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Europe’s first 3D TV channel

October 1st, 2010

Sky 3DEurope’s first dedicated 3D television channel has launched in the UK.

Sky 3D will broadcast for 14 hours every day from around 9am and will show a selection of programmes including premier league football, and films.

At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas all the big names unveiled new 3D products and was billed by some as a saviour for TV firms.

A monthly subscription fee will be £61 with the cost of an average 3D television around £2,000. Subscribers who pay for the top Sky World HD package will be able to get the service free.

Since the launch of James Cameron’s 3D movie film Avatar late last year, 3D has been in the news like never before.

Most cinemas have at least one 3D film on show all the time, while the launch of this new channel will let people experience it at home for the first time. John Dollin, who’s been developing 3D TV for Sky for the last two years, is confident that it has the wow factor.

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Toy Story 3 Set For Edinburgh Opening

May 14th, 2010

Edinburgh International Film FestivalOne of the most anticipated films of the year will open the Edinburgh International Film Festival in June. The special 3D Gala screening of Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 3 will draw huge crowds and throw a spotlight on the already popular and successful EIFF.

The latest installment of the Disney/Pixar franchise, which again features the voices of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, will have its screening on June 19th, a day after its debut in the US. The exclusive Special 3D Gala will celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Toy Story trilogy.

Toy Story 1 & 2 attracted huge followings and became an instant hit with young children, teenagers and adults alike. The showing of the third installment in 3D should bring a new dimension to the franchise and offer the audience something completely different, with visual thrills and spills. With that said however, we’re sure the film would be just as successful without the 3D effect, as both 1 & 2 installments broke records and become instant classics with fans in 2D.

Toy Story 3

Following on from the hugely popular screenings at recent Festivals of WALL•E and Ratatouille, this is further evidence of the strength of the relationship between EIFF and Disney/Pixar. It also highlights the animation/graphic tie-in with festivals and how such big budget features are anticipated and often out-doing those films shot in real-life and 2D. Whether animation and 3D is the future or not, currently they reign supreme and both the public and festivals just can’t get enough!

The Edinburgh audience will be first to see Toy Story 3 (3D) outside of North America.

Read more about the EIFF and Toy Story 3 on the EIFF website: http://www.edfilmfest.org.uk/news/2010/04/toy-story-3-to-eiff-and-beyond

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Broadcast Video Expo and The Production Show 2010

February 19th, 2010

bvelogoAnother February winds down and with it another successful Broadcast Video Expo at Earl’s Court, UK. With attendance up 9% to 12,450, all attention now looks towards NAB and IBC where we’re sure to see the 3D trend on show, plus other techno themes following on from BVE (mobile TV, free online content, DAB2, Sony’s unveiling of new cameras…).

Attention-grabbing presentations and demonstrations discussing smooth streaming, boosting production, HD Workflows, Special Effects were well attended and where ever you turned equipment stands were busy with interested spectators.

Welcomed back after a five year absence was The Production Show, in which suppliers, screen agencies, health & safety services and training facilities (over 60 exhibitors) were on show to network with the industry community. Along with these stands were seminars, touching on a varied selection of topics from 3D in Post to Production on a Budget. One particular seminar topic discussed on the Tuesday was regarding iphone broadcasting and live streaming and the realtime web (given by Videojuicer’s CEO, Steve Jelley) and was particularly insightful.

Pairing BVE and The Production Show gave the international attendance – and far travelling Brits – the opportunity to criss-cross between the technology sector and the production sector. Two markets that serve the media industry in TV and film through television production, television commercials and the motion picture market, “where technology is changing production acquisition.”

If you’re a supplier and attended BVE or The Production Show (or both), then let us know your thoughts…

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Party Time for Sky with HD

November 13th, 2009

Sky TV have gone all festive and are in bountiful spirits, giving their UK high definition customers a complimentary ticket to watch Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Angels & Demons and The Hangover on Sky Box Office HD in their homes the same week that the films are being released on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK.

As part of the Sky+HD Party campaign, Sky hope for customers to share the Sky+HD experience with friends and family. To help the party give customers the best experience, Sky are offering a complimentary Sky Box Office HD movie (worth £3.91) and a £10 Marks & Spencer’s voucher. Now that’s just not any voucher, that’s an M&S voucher (said with a seductive commercial voice).

Sky+HD Party

Sky+HD Party

So are we all ‘HD Ready’?

HD services are already on-air in some parts of the world and they are about to be launched across the UK. To view HD you need a high definition display with HDMI or DVI connectivity, and there is an industry ‘kite mark’ to show whether a particular display is ready for high definition broadcasts.

High Definition TV (HD) is part of the latest digital revolution. HD television brings cinema quality into the home with greater picture quality and sharper images. Like 3D promises (look to the 30th Oct blog entry), there is the hope that such advancements produce a more colourful, exciting and immersive experience when watching television and films.

