3D Advances at NAB Show

LAS VEGAS—Despite the format’s slow uptake, the demand for 3D content continues unabated and for producers and programmers, there are plenty of new 3D wares to examine at the NAB Show.

Nearly 190 exhibitors are offering one or more 3D products and/or services, especially in Central Hall. User-friendliness and functional integration will bolster cost-effectiveness in the 3D business model. These themes will also be interwoven into the conferences, workshops, super sessions, screenings and demonstrations throughout the show.

A new glasses-free 3D projection system with a 200-inch display, developed by Japan’s National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, is expected to draw big crowds to the International Research Park throughout the show.


A new glasses-free 3D projection system developed by Japan’s National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, is expected to draw big crowds to the International Research Park throughout the show. Located in the North Hall, the International Research Park will showcase dozens of new and emerging technologies.

The demonstration will feature a 200-inch 3D display utilizing almost 200 HD projectors. The optimum viewing area can accommodate 30 people. “We propose a large glasses-free display of natural 3D images on large screens using multi-projectors and a special diffuser screen,” said moderator Masahiro Karakita, associate director of NICT. “This display can reconstruct natural, life-size 3D moving objects such as cars and humans, using many parallax images.” Karakita will moderate a panel on the display at the conclusion of the Broadcast Engineering Conference at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 19, in Room S228 of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The glasses-free demo concludes a half-day of BEC sessions on broadcast 3DTV, and will include discussions on adaptive audio encoding for 3DTV, Korea’s use of MPEG-4 and MPEG-2 to improve bandwidth efficiency for 3DTV, the use of 3D CG and other 3D tools to improve 3D baseball broadcasts in Japan, and the importance of pre-testing all 3DTV programs beforehand to prevent negative viewer responses to “bad” 3D.

Another session, “Transmission of Second Generation 3DTV: Challenges, Risks and Opportunities,” considers advanced coding techniques like scalable and multiview video coding as tools for broadcasting 3DTV at full HD resolution, versus the lesser status quo. SMPTE’s pivotal role in developing consistent standards for 3DTV delivery while ensuring global interoperability, is also on the agenda.


Underscoring one of the show’s themes of finetuning the 3D business model, celebrated director James Cameron and Vince Pace, cofounder of Cameron-Pace Group, will review achievements and future plans thru a fiscal filter in “The Secrets of Making 3D Profitable” at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, April 16 in Rm. S222 of the LVCC, part of the Creative Masters series. Immediately afterwards, in “Titanic to 3D: 279,360 Frames,” three special effects veterans who worked on the 3D retool of the film will relate how a battalion of 450 3D artists converted the original 2D “Titanic” into stunning 4K 3D in 60 weeks, just in time for its world premiere earlier this month.

P+S Technik will present its PS Micro Rig, which it says is the world’s smallest pro 3D mirror rig.

Cameron, a leading advocate of HFR (higher frame rate) 3D, may show 3D footage from his record-breaking recent deep-sea, mini-sub descent to the bottom of the Marianas Trench, for NatGeo TV, in the CPG booth in the outdoor exhibit area (OE2390).

CPG will also unveil its new Shadowcaster 5D (3D + 2D) mobile production truck. “It is fully integrated with all of our Shadow 5D technology and is ready for end-to-end 5D production anywhere,” said Pace. The Gerling truck will demonstrate Shadow 5D camera rigs using CPG technologies like ShadowCam, FrameLinking and Smart Rigs.

Another 3D production pioneer, 3ality Technica, will also unveil a new 3D truck, developed in collaboration with a leading mobile production leader. The truck and its full complement of 3ality stereo rigs will all utilize 3ality’s Intellesuite, which auto-calibrates many 3D settings for all of their TS series 3D rigs, plus the Quasar, Pulsar, Neutron and Atom. “With Intellesuite we can integrate and automate key functions on all of these very different rigs,” said Sakea Manning, vice president of public relations for 3ality Technica in Burbank, Calif.


Simplifying 3D production, essential to the 3D business model, will be a pervasive theme at the show. Products like The Bi2Vision P3 “true optic” stereo rig by Intelligent 3D Systems, exemplify this philosophy. This “smart 3D rig” dynamically calculates “optimal” interaxial camera spacing and parallax alignment, while the operator is shooting and moving around, leaving him free to zoom, pan and focus while interaxial spacing is adjusted automatically.

The integration of multiple functions in one 3D device is also a key theme represented by the SI 3D SMART System (Stereo Monitoring Analysis Recording & Transmission). This multitasking stereo recorder by Silicon Imaging and One Beyond, combines the functions of a digital recorder/monitor/test signal generator/paint box/iPad/camera controller/3D analyzer, and more. “The SI 3D Smart System uniquely blends many key 3D functions into one integrated, interactive 3D system,” said Ari Presler, vice president of Silicon Imaging, a Niskayuna, N.Y.-based developer of high resolution cameras and imaging technology. “This eliminates cumbersome cabling and saves time and money on setups.”

Integrating functions and downsizing 3D gear are important factors to Phil Orlins, coordinating producer, ESPN 3D. “From a 3D perspective, the most crucial thing is finding the smallest possible high-quality cameras,” he said. “Since we’re pairing cameras—whether it’s handhelds, SkyCam or robotics we put in tight places—we always need high-quality images while reducing 3D camera size so it’s not much larger than a 2D package.”

In response to this requirement, P+S Technik will present the world’s smallest pro 3D mirror rig at NAB. At only 4 kg., their new PS-Micro Rig is compatible with all micro cameras like the SI-2K. However, 3D camcorders offer the most compact, integrated, and mobile option in a non-mirror rig. This year, Panasonic alone will feature at least three working models of 3D camcorders: the 3DA1, the company’s first 3D camcorder, their newer, more compact and affordable HDC-Z10000, and the full-sized shoulder-mounted AG-3DP1, which records AVC Intra to P2 cards.

Sony will also offer compact 3D camcorders and cameras including its shoulder-mounted PMW-TD300, and the smaller, less costly HXR-NX3D1U 3D camcorder. Their ultra-sensitive PMW-F3 is being used increasingly with many 3D rigs, along with their HDC-1500 and P1 (2D) broadcast cameras.

Feature and doc producers are also on the hunt for ever more compact 3D cameras, albeit cine-style. They will certainly be keen to examine Meduza Systems’ Titan, which captures 10-bit 3D in 1080p at 24 fps to 120 fps, in 1K mode. It also features precise motorized inter-axial and convergence adjustment with iris and focus control, and may be the closest thing to RED’s “Epic”-caliber 3D camcorder at NAB.

One non-camera technology which may undermine the need for some of these 3D mirror rigs and camcorders in specific cases is JVC’s new 2D-3D workstation. Developed with 20th Century Fox, it is designed to expedite theatrical quality 2D –3D conversions, improving on technology first employed in JVC’s 2D3D1 3D convertor featured at the 2010 NAB Show.