What an educational month January 2010 turned out to be. 6 major trade shows and conferences.
As expected, the need for more data storage is increasing exponentially. As my family and I recently marveled at (real, not Las Vegas) Egyptian culture of 3000 BC in Luxor, it is hard to imagine that all the written hieroglyphic knowledge then can now easily fit into a $5 USB thumb drive today.
Storage Visions was about storage, so perhaps there was some hyperbole in estimates that at we “consumed” between 2 and 20 times more digital storage in 2009 than the year before. It was projected that we might need perhaps 100 times more storage in 2010 to save our files, pictures, videos, HDs, e-libraries, and metadata—much of which we might never use nor open again. We have morphed into “data-hoarders,” seeking solace in gathering endless data. We used to think that a kilobyte was huge, and a megabyte was immense. Today, post facilities are forgetting words like gigabyte and terabyte. Welcome: petabytes, exabytes and beyond.
As we move from SD to HD, and to 4K, 3D, 8K, Cloud Storage, from e-books to e-libraries, recording everything in life (as in Total Recall), we will need even more storage capacity, more security, protection, back ups, access, and metadata. We will shift from disk storage to solid state devices (SSD). The speed of sound and electricity is not fast enough as we shift to the speed of light. Welcome fiber optics and super lasers.
Forget gigabytes and terabytes. Useful numbers nomenclature coming soon:
The term “Consumer” in CES is perhaps inappropriate. When I see conference descriptions like IEEE/ICCE, THX certification, 3D Tech Zone, 3D@Home, HDMI 1.4, 4K, 8K, digital health, robotics, FCC, etc., I feel like I’m at NAB, SMPTE, or IBC. CES was big; it occupied all or most of the Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas Hilton, the Venetian, Sands Expo, and numerous hotel suites. Yes, I saw that the Adult Expo occupied part of Sands Expo, but 3D at CES proved much more seductive, really.
CES 2009 trends were:
- Being Green, ecologically friendly,
- Evolving command, control & display,
- Embedded Internet,
- No Strings attached, wireless
CES 2010 trends to watch are:
- New, better screens find sweet spot. Large flat screens < 7 mm thick.
- Customization and Personalization. Empowering the individual. Omni Apps.
- Going Beyond HD: 3D going mainstream, onto 4K and beyond.Content perpetual connectivity with the internet
Smart phones are getting smarter. Typical smart phones now include broadband, 3G, messaging, calendar, stills, HD video, internet, GPS, alarm, calculator, social networking, music and movie library, widgets and apps. Then there’s 4G, motion sensing, accelerometer, built-in pico projectors, wireless battery charging, universal remote control, biometrics, multi-processors, cameras with 20 megapixels or more, and Dailies streaming on iPhones. 3D cameras on cell phones are not too far away. Some even suggest language translation, health monitoring, nutrition guides, and more. Google’s Android phones are aspiring to Apple’s iPhone and Blackberry phones. There were at least 50 manufacturers of various eBooks.
Smart electronic pedometers, the size of a fat coin in our belt or pocket, monitors and approximates physical activity for the day. This motion-tracked data is translated to equivalent calories burned for the day, week and month. With a month’s battery strength, a weekly USB recharge and download triggers an email containing daily prompts and suggestions from a pseudo-personal coach or trainer about daily calories burnt, activity report based on age, weight, sex and health target. Of course we all already know that we should be more physically active, watch and be more selective with what we eat, sleep regularly, relieve stress, and all that. Will it monitor our intake of craft-service on set? Will it warn us to stay away from the donuts.
It was a delight to see a feather-weight 4 bladed rotary aircraft with a micro camcorder that can be flown by anyone, even without an IFR FAA pilot’s license or flight simulation training. The micro sensors, accelerometers, gyro, motion detectors, leveling sensors, and micro CPUs were smart enough to let kids, as well as overgrown kids at CES, hover and fly it effortlessly in a very limited air space. This will be available in a few months for a few hundred dollars. I want several of these.
LCD, plasmas and other large screen display are now only ¼” thick, run at 240-480 Hz, are much more energy efficient, ecologically green, brighter, and have full color spectrum. Sharp went from a 3 color engine system (RGB) to a 4 color system (RGB+Y). This pushed colors to go from a billion to a trillion colors. To put this in perspective, a billion seconds is almost 32 years long, whereas a trillion seconds is almost 32,000 years.
