deliver a live 3D glasses-free broadcast to the SES stand. For the demo, iPont installed a wide-angle 42-inch auto-stereoscopic LCD screen with its 3D TV box, which streamed realtime 3D broadcast content from the satellite receiver to the display and converted the stereo content to a format the auto-stereoscopic TV could handle.

A separate EBU demo also illustrated the fact that glasses-free solutions are that much closer to hitting the market.

“There are huge efforts by the industry to develop glassesfree multiview displays” which will encourage broadcasters to produce some high-profile events, such as the Olympics, in 3D, notes Hans Hoffman, head of media fundamentals and production technology at the EBU Technical Department and engineering VP at the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE).

Several new 3D cameras and systems for transmitting 3D footage back to the studio also bowed at IBC.

Meduza Systems, which won kudos for the launch of its 3D camera at NAB, was showing both its Meduza MK1 camera and the Delta 4K S3D Meduza Lens designed specifically for 3D production.

Panasonic showed a number of 3D-related products that will be used in the production of more than 10 hours a day of 3D content during the 2012 Olympic Games. The productions, which will cover over 12 different sports as well as the opening and closing ceremonies, will use Panasonic’s shoulder-mount AG-3DP1 camera launched at NAB.

“We are making a very strong push to provide better solutions for 3D production,” says Christian Sokcevic, director of the Professional AV Europe division at Panasonic.

In addition, Panasonic partnered with LiveU in a 3D demo at IBC showing how 3D images from Panasonic’s AG-3DA1 stereoscopic camera could be delivered back from the field over cellular networks using LiveU’s newly upgraded LU60 video uplink system, says Mike Savello, VP of sales at LiveU.

To provide broadcasters with an economical way of creating more 3D content, several companies were also touting solutions for converting two-dimensional images to 3D. Vizrt and SterGen High-Tech demonstrated 3D conversion technologies as a way to overcome some of the high costs and complexities involved in creating 3D content.

“SterGen software [for 2D to 3D conversion] offers sports producers and broadcasters a compelling alternative to expensive, logistically complex live stereo 3D production,” says Petter Ole Jakobsen, Vizrt CTO.

Some business deals were also announced at IBC, with the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute and Korean Broadcast System choosing T-VIPS to provide the transport of 3D video from the IAAF World Athletic Championships at Daegu Stadium to the KBS media center.

E-mail comments to gpwin@oregoncoast.com

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