The world in HD 3D

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According to Panasonic, the future of film and television will be in HD 3D. With its latest product line-up and enormous investment in developing 3D technology the company demonstrated that it intends to take a leadership role in the 3D world.

The company selected the Frame Sequential technology for its Full HD 3D (in which separate Full HD images are displayed alternatively for the left and right eye) and have developed a line-up of professional and consumer products to support 3D developments. At the start Panasonic set up a special encoding (image compression) and authority laboratory in Hollywood and worked with film studios to gain an understanding of filmmakers’ needs. For film professionals the company developed a twin-lens 3D camera recorder for high-efficiency Full HD 3D video production. It takes two streams of 3D images (filmed for the left and right eye). These images are then encoded in full HD quality and authored, and subsequently can be recorded on Blu-ray discs for general release. The disc can be played on a compatible Blu-ray disc player and viewed on a 3D HDTV with the help of 3D eyewear.

In addition to designing and manufacturing a twin-lenses 3D camera, Panasonic has developed new VT20 series VIERA models which deliver a full HD 3D viewing experience, compatible Blu-ray disc players and Active Shutter Glasses to use with 3D Plasma TVs.

At the Munich convention, Panasonic unveiled 50 and 65in models of the plasma Full HD 3D TVs which are equipped with the latest NeoPDP technology. It greatly improves image quality, by boosting contrast ratio (to 5,000,000:1), providing smoother motion images (due to 600Hz), delivering deep and rich black levels and minimising reflection with the use of High Contrast Filter.

The 3D plasmas are equipped with built-in Freesat/Freeview HD tuners and offer improved VIERA CAST network functions that give users access to Internet content (such as YouTube and Eurosport) through their televisions. Acetrax functionality allows interactive viewing of movies at home through a video-on-demand service. The new 3D VIERA models are also equipped with SD card slots for viewing photos and home movies or playing MP3 music files.

The future of 3D

The first attempts at creating 3D images date back to the 1880s. Among more recent 3D projects was filming of Jaws 3-D in the early 80’s. However until now none of the technologies used (such as those employing polarised filters or Anaglyph two-colour glasses) were universally accepted by commercial partners.

Therefore Bill Foster of market analysts FutureSource reviewed the latest 3D TV developments in an attempt to assess whether the market is ready to accept 3D film this time round. In his opinion the channels which will drive the full-scale adoption of 3D are cinema, home video, gaming and broadcasting.

The success of Avatar, which has had greater tickets sales than Titanic, proved that 3D films will benefit both film makers and cinema owners whose increased profits will pay for installation of 3D technology in cinemas. Hollywood is also planning to release 3D versions of 2D blockbusters.

Blu-ray is the perfect technology to deliver 3D movies to home. High density Blu-ray discs are able to carry Full HD video streams. Gamers love the immersive experience of 3D television. There is already a small 3D PC gaming market. Meanwhile a number of commercial operators (such as Sky or Orange in France) are interested in recording and broadcasting high profile sport and arts events in 3D. Importantly, there is no format war in relation to 3D display and coding.  Any 100Hz or higher 1080p display can handle Full HD 3D although in practice 200Hz is needed.

Considering all these factors Bill Forster concluded that 3D is “the real deal this time.” Yet he estimated that we are approximately five years away from the day when people will be able to watch 3D films and television without specialist eyewear.

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