On Tuesday evening, Tom Norton and I went to see Megamind in Imax 3D, and I have to say it's one of the best animated 3D movies I've seen to date. The delightful, touching, often hilarious story is an original and unexpected riff on good vs. eviland how the boundary between them is often not so clearand the voice acting by Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, David Cross, and Brad Pitt is superb.
It's nice to have connected friends. Last night, I got to attend a SAG (Screen Actors Guild) screening of Tron: Legacy, which opens in theatrical release tomorrow, as a guest of member Nina Goldin, a talented voice actress and singer/songwriter. The screening was held at the Main Theater on Disney Studios' backlot in Burbank, CA, where security was pretty tightmetal-detector wands to prevent any cell phones or cameras (or sound-level meters) in the theater.
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.
Up to the present, all 3D HDTVs have used active shutter glasses, and most still do. The two separate 3D images—one for each eye and each of them full 1920-by-1080 resolution—flash on the screen in sequence. Active shutter glasses are triggered by an IR signal generated by the 3DTV (or a separate transmitter attached to it). To isolate the 3D images to their respective eyes, the glasses alternately open and close each eyepiece. The alternating is rapid enough that even though the two pictures are displaced in time, the brain fuses them together and sees them as a single 3D image.
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.
I just saw Shrek 4D The Final Chapter Forever After...whatever in Imax 3D. (I really wish DreamWorks had settled on one name for its marketing campaign!) I went because I want to see as much 3D as possible, but after reading several lukewarm reviews, I was prepared to be unimpressed, at least with the story.
Another session in the Content Theater was presented by Julian Napier and Phil Streather, the director/editor and producer, respectively, of Carmen in 3D, the first live opera to be shot in stereo. Also on hand was Bob Mayson, president of the consumer-electronics division of RealD, which co-sponsored the project with the Royal Opera House in London.
Home theater using Force One by Sphere Custom Design, South Africa. Photo courtesy of Christaan Beukes.
Last April, I profiled the magnificent Force One 3-chip DLP projector from French maker Cineversum. Now, just in time for the holidays, the company has announced a new model, the Force Two, and 3D capabilities for both.
It seems that 3D channels are starting to make a few significant inroads in the broadcast landscape. Last week, I reported that DirecTV rolled out 3net, a 24/7 3D channel co-founded by Discovery Communications, Sony, and Imax. Now, Comcast, the country's largest cable provider, is getting in the game with its Xfinity 3D channel, which debuts on Sunday, February 20, 2011.
Today, I attended a couple of sessions on 3D in what is called the Content Theater. The material was displayed from a Sony 4K digital-cinema projector using a dual-lens RealD polarization system projecting different 2K sections of the imager for the left and right eyes. The polarization-preserving, perforated screen was from Harkness and measured 24x13 feet.
I know, I knowI'm a little late to the party. I just saw Despicable Me, even though it's been in theaters for three weeks. I rarely see a movie on its opening weekendI really hate waiting in line only to get a lousy seat right in front of a fidgety kidbut I don't normally wait this long for such a hyped 3D title. So how was it?
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.
As I wrote in a previous blog entry, there are two approaches to 3D that use passive glasses, and I explained one of thempolarizationin that entry. Here, I'll explain the other one, which is marketed by Dolby Labs and called, appropriately enough, Dolby 3D.