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A post-mortem for n3D – insiders weigh in on 3DTV’s outlook (updated)

June 26, 2012

An intense debate in response to the 6/23 posting on the demise of DirecTV’s n3D channel has yielded some illuminating insights around the challenges facing 3DTV today. Since the commentary is only accessible to members of a particular Linkedin 3D industry group, I decided to re-post them for others to read (unedited, beginning at the top). Commenters are only identified by their initials. I’ll be updating when new comments come in, so check back in occasionally. Feel free to add your own thoughts or observations!

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AC – Sad news indeed. Is it shortsighted or a sign of the economy?

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AM – That’s a real shame. As a side note for me in the UK although I’d love to subscribe to Sky 3D, there’s no way I am going to pay for their to their complete package at some outrageous monthly cost in order to get the 3D Channel “free”.

So due to this situation I don’t have access to a 3D channel even though I’d happily pay for it on a single channel monthly subscription. Perhaps the cable/satellite providers should consider a different model for 3D channels?

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CC – DirecTV says lack of content is the reason for the cut back in programming. What do others think? Is this the real reason the lack of advertising, the small customer base of 3DTVs, poor subscription models or other factors?

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AC – Sorry CC, not buying that one! Why is it that there is so much content buying going on in Europe and Asia. China is scooping up bunches! LG, Sony, Samsung and Panasonic are all featuring 3D channels on their smart TVs.

Some of the 3D content on DirecTV was excellent while others were just plain bad 3D. And this is not my critique, it is the voice of many others.

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SS – I’m not surprised, I have DirecTV, they show mostly documentaries and repeat them incessantly. Can you imagine how slowly color TV would have caught on if all they showed were repeats of documentaries? They still have two “free” 24 hour channels, ESPN and 3Net and the pay movie channel Cine3D.

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ML – First off, this is a great discussion and I appreciate all the contributions. Per AC’s comment, I’ve seen enough great content from the very talented producers we work with to know that this is not a “lack of content” issue. It’s a lack of budget issue.

As an aside, I think that the small installed base argument is working itself out due to the relatively low incremental cost of purchasing a 3DTV vs. HDTV. As everyone in this group knows, about 10% of all new flat-panel TV sales are 3D today and this % has doubled from the year prior. I don’t see this slowing down anytime soon considering the 3D hardware commitment made by the Sony’s, Samsung’s and LG’s of the world.

To CC’s point/inquiry, it seems to me that the key challenge is attracting marketing dollars to ultimately underwrite production costs – aka the traditional TV model. The 3DTV industry cannot rely on the limited budgets of OEM-supported channels (e.g. Sony’s 3net, LG’s Cinema 3D, etc.) forever. This is unsustainable and one of the reasons why programming has been so limited.

As soon as we can bring major ad dollars to the 3D format, we’ll no longer be “pushing on a string.” The supporting metrics are readily available – 3D’s higher recall, engagement and conversion rates are staggering, so the ROI is very calculable.

What’s left to do now is “tell the story.” Thankfully, that’s what most of the folks here do for a living. So let’s get out there and tell it…

(yes, I know. “rah rah 3D!”)

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ML(2) – Agree that this is a great thread. Not surprised that it happened but what immediately came to mind when I read it was just how committed ESPN, Sky and 3net remain. This week ESPN is shooting the X-Games in 3D and announced Wimbledon. Sky shot the French Open in June. And, 3net just powers forward– over 250 hrs of 3D last year.

Not saying that 3D TV model does not have challenges. Think this group is addressing many of them. But, we need to address those that are powering through and seem to be committed for the long-haul.

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FR – Of course it is due to lack of content !

But broadcasters could have more contents if they were agree to pay its price. S3D Contents are there, S3D producers and crews are there, but producing a content is not just for fun ! We have to live on our jobs !

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RB – Need to combine with 2D!!

The main problem with the business model of having separate channels for 3D is that they are separate channels for 3D. The established commercial programs are in one place and the non-established 3D programs are in another place. If the 3D programs were on the regular channels marked with a logo that says “This program is available in 3D” loads of people would be watching.

What I would REALLY REALLY like to see is a new Star Trek series in 3D! I am sure the tech folks that love to watch that show would flock to it.

