My 3D Blu-ray & 3D Television Adventures at CEDIA
3D. It's the "thing" that everyone has to deal with or risk losing out on this year. I decided to spent a lot of time investigating the various incarnations of 3D from the major manufacturers who were displaying the technology at their booths. Before I get too far, let me just apologize in advance to manufacturers not represented here; I tried to get to everyone, but invariably I'm sure I missed someone somewhere. Here is a log of my experiences, detailed by manufacturer.
Sony was an enigma. Their PS3 demo had a 3D "Asteroids" games called Stardust playing on a Bravia 3D television. It looked absolutely stunning (both the 3D functionality and the black levels put out by the TV). The 3D was perfectly rendered in-frame and it looked as if you were peering into the Bravia TV like it was a window rather than looking at things that were breaking the plane and jumping out at you. Their other 3D demo they were running (or one of them), featured a sequence of trailers: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and Resident Evil: 3D. That demo really didn't make me want to buy the new 3D Bravia setup since I could see the flashing on the screen. This is some sort of artifact of the shutter glasses and we tried two pairs to ensure it wasn't battery-related. I don't know what Sony was doing, but it was making me absolutely certain that I didn't want to have anything to do with 3D - at least not Blu-ray sourced 3D. Anything rendered from the PS3 seemed to be just fine. This at least indicates to me that the issue is one of signal transmission rather than hardware.
The black levels on their 82" DLP display (WD-82738) looked incredible, but the 3D demo was somewhat crippled by the choice of content. Legend of the Guardians and Step Up 3D just seemed to be post-processed and, while we didn't actually see any shutter artifacts, the experience felt uncomfortable on the eyes. It didn't make me want to run out and buy 3D anytime soon - in fact, it made me want to never watch it again... but I was committed. One good thing was that the glasses physically fit well and were comfortable.
Samsung had some good demos using a 3D educational show on DirecTV n3D called Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs that didn't break the plane of the TV. There were no visible shutter effects when using the glasses, so the only uncomfortability came from poorly rendered source content (of which the industry abounds, sadly). One of their TVs was using Monster Cable's Monster Vision "Max 3D" RF glasses while the default sets used glasses that were considerably less robust and used standard CR2025 batteries (and are not rechargeable). Considering they spent more time talking about Monster's glasses than their own, it's pretty clear the company didn't exactly fill their R&D department with truck-fulls of cash when designing their own shutter glasses.
JVC had their Procision GD-463D10 3D display going with a custom IF-2D3D1 3D Image Processor supplying a feed that didn't require active glasses. The downside was that the image was clearly half resolution, but it was so enjoyable and easy to watch due to the lack of active technology. The most amazing thing, however, was that the system was, according to JVC reps on-site, generating all of the 3D content from a standard DVD. I didn't really buy this, however, since they had a custom DVD showing trailers and not a standard movie we could all recognize and evaluate. In either case it's an interesting take on 3D and one we need to keep our eyes on. 3D conversion in real-time is, at best, nifty, and the only reason it exists is due to the absolute lack of original content available for a format that is being pushed at nearly almost ludicrous speed into consumers' laps.
They also had an active 3D demo using their latest DLA-X series of projectors. It was enjoyable, but not noteworthy due to the lack of material and the fact that JVC spent almost 12 of their 15 minutes of demo time delivering the most boring voiceover-driven marketing presentation I've ever been forced to sit through. Note to marketing and product managers: Just show the product and let it sell itself. Human interaction 1-on-1 beats a hands-off voiceover presentation any day of the week. JVC used standard cheap-o shutter glasses for their presentation. Nothing special here.
Walking around LG it was clear that they were all about 3D. From a new 3D projector, the CF3D, to plasma TVs that upconverted 2D to 3D, LG is completely committed. They even had THX certify their new PX-950 plasma TV in both 2D and 3D modes (which they seemed particularly excited about - but not as much as THX was, no doubt). So when we donned their active 3D glasses it was no surprise that they worked well and didn't seem to have any shutter artifacts. The content they were showing wasn't all that hot - but right now manufacturers are lucky to have anything to play, so barren is the 3D title wasteland right now.