HD video with yellows and gold truly stand out. The cyan envelope spectrum is also expanded. Almost all 3D HDTV manufacturers have a deal with a famous 3D Hollywood studio. Buy a 3D HDTV and 3D Blu-ray player this fall and exclusively get a 3D Blu-Ray like “Monsters VS Aliens”, “Up”, “Cloudy …” or “Avatar” in glorious full 3D, depending on the brand of 3D HDTV and 3D Blu-ray player you buy. All major flat-screen TV manufacturers offer stereoscopic 3D with active shutter type 3D glasses. It is understandable why flat screen manufacturers pushed for active or shuttered 3D technology (XpanD glasses $50-$200) rather than the non-flashing passive polarization technology (<$1 per cardboard eyewear). This is because active shuttered Infra Red 3D glasses will work with the existing flat screens as long as the higher 240-480 Hz promote improved eye comfort. Passive 3D polarized technology requires a major change in flat screen manufacturing as done by micro polarized Arisawa Xpol laminated stereoscopic 3D flat screens. The Blu-Ray Disc Association (BDA) has uniformly adopted Multi-view video coding (MVC), an extension of H.264/MPEG-4 AVC as the 3D HDTV Blu-ray carrier. These 3D Blu-ray disc players and displays will be backward compatible, thus will play and show 2D Blu-ray as well. Large OB van teams (NEP, All Mobile, Telegenic UK, etc.) are ripping out their trucks, and replacing 2D gear with stereoscopic 3D gear. They are utilizing 3D technology from Pace Tech and 3ality Digital. A big majority of video games on Sony PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo and others are on a mad rush to make more of their top games available in stereoscopic 3D versions.
“Total Recall” and “My Life” automatically records everything in life. A camera in our eyeglasses or on our pocket video records everything we do almost 24/7. Great for people needing medical attention, those on probation, and those wanting to digitally story tell everything on social networks to total strangers. There are privacy issues. Massive data storage will be needed.
Does recognition of face, clothes, GPS, etc.
Medical health monitoring and recording, in clothes or in body.
X Box has 500 million games sold. $20 Billion spent in retail.
Zune HD mini screens.
SED. Self Encrypting Devise.
Automatic metadata generation.
Wireless USB on drives.
Smart data recovery.
Blu-ray 3D player. Available June 2010.
82” 3D LCD. Active glasses only. <$4000 since July 2009
The Mitsubishi 18 wheeler expandable truck boasts various 3D monitor types.
LCD HDTV. 480 Hz, only 6.9 mm or ¼” thick! Web enabled.
3D HD LCD TV.
3D BluRay player.
Cell phone with micro Pico projector.
15” OLED HDTV 3.2 mm thick.
Smart phones with micro pico projector, dual screen,
LED home lighting, no more traditional tungsten nor fluorescent types.
3D HDTV 480 Hz total or 240 Hz per eye.
3D. 2D to 3D video converter in real time, with 143 x faster CPU..
Wireless HD, Wifi certified, DLNA Digital Media Server Level,
USB movie playback, video phone, Net TV channels
4K x 2K flat screen planels.
BluRay 3D HD player
Cell Integration. TV, computer, phone, social networks, etc.
PIONEER. Into audio car devices only. GPS, concert like audio.
52” – 68” LCD HDTV. 240 Hz. added Yellow pixels.
Quad pixel technology. RGB to RCB +Y.
from a billion pixel HDTV, to a trillion pixel HDTV.
New household bulbs like Tungsten and florescents, but all LED.
LCD HDTV with Internet connectivity, green, power miser,
3D BluRay HDTV player,
108” flat TV.
3D HDTV flat screens. Better, brighter, blacker blacks, energy efficient,
thinner, flat, wireless connection.
Full 3D Blu-ray HDTV players. IPTV imbedded.
A Stereoscopic 3D camera. 2 x HD twinned cameras with built in
convergence and interaxial controls for instant 3D output and recording. $21K
Direct TV partnership in 3D.