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AL – Commissioning and pre-sale amount should go up to match the extra cost of 3-D content production. Subsidies can also help (think of Singapore and Korea, providing government help with the extra overheads of 3-D). The channels can’t complain about the lack of content if they’re not investing in the cost of them. In these troubled times, producers just can’t soak up the extra costs and those that can only do so by seeing the loss as a way to advertise their services. And then some producers are deferring their fees, which means they might get paid later in the form of back-end.

The very same thing is going to happen with 4K and HFR – no wait, that is going to be totally different! Eight times the content for no extra cost!

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SC – Great thread. Really important subtleties being teased out here.

It is the lack of content. You have to really look at what that means though. It’s not that there’s not good content being made now. It’s that there hasn’t been decades of 3D content made *before* today that’s the problem. There’s no ‘library’ of content yet.

Think of most of what’s on TV – think of all those speciality channels. The majority of 24/7 television is not first-run new content. It’s re-runs. It’s a lot of Seinfeld & Friends. It’s a lot of movies from 1950-2011. Even the inexpensive reality shows run in re-runs. Then add the Duck Soups and the Sportscenters and Tosh 2.0s – they’re compendiums of footage already shot elsewhere – the whole chain of which would have to be 3D for them to work.

Certainly the full and complicated ecology of audience, producers, and distributors have some changing to do before 3D reaches anything like a freely-flowing broadcast television sized market. But I think it’s short sighted to say, at this point, that we’re beyond the lack of content issue.

The real problem, as I see it, is that everyone’s thinking in Hollywood-size money when they think in terms lower-budget product and distribution. We need more realistic expectations that reflect the age of the industry. Hollywood 3D makes Hollywood money not because it’s 3D, but because it’s Hollywood. Home & Gardens TV only makes HGTV money, whether it’s 3D or not.

The expectation of high-budget returns for low-budget product the audience does not yet show demand for is a fallacy. There’s only going to be real money showing up in 3DTV after there is more money in 3D TV.

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RS – I agree with all of the above observations. Not enough platforms, not enough content, not enough money.
The development that might cause concern in the Indie Production sector is the ‘content partnership’ between SKY 3D and Atlantic. The respectable amount of money that was being put into this sector in the UK has now been put in one wholesale amount into a new ‘super indie’ that will make content for Discovery, Disney and MTV. Hope this turns out to be the right move for the industry over all – while the big boys suck up all the money – there’s nothing left at the edges for the rest of us. 2 years ago 10 companies were making 3D content for SKY 3D – now there is only one…

I have been acutely aware of the smaller and smaller budgets. BUT there has to be a quality threshold surely – or we will end up with endless 3D Reality TV – self shooting producers running around with AG 3D A1’s (The Sony PD150 era is reborn for 3D!).

I am all for the democratization of production but at what cost?

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FR – @RS : There is a huge space between indie producers with low costs and shooting everything with the AG-3DA1…

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RS – @FR. I agree completely!

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AL – Do realize that SKY3D is not there to help the community of 3-D producers or even 3-D itself. As is clear from the fact one needs to subscribe to the HD channel bouquet to get SKY3D, it is a channel designed to sell the HD channels and to provide a tentpole advertisement focus for the SKY platform. The partnership with Atlantic falls completely within the vertical integration model of SKY and it is in no way a surprise this is happening.

To be honest, it does guarantee maximum budgets for the documentaries produced and thus maximum quality as well. As such SKY3D is promoting the medium of 3DTV commercial broadcasting on a larger scale for potential future additions of 3-D reality channels and content. The public broadcasters are the ones to frown upon at the moment – where are they in relation to 3-D?! Hiding behind incoherent technical standards and EBU/SMPTE indecision?

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RS -@AL – Of course it makes sense for SKY to follow their business model. I was just pointing out It’s just a shame that less money will be available. It certainly doesn’t help confidence and building new 3D production companies – and as you rightly say – while the BBC sits on the fence, 3D production is stalling – as we have all seen the dramatic downturn over the last 12 months. Ah well – at least there will be Wimbledon in 3D this year…

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AM – I wonder if Sky would generate more income offering Sky 3D as a stand alone £10 pm subscription channel and/or offer it free if you subscribe to the “HD channel bouquet”.

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SC – @AM that is unfortunate. It would be nice to see how 3D subscriptions fare “in the wild” on their own, rather than see if the package they get bundled with is what viewers will pay for.

