3-D's coming, and the IBC is out front

Home-based format hot topic at annual confab

AMSTERDAM -- Stereoscopic 3-D has found its global audience.

The topic -- as it relates to production and post, theatrical exhibition and television broadcasting -- will explode at the 2008 International Broadcasting Convention, which opens here today.

An estimated 50,000 delegates from around the world will be introduced to an onslaught of new technology aimed at taking 3-D from an experiment to a viable business.

Notably, equipment manufacturer Quantel wants to take in-home 3-D to a new level with the unveiling of a stereoscopic 3-D broadcast server.

3-D content creation, another critical component to the movement, also will get a substantial boost.

IBC will host the unveiling of 3-D filmmaking tools from a significant number of leading equipment manufacturers, including Avid Technology, Autodesk, da Vinci Systems, Digital Vision and the Foundry, all of which are scheduled to preview postproduction technology with 3-D capabilities.

Entering the fray with a product introduction is 3Ality Digital, the Burbank-based company behind "U2 3D."

Through a new strategic partnership with Quantel, the company will begin to roll out its in-house-developed toolset, starting with a 3Ality-branded stereo image processor that Quantel will market and distribute. Co-development efforts between the companies also are planned.

All of this is good news to those who believe that a limited number of 3-D filmmaking tools -- and in turn a limited amount of content -- has hindered the 3-D theatrical movement.

Many also contend that a home market is required for theatrical success, and interest in 3-D in the home is growing.

"Our TV industry is starting to think beyond introducing HD and starting to turn to what is next," said John Zubrzycki, a principal researcher at BBC Research. "But it won't be a big rush at the moment. The big question for broadcasters is, how do you broadcast 3-D efficiently?"

The BBC has started to test the waters. In March, a group of stakeholders participated in an experimental 3-D satellite broadcast of the Six Nations rugby championship, which was transmitted from Edinburgh to a TV studio in London. Three sets of stereo cameras were used for the broadcast.

"We'll be doing more experiments," Zubrzycki said. "Our interest is in studying how the whole 3-D chain works."

The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, a partner in IBC that sets international standards, recently began an initiative with a goal of setting home 3-D standards.
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