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3-D + OLED = beautiful

I saw the future yesterday, and it is spectacular. TVLogic had the world's first 3-D organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screen on display, and with a contrast ratio of 100,000:1 and brilliant colors, it looked downright delicious. Sure, it was only a 15in screen, but from little acorns mighty 3-D oaks grow. Even Sony had an OLED monitor, its PVM 740, in a darkened niche next to critical evaluation CRT and LCD designs at its exhibit, but it was only 7.4in. Apparently the manufacturing technology for making larger OLED screens is still being worked out, but many think these glorious gems of a display will be the future for not only the most demanding production work, but also as lightweight portable displays for the consumer market.

NAB announced this year's attendance was 88,044, with at least a quarter of them from overseas. That results in a cosmopolitan throng of people, with people saying "Sorry I bumped into you" in half a dozen languages as you plow through the aisles.

I love searching out the smaller exhibits overshadowed by the established giants, and one of the most interesting was Miracube. It has the first 3-D camera-mounted monitor, called the 3D ViewFinder Box. It can combine the output of two cameras via HD-SDI to give a videographer the option of switching to a Z-space display in the field. It won't replace the efficiency of a true stereographer on big studio shoots, but indie productions and event videographers may find it invaluable.

A fascinating discussion evolved during a special press luncheon hosted by one of the just two companies that so far have announced they will be marketing consumer 3-D displays that use the cheap polarized glasses. (Names are being withheld to protect the innocent.) Just as an aside, this is the technology used by Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) for its successful home-delivery 3-D experiment via set top boxes conducted last year. As is well known, creating a polarized system for home use costs more to construct, and sell, than the relatively simpler frame sequential designs that require much more expensive liquid-crystal shutter glasses. So manufacturers save production costs but home users will be faced with active glasses that not only cost more than $100, but also are useless unless you remember to recharge their batteries. This has been a major topic of debate at NAB 2010, and this observer thinks it may be a penny saved, pound foolish threat to the widespread adoption of home 3-D.

But it could lead to some funny scenes. Common wisdom predicts that sports bars will drive the introduction of 3-D broadcasting by drawing fans to their first experience of Z-space on the small screen. Imagine the fun of a hundred rabid fans trying to watch the Big Game through active shutter glasses and bumping into each other when they forget to take them off. Add plenty of happy hour alcohol, and you can only wish the Marx Brothers were still around to take advantage of the comic potential.

On two non-3-D fronts, I'm glad to see that EditShare has decided to relaunch its venerable Lightworks NLE system as an open source offering. That means anyone will be able to write their own apps for this intuitive jog/shuttle-controlled edit system.

Blackmagic Design released its portable Pocket UltraScope, a nifty little device that can turn a PC equipped with USB 3.0 into a multiscreen waveform monitor, vectorscope, and histogram display. That's a godsend for editors working in the field.

Another worthy new addition to the 3-D arsenal is the Viz Trio OneBox from Vizrt that provides live CG and 3-D graphics from a single PC with two graphics cards onboard. In fact, both the VGA preview and final program output can be viewed on the same PC. It is just one more brick in the foundation of practical 3-D production.

Now we just have to see if anyone will want to watch it. More to come.