But for the people independently producing – how have are the VOD and digital distribution channels going? I doubt you can get up front money, but the distributors seem to be proactively seeking content.

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AC – I must add that I agree with RB. When a viewer tunes into his/her favorite tv show and their 3DTV automatically switches to 3D because te show was recorded in both 3D/2D (or as Admiral Cameron calls it-5D) then the industry will see true growth across all platforms. It’s all well and good that we are out there in the trenches creating our little 3D hearts out, but until Jane and Joe Public are fed a steady diet of 3D it won’t matter. We need a cross over hit to propell the industry forward.

The real question is, where will it come from???

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SC – AC’s point here is spot on. Really what you need is the first modern era indy-3D hit. With slightly more in production costs for the a product that can show (as intended) on fewer platforms, it’s not likely to be a TV show. What’s unfortunate though is that even when a 3D indy movie hits… we’ll need more than one for the cross over to happen.

It’s like we need a THIN MAN series in 3D. Like a small budget series of films with recurring characters? Long enough to distribute through downloads, but consistent enough to generate and show a recurring audience .

The thing is though, “what’s special about it” would have to be its use of 3D (in order to bring viewers to 3D). If it just looks like ‘a good movie no matter 2D or 3’, there’s no reason to assume the audience is craving 3D over just another good movie.

Weird challenge.

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AL – Well SC, and there you have hit upon the very existential question of the raison d’etre of 3-D. What is it that makes a 3-D movie more desirable than the 2-D version? Perhaps the 2-D version should simply not exist. That will put a serious dent in the distribution profit of a film or TV show, but it really is the only way for 3-D to truly take off if the industry is serious about it as a medium. And I don’t think the industry is, judging by its actions.

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TH – Great discussion, all.

Let me just add a global viewpoint here. Alexander briefly mentioned it already above. It is important to realize that this is a US incident. The 3D industry has had a tough time in this market, and judging from our business (we sell 3D content), the US is probably not even in the Top5 in terms of licensing revenues indie 3D filmmakers generate. In many (not all) places abroad 3D is doing very well. Due to govt support, cheaper hardware, stronger hardware sales/replacement rates/the economy, better production ecosystems, etc. But in my mind, there really is no other market with better 3D content than the USA. Here the few buyers have been extremely selective and can benefit from the best relationships with the studios, blue chip doc makers, sport franchises … nowhere else is so much/so good quality 3D content in the market, Yet, in places with limited content, 3D is doing much better. Something to think about !

Re: lack of content much has been said here already so rather than repeating/agreeing just one point: there is NO indication anywhere that 3D content production is stalling. Not sure where this idea comes from, but this is clearly wrong. Sport is huge. Animation and documentaries are 3D almost ‘by default’ now. Hollywood will soon release some non-action drama type of of films in 3D (Life of Pi, Great Gatsby), which is a huge signal. I see new 3D content from all corners of the world every week. The equipment and the filmmakers are getting better all the time. And the price premium for producing 3D is dropping fast (+8% in case of Prometheus, +20% for many non-fiction genres) while the additional income opportunities from box office alone will make 3D a no-brainer.

And yes, this discussion goes back to the typical chicken-and-egg problem (no content, no TV, vice versa), that many new technologies face. imho, publicly traded companies are governed by quarterly financial results and this makes taking a long term view much more difficult. In markets where planning cycles are longer (think Chinese government 5 year plans), or where one payTV incumbent owns 80% of the market (think UK), industry players can introduce 3D at a slower pace without looking at subscriber numbers every week. Also there are markets where consumer behaviour leads to additional avenues to monetize 3D production (4D in Korea, 3D BluRay in Germany), …

In short: From a 3D content producer’s point of view 2012 is about 5 times better than 2011.

