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Simultaneous 2D and polarized 3D Viewing – Toshiba prototype

At the recent Integrated Systems Europe 2011 exhibition, Toshiba debuted a new LED wall technology. The prototype display was designed for use in either indoor or outdoor, stadium like venues. The unique aspect of the new display is that it presents an image that can be simultaneously viewed in either conventional 2D or passive, glasses-based 3D.

In a telephone interview with Charley Bocklet, Toshiba’s National Sales Manager for LED Display Systems, I was told that the technology underlying the new display is a result of a development program undertaken in conjunction with Chroma3D Systems Inc. (Cannon Falls, MN). To learn more, I spoke with Monte Ramstad of Chroma3D Systems, the inventor of the 3D technology.

In the new display, each pixel is composed of Red, Green, Blue and Yellow subpixels. A conventional 2D image is presented utilizing the RGB pixels. The depth information is presented utilizing the Y pixels.

When the display is viewed naturally, without special glasses, the 2D image appears almost completely normal. A slight, not overly distracting, yellow halo may be visible associated with portions of some objects.

When the user wears passive glasses, the image is perceived in stereoscopic 3D. One lens in the glasses transmits restricted portions of the red, green and blue spectrum and the other lens transmits only yellow.

In a display based on the new technology, the resolution of the 2D and 3D images is the same and the brightness of the images are similar.

At the ISE show, it was reported that, when viewed from a distance of greater than about 20-feet, the display looked perfectly fine in 2D. (The distance is a reflection of the LED resolution rather than the 3D technology.) In fact, Ramstad mentioned that at ISE, most people did not notice that there was anything different or special about the 2D image until they were told so. When the viewer put on the passive glasses, the 3D was described as having “a decent pop to it.”

This is not a new concept for Ramstad either. A number of years ago he was promoting a similar solution that used a projection system and an RGB and yellow 3D encoding scheme. That did not take off, but this implementation in an LED wall has more potential, we think.

The new Toshiba LED wall is not the first display technology with a claim to providing simultaneous 2D and 3D viewing. Such is the capability reported byColorCode 3-D (Lyngby, Denmark). There are, however, significant differences between the Toshiba and ColorCode 3-D technologies.

The ColorCode 3-D technology is based on a display having conventional RGB subpixels. The viewer wears passive glasses in which one lens transmits blue and the other amber.

Ramstad stated that the Chroma3D Systems approach produces an image with a wider color gamut and a “more comfortable 3D viewing” experience.

Toshiba has not yet revealed plans for deployment of display systems utilizing the new technology. –Arthur Berman

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New 3D Backward-compatible Broadcast DTV System Launched

3D Tile Format

A broadcast and technology consortium in Italy is demonstrating an over-the-air digital 3DTV system that is backward-compatible with 2D TV sets, according to one of its members. The group held a news conference last week in Turin announcing the implementation of the system in the northern Italian region of Piemonte.

Participants included Sisvel Profile, CSP Innovazione nelle ICT and Quartarete TV, which is now carrying the service that ostensibly allows “those with HD TV sets to watch 2D HDTV, even when the transmissions use 3D techniques.”

Sisvel said the backward-compatibility was possible “due to an innovative technique for formatting stereoscopic images, known as 3D Tile Format, which makes it possible to integrate two 720p frames within a single 1080p frame. The reconstructed right and left images maintain their original resolution, preventing an unbalancing of the vertical or horizontal resolution.”

The 3D Tile Format is said to improve the quality of the transmission of 3D hi-def content, compared to current solutions, i.e., side-by-side or top-and-bottom. The compatibility for regular 2D sets, allows broadcasters to transmit to both 2D and 3D users without having to double the amount of bandwidth required for transmissions.

“3D Tile Format technology introduces considerable benefits for the entire market,” said Sisvel Founder Roberto Dini. “The standardization bodies themselves are assessing the adoption of our system. It is worth emphasizing that this is a project which offers a positive image of the country, as the entire value chain of the technology, including the set-top-boxes for receiving the signal, has been developed and produced in Italy.”

