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Monday, April 12, 2010

Report from NAB 2010: S3D is Everywhere!

Michael here reporting from NAB 2010 in Vegas. Saturday and Sunday featured the all-3D Digitial Cinema Summit, in which every S3D topic under the sun was presented and discussed by distinguished S3D professionals. Especially valuable to me was the real-time stereo footage (shot by 3ality Digital) which helped demystify stereo shooting. Errors were intentionally introduced, then fixed, as the audience of 600 something attendees watched with their Real-D glasses.

But that was just a tiny slice of the S3D smorgasboard that was presented. There were some fireworks too, as speakers voiced multiple conflicting opinions regarding 3D conversion. To get an idea of all that was discussed, check out the program here. The only really newsworthy item to come out of the Summit was a new, compact 3D camera from Sony. I was surprised to see it, as the Summit was about S3D education and discussion of where S3D is now, where it's headed, and where it will be in the future.

Today I watched a presentation of the making of Alice in Wonderland, as well as got to see the showfloor. S3D is absolutely everywhere. Panasonic had 6 of their $21,000 AG-3DA1 cameras available for attendees to try out by shooting a special backdrop with a live actor. I played with them for a while, and now I really wish I owned one. Sony has a gigantic S3D LED display, as well as a huge S3D broadcast truck in their booth. And just about every broadcast-related company was showing off their 3D solutions.

Off to the side of the Summit room were some demos of various 3D broadcast formats, including side-by-side, top/bottom, and 720P60 feeds of the same footage. I talked to TDVision today, and they wanted it to be known that they are throwing down the gauntlet against the half-resolution formats that were spoken about and demoed at the Summit.

Ethan Schur of TDVision spoke out against these half resolution 3D formats:

We choose service compatible 2D + Delta over frame compatible (top/bottom and side-by-side) because you don't disenfranchise the 2D users (2D version is included), you get the full HD quality, and you can watch it on any TV in the best quality possible . We shouldn't be sacrificing quality. Who wants to pay all this money for a 1080P television, a nice Blu-ray disc and all these kind of things, and then you are only watching half the pixels?

The problem is that a lot of people in their homes still have old set-top boxes from 2003 and before that, and that people are saying I don't want to make a big investment in 3D, I just want to shoehorn whatever I can into these old clunker set-top boxes. You can't keep your set-top box forever. These boxes can't even do 1080P."

I agree...I want full S3DHD. It seems some people think it may take until 2013 or so (as was said by one speaker at the Summit) until we get Full S3DHD broadcast. I hope it happens faster than that.

I'll be back on the show floor tomorrow to see if there's anything cool that I missed, then it's back to LA.

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Jim Dorey
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