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A game-changing new 2D-3D tool?

9 November 2010
A game-changing new 2D-3D tool?

A US developer of video processing systems is bringing to market a 2D to 3D conversion tool for broadcasters which it claims is ten times more powerful than anything else available, writes Adrian Pennington.

Teranex has also developed software for realtime automated convergence of 3D signals using a platform that looks like it will give Sony’s MPE-200 a run for its money.

“Broadcasters will have to think again about how adamant they are about not using 3D simulation,” said Teranex general manager, Mike Poirier. “I can understand their attitude in relation to existing product but they may want to make an exception for this.”

The VC1-2D-3D software allows for 2D-3D conversion in realtime, and is priced at €10,500. It runs on Teranex’s VC100 universal frame synchronizer and format converter hardware platform, which costs €16,800.

Terenex’ technology is based on SIMD, (single instruction, multiple data) computing and a spin off from aerospace developer Lockheed Martin. It claims that five of its 31 patents are in use by the US military and government.

“To do what we do requires a massive amount of processing power,” said Poirier. “We have the world’s fastest calculation technology. It can process 15 Teraops or 3000 million operations per second.”

In the results of benchmark test Teranex says it compared its SIMD engine with Sony’s Cell processor (the basis of the MPE-200) and Nvidia’s GPU graphics boards.

“You would need 10 Cell processors or 18 Nvidia GPUs to accomplish the same calculation power as a single Teranex engine for stereo 3D,” said Poirier.

Announced at IBC and given a soft launch in Asia and Europe the product is being given a US launch next month. Teranex says it has around 40 customers in Asia and a further dozen in Europe but it’s not saying who.

“Customers don’t really want to say they are simulating 3D,” said Poirier. “It’s like the early days of HDTV where a lot of content was upconverted to HD and broadcasters were reluctant to talk about it even though the picture difference was negligible.”

Poirier says the product is being used for live event production in Belgium and Germany and that broadcasters in Spain, France and Belgium will shortly use it to convert whole blocks of 2D content for 3D channels.

“We were live on air in Germany last week converting 2D Steadicam footage of a football match and it has been used in Belgium on cycling and tennis coverage. Some shots from a high-speed Weiscam mounted on Giro in a helicopter were converted using our system over RF,” he commented. “There’s an overwhelmingly positive response when people see the images. It is comfortable viewing and very different to other conversion tools whether real time or frame by frame.”

Rather than duplicating the image and faking movement in between to simulate a 3D effect, Teranex’s algorithmic approach mimics the human visual experience by looking at the spatial and temporal domains, he explained.

“Existing conversion products run into occlusion errors because they don’t have the calculation speed to render the conversion fast enough,” he said. “We compare a single pixel with the surrounding 8 pixels and compare that to two frames before and two frames afterwards with a processing delay of just four frames.”

At NAB 2011 Terenex is to debut at a 3D Toolkit, based on the same hardware, which will take the stereo signal captured at source and electronically realign the picture for axial rotation, vertical rotation, horizontal mechanical distortion and optical length distortion.

“It will take cameras at say 700mm apart and make them look as if they were 70mm apart, in realtime,” he claimed. “Or it will take interaxials of 35mm and make simulate a 70mm picture.”
Companies with 2D – 3D realtime conversion products include HD Logix, Evertz, Miranda, JVC and Sony.

Preco Broadcast Systems is distributing the technology in the UK.

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