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Studio Technology Leaders Dinner 2017

The Entertainment Technology Center at the University of Southern California held its 2017 Studio Technology Leaders Dinner at NeueHouse in Hollywood. Sponsored by Western Digital, HGST and Equinix, the event honored former Sony Pictures CTO Spencer Stephens with the Bob Lambert Technology Leadership Award. The evening featured a panel of studio execs discussing new directions in film production, and a screening of “Wonder Buffalo,” the third R&D short produced under the auspices of ETC@USC’s Project Cloud to explore and test next-generation production processes. 

“Wonder Buffalo,” a coming-of-age story, was made possible through ETC’s 2016 Technology Award to filmmaker Christine Berg, who wrote the script with Simon Shterenberg.

The duo developed the project at the Writers Guild Foundation’s Veterans Writing Project, with the support of Disney/ABC Television Group, Warner Bros., NAGRA Kudelski Group, Technicolor, 8i, Realtra, Equinix, Sony Electronics, Amazon Web Services, the Creative Visions Foundation, The World Building Institute and the USC School of Cinematic Arts. It was also executive produced by Erik Weaver, HGST global director of M&E strategy and market development and former head of ETC’s Project Cloud.

ETC executive director Ken Williams noted that the short tested not only cloud production and post production technologies, but was also processed entirely in HDR, and tested volumetric capture, photogrammetry, ambianic sound and interactivity, via a room-scale virtual reality component. “Wonder Buffalo” was shown at Sundance and invited to SXSW.

Williams (below left) presented the Bob Lambert Technology Leadership award to Spencer Stephens (below right), whose early career involved data communications and photography.
ETC_Williams_Stephens_AwardStephens joined Disney TV Animation in 1997, as the company transitioned from traditional to digital production. He later joined Chris Cookson’s Technology Operations at Warner Bros., ultimately building the 4K production capability for Warner’s Motion Picture Imaging post house, which he then ran. He followed Cookson to Sony Pictures where he became CTO. He’s left Sony, but is not retired.

Walden Pond chief executive Wendy Aylsworth, a previous Bob Lambert Technology Leadership awardee; Sony Pictures Home Entertainment senior vice president Richard Berger; and former Sony Pictures Technology president Chris Cookson all spoke about Stephens’ achievements.

“If I’m in a crisis, I want Spencer by my side,” said Berger. “The scope of his knowledge knows no bounds.”

Stephens thanked Williams, the ETC board and Dean Elizabeth Daley of the USC School of Cinematic Arts for the award, and Cookson for hiring him twice. He also recalled his close connection with Lambert, who recommended him for the Disney job and then introduced him to Cookson.

Last, ETC hosted a panel of studio executives, including 20th Century Fox CTO Hanno Basse, Sony Pictures Entertainment CTO Don Eklund, Paramount Pictures EVP Anthony Guarino, Warner Bros. Technology EVP Justin Herz, Walt Disney Studios CTO Jamie Voris and Universal Pictures CTO Michael Wise. Moderated by Williams, the panel addressed pain points in the production process, significant opportunities opened up by technology, and how studios are handling change.

Panelists described the challenges of handling thousands of VFX shots from multiple cameras with differing resolutions, color spaces and formats, and putting it all together under increasingly tight deadlines. They noted that “Wonder Buffalo” has helped to shine a light on the issues, which also include the sheer size of files and massive number of deliverables. They also identified security as a “huge issue.”

New technologies have produced automated workflows and enhanced global creative collaboration, as well as significantly accelerated real-time rendering. Panelists noted that physical media isn’t going away any time soon, and that consumers are the big winners in an era in which there are so many platforms and distribution is not getting in the way of finding and enjoying content.

They also underlined that the studios have gone through many technology changes over the decades and that their resilience in managing change bodes well for the future, even as viewers redefine entertainment.

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