Jon Landau, Producer of “Avatar” spoke, supporting Panasonic 3D.
Seamless interoperability with Skype, twitter, facebook, social networks.
Lumix stills cameras.
Better audio, consumer small camcorders,
High speed (slow motion) stills camera.
Converts stills to ala-paintings, works of art. Snapshots to painting converters.
Projector. Mini size, mega power. 1.7” thick, 3000 ANSI Lumens.
Laser and LED hybrid projector light source.
SAMSUNG had the largest booth in CES history.
Wants to sell 10 million TVs in 2010.
3D HDTV plasma with internet TV, Aps,
3D Blu-ray players.
2D to 3D real time video converter.
Green eco footprint. HDTV player,
Has a deal with Jeffrey Katzenberg of Dreamworks
And also Technicolor, Fred Rose, Chairman and CEO
NX10 stills camera. Medium size but with full size features, HD movies,
Sensor is 2X 4/3s format, <$800, available Mar 2010.
SONY. New theme: Make. Believe.
3D deals with Discovery, Imax and ESPN.
3D HDTV LCD.
3D Blu-ray players. 5.1 Audio, Internet, WiFi enabled.
3D HD TV. 240 Hz
AutoStereo 3D, no glasses 3D.
Fuji was first to deliver a dual lens / dual sensor stereoscopic 3D stills and video pocket camera. Convergence control is easily done thru a small button. A 3D portable screen is a nice option.
Another nice toy for the weekend mad mechanic is a sub $1K pseudo CNC machine. It actually digests a thick plastic polymer wire, melts it, then layer by layer smartly assembles any 3D object like a machine part, camera part or molding.
Body gesture control interface. Smart capture cameras outputs a 3D model of human hands and body gestures, which are equated to commands or instructions. These 3D models then interpret whether we want to change channels, open video phones, shuffle data, superimpose screens, etc. The human control gestures at the “Avatar” command center’s multi graphic display is in fact doable today.
2D to 3D real time converter box. About a dozen booths showed PCBs or black boxes that converts 2D HD to 3D HD in real time. My wild guess is that they probably use an algorithm utilizing differential motion vectors and depth mapping analysis added to 2D depth map (Z) to determine and assign various depth levels. In simpler terms, as we pan a camera, the scene elements nearest us seem to move much faster that the elements further away. During a pan, the kid in the foreground appears to move a lot faster than a supersonic jet flying in the distant background. So an algorithm can assign slow moving objects as further away, whereas fast moving objects are assumed to be much closer to us.
Yes, we see converted 3D video from 2D, sort of. Obvious errors with false 3D appear, but this technology will surely improve over time. Although I doubt whether 2D can be miraculously converted to world-class 3D acceptable to Disney, Pixar or to James Cameron. Ted Turner may be remembered more for his attempts to colorize black and white films than his $1 billion donations to the UN. As owner of TNT, and with titles from MGM, Warner Bros., and RKO, he was, according to the Museum of Broadcast Communication, “colorization’s most outspoken advocate, but has now quietly stopped releasing colorized movies. The main legacy of colorization is the National Film Registry, established by Congress in 1988 in response to the colorization controversy. The Registry is a list of films, selected by experts and expanded annually, that, if colorized, will have to be labeled with a disclaimer. Ironically, the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on compiling the registry might be better spent on actual film preservation.”
Ford Motor Co. Pres and CEO Al Mulally, formerly with Boeing Aircraft, showed a production model smart 41 mpg car with broadband, advanced GPS, aviation cockpit like controls and displays, superior safety, collision avoidance, advanced interconnectivity, entertainment that rivals first class airline seats, and smart phone. Well, if we’re worried about the safety of distracting activities like talking on your cellphone, texting on your smartphone, eating fast-food while driving or looking down at the GPS screens, then this idea from Ford seems to make recalled Toyota brakes seem like a picnic.
Paul Otelini, CEO of Intel, said that if cars were as progressive and efficient as computer chips, which are now 5000x faster and 100,000 cheaper than previous models, 2010 model cars today would travel at 500,000 MPH and cost a mere 3 cents! Some 10,000 attendees wore RealD 3D glasses to see glorious 3D footage courtesy of Dreamworks.
