Last Thursday, Samsung held a day-long workshop for TV reviewers on the campus of DreamWorks Animation in Glendale, California. About 25 journalists assembled in the studio's motion-capture stage, which is painted the same Munsell gray as our own video-testing lab and ringed with cameras to capture the motion of actors wearing bodysuits with reflective dots all over them. Fortunately, we were not asked to wear such suits!
Aside from the RealD passive/active 3D flat panels, Samsung had some other great demos in its booth at SID DisplayWeek. One of the most interesting was a 70-inch, 240Hz, 4K (3840x2160) 3D panel that uses active-shutter glasses. The custom footage of a woman hanging out at an oval house in the woods looked gorgeous, though all the motion was very slow, and I did see a few artifacts in the stairs during one pan.
This week, the Society for Information Display (SID) is holding its annual DisplayWeek confab at the Los Angeles Convention Center, where the future of display technology is front and center. Among the biggest announcements at the show was a partnership between Samsung and RealD to develop a new type of 3D flat panel that uses passive glasses but does not cut the vertical resolution in half like other passive-3D flat-panel technologies.
Last Friday, video guru Joe Kane visited Grayscale Studio, where Tom Norton and I conduct most of our display reviews, to show us his latest test patterns, which are designed for 3D displays. The images were generated by a VideoForge test-pattern generator from Audio Video Foundry and sent to an Accell HDMI switcher/splitter, which fed two flat panelsa Samsung UN55D8000 with active glasses and LG 55LW5600, which uses passive glasses. (Interestingly, the Accell switcher/splitter can pass 3D from the VideoForge, but not from a 3D Blu-ray player.) The results of these tests were very interesting, to say the least.
Tom Norton and I saw Rio in 3D last week at our local AMC multiplex, which offers something called Enhanced Theater Experience (ETX) with a larger screen, digital projection, and a beefier sound system. I guess this is somewhere between a conventional theater and Imax, and it was quite good overall.
On my way out of Vegas, I had to stop by the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop where the History Channel series Pawn Stars is shot. Unfortunately, Rick, Old Man, Big Hoss, and Chumlee weren't there at the time, but it was cool to be in the store seen on the show, which is one of my favorites these days. Awesome!
I received an e-mail on the last day of NAB announcing a demonstration of a new glasses-free 3D display technology from a company called 3DFusion, so I had to check it out before heading back to L.A. The company has licensed some 800 related patents from Philips and developed its own algorithms to solve the problems of limited viewing cones and crosstalk while using a lenticular filter on a flat-panel screen.
One of the clearest trends at NAB was the dramatic drop in the cost of creating 3D content, bringing this capability within reach of hobbyists and wannabe stereographers. Sony showed two inexpensive 3D camcorders, the HXR-NX3D1 ($3400, available this Summer, shown above) and HDR-TD10 ($1500, available end of April). Both record 1920x1080 in AVCHD format to internal memory (96GB in the NX3D1, 64GB in the TD10), and they have a dual-format slot that can accept Memory Stick or SD memory cards. They can also copy files directly to a hard-disk drive from a USB port with no need for a computer. The TD10 records at 60i (60fps interlaced), while the NX3D1 can record at 60i or 24p. The only other difference is that the NX3D1 provides XLR audio inputs and generates time code.
One of the biggest digital-camcorder announcements at NAB is Red Digital Cinema's new Epic camera with 5K (5120x2700) resolution. Why 5K? Because it's one better than 4K? Well, sort of. Having 5K resolution allows content creators to crop or downscale to 4K with better-looking results.
Yesterday, I ran into David Reisner, digital-cinema consultant and recent guest on my Home Theater Geeks podcast, who told me about an exhibitor called Volfoni, which is showing hybrid active/passive universal 3D glasses at NAB. Intrigued, I sought them out.
For outstanding blacks, nothing I've seen at the NAB show comes close to the Sony BVM-E250 25-inch and E170 17-inch OLED monitors ($26,000 and $17,000, respectively). One of the most amazing demos at the show was presented in a totally blacked-out room with three pro reference monitorsa BVM-L231 LCD, BVM-E250 OLED, and BVM-A25 CRT.
In a secret, blacked-out room, Panasonic was demonstrating its new professional reference monitor, the TH-42BT300, shown here between last year's TH-42PF11 to the left and this year's TH-42PF20 on the right. In addition to a 42-incher (~$4000), the new model will be available in a 50-inch size for around $5000.
A short movie shot on the Sony F65 8K camera was being shown on the new 56-inch SRM-L560 4K LCD monitor. The detail was super-sharp, but the contrast was not greatthe accompanying placard spec'd it at 1200:1, big whoopand much of the movie consisted of fairly dark scenes. The same material looked much better from a Sony 4K digital-cinema projector on a 16x9-foot Stewart StudioTek 130 screen.