Nvidia’s 3D Vision Pro

I spent a good bit of time at the NVIDIA booth talking about the NVIDIA 3D Vision Pro system. For $150, you get a pair of active shutter glasses (that are timed with the graphics card) as well as the RF receiver hub for the glasses. When combined with a compatible NVIDIA QUadro graphics card and monitor or projector, you get a really cost effective system to play back 3D content without requiring “mastered” content on say a Blu-Ray disk.  We are currently considering this technology as the basis for the DDI 3D project the “3D Exploration Station”.

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The Future of 3D by James Cameron

At the NAB Keynote, James Cameron (director Avatar, Titanic, etc)  came out with his new partner in a production services business to discuss 3D. He provided a really interesting take on 3D production. He thinks that much like how you used to have some channels in color and some in black and white during that transition, until there was only color – and now you have some channels in SD and some in HD, but you can’t really find any SD camcorders anymore – 3D will soon be just everywhere. I posted this on Facebook and a lot of my film purist Hollywood friends became incensed. But Jim was not taling about 3D for 3D sake – things flying at you from the camera (although many of his clips had the confetti scene) – but using 3D to create beautiful lifelike images. Afterall, we see that depth in real life, why not in TV and movies? They are promoting the idea of allowing 2D production professionals to shoot their movies and TV shows the same way, and then layering 3D on top to enhance. He is against the gratuitous 3D shots that marked the start of the genre. They showed some footage from the masters golf tournament that was really breathtaking – the depth of the image was astounding. The 3D cameras were mounted co-incident with the 2D cameras and the 2D camera operators commands of zoom and focus were relayed to the 3D camera. 3D specialists were in broadcast trucks controlling aspects of the 3D recording/broadcast. NAB was displaying the content using huge screens with the Real 3D passive glasses.

I’m hoping the work we are doing in DDI will help our faculty and students stay with the coming 3D technology changes because I really believe the possibility for what we do is pretty great.

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SONY’s New 3D Offerings

SONY has two versions of a new 3D video camera that is really taking 3D videography one step forward in both quality and ease of use.

The HXR-NX3D1U is aimed at professionals with 96GB of storage, XLR mic inputs and support for formats such as 24P and lists for around $3500.

The consumer version of this camera, the HDR-TD10 is identical in almost every regard with, no XLR inputs,  less storage at 64GB (but supports SD Cards or Memory Sticks) and no support for progressive formats. At only $1500, this camera’s quality and ease of use will make it very interesting for further experimentation on campus with the Duke Digital Initiative.

Right now, support for editing the content is only available in SONY Vegas, but they expect support for plugins for Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro within the next few weeks/months. The format requires active 3D glasses by SONY, but just looking at the live video feed on the monitor was astounding the depth that this format adds.

I also was able to meet with Rob Willox, Director, 3D business development for SONY as well as 3D evangelists from SONY Imageworks to plead my case for the need for a greater amount and more compelling 3D content for education. One of the benefits of traveling to these shows is to make that connection and get an audience with someone that has the ability to help shape the interest in Duke’s benefit. Hopefully. 🙂

Although it wasn’t at the show, we are very excited about the new SONY 3D Bloggie which brings HD 3D videography in a “Flip” like form factor for around $250.

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Fashionably 3D

From the soon to be doomed category – if the “glassesless 3D” revolution comes to pass – comes fashion 3D glasses from EX3D Eyeware (website not active as of this posting). I admit I like the idea since people are generally turned off by having to wear glasses so this may help allievate some of that. I actually asked them what will they do if 3D glasses are eliminated  and they said very directly, we try not to think about that.

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GoPro Go 3D

I visited our friends at GoPro since I had heard a lot of rumbling about 3D. Pictured above is a special mount that will hold two GoPros at the correct optical separation to record 3D. What was most impressive at their booth was the 3D production/editing software they have recently aquired. The Cineform software product has four different packages that add functionality and cost as you move up. The Studio product is free and offers basic functionality for gopro 2D/3D files and can export as file specifically for YouTube. The Neoscene product sells for $59 and adds plugin support for Final Cut and Premiere and can handle AVCHD or HDV format files. The neo product is $299 and adds support for most any current video file format as well as HD-SDI capture and playout and Neo 3d at $1000 offers advanced 3D functionality such as keyframeable 2D convergence and ghost busting to minimize left/right cross talk.

I saw it in action inside Final Cut and it was really cool. You get context aware menus that allow you to view files in your time line in say left eye only so you are editing what appears to be a single file – but then you can output 3D in side by side or MPE format if you have a 3D capable screen and glasses. Definitely seems like a big step in making 3D production more accessible to the average user.

3D lens for 2D cameras

Here’s a unique idea from a company from Korea, Wasol – putting a dual 3D lens in front of a normal, single lens camera for doing live 3D. It looked quite good. It puts out a standard HDSDI image that allows you to use all your “standard” production pipeline and uses the sequential field approach for 3D. For the pro Ikagmi camera pictured here, the cost is around $56k, but they are looking into developing similar systems for prosumer cameras that should be much less expensive. This is still in research so there’s no info available on their website. If you are interested, I have their one sheet I can share with you.

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JVC’s New Prosumer 3D Camcorder

The JVC GY-HMZ1U was introduced at NAB and is expected to be released in Fall 2011. At an estimated price of around $2500 it will offer professional features comparable to SONY’s HXR-NX3D1U such as 24P recording and XLR mic inputs with less on board storage at 64GB (but does have a memory card slot for SDXC/SDHC flash media). The camera does offer full HD for each “eye” which could provide richer detail than other cameras that split the HD frame in 1/2 between each eye.

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