I am no expert on DirecTV but I wrote a blog entry about the death of a French 3D channel 6 months ago and the same may be true in this case:

“You cannot satisfy your audience with a few fresh hours per week and a high rate of re-runs. Instead it would have been wise to invest into acquiring 2-3 year broadcasting rights for various genres. Documentaries, Arts/Performances, Independent Films, Animation. Many large corporations focus too heavily on blockbuster movies (mostly action) and top sport events. Both are very expensive and have a limited shelf life. In fact, most sport events lose their entire commercial value after the initial live broadcast. In comparison you can achieve a much larger and more diverse content portfolio with small pocket change. This lineup will also satisfy a wider demographic (not only the male in the household)”

http://3dcontentblog.wordpress.com/2012/01/04/why-the-3d-initiative-of-canal-failed/

Interestingly this article still gets more views than any of my better blogposts – I guess we just all like to read/discuss about failed initiatives 🙂

Best, TH

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AC – TH, Bravo! Well stated and directly to the point. The US still believes that the entertainment industry revolves around them. The point being that 3D is alive and well and the Sun does not revolve around the Earth! Time for some new views on planetary alignment.

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DG – Not that long ago, North America contributed about 60 to 65% of a product’s (like a feature film’s) income. Today, the cumulative global territories now represent about 60% to 70% of a product’s income.

This is why movie content is being dummied-down even further these days. The need to appeal to a mass audience has now switched to appealing to a mass global audience made up of members from different cultures.

However, taking each country individually, the USA still represents the largest market share in the world. China may represent a bigger one someday soon–presuming we can work out its inherent business kinks. But if you can’t get your money out of that country, what good is it?

North America has lagged behind in embracing 3D (especially 3D-TV) mainly due to our bad economy. If you don’t have a middle class with disposable income, whom are you going to sell to? The 1%? Good luck.

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AL – DG, that is an excellent bottom line point. The squeezing of the middle class will be the death of many industries, but the 1% simply doesn’t care. They’re grabbing the money and running. After the dust has cleared and hopefully policies changed and industries rebuilt, perhaps we should consider new models for film and television production. Simultaneous production of multi-territory versions is one idea: shooting a film with a Chinese cast, and Indian cast and an American cast for those particular large markets is not impossible. It adds complexity and footage, but if all other shot parameters are kept equal, it should definitely be possible. Perhaps motion capture and life-like CGI is one day going to enable this more easily, but for now that might be a solution.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking: Italian Spiderman!

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CC – I summarized and paraphrased your excellent comments in my column today. www.display-central.com

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ML – Thanks, CC! Since many of the core issues we’re facing domestically have been raised in this thread, I’d challenge this group to now identify, distill and (ideally) socialize some practical solutions to help the industry “course correct.”

Thoughts?

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TK – I tried to sell them a lot of narrative 3D professional content. They didnt return calls and werent interested then plead “we dont have any money to pay you or produce more, cant you just do it and give it to us for possible revenue share later?”.

All 3D channels came at us with that sob story or ignored us. Not surprised they are going out of business. No content but unwilling to buy or finance any…

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DG – @ TK: I believe that was because the 3D Channels did not generate enough advertiser income.

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AC – DG, the equation is simple. More content = more Advertising! DirecTV wanted the Producers to shoulder the financing load and take almost peanuts for the results, that is a one sided equation. The end result = ZERO for DirecTVless!

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MG – Very interesting thread! It has taken about two years and millions of dollars for the industry to realize that having separate channels with independent content for 3D and bad 3D productions or 2D to 3D conversion will not pay the bills and is actually slowing down the adoption of 3D. The industry took what we called the dead end road, and it seems they are now hitting the wall, let me explain: Having independent and exclusive 3D content deployed in Side by Side format or in exclusive channels means clearly that such content will ONLY be seen by a subset of those who happen to have a 3D enabled SAT STB and a 3D TV at home. Such subset is definitely increasing but it is doing so at a slow rate for three main reasons: a) The 3D content is not enough, so this is not appealing for a regular user (repeated content) and only some early adopters are interested, b) Some 3D content is not of good quality so when the user happens to watch bad 3D it gets visual side effects and a clear disappointment, they get the bad experience mainly with 2D to 3D conv. or bad 3D native and c) The high cost and lack of standardization on a simple thing as the shutter glasses made it hard at the beginning for a user to move forward on a decision to buy a 3D TV set with only two shutter glasses when they have a family of five and friends and they can’t watch the scarce content because companies were selling each pair at $100+. Now companies are lowering down the price of the shutter glasses, passive glasses are less expensive to acquire/replace and LG has been promoting some alternatives to it. Bad 3D content will exist as long as many producers think they can just point and shoot without any further quality control about the geometrical rules and visual restrictions; this will get better over time. 2D to 3D realtime conversions should disappear entirely, they are bad.