Sky HD

Sky HD

Standard definition digital TV displays a picture consisting of 720 by 576 pixels. This means the screen is made up of slightly less than half a million points of light.

High definition can display a picture of 1920 by 1080 pixels – well over 2 million – which adds clarity to scenes never before possible with either the old analogue system or standard definition digital.

Large television companies such as the BBC, Virgin, FX, ESPN and the National Geographic Channel have already launched themselves in high definition, magnifying the vibrant colour and quality of such events as the NFL, NHL, NBA, and many more American acronyms that are too tiresome to type. The National Geographic Channel – or NGC – has aired it’s HD content to great success: Alien Worlds, Earth Shocks, Alaska’s Fishing Wars and Inside Nature’s Giants – where a team of experts examine the nauseating anatomy – in full – of an elephant, crocodile and a giraffe, there’s even a 55-tonne whale.

Pixel Value Comparison

Pixel Value Comparison

ESPN HD soon launches on Sky+HD, with the service now offering customer’s access to up to 35 HD channels. That’s a lot of high definition sport! You can see them sweat, up close and in detail.

The Sky+HD Party offer (http://sky.com/hdparty/) is subject to availability and limited to the first 10,000 parties.

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Is 3D Here to Stay This Time Around?

October 30th, 2009
3D glasses.

3D glasses.

If there is one major thing to have come out the technology sector this year, then it must be 3D. Reports from NAB, Las Vegas, and IBC, Amsterdam, suggest that the 3D experience is with us like never before (3ality and Pace largely leading the way), and available on new and exciting platforms.

The dual-end cameras are setting the pace and SONY and Panasonic both have their single-lens 3D prototypes awaiting release (capable of capturing HD images). The Usain Bolt 150m run in Manchester in May – captured in 3D by Sky and FilmNova, a division of Nova International – showed how recording 3D television has advanced, and in late-November, Channel 4 will host an entire week celebrating 3D viewing, with The Queen in 3D, Derren Brown’s 3D Magic Spectacular and The Greatest Ever 3D Moments all given the 3D development.

These are predictions and statements however we have heard before. 3D is no new generation thing (in 1922, Power of Love was released, featuring the “anaglyph process” which involved simultaneously shooting two views of a scene and then printing the film in two different colours and combining them with layered film on one reel). It has been tried, tested and of course, developed over more than fifty-years. Advancements in both the cinematic world and that of gaming have magnified the watching and playing experience. It is immersive and playful, but so far, audiences have only been moderately interested in releases, despite the highest quality 3D ever available at the IMAX 3D and REAL D cinemas.

Panasonic's 3D HD Camcorder Prototype.

Panasonic's 3D HD Camcorder Prototype.

Robert Zemeckis’s Beowulf (2007), Journey to the Centre of the Earth (2008), The Rolling Stones’ epic performance, Shine a Light (2008), and the strangely eerie bubblegum charm of Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds (2008), have all proved only relative success with cinemagoers. Furthermore to the debate, won’t such films lose something when watched at home? Predictions suggest a drop in DVD sales, and not just because of piracy and illegal downloading but because something is lost from the big screen to the small, and if we are talking about 3D, then surely the loss is greater as the experience cannot be replicated at home.

3D, on any medium, has the ability to add depth and layers to the screen (called depth perception or Stereopsis <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereopsis>), despite cinema being its premium tool. One of its greatest assists, and something perhaps best left for adventure land rides – exciting the children and horror lovers – is its capacity to throw things at you: fists, sticks, blood, and limbs. Others see it as a “distracting technique”, removing you from reality and thus, losing the believability of the story and destroying the illusion.

A 1950s 3D viewing cinema audience.

A 1950s 3D viewing cinema audience.

A contrasting view is that this is an encouraging movement for 3D technology. There is the ability to offer something home television and computers cannot, but this is still a double-ended-sword; you fight piracy and illegal download theft, yet run the risk of affecting sales revenue, because whether or not a DVD release comes with a pair of those trendy Buddy Holly glasses or not, it can never compare to the immersive experience of watching it on the big screen.

Then there are the industry trendsetters, those “techno-chasers”, the Spielberg’s, Katzenberg’s and Lucas’ fuelling the fire, jumping in their studios like agitated children, just waiting to give old classics the 3D makeover. Currently we await Pixar/Disney’s Toy Story 3D, a film so perfectly executed the first time around that there is fear adding a 3D layer may be a step too far. Time (and ticket sales) will tell.

So far, at least, the last three generations have all had the 3D movement, and so far, it has proved nothing more than a retro gimmick from an industry under threat. Validating the medium could be James Cameron’s much anticipated Avatar (Fox Studios). Until then, it remains stuck with the novelty value and a steep admission rate.

I leave you with a quote from director Sam Mendes when asked if he would ever consider working in 3D, to which he replied, “I already have. It’s called theatre”.

Avatar (HD) Trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1_JBMrrYw8&feature=fvst


moonlighter-3d-0091 jaws up_poster_allchar

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Single Lens 3D

October 6th, 2009

This week in Japan, birthplace of all things techno, sees the opening of CEATEC, the show for all things techno.