Immediately following CES was intended for advanced electronics engineers. Discussion revolved around exotic elements of the periodic tables as used on new displays beyond OLEDs. Laser HD projectors promised the ultimate in display experience. Cameras with Infra Red see better in the dark. More complex video encoding algorithms promise almost lossless compression technologies with much smaller bandwidth requirements.
Consumers will soon have batteries with 5x longer usage time. Better Ultra High Definition (UHD), 4K, and stereoscopic 3D methodology was discussed. 3D to the home, wireless IPTV, integration and green technologies were favorite topics.
Red Studios Hollywood Red Open House. Jan 16, 2010.
The newly acquired studios will serve as a permanent Red showcase, 4K demo room, as well as Red camera display room. Jim Jannard says he is all ears to listen to what the ASC might suggest. Michael Goi, ASC Pres. live on skype from New York City, welcomed working closer with all film and digital camera makers. Red demo reels in 4K were shown. The Sony SXRD 4K projectors showed gorgeous 4K images. Tests of new Red Epic 5K camera with the new Mysterium sensor at ISO 2000 and upcoming Scarlet DSLR housings were presented. Leonardo DiCaprio literally lit a single match, and lit his image nicely. Various new advanced and more efficient Red on-set monitoring, dailies, post paths and workflows were also demonstrated such as Red Alert, Red Cine, Red Rushes and Red Rocket. Red involvement in “District 9”, Peter Jackson’s “The Lovely Bones” and others were discussed briefly. Park Road Post of New Zealand, showed their involvement in a few 3D post scenes for “Avatar”.
IS&T/SPIE (Society for Imaging Science and Technology / Society of Photographic Instrumentation Engineers. Photonics and Lasers)
San Jose Convention Center. Medical surgeons are using 3D with endoscopic probes to perform minimally invasive complex ER procedures to the human body. Robots are equipped with Stereoscopic 3D vision to better observe depth, or to better disarm bombs in Iraq. Massive armored tanks use 3D to better see upcoming uneven terrain which otherwise would be seen as almost flat in 2D. Common stereoscopic 3D standards were discussed. Various 3D methodologies were discussed along with pros and cons. Bob Whitehill, Stereoscopic Supervisor of Pixar Animation Studios dissected scenes from “Up in 3D” to discuss how he used 3D to better tell the story. He says 3D is not a panacea that cures all. He treats 3D as simply another element that he addresses sparingly and appropriately in good story telling, just as he uses direction, cinematography, art direction, production design, costumes, perspective, color schemes, sound special effects, sound design, lighting, composition, etc. Another session featured Disney 3D gurus discussing 2D to 3D conversion of the animated film “Beauty and the Beast”.
Virtual Reality calculation and formulation simply flew past me, as I do not cherish the thought of brushing up on physics and differential calculus. The development and combination of 2D and 3D mapping as used in Google Earth’s 3D mapping visualization was discussed. Various autostereography (3D in very low rez, but not needing 3D glasses) technologies using lenticular micro lenses were discussed, but alas proved to be far away from delivering 3D HD quality to both eyes without glasses.
At the exhibits, 21st Century 3D showed their beam splitter 3D camera rig that filmed “My Bloody Valentine 3D” among others.
Free ViewPoint TV uses 3-4 basic camera positions, then interpolates the cameras to come up with almost limitless in-between virtual positioned cameras.
Intel has taken 3D very seriously. Obviously 3D will need even more computational horsepower and more powerful CPUs. Mr. Sunil Jain, Architect and Manager for Advanced Video and 3D Display outlined Intel’s plans for the ongoing consumer stereoscopic 3D world.
Lenny Lipton, 3D Master Guru, formerly with RealD as CTO announced his new stereoscopic 3D company: Oculus3D. They convert standard film projectors into a 3D projector by means of a smart optical device. The affordable system costs a mere 1/5 to 1/10 the cost of a digital 3D projector over 2 years with royalty. Excellent, flickerfree and super bright 3D glasses on the new system cost a mere 14 cents each.
