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Optimizing 3D Conversions

Galaxy Broadcast, a division of Galaxy Light & Power LLC, is a broadcast equipment rental company and transfer house specializing in high-end format and frame-rate conversion. All transfers involving conversions are run in-house but conversions for live events require converters on site for incoming and outgoing links, either within the OB trucks or at a transmission facility, as required.

We chose FOR-A FRC7000 and FRC8000 frame rate converters for HD as their performance was far superior; especially with conversions to or from 23.98/24PsF where converting the fast action can be a challenge. The FOR-A converters offer comprehensive manual control of the conversion parameters. This allows the process to be fine-tuned for the nature of the program content, giving a substantial performance edge.

With increased demand for 3D, we have been able to offer high quality, realtime conversion with two FOR-A converters working in conjunction with our in-house development, the DynAxis 3D co-processor.

DynAxis ensures that the motion within the left and right-eye images is analyzed together and the conversion process is synchronized and correlated at any given point. This process ensures that cuts are always synchronous; improves the conversion quality achieved with fast moving objects, and considerably reduces the incidence of artifacts that cause 3D inconsistencies.

Our approach has been used by many major film distributors for conversion from 29.97/25PsF footage to 24/23.98PsF for 3D Blu-ray Disc mastering and cinema distribution. The DynAxis/FOR-A conversion process delivers a high quality artifact and inconsistency-free 3D conversion that we believe is unrivaled by any other process currently available.

Galaxy offers both of the two FOR-A frame-rate converter models. The FRC7000 is an HD-only device that will convert 1080 to 1080 at all of the I, P, or PsF frame rates or 720 to 720 at 50 or 59.94P. The newer FRC8000 is based on the same conversion technology but also offers up, down, and cross conversion – plus it includes an intuitive touchscreen user interface that can make manual configuration far quicker and easier. Both models offer up to two channels of Dolby E processing, comprehensive embedded and AES audio handling, and timecode conversion.

Which FRC we use at any given time depends on the application. Both the FRC7000 and FRC8000 use the same algorithms for HD-to-HD conversion, so either model can be used for the majority of transmission path applications and two of either can be paired up with the DynAxis co-processor for 3D work. We often favor the FRC7000 for transmission work as it does not have the touchscreen user interface that curious clients like to fiddle with!

The FRC8000 comes into its own for applications requiring up, down, or cross conversion including a fair amount of sports events requiring converting 1080i to or from 720p at differing frame rates. The touchscreen user interface has a distinct advantage where many different forms of conversions may have to be set up in quick succession within the same job; for instance, as required when switching between multiple remote or return feeds for the North American coverage of the recent Royal Wedding.

Unlike most other devices, the FOR-A converters provide comprehensive adjustment of the conversion process parameters. So, as a part of our rental support package, we endeavor to obtain details in advance about the set up requirements and expected content material. Then we can make sure the converters are ready to deliver optimum performance.

We have specific settings for the majority of sports including Tennis, Golf, Soccer, and Ice Hockey that can be applied to the converters as required. In theory, unless the customer needs to change parameters for any reason, the devices can almost be regarded as ‘plug and play’ units.

Obviously we get on well with the converters but FOR-A continually strive to enhance the quality of these products. It is very pleasing that they offer free software updates for the converters throughout their life.

Andy Grant is the Chief Executive and Senior Engineer at Galaxy Light & Power LLC. He has been working in the broadcast TV and film industries for over 22 years.