Friday, July 16, 2010

3D Coming to Screens Near You?

Sony appear to have all the 3D bases covered. They are filming in it, developing it, providing devices to rum on it and distributing it. 3D is certainly going to change gaming and its going to change sport filming but will it really take over and become the next big digital change? Many like ourselves, were impressed by the cinematography of Advatar and less impressed with Tim Burton’s quick 3D fix on Alice, but 3D is coming and big money is waging on it win.

There are some interesting issues. First, the Eyecare Trust claim some six million people in the UK, or 1 in six, will not be able to view the 3D images properly. The claims relate to people who have poor binocular vision and will have difficulty processing and viewing the 3D effects. They may only see blurred images and could have side effects such as headaches. Glasses may be the cure but the health risks when increase when people are subjected to prolonged and close exposure, such as experienced by gamers. There is no real health warning with 3D and the effects of excessive exposure are not established, nor are they know with respect to age.

The 3D section of the PlayStation 3 terms states, ‘Some people may experience discomfort (such as eye strain, eye fatigue or nausea) while watching 3D video images or playing stereoscopic 3D games on 3D televisions… If you experience such discomfort, you should immediately discontinue use of your television until the discomfort subsides.'

Reggie Fils-Aime, the President and COO of Nintendo of America recomends, "Very young children not look at 3D images…. the muscles for the eyes are not fully formed... This is the same messaging that the industry is putting out with 3D movies, so it is a standard protocol.’

3D is coming and gaming powerhouse, Ubisoft’s UK marketing director, Murray Pannel predicts a 3D TV in every living room within three years and that 3D gaming will be at the forefront.

However we have the cost of production of content. Here we have two different approaches, one which shoots in full 3D and one that merely transforms to 3D. There are basic two technologies. First stereoscopic or full 3D, which is like in Avatar and costs around 70% more than normal and requires you to shoot in 3D from the start. It works by giving depth of field, enabling the viewer to see ‘into’ the image. The other is slightly cheaper, around 50% of mormal and is called dimensionalising. This involves taking a 2D film and in post production making it into 3D. The finished product may not be as good, but is a way to turn a back catalogue into 3D and capitalise on the 4 times greater revenue 3D movies are making over 2D. Tim Burton’s Alice used this post filming technology and is why some of the imagery is not focused. 2D depends on a focus point and is when it it is turned into 3D it can become blurred. There is also a contrast issue where 3D 'dulls' an image and light has to be adjusted to compensative. Images may appear different when the same original film is viewed in 2D and 3D. Finally, shooting has to be on the diagonal not face on and this can make original 2D film look weird.

Sport appears to be where TV production is cutting its 3D teeth and Sony filmed the whole World Cup in 3D.

NTT Docomo have just launched a 3D LCD display that can be viewed with the naked eye without those glasses at Expo Comm Wireless in Japan. It will display 3D images which can be viewed from eight viewpoints, each of which has an angular range of 15°. The display however cannot show 2D images but they claim, ‘We would like to equip mobile phones and smart phones with the display within a few years.’ 3D LCD displays can be viewed with the naked eye using either a lenticular lens or a parallax barrier, which provides a slit to partially block off light.

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