3D and Not 3D: The Knowledge Returns

Last year was a wonderful one for 3D.  In terms of worldwide and domestic box-office grosses, six of the top-10 movies released in 2010 were in 3D. And by year’s end there were almost two dozen models of integrated 3D cameras and camcorders and literally dozens of models of two-camera 3D rigs.

Alice Mad-HatterThere’s just one problem: None of those 3D cameras or camera rigs — not a single one of them — was used to create any of those six top-10 3D movies. Four of the movies were animated, and the other two, including the second-highest grosser of the year, Alice in Wonderland, were converted from 2D to 3D in post production.

That’s not a fact that is frequently mentioned. But it will be mentioned next month at the 17th annual HPA Tech Retreat® in the (perhaps appropriately named) community of Rancho Mirage, California.

The first retreat predates even its sponsoring organization, the Hollywood Post Alliance. And, although it might seem natural that post-production processing of 3D is an appropriate topic for HPA, the retreat is limited to neither post nor Hollywood.

It has featured presenters from locations ranging from New Zealand to Norway and Argentina to Australia and from organizations ranging from broadcast networks to manufacturers, the military, and movie exhibitors. If someone there is from NATO, that could stand for the National Association of Theater Owners or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (both have made presentations in the past). You’ll find more on the retreat in this earlier post: http://schubincafe.com/blog/2010/01/someone-will-be-there-who-knows-the-answer/

Stereoscopic 3D has been a prominent feature of the retreat for many years. Presenters on the topic have included Professor Martin Banks of the Visual Space Perception Laboratory at the University of California-Berkeley. Topics have included the BBC’s research on virtual stereoscopic cameras. And then there are the demonstrations.

sixflags_thumbFor the 2008 retreat, HPA arranged to convert an auditorium at a local multiplex to 3D so participants could judge for themselves everything from the 3D Hannah Montana movie to different forms of 2D-to-3D conversions prepared by In-Three. Long before turning into a product, JVC demonstrated the technology in its 2D-to-3D converter at the 2009 retreat.

At that same retreat, RabbitHoles Media showed multiple versions of full-motion, full-color, high-detail holography (one is shown above right in a shot taken from Jeff Heusser’s coverage of the 2009 retreat for FXGuide.com http://www.fxguide.com/featured/HPA_Technology_Retreat_2009/; you can see it in motion here http://www.rabbitholes.com/entertainment-gallery/). At last year’s retreat, Dolby demonstrated 3D HD encoded at roughly 7 Mbps.

Virtual 3D and 2D-to-3D conversion are just two forms that will be discussed in a presentation called “Alternatives to Two-Lens 3D.” And here are some of the other 3D sessions that will be on this year’s program: 3D Digital Workflow, Avid 3D Stereoscopic Workflow, Live 3D: Current Workarounds and Needed Tools, 3D Image Quality Metrics, Subtitling for Stereographic Media, Will 3D Become Mainstream?, Single-Lens Stereoscopy, Home 3D a Year Later, Storage Systems for 3D Post, Measurement of the Ghosting Performance of Stereo 3D systems for Digital Cinema and 3DTV, and Photorealistic 3D Models via Camera-Array Capture. Participants will range from 3D equipment manufacturers to 3D distributors to the 3D@Home Coalition.

If the 2011 HPA Tech Retreat seems like a great 3D event, that’s probably because it is. But it’s a lot more, too. If you’re interested in advanced broadcast technology, for example, here are some of the sessions on that topic: ATSC Next-Generation Broadcast Television, Information Theory for Terrestrial DTV Broadcasting, Near-Capacity BICM-ID-SSD for Future DTTB, DVB-T2 in Relation to the DVB-x2 Family, the Application of MIMO in DVB, Hybrid MIMO for Next-Generation ATSC, 3D Audio Transmission, Next-Generation Handheld & Mobile, High-Efficiency Video Coding, Convergence in the UHF Band, Global Content Repositories for Distributed Workflows, Content Protection, Pool Feeds & Shared Origination, Multi-Language Video Description, Consumer Delivery Mayhem, Networked Television Sets, Interoperable Media, FCC Taking Back Spectrum, the CALM Act, Making ATSC Loudness Easy, Media Fingerprinting, Embracing Over-the-Top TV, and Image Quality for the Era of Digital Delivery.

Broadcast-tech presenters will come from, among others: ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS, Sinclair Broadcast Group, and NAB; ATSC, BBC, Canada’s CRC, China’s Tsinghua University, the European Broadcasting Union, Germany’s Technische Universität Braunschweig, Korea’s Kyungpook National University, and Japan’s NHK Science & Technology Research Labs; AmberFin, DTS, Linear Acoustic, Microsoft, Rohde & Schwarz, Roundbox, Rovi, and Verance; Comcast, Starz, and TiVo.

Not interested in 3D or broadcast? How about reference monitoring, with presentations on LCD, OLED, and plasma, new research results from Gamma Guru Charles Poynton, and an expected major new product introduction from a major manufacturer?

What about workflow? Warner Bros. will present their evaluation of 13 different workflows at a “supersession” on the subject. The supersession will feature major studios and post facilities and is expected to cover everything from scene to screen. If that’s not enough, there will be other sessions on interoperable mastering and interoperable media, file-based workflows, and “Hollywood in the Cloud.”

Point.360 trimmedInterested in archiving? Merrill Weiss and Karl Paulsen will be presenting an update on the Archive Exchange Format, a large panel will discuss (and possibly argue about) the many aspects of LTO-5, and there will even be a session on new technology for archiving on, yes, film.  At left are some images from Point.360 Digital Film Labs (left is the original and right is their film-archived version).

There will be much more: hybrid routing, consumer electronics update, Washington update, global content repositories and other storage networks, shooting with HD SLRs, movie restoration (including a full screening of a masterpiece), standards update, new audio technologies for automating digital pre-distribution processes — even surprises about cable bend radius. The full program may be found here: http://www.hpaonline.com/mc/page.do?sitePageId=122447&orgId=hopa

In short, whatever you might want to know about motion-image production and distribution and related fields, there will probably be somebody there who knows the answer. Is this information available elsewhere, at, say, a SMPTE conference?  Perhaps it is.  But next month, SMPTE’s executive vice president, engineering vice president, and director of engineering will all be at the HPA Tech Retreat.

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