We learned this month that the Coen Brothers used what’s historically been Apple’s consumer video editing software – Final Cut Pro – to edit True Grit. The make of DSLR camera that I use, Canon’s “prosumer” EOS 5D Mark II, has been used for shooting professional 1080p HD (see Luminère example as well as at least three television seasons of Fox’s House, BBC Two’s Shelfstackers and BBC Four’s Road to Coronation Street). A new version of Final Cut Pro is expected this Spring with major enhancements (link: TechCrunch).
Production capital and human costs for television are arguably making the industry non-competitive, as Michael Rosenblum has evangelized, so this can’t help being a healthy trend. Of course, in the end, it’s about both costs and culture. --Dennis
Recently, I’ve found myself tweeting more from @haarsager and blogging less. Most of the tweeting has the same media economics and technology content as I normally put in the blog, so thought I’d share them here. So I invite you to scan my January tweets (those off topic have been deleted for length) for some interesting and, in some cases, important links. --Dennis
The FCC’s OBI issued a paper in June called Spectrum Analysis: Options for Broadcast Spectrum, OBI Technical Paper No. 3 [3.5 mb pdf]. The agency has a goal of recouping 120 MHz of spectrum (20 TV channels).
BroadcastEngineering has thus far printed two articles of analysis by Phil Kurz in what will be a multipart series analyzing the report.
In a related Congressional development, Sen. Jay Rockefeller has introduced a bill authorizing voluntary incentive auctions of TV spectrum, and last month Rep. Rick Boucher and Rep. Cliff Stearns introduced a similar bill in the House. Link: BroadcastEngineering. --Dennis
I’ve posted previously on this topic here and here, the latter a personal experience. Now, R. Colin Johnson reports on recent research at UC Berkeley that provides some guidance to videographers and cinematographers who are shooting in 3D. He writes:
… According to [professor Martin] Banks, when viewers direct their eyes at nearby objects or scenes, their gaze converges. When they gaze into the distance they, diverge, or what optometrists call "vergence." Conversely, focusing the eye muscles to bring something into sharp focus is called "accommodation." ¶ In the real world, vergence and accommodation are synched to the same distance, but in the world of 3-D stereoscopic glasses decouple the two, forcing the brain to cope with a disparity between the vergence and accommodation distances. …
Mark has twin superlatives as a television production engineer and as an effective and prolific communicator. For a long time, I had a link to his long-running Monday postings to the OpenDTV list here on this blog, but I lost track of him during my 2+ year sojourn in radio at NPR. So, was happy to find out that he’s now doing a blog called Schubin Cafe, full of good information for the television engineering community.
Many recent posts deal with 3D television, and he’s posted a PowerPoint and audio portion of a keynote from this month’s NAB Show with the above title. Yes, there is a lot of technical information, but I recommend it to both engineers and other broadcasting executives interested in what 3D television does, how it works, some amazing history -- and also explains the mechanisms of the discomfort that I and others have experienced with 3D television.
Tore Nordahl makes a very interesting case in his Executive HDTV Report for moving over-the-air broadcasting from 1080 interlaced to 720 progressive, with benefits for mobile DTV (ATSC 8VSB M/H) and 3D. Link: coax.tv. --Dennis
I posted on March 31 about my personal "motion sickness" experience viewing one of the new 3D televisions. Samsung has issued a warning about this. Ranjan Bhaduri writes:
... The Korean electronics giant has warned that a section of the viewers may develop certain side effects if they watch 3DTV for extended hours. It can pose health threat to children, the aged lot and pregnant women, according to the caution. ... According to Samsung, the viewers may be subjected to epileptic fits and nausea. Those who do not get adequate sleep have also been asked not to watch programs on 3D HDTV sets. ...
Link: Thaindian News. Thanks to Tom McMahon on the OpenDTV list for the tip.
Updated 20 April 2010: Here's more from Daniel Carty at CBS News. --Dennis
I got an invitation to attend a public demo of 3D TV put on Wed.-Fri. this week at Washington’s Union Station by Panasonic and NVIDIA. Since I’m not attending either CES or the NAB Show this year, I went over there as a poor-man’s substitute for a trip to Las Vegas.
They had a small home theater set up featuring Panasonic’s Viera® 3D HDTV. CNET awarded it the best product of CES award this year. I put on the special glasses and stood about ten feet away and, for most of the demo, about 45° off to the side. I watched first some flamenco dancers and then a Japanese cartoon that had been created for 3D.
I must say, it was a spectacular viewing experience with real depth. The plasma screen provided no visual difference that I could tell in a wide viewing arc. I must say, though, that it wasn’t 100% natural -- maybe 95% so. Not sure exactly how to describe it, but the dancers at different “distances” from my eye looked a bit like they were 2D-ish but positioned on layers that provided the 3D depth. The cartoon added to that effect because the “characters” were themselves intended to be 2D paper figures. Interesting, but not off-putting. I suspect an extending viewing period (mine was only about ten minutes) would enable the viewer to completely forget the 5% “flattening.”
That is, for those who could stick it out for an extended viewing period.
In leaving the room, I noticed a familiar feeling that I get when reading daylight in a car or on a train, or when I’ve scrolled through spools of microfilm on a viewer. And it’s not a pleasant feeling – slight nausea, headache and dizziness. It’s kinetosis, more commonly but less accurately known as motion sickness. There’s a special class of it called simulation sickness that’s probably what is going on with projected 3D (perhaps giving new meaning to projectile v----). Today’s episode was mild and I was fine after a half hour. It’s possible I could get used to it with time (I can now stand on the Metro while it’s jostling and read my iPhone, at least when below ground).
TV receiver manufacturers and retailers are hoping this is the Next Big Thing, so I hope they and their retailers will encourage customers to try it out for some extended period with all family members before taking it home. Or perhaps families should just keep an empty popcorn tub around for you know what.
The Ides of March come about a month early for television broadcasters next year when millions of over-the-air viewers -- many of them elderly -- must deal with receivers that, without converter boxes, become livingroom plant stands. Having just installed a new HD set in the livingroom and moved the analog set to an upstairs bedroom and installed one of the coupon converter boxes there for a technology-intimidated friend, I can testify that it's a challenging task. FOX's Talkshow with Spike Ferensten has a great send-up of the various television spots on the conversion that are now playing on stations across the country.
Do yourself a favor and watch this piece. But have a Kleenex handy. It will make you laugh big time, but when it's done, if you're a broadcaster, it might also make you cry. Link: MSN Video. Thanks to Karen Olstad for that link. --Dennis