3D TV is Coming

3dtv

3d is about ready to come home

Listening to Lenny Lipton tiptoe through the history of 3D content production and viewing technology, he almost convinced you that 3D TV is finally just around the corner.

Oh sure, the internationally renowned author and inventor acknowledged that there were still a few obstacles to overcome – like standards — but after more than 40 years in the field, he’s sure the goal is within reach.

Sessions like his at the annual 6Sight Conference in Monterey, CA always make the event interesting, informative and challenging for techie folks. The event forces you to look over the horizon.


“You are not in Kansas anymore. You are on Pandora, ladies and gentleman.” – Col Quaritch, Avatar (20th Century Fox, Dec 2009)

Stereoscopic 3D
We’ve all heard a lot about stereoscopic 3D. Every major content conference – NAB, IBC, IFA and CES have the big hardware guys pushing the idea that…this is the year 3D will come home.  Our kids just saw the latest shows at IMAX and can’t wait for Avatar!!!  Had to explain to them that 3D-ish stuff has been around since the 1838 World’s Fair.

Queen Victoria got all excited about it when she first saw stereopticon.  Since she liked it…so did all the Brits.  The first “real” 3 D movie was The Power of Love, back in 1922.  Unfortunately, historians can’t find a trace of the movie today.  Who can forget the epics of the ‘50s – Bwana Devil, Creature from the Black Lagoon, House of Wax?  And what about My Bloody Valentine?


Figure 2:  Worth the Investment – The latest crop of 3D movies (most animated) proved that the shows could not only fill more seats but also attract a higher ticket cost.  Both Hollywood and the theaters are rushing to increase their 3D offerings this coming year.

Knives thrusting at you. Bullets zinging between your eyes. Blood spurting … everywhere! Great movie to take a date to…

Today?  Pabulum!!!  About 15 3D movies will have been released this year and 2X that in ’10.  DreamWorks’ Katzenberg has been the biggest 3D movie cheerleader. You know –IMAX movies and Ice Age 3, Up, Toy Story 3, Monsters vs. Aliens, G-Force, Christmas Carol, Avatar.

More animated films.

It was explained that since they are already produced using computer graphics layers, it was relatively easy (cheap) to deconstruct/reconstruct the digital files.  Of course, we were crushed to find out that these 3D creations were really closer to 2.5D.  But 2.5D or 3D, movies have made a resurgence.  7000+ screens are spread across the U.S. More are in the works.

3D movies drew more people into the seats. They were willing to dig a little deeper for those sexy glasses.  Don’t knock the old paper glasses, they worked!!  The left/right eye brought the images together and the mind did the rest.  It worked in the 1800s and it’s still pretty darn good!  All this is nothing new to our son, who has been doing 3D gaming for some time. Turns out his notebook system is an HDTV screen and 3D-ready screen.

No wonder he spends so much time in his room…

Gaming will be the first steady diet of 3D “viewing” you’ll enjoy at home. All of the content producers and hardware/software folks just got everything converted to HD so they have new mountains to climb.  Nothing looks more promising than alpha to omega 3D!

Panasonic introduced their end-to-end 3DTV professional solution, with stereoscopic (dual lens) HD cameras, 3D encoding/mastering equipment distribution approach (BD) and huge plasma screens.


Figure 3:  3D Camera – Panasonic was one of the first production and post-production equipment firms to introduce a 3D camera and supporting system.  The two-lens camera has been used on a growing number of films and the company is pinning big hopes on the end-to-end solutions they offer.  Source — Panasonic

Not to be outdone (naturally), Sir Howard has shown off Sony’s single lens 3D camera, 3D-compatible TV, PS3, Vaio and BD family.  Oh yeah…he also has a little content company.
Both vow that by the end of 2010, 3D sets will be in “every home.”  Aren’t they cute at that age?  They sorta’ mumbled about a few things.

You know like…standards!

Home Solution Work
Doing the movie at the theater, everything–including front to back, side to side is like a closed environment.  Everything is very similar and run by professionals. At home, there are more variables than you can shake a zombie at.  The standards are always developed, negotiated, compromised, mucked up at a lightning snail’s pace by experts!!!  There are just a few standards folks who expect to be heard including — SMPTE, EBU, ATSC, DVB, ITU, SCTE, CEA, BDA, DVD Forum (hint – Wikipedia).