LG's glasses definitely seemed better engineered, and more expensively made than some of the others and they didn't need fresh batteries since you could recharge them via micro-USB. Rechargeable batteries... imagine that. All other manufacturers who plan on forcing consumers to grab a screwdriver to replace their batteries every 50-75 hours should hang their collective heads in shame. I mean right now. We'll wait.
Panasonic's demo was very pleasing, and the source content didn't hurt (can you believe this is the criteria we're using here?) as they showed Avatar on a 103" plasma display. Not a bad way to demo your 3D prowess.
Their glasses are comfortable, but among the strangest in shape. They give the feel of floating in front of your face (and in fact there is a 3/4-inch gap from your eyes to the shutters), which of course puts them squarely into your field of view. They also have an odd design that attaches two of the main body pieces in the direct center - at the bridge of the nose - which makes for a slightly unstable and fragile product. The glasses are not rechargeable, so expect to replace the batteries frequently if you use them a lot.
Toshiba had some good (forest and seascape) and bad (Beowolf) demo material, but overall they fell in the middle with respect to their 3D demo prowess. While I didn't see direct shutter artifacts like I did with Sony and Optoma, there was something "not quite comfortable" about the experience. The glasses, like many others, aren't rechargeable, and will require a store of batteries to keep everything going.
Optoma was showing off its TW6000 DLP projector in 3D mode and we were able to take a look. They were using DLP sync which allows the projector to literally sync to the glasses directly by bouncing the signal from the screen. Of course it tends to switch the left and right eyes and you have to reset it in the menu system. Honestly, this system was a complete mess and not ready for prime time (though much of the issues may have had to do with the lighting changes in the environment). They demoed Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and, as expected, the material was so-so. As for the glasses, we discovered that DLP is easily thrown off sync by lights in a room, so it was hard to maintain the signal for more than a few seconds at a time. The glasses are not rechargeable as well. We'd say Optoma's demo was the most sloppy of all we'd seen and fell squarely in the "probably not yet ready for prime time" category.
Perhaps one of the best 3D demos of the show was from none other than Sharp. For one, their glasses were very comfortable. While they featured a USB connection for power, it doesn't charge the battery, so after every 75 hours you'll need to deal with that (a major "oops" in a sea of successes). What it does include, however, is an exclusive "2D mode" where you can double click the power button and duplicate the left eye image to the right. Why is this significant? Well, you can't mix 2D and 3D viewing in the same room at the same time without a feature like this. Now, when the kids want to watch a movie in 3D, you can opt out to 2D. It's a great feature and one we didn't see readily available or demoed by anyone else. I can guarantee this feature will spread like wildfire though - it just makes too much sense.
I watched Despicable Me in 3D on their newest Aquos Quattron 3D LE925 series TV as well as their latest VX-Z17000 DLP projector. It was near-flawless and the image looked really good and easy to watch.
The only company to give Sharp a run for its money was DigitalProjection. G-Force and the new 3D version of A Christmas Carol were demoed in the big room on the Titan Reference 3D 3-chip DLP projector. It was an exceptional picture and there was no noticeable flicker at all. DigitalProjection used the Xpand branded glasses which are not rechargeable, but did fit comfortably and didn't drop out during use. This was one of the best demos at the show (for a variety of reasons - the least of which was their multi-projector "demo row" which played the same material synchronized across an entire line of projectors).
Is 3D ready for prime time? Not really, and mostly due to content. Manufacturers are living in a dichotomy where they are rushing to get everyone into 3D, providing them with no content, and then frustrating them with features like shutter glasses that need physical battery replacements and significant hardware constraints. DP and Sharp, along with LG ruled the roost, but honestly I wonder if limited presentations of half-resolution passive 3D might be a better choice for most consumers. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out, but one thing was consistent across all the opinions of attendees and manufacturing reps I spoke to off the record: 3D is a fad and it's not going to become the dominant movie viewing format, though the hardware will all eventually support it.
Enjoy it while it's hot, manufacturers. Here's my summary:
- Manufacturers: 3D is awesome! Check it out!
- Studios: 3D is hot - eventually we'll convince some more filmmakers to give you real content, but in the meantime here's some fake crap to keep you going...