Sony single nens 3D cameraOne of the most important demos, will be of Sony’s 3D video camera which uses just one lens.  3D camera systems and rigs have appeared hugely over the past 12 months, all, quite naturally, have used some means of combining images from two lenses into one TV picture.  One lens for each eye, to create the depth of natural 3D.

Sony have gone one better, or maybe that should be gone one less, better.  Their prototype camera uses just one lens, eliminating the need for complicated mounts, rigs, focus and zoom calibrations etc.  The 3D is created by a complex arrangement of mirrors to split light from the lens, to be recorded by left and right sensors, and later viewed with polarised glasses.

Sony 3D CameraThe camera will also shoot up to 240 fps, making it ideal for sports and other application, requiring smooth 3D images of fast moving action.

3DTV truly seems set to become the next big thing as also at CEATEC, Panasonic, Sony and others, preview large 3D TV’s and 3D Blu Ray player, also from Panasonic.

Will we ever keep up??!!

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Beyond 3D

September 29th, 2009

Apple iGlassesWith 3D TV about to creep into our media rooms, the ever technology eclipsing Apple, have just been granted a patent for beyond 3D, (not its actual name!)

3D specs may never be the same again, as these aren’t just 3D specs, they’re individual video displays you wear on your eyes.  What might become known as the iGlasses, Apple have had these in development for three years and they’re now ready to move into the design labs.  The idea is that the glasses are fed with video via fibre optic cable from the laser unit carried elsewhere, so the specs are very light. Programming will come from your iPhone or iPod.

They will create a totally immersive TV experience great for movies and games, similar in idea to the early ‘virtual reality’ goggles and helmets, but high quality video and not as clunky.

When and if you’ll be able to buy these is unsure, as Apple patents many ideas which go into the design labs never to come out, but unlike 3D, this is less of a sequel, more a new genre.

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3D For C4

August 20th, 2009

colorcode 3d pictureMy eyes are about to go funny. Channel Four is to run a week of programmes in 3D in the autumn which can be viewed on regular TV’s, but you will need the glasses…from Sainburys.

Way ahead of Sky’s plans to launch a 3D channel next year, Channel Four is to run a series of specially commissioned 3D shows and classic 3D movies at peak time.  Shows include a Derren Brown Magic Spectacular, a compilation of 3D clips from movies including Jaws 3D, topped-off with two sixty minute films, The Queen in 3D, featuring 3D newsreel footage of the coronation and a special, shot at the Garter Ceremony in June.

3D GlassesChannel Four are using an American 3D system, ColorCode, where the glasses have amber and blue filters, through which are viewed a fairly regular colour picture with minute variations giving depth and colour information to the eyes.  Watching it without glasses, you see a regular colour picture with slight fringing and more contrast.  Amazingly the system works as well on computers and even mobile phones!

Sainsbury’s will be giving out the free glasses a week before the fun begins.  Trick or Treat??

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The 3D Specs Are Slipping

July 9th, 2009

3D AudienceA few weeks ago, our blog pf April 16 suggested the rise of 3D was of purely novelty value and being an example of, ‘the next big thing’ well it seems to be coming true.

Recent box office data reveals that where the same films were running in both 3D and normal, 2D, interest in the $2 – $3 more expensive, 3D version, is declining.  For example, when My Bloody Valentine came out in January, the 3D version made 6.4 times more than its 2D version. Coraline’s February release, made 3 times more for its 3D version.  However, by the time Ice Age 3 came out in July, the 3D made only 1.4 times more than the regular version.

More 3D films are due for release during the rest of the year including, Final Destination in August and culminating in James Cameron’s Avatar in December so we’ll see whether the exhibitor’s rush to invest in screens and digital projectors will pay off.  Or whether it really was the studios creating a short term buzz, to encourage theatres to buy digital projectors, saving them the long term costs of producing and distributing traditional prints.

I guess once you’ve experienced a new thing a few times, its novelty wears off.  I wonder when that’ll happen with sound?

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3D, It’s Not Just For Kids

July 8th, 2009

Ice Age 3D Poster3D, once thought of as a novelty for showing kids animations including Polar Express and Ice Age, is finding a bigger and more diverse market.

Recently, a live performance of opera Don Giovani, was satellite broadcast in 3D, to audiences in five cinemas in Paris, Avignon and Brest.  Through 3D glasses, probably not the opera kind, audiences could experience the show as if they were actually at the theatre – well nearly.  I wonder if they were suitably dressed?

Meanwhile, in Copenhagen, 3D and a 24 metre curved screen is giving a breathtaking view of the universe at the Tycho Brahe Planetarium.

And in London, BAFTA, has gone 3D in its 220 seater, where it will be issuing re-usable 3D glasses, so as to, ‘continue its mission to be environmentally friendly’.

But will they be showing My Bloody Valentine?

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