Anaglyph 3D? Despite new perceptually derived spatial color algorithms based on Retinex (effect described in 1971 by Edwin H. Land, suggesting that both the eye and the brain are involved in the processing of color), anaglyph 3D viewing (Red for the left eye, Cyan for the right eye) seems less desirable for watching 3D.
The latest development of Photonics and Lasers were revealed. Advanced photonics and exotic new powerful super lasers are used in medical diagnostics, biomedical spectroscopy, optical coherence tomography (OCT), optical biopsy, therapeutics, robotics, microsurgery, 3D microscopy and photodynamic therapy. Holographic displays, liquid crystal technologies and new materials were also presented. Laser technology has been around for 50 years now, and not yet fully understood. The development of ever faster CPUs was in many ways the fruit of Photonics and Laser technology. It was agreed that it is indeed unfortunate that American scholars are shying away from advancing in the sciences and technology in favor of Wall Street business and investment banking. A PhD in Physics and Engineering seems to have lost its luster. While most of the subject matter was beyond me and I was drowning in technology, I concentrated on emerging crystal technologies, laser projectors, 3D liquid displays, holography, polymer and substrate LCDs, polycarbonate resins, and other 3D related subjects. At the exhibits, I delighted in the advancement of high speed filming at the display and demonstrations by Photron, Phantom, Photosonics, and others. Micro pico projectors by 3M, TI DLP and MicroVison were demonstrated.
A medical monitoring instrument was shown that would monitor, analyze, record and even take limited pictures from the time it enters the body (swallowed), up to when it exits “naturally”. It resembles a huge pill that records critical data, records chemistry, does chemical biopsy, and plots a 3D view of the patient. Obviously, it is not invasive at all. No surgery, no anesthesia, no pain, no recovery room. Luckily, “natural” recovery methodology of the super pill was not discussed.
Clearly, the biggest news at all these trade show is not that 3D is coming, but that 3D is actually here to stay, and ready to invade our living and bedrooms by early fall, at a relatively reasonable price tag. More than a dozen major manufacturers showed 3D Blu-ray players and 3D HDTV large flat thin screen displays. 3D Blu-Ray and HDMI ver 1.4 have set universal standards for 3D inter appliance operability of stereoscopic 3D with 2 x full HD 1920 x 1080 active 3D video delivery.
The new HDMI 1.4 standard is Full 3D HDTV capable, 4K capable, has an Ethernet channel, audio return channel, automatic connection, etc.
ESPN, Direct TV and Sky UK have announced all-3D channels availability by mid 2010. The World Cup Soccer in South Africa, NBA, NFL, NHL, UFC, car races, the Winter Olympics and many other sporting events, concerts and extravaganzas will be available in 3D. ESPN has announced at least 85 major sporting events in 3D. Many events, concerts, and movies, are rushing onto the 3D gold rush, or so they hope. Respected stereographers in LA have almost tripled their fees in the last six months. Los Angeles is short of 3D rigs as I write. Everyone is aware that “Avatar” became the #1 box office hit of all time with $1.86 billion in worldwide ticket sales, upstaging “Titanic”, in slightly over 4 weeks of release.
3D common standards thru 3D@ home, SMPTE, HDMI, EBU, Blu-ray, etc are developing quickly. It is obvious that manufacturers do not want a repeat of the Betamax vs VHS, nor the HD-DVD vs Blu-ray conflict, where consumers backed off and waited for a single dominant universal standard to emerge. Disney and Pixar have already declared that they will no longer use 2D as they adopt 3D exclusively for all their projects. They have even dug deep and are frantically converting their older popular 2D movies to re-release in 3D.
As cinematographers, we can no longer ignore this new discipline of stereoscopic 3D that provides a new way to tell our stories, touch our audiences’ hearts, and levitate them into our imagined universe. We remember that many declared blasphemy and heresy as they rejected “talkies” in the 1920, color in the 1950s, HD 10 years ago, or 4K a few years ago. We all know that 3D will not make a mediocre 2D movie into a good movie. Adapting and implementing 3D appropriately into a movie is not easy, as there are some 20 known pitfalls that will cause eye strain and discomfort for starters, with worse conditions to quickly follow. But properly executed in the hands of a good storyteller who truly understands the technology, mastering stereoscopic 3D is yet another power tool in the magic box of cinematography.