There goes 2010!!!!

It isn’t gloomy though if they all understand their livelihood and profits are at stake.  With more escape clauses than a lawyer’s contract, FutureSource does provide a realistic view of the 3D market scenarios.

Figure 4:  Clear Roadmap – With a wide range of escape clauses on their 3D television projections, FutureSource has synthesized the strengths and weaknesses of each path the industries could possibly follow.

Did we forget anything? Oh yeah…you just dropped a bundle for a big, beautiful digital HDTV, didn’t you?

In fact, a lot of folks are so lonely they have nothing to do but sit at home with the telly!!!  According to Nielsen Co. the average home in the U.S. had 2.86 TV sets.    About 54% had more than three sets (folks…get a life!!!!).


Figure 5:  Oh Yeah – While Panasonic and Sony project large sales of 3D-ready TV sets in the coming year, they overlook or ignore the fact that: a) most people just upgraded to HDTV sets, b) many homes already have two plus sets in the house, most TV sets last 8-10 years and c) they need some 3D content to watch on these sets.

Regarding your friends’/neighbors’ viewing habits:

  • 114.5 million TV homes in U.S.
  • 38% have digital cable
  • 88% have DVD players
  • 11% only get over the air reception
  • 144 bln digital TVs will sell by 2011
  • 75% of HDTVs sold by 2011 will be LCD TVs
  • 35% of US households have a DVR
  • 89% of UK homes have digital television
  • 1.2 bln HDMI-enabled devices by 2010
  • Japanese and Americans watched 6.8 hours of TV a day
  • 69% of Americans think PCs are more entertaining than TV

Good news is some of the sets are capable of projecting stereoscopic 3D images.  Industry estimates there are 2-4 million sets that have are fresh rate of at least 120 Hz. May have to have a “little” upgrade, you know another $500…

If it isn’t done well…you’ll probably get “a little” sick, dizzy, headachy, queezy, you know – uncomfortable!  But ordinary folks won’t get the first 3D sets.  Those will go to the guys who are first in line for – everything!   Next, the systems will go into high-end home theaters where – like the matinee, there’s a controlled environment.

The installation crews will have their choices of a projection large 3D screen, plasma or auto stereoscopic 3D display – cool, mimics the eyes’ view of space, depth,  no glasses.  And in your theater, you’ll be playing insane games and watching dynamite disc-based movies.

Home Theater
Yes, you will!!! Now that BD players and movies are cheap, hardware and content folks will work on the next-generation of entertainment solutions.  You dream about true 3D content (TV).  But that means everything has to be upgraded…again.  That, my friend, costs time and money. Run the numbers.

Stream 1080p 240fps content to everyone in your neighborhood…that’s a huge one-way pipe. However, the 3D disc can deliver that in-theater experience in your home …now!!!


Figure 6:  End-to-End Discs – Panasonic and other members of the DVD Forum are already promoting the concept of 3D BD discs and players.  At CES and other venues throughout the year, the firms will be showing prototype and shipping systems.

It pumps up Hollywood’s and CE manufacturers’ revenue stream. It gives them another crack at solving the DRM (Digital Rights Management) security issue.

Game On
But, you say you want real 3D TV stuff? OK!!!  Time to Play Ball!!!!


Figure 7:  SSSCCCCOOOORRREEEE – Tests are already underway around the globe to shoot and present sporting events in 3D like the Irish soccer match shown above.  Sports and 3D disc movies will drive early sales until widespread 3D TV content is available.  Source – Getty Images

Admit it, you’ll pay to watch real lifelike soccer, football, basketball, baseball, you name it sport. You’ll pay to watch Tiger on the green at Augusta as you read the green, the blades of grass, choose just the right club, make the putt, pump the arm.  How cool is that?  Yeah Baby!!!!!

It’s those selected special pay-for-view events you’ll call your guy to buy the box and a couple of dozen pairs of glasses.  As Dr. Augustine said, “Just relax and let your mind go blank. That shouldn’t be too hard for you.”