The key is to capture, encode and deploy native 3D content to service simultaneously the 3D and 2D installed base at full HD resolution, as Robert Boudreau suggests.

Some will argue that there is a creative decision to shoot separate productions for 2D and 3D just because they have to be different, but that is not exactly true: we have already seen samples of ESPN 3D productions where one of the feeds was one of the views and the viewers didn’t even notice that was the case. We see the same thing happening on the cinema, where many keep using one view as the 2D version, some claim minor production changes, but they don’t worth it. As we all know, the 3D cinema is getting great acceptance, and it could be for that same reason: content is available and they give the user the option to watch the same content in 3D or 2D.

Service compatible formats like 2D+Delta / MVC optimized with Advanced Profiles used to encode high quality 3D productions to service both groups of users with the same stream in full HD is very likely the ONLY way to make 3D profitable. With one single production for 3D and 2D, the 3D content will be available in larger quantities, this will ensure that 3D advertising will reach both groups , ads created in 3D will demonstrate every kind of products enhancing the product experience, broadcasters can charge more per advertising deployed in 3D (like they do with prime time), the user will be motivated to acquire a 3D set and enjoy the experience knowing that many of their favorite programs are “In 3D where Available” and the user still has the option to watch it in 2D or in 3D. This will make 3D to go mainstream.

While 2D stills separate from 3D regarding production, encoding and deployment channel then the adoption will be slow as a snail and appealing as a lizzard.

If the industry really wants to ramp up then they should make an announcement saying something like ‘from now such content will be “In 3D where Available”, the same content to service 3D and 2D with the same stream, ubiquitous and agnostic. This will motivate the users to upgrade faster.

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FR – The fact is channels first think 2D and then ask themselves about where to place 3D cameras.
We have to do the exact opposite :
Think 3D and then add some specific cameras for 3D. This is the only way to have quality on both 2D and 3D version.
I do that on every capture I make and always have good stuff on both versions.

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DG – @ AC: I’m not defending Direct in the least. But I’m sure you all noticed the slow-down after December 2010. Everyone was moving forward well until the nets were disappointed with 3D-TV set sales. We all know what the manufacturers did wrong in promoting the process, but it was immediately after that when things started slowing on the 3D-TV Channel front.

However, I believe that the situation will improve and stabilize. As I’ve said many times before, 3D is not going away this time. The general public *will* find 3D-TV and embrace it. But 3D-dedicated cable networks will *not* likely be the means of delivery.

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AC -DG, I know that you’re not. And yes, the proprietary greed got the manufacturers to shoot themselves in the foot while trying to beat each other. I also have always believed that true adoption will not cone until you can turn to one channel and be able to watch 2D or 3D just by selecting it!

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AC – It’s just sad to see the US being eclipsed by so many other places in the world who are buying up 3D content like crazy. The States have really fallen behind in adopting 3D for TV.

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FR – I think that having the choice between a 2D and a 3D version of the program is the wrong thing to do.
Did we have the choice when color TVs came to the market?
No. People who had B&W TV watched in B&W and people who had color TVs watched in color. I think this should be the same with 3D. And little by little, when there will only be 3D TVs, channels who choose to be in 3D have to let 2D go.
The biggest problem is not 2d or 3D version. The problem is to create a rendezvous for viewers.
Which 3D channel have real shows like the “Late Night” or “Saturday Night Live” in 3D?
Which channel have regular shows and a real program base?
actually, channel broadcast sometimes a show, sometimes a movie, sometimes a doc, but where are program directors ?
if 3D channels want to have advertising values and regular viewers, they have to build regular programs, and shoot them only in 3D. And As I said before, people who have 3D sets, will watch them in 3D, people who does not will watch in 2D.
But stop thinking that 2D version is the key to bring people to 3D.

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FR – And after all, when Direct TV slows down, many channels open in Europe and China. USA is not the entire world!

