Audio News for June 6, 2008

by | Jun 6, 2008 | Audio News | 0 comments

3D Movies Happening Again, Plus Video This Time – The box-office successes of 3D movies Chicken Little and Beowulf have the movie industry excited about the new interest in 3D which could be a great deal more than the fad it was in the 1950s. Dreamworks has committed to producing all of its movies in 3D starting next year. At the crux of the development is the relative ease of using digital processes in both the original shooting and in the final projection of 3D images. Most of the 3D films have so far been digital animated features, because the technology is easier to implement than with live actors. Word is that 10,000 theaters will be converted to digital in the next two years, making widespread distribution of 3D movies possible. Most of the studios are working on or planning 3D films, though there are two main production formats competing: Real D (used for Beowulf), with simple polarized glasses but a special silvered screen required; and Dolby 3D , which doesn’t need new screens but requires special expensive glasses which must be cleaned after each showing. Dolby 3D uses a small spinning wheel in the digital projector to alternately pass two slightly different versions of the primary colors to each eye.  It spins six times for each frame, achieving a 144 frames per second rate. Both processes are in their infancy and will be improved.  One challenge is the light loss – the glasses reduce the light from the screen to about one-sixth of a 2D screen. But it is easier to achieve proper sync of the two images with digital techniques; you won’t get a headache from viewing Beowulf  in 3D.  New equipment allows directors to view what they are shooting in 3D – that wasn’t possible before until after the film was processed.

And this time around 3D entertainment is possible in the living room too. But there is even more complexity of competing formats in this area. Mitsubishi, Samsung and Philips all have 3D sets, but using different technologies. At least three firms hope their technology will be used for all 3D content brought into homes. Sensio of Canada uses special compression to reduce resolution losses of anamorphic techniques. A 3D TV plus the Sensio decoder is required.  DDD has their 3D processor in some Hyundai TVs sold only in Japan and will soon have it in some Samsung TVs in the U.S.  When its encoded material is shown on a standard 2D set, it will show a good 2D image, unlike Sensio.  Finally, TDVision has its own 3D format using a MPEG codec.  There is also the possibility that some producers will go back to the old 3D formats of the 1950s since there are no licensing fees – they have all expired.  Some DLP displays are already “3D Ready,” and you may have one.  By the end of this year there will be estimated two million “3D Ready” TVs in the U.S.  They will only need a 3D transmission, a DVD or Blu-ray disc (which due to its higher resolution will allow a better 3D image), and the proper decoder. The DVD Forum is considering including 3D specs in the next update of the DVD.

An entire 3D channel is being set up in China for footage to be shot at the Olympic games. And there are 3D computer games:  Wolfenstein 3D is one of them. Set in a Nazi fortified castle, the player is an American soldier trying to escape while picking up booty in various secret rooms on the way. (By the way, we have here in Portland the only 3D Art and Photography Center in the entire country. Visit the web site here.) 

Linn Records SACD Promotion – Scotland-based audio label Linn, is offering two unusual ten-SACD limited-edition collections during June only.  One is chosen from the label’s extensive jazz catalog, including mood-setting vocalists and fine instrumentalists.  The other ten-SACD set comes from Linn’s award-winning classical catalog, including pianist Artur Piazarro, the chorus Cappella Nova, conductor Joseph Swensen and organist Dame Gillian Weir. The discs are all hybrid – playable on any CD player as well as SACD decks – and are more than 50% off at $99 per collection. Linn Records. 

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