- Marketing reps & Product Managers: 3D is certainly big news and we're here to show we can support it at whatever level it's available. I like turtles.
- Attendees: 3D is nifty some of the time, but it's definitely a fad.
- Clint: 3D sucks unless its done well, based on content actually shot and composed for it (behind the plane of the TV), and viewed only occasionally. It is NOT mainstream and never should be unless you want to watch TV with a bottle of Advil.
That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it!
This years show featured a 600 SQF (20' x 30') cinema with four rows of stadium style seating (35 Seats).
The demo screen was a 190" x 95" 2.00:1 SmX ProMask-Quad four way masking screen featuring the new SmX CineWeave 4K-Plus screen surface.
The Projector was a modified Barco SuperKontrast DP2K-20C provided by Cineramax
3D Glasses were provided by RealD 3D Pro
The audio was provided by CinePro
Originally Posted by CAVX
I have seen CINERAMAX's 3D display at CEDIA projecting onto the SmX white screen and it is nothing short of amazing. People actually were reaching out to touch this fish that swims right up to the camera.
Originally Posted by CAVX
If you didn't get the chance to check out the SmX/Cineramax/CinePro display, you really missed out on what I would say is the most impressive 3D/HT around. These guys have done what many could only wish for.
The new SmX 4K fabric needs to be seen/heard to be believed. The weave is so fine, even with corrected eye wear, I could not see the texture past 1m.
Cineramax's Barco delivers a 3D image like I've not seen before. I've had mixed feelings about 3D to even think that maybe it was all a fad. Yet, I was so impressed with this display, I went back for a 2nd course. Amazing imagery that had audience members literally reaching out to touch a fish in the IMAX footage. Converted 2D to 3D images look great too. I can now honestly appreciate Peter's excitement for 3D.
CinePro speakers just rock - literally. I loved the high SPL and clarity this system delivers and I walked out without the slightest sense of ear strain. The front stage was solid, the surrounds enveloping and the subs were not only deep, but physical.
Well done guys. You really have excelled.
"Cineramax had a huge demo with Cinepro and SMX. The 3d was pretty amazing. Let me just come out and say this, SMX wipes the floor with any AT screen out there. " - Spanky Ham from www.curtpalme.com [curtpalme.com]
Originally Posted by adidino
BTW - Wanted to add that Peter's 3D demo was top notch. Best in show without question. For those at the show and do not know Peter or were not aware, he was responsible for the 3D video in the SMX booth.
Originally Posted by adidino
I'm with Jeff on the Procella room. Although the room itself was intimate and the video performance looked great, the audio lacked any excitement for me. My expectations were very high considering the room was certified by THX engineers. Although I heard later Dennis was not involved in setting up that room (figured as much). The two most impressive rooms for me were the ADA Trinnov/Triad Platinum room and SMX/Cineramax/CinePro. Peter's 3D was best in show. He truly did bring the IMAX experience to the home in this demo.
Originally Posted by thebland
Peters room was great. The wife and I spent almost an hour in it. Had a blast. Great sound and video. Peter was the man!
Originally Posted by BIG RED
I have to say I had a group of guys with me doing a "booth demo" crawl.
...Cinepro/ SMX- Hands down "the best demo of the show" many brands can "talk the talk" - these 3 brands "WALK THE WALK".
Originally Posted by Ericglo
For me, best 2D in show was the JVC 4k. The best 3D was Peter's demo.
The best AT screen is Ruben's new screen. This isn't even close. I didn't get to see it in the light, but with a full white screen it was difficult to see the weave at more than a foot or two. I am not sure why one would choose to go with a Stewart, if you have the choice to go with this screen.
Originally Posted by mark haflich
Mark. Really enjoyed you and your other at the show. I agree that Peter hit a home run. But we yanks differentiate home runs by types. Peter hit a GRAND SLAM walk off home run.
Originally Posted by Haroon Malik
Congratulations Peter & Ruben!
It seems that everybody who visited the Cineramax | SMX | Cinepro demo, thoroughly enjoyed it.
It's a testament to you guys that you continue to raise the standard and improve on it from the previous year. Well done.
Here's to hoping that you have a great year ahead.
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