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JS – The fact is that there is a fair amount of content out there. Over 300 films, piles of shorts, lots of docs, late night stuff, music videos, TV shows. And to Matt’s points companies like ESPN, 3D Net keep cranking it out. The main problem now is the stockpiling of the good content when it comes to licensing / syndicating it on any level which would get the consumer eager to put on his glasses. The studios, Discovery, ESPN, NatGeo… they are all just keeping the good stuff to themselves waiting for the metrics to make them feel more comfortable about opening the vaults. Its a classic chicken and egg scenario and in the interim the consumer becomes increasingly convinced that 3D outside of the cinemas is just a gimmick. What really needs to happen is that the content owners and channels need to come together and work out revenue models which enable a much freer flow of content based on viewing habits today. Once this happens, the viewing habits will evolve… As it stands right now there is no real business model in place to allow a 3D channel to acquire the content which is out there in a manner which reflects any real business methodology… and in a manner which will get the consumer excited about spending a few of his 6 hours of daily TV viewing with 3D glasses on.

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FR – You watch TV 6 hours a day???!!!
Amazing !!!

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CD – no one’s saying it.. so I will “Home made Pron” is where the future of 3DTV is.
Ok. a bit extreme that statement, but in a broader sense, it’s home made content that will drive 3DTV viewing.

Sure movies, and TV shows in 3D will supplement it, but just as in the 2D world, todays consumers are not passive anymore. everyone with an iphone or indeed a camera phone is creating content.

With 3D phones and camcorders, and the realism that Stereo3D offers, NO one and I mean NO one will be complaining about wearing glasses to watch their home made “masterpieces” in 3D…bedroom videos or vacation videos.

Besides that… expanding on what AC says ” I also have always believed that true adoption will not cone until you can turn to one channel and be able to watch 2D or 3D just by selecting it!”…

I firmly believe, yes, the consumer should have a choice of *when* and *if* they want to don a pair of glasses on at any given time during a 3DTV show.

example 1) Pause. rewind that Sharon stone basic instinct moment, put 3D glasses on… press play on the DVR.

example 2) Slow motion of the Fifa/Premier league Goal highlight in Stereo 3D

example 3) maybe I want to watch this news snippet of a rescue exercise in 3D. (the CNN crew possibly shot the snippet with a Sony TD 300?) giving an option for people with smart TVs to choose via a remote control.

So how do the audience do that?
http://realvision.ae/blog/2011/10/embed-live-stereoscopic-3dtv-content-in-a-2d-signal/

Regards

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SC – CD’s last comment not withstanding (digital pron drove video tech on the web, too), let me ask a different question:

What if the audience demanding 3D content via network/cable TV just isn’t big enough yet?

If the audience isn’t demanding it by agreeing to pay more for the new service, then why would large scale distributors incur the extra-expense of distributing it? Simple economics says they won’t. Therefore, Direct TV goes down.

If simple economics says they go away, why are the other ones up at all? ESPN and 3NET said very early they aren’t in 3D to make money now; they’re in it to stake brand identity in the new arena early. But they both are minor parts of huge companies, so they can afford lose money while the presumed uptick in 3D viewing happens. They’re “loss leaders” in the traditional sense.

That being the case though, they’re not going to have real money any time soon to pay us for our productions.

… Anybody having luck through iTunes, Amazon, Netflix, VOD, or Digital Distribution yet?

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MG – FR, respectfully, I guess you got it wrong. Users HAD the option to watch black and white productions in color televisions and color content in black and white television sets. That triggered a simultaneous service of content viewable by every user (agnostic) and reaching every TV set independently if it was an old Black and White or a brand new Color Television. The same production was servicing both installed bases, the user got engaged by the magic of color and how different and good the content looked in color. Techniques for color production changed the way to make TV, illumination was different, makeup was different, many things were different and the industry supported and inclined all their initiatives to create content in full color. The user had the choice to watch the same content in black and white or color, once they watched in color they never wanted to look back to a black and white TV set. So they DID have the option.

Exactly the same happens with 3D: If the industry fully promotes the generation of stereoscopic 3D content then it will became mainstream, if they don’t do that then having a 3DTV set and 3D channels will be no more than the equivalent of an expensive gadget and a nice piece of equipment to have.

Shooting separate productions, encoding separate streams and using separate channels to deploy 3D is prohibitive, unprofitable and unsustainable…

The key to unlock this situation is to have one single production in 3D, encode it once and deploy one single stream in one single channel to service both the 3D and the 2D installed base. Then it will make business sense, every element of the 3D ecosystem will participate and be profitable and it will be the user’s decision, and the bet is: once they see a lot of good content available in 3D they will never want to go back to a 2D TV set, just like happened with the transition from Black and White to Color.

