HDTV Ready for Third Dimension

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A new 3D HDTV system designed by NTS, NHK Technical Services, will be ready for deployment some time next year, according to Stuart Uleman, NTS senior engineer and media planning for the system.

At the NAB show the company demonstrated the technology on a number of flat panel plasma screens as well as a 202-inch DLP projector system. Each projector had a polarizing filter in front of it to isolate the light for the glasses.

“Each projector is a regular 1080p projector,” says Uleman. “But for the TV sets the HD is encoded for 3D and the sets have a polarizing filter in the front which creates the 3D effect.”

The 3D TV sets should be available in 2007 or 2008 and will cost approximately $30,000, leaving them out of the realm of the average consumer but a possibility for use at museums, theme parks and other public attractions. The International Olympic Committee museum in Lucerne, Switzerland already has a system in place and several theaters in Japan already use them. Disney has already shown some interest in the technology.

The cost, however, should drop once set construction moves to mass-production. “Right now the filters are all hand built so it’s a tedious process,” says Uleman.

Because the 3D signals do not require any additional bandwidth for transmission one scenario for the future could involve cable operators or even broadcasters creating a 3D HD channel that could show special events or movies.

Shooting the material, however, does require some special gear. Like the IMAX 3D movies two cameras are required to sit next to each other with each recording to a different VCR. NTS also co-developed a 3D zoom lens with Fujinon so both lenses zoom at once. “We do the post production twice and voila, 3D HDTV,” says Uleman.

The potential to bring 3D to the home could lead to an explosion in 3D production. “The set wouldn’t just be for 3D so a consumer can have one set for both 3D and 2D,” adds Uleman.

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