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New Dimensions


»Legend of the Guardians«: home cinema in 3D

Television in 3D – made possible by a 3.2 gigahertz processor operating with eight processing cores: The »Cell TV« technology of entertainment electronics manufacturer Toshiba enables you to enjoy even homemade movies in 3D. The television – just after the introduction of HDTV – is standing at the edge of the next groundbreaking technological leap: Flat images are a thing of the past; the future belongs to 3D technology.

Television in Germany has not altered substantially since colour television was introduced in 1967 – until now. With the beginning of regular HDTV programming by public law stations during the Vancouver Olympic Games, the new quality standard finally broke through in Germany. The only problem is that there is insufficient content in real high-definition quality on offer: Generally, standard quality programs are merely »upgraded«, which doesn’t allow real HD effects to be achieved.

This doesn’t, however, stop the private stations RTL, VOX and co. from charging an additional service fee of 50 euros per year for the higher image and sound quality. In cooperation with Astra, these stations are trying to use the competitor standard HD+ to make themselves less dependent on pure advertising for finance. In addition, HDTV also entails additional costs for program providers. For consumers, HD+ brings restrictions along with improved quality: With HD+, the record function can be blocked, recordings can be deleted by broadcasters, and »ad-skipping«, which means fast-forwarding through advertising, can be prevented completely.


The development of 3D technology in film and TV

Topper gibt nicht auf

With know how from NRW film students at the HFF Potsdam produced the first German TV film »Topper gibt nicht auf.«

Topper gibt nicht auf

3D-TV Gains Momentum

Regardless of whether the majority of viewers embrace this business model, a completely new television experience awaits them in the near future, and it is one which could still lead to the success of the tactics of the private stations: Television in the third dimension. The idea of spatial cinema, of course, didn’t just come about in the last few years. More than 100 years ago, stereoscopes amazed visitors to annual fairs with territorial views of distant lands, of natural disasters and of scantily clad women. The Lumičre brothers also experimented with 3D effects in their first films. But it wasn’t until the beginning of the 1950’s that 3D became a mass-market phenomenon, thanks to the double-projection technology in films such as »Bwana Devil« and »Dial M for Murder«. 3D films, such as »Jaws 3D«, appeared again in the 1980’s, for example, but were unable to score points in terms of image quality.

It was scantily clad women, once again, that justified the first 3D experiments in television. In the 1990’s, the RTL show »Tutti Frutti« was produced with Pulfrich technology: This involves the viewer wearing a pair of glasses with light foil acting as the left lens, and dark foil acting as the right lens. In comparison to an image of normal brightness, there is a delay in perceiving darkened images, which brings about a stereo effect, even though the images have been recorded with a conventional camera.

Jump start

The 3D cinema wave beginning in 2005 has ultimately had the effect of jump starting 3D television, and digitalisation in general. Almost all television device manufacturers are betting on the new technology. Sony, LG, JVC and Panasonic have all announced that their products will hit the market in 2010. »The products that are ready for mass production should be presented at the next IFA, and then hit the stores,« emphasises Peter Koch, resident 3D expert for LG Electronics Germany, from Willich. 

Three-dimensional television is certainly an attractive proposition - especially with regard to football fans. Some of the matches of the 2010 World Cup were produced in stereoscopic 3D by FIFA, although not for 3D enjoyment in the home. These are to be reserved for »public viewing« spectators in selected stadiums. The 2012 UEFA Europe Cup was the first championship to be completely produced in 3D by Skandinavian Pay TV  broadcaster Canal Digital Nordic. 

While the British Pay-TV platform BskyB entertain their own 3D channel with sports broadcasts, films and entertainment programs, however, and the BBC presented the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games completely in three dimensions, the German television decision makers remain substantially diffident. Eckhard Matzel, innovation coordinator at ZDF, points to possible reasons: »A three-dimensional effect is, of course, an added benefit for the viewer, but that quickly becomes relative when you have to put up with the disadvantages, like always having to wear glasses. Or when the resolution has to be reduced compared to HDTV, in order to bring the enormous bandwidth to the viewer.« Rüdiger Malfeld, head of the Infrastructure Management Department of West Germany Broadcasting (WDR), expresses similar doubts: »I genuinely doubt that I’ll put these shutter glasses on while I’m watching the evening news over dinner.« 

The first steps towards banning the shutter glasses from the living room have already been taken: In April 2012 Toshiba presented a long-awaited technology which enables the software to »headtrack« the number of people in front of the TV. The viewers may then gather in five areas in front of the TV without glasses. However, since that significantly reduces the screen resolution, experts are reluctant to speak of a real breakthrough in 3D technology



Shutter technology:

The monitor sends an extremely fast sequence of images, alternating between the left and right eye. The supplied shutter glasses, which are generally controlled by an infra-red signal from the television, then only let the relevant image through.


Simultaneous display of polarised images:

The images are only allowed through the left or the right lens of the glasses at any one time, which means that the viewer doesn’t get the three-dimensional effect until putting on the glasses.


3D without glasses:

The television projects the recordings of both cameras in such a way that the images can only be seen by one eye at a time. Until now, this technology has only worked for a viewer in a fixed location.


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