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TH – @JS, Well said. It is true that there are loads of 3D feature films but we don’t get to see them (theatrical aside).
@SC, yes, that’s how we generate most of our revenues for our 25 producers. Not broadcast, but VOD and OTT. I also just launched a 3D BluRay label to enable indie 3D producers to generate cash this way, too.
@CD, adult 3D has been around for a long time, loads of content, but i am not sure that it really is so popular. i might be wrong, but i think mainstream 3D adoption will be driven by 1) glasses-free 3D 2) top sports 3) top hollywood movies . we have to be realistic: our indie productions won’t make or break the entire industry.
@FR, yes correct. I wrote a much too long post on the international perspective earlier in this thread. US is not even in the Top5.
@all: whether its ‘good’ for the industry to broadcast 2D and 3D simultaneously is a difficult question to ponder. surely the answer differs depending on whether you are a manufacturer, a producer or a consumer. nevertheless I would be interested to hear more about how it went with BW/color transition. maybe a new thread?
one of the best technology that i have seen so far for this is the tile format using HD (1080) bandwidth. if you have a 2D TV, you’ll get the signal as 720p 2D, if you have a 3D TV it automatically recognizes and shows you 720 side by side -> 3D. quite clever. disclosure: i know the guys behind it but have no commercial affiliation.

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CC – I fully agree with MG’s comments and observations. I suspect however, that this shoot once/deploy in many formats approach will come with more mature glasses-free TVs and a viable service capable broadcast format.

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SC – @TH, thanks, that’s good to hear. Given the general low return from network 3D distribution, we’ll be looking to VOD OTT ourselves. Especially if you’re making product with potential global appeal, it sounds like the smart way to go anyway.

But for those suggesting we simply output the left-eye of the 3D shoot as our 2D… it’s not that simple. 3D likes to shoot differently than 2D, and a piece optimized for a 3D viewing enjoyment doesn’t necessarily have the same framing or edit-pace of a conventional 2D piece. You *can* just shoot the way we’re accustomed in 2D with 3D equipment, but it’s not necessarily going to produce the best 3D experience. Same thing if you shoot with a 3D mindset, the 2D version should be ‘worse’ than if you’d planned and shot for 2D.

One interesting thing about the b&w-to-color transition in films: color originally was considered a useless gimmick that distracted the audience in movies. It wasn’t until the Wizard of Oz came along — and the audience finally had a piece to go “yes! this is what color does!” — that color became mainstream in movies.

At least in movies, it tends to be the case that a technology *needs a piece to show the audience what’s new and special* before the tech’s use reaches any sort of mainstream demand.

What we need is the piece that makes the 3D experience special.

***

MG – Thank you CC. The good news is that we do not need to wait until the glasses free 3DTVs reach the mature level, this can be done now using what is called an Advanced Delta Profile ADP of the current 2D+Delta/MVC codec. We could be deploying over the air, cable and satellite one single stream that services both the 3D and the 2D installed bases simultaneously.  When the moment comes an advanced version of the same codec called CVD will also service the glasses free 3DTVs. By now this stream will be servicing 2D and 3D up to full HD 1080p per view using 2D+Delta MVC ADP.

***

CD – for technical curiosity, are there any images that show a comparison of 2D+Delta MVC?
of particular interest for me is how much fidelity is lost (if perceptible) when the delta info is used to re-construct the right eye image.

I’ve seen images from some cameras that record MVC (Sony) and the right eye never matches the left completely. This maybe due to AVC compression etc. I’m no expert, but i’d like to see how good ADP is.

Secondly if indeed there is a gain in (perceptible) resolution of 2D+delta material versus side by side (960 x 1080 px) which has been extapolated to full frame HD of left/right.

The reason I ask the second question is to see if psychologically, the eye/mind can tell the difference in pixel resolution in a stereoscopic image, should an image be recorded at a reasonable bit-rate and at the same bit-rate and codec in a) frame compatible (side-side) v/s 2D+Delta.

Thirdly does the delta process introduce any stereo artifacts when the image is re-constructed.

Would be great if someone has some test images to view.

Regards

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3 Comments
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