3D Graphics: The Technology Is There

Correspondent Carl Lindemann recaps one of the top trends at NAB.

Now that the 3D firestorm has swept through the NAB Show, broadcasters should have it on their radar. Perhaps the most amazing thing for those bracing for the possibility of a 3D future is the discovery that, technologically speaking, it’s much closer than you think. The transition to HD has taken care of much of what’s needed for 3D.

This is especially true for 3D graphics. As processing power continues to accelerate, the horsepower to add a dimension has been in place for some time.

“Our engine has been 3D from the start, but we’ve only been able to present on a 2D surface,” says Ian Davies, a regional manager for Vizrt. “Stereoscopic [presentation] is really only a small step for us to take.”

While other parts of the broadcast and production chain scramble to figure out 3D issues, for Vizrt, it’s just another feature. “The NAB show is certainly not just about 3D for us,” he says. “Other major advances are in media-asset management and repurposing TV content for the Web.”

Chyron, too, hasn’t had to make much of a leap to provide customers with 3D graphics. Better yet, customers don’t have to pay premium for 3D.

“We are treating 3D much as we did the upgrade from SD to HD,” says Chyron SVP/COO Kevin Prince. “There’s no charge for this for anyone with HyperX.”

More important is the fact that 2D content is forward-compatible with 3D.

“The templates we’ve been showing [at NAB] in past years, we’re showing now in stereo,” says Prince. “[3D presentation] reveals new depth — literally — in the designs.”

Being able to carry forward existing graphics content makes 3D all the more attractive to content creators since there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. In the 3D production of the Masters golf tournament, the 3D graphics were the very same used last year for 2D.

“The Masters is, of course, very conscious of their branding and imaging. There was a concern that they would have to start from scratch to match the high standards achieved in the past,” Prince points out. “All they had to do, however, was use the exact same templates from last year, and so there was no effort whatsoever to maintain consistency.”

At Adobe, the issue isn’t 3D graphics; it’s about how fast you can work with them. According to North American Technical Field Manager David Helmly, the unveiling of Creative Suite 5, the company’s comprehensive suite of production tools, has achieved new levels of performance.

“CS 5’s 64-bit processing makes a much better use of memory,” he says. “Also, we leverage the full power of the CPU and GPU to achieve tremendous gains on both Mac and PC platforms.”

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