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Graphics risks ruining 3DTV

11 April 2011
Graphics risks ruining 3DTV

Screen Subtitling Systems CEO Matt Deakin believes that current 3DTV technologies are fatally flawed because the introduction of graphics into a 3D presentation can destroy the 3D illusion, which prevents a large sector of the TV audience from appreciating its potential. “Graphics now represent a significant part of the overall television experience, whether the simple station ident, or complex animated scoreboards,” Deakin says. “What appear to be very acceptable 3D images become dimensionally corrupted by the inexpert addition of such graphics. This is especially true of subtitles, where an almost continuous flow of graphics presents serious issues. Fixed positioning, within the limits usually applied for 2D subtitles, will result in loss of 3D imagery in the rest of the picture, viewer fatigue, and ultimately switch off.
 With the advent of 3D in broadcasting as well as in digital cinema, there is now a real need for 3D subtitles in multiple languages, asserts Deakin: "Screen’s research has shown that there are new and significant challenges when adding subtitles to 3D media. It is not just a case of taking the 2D subtitles and adding a fixed position in the Z-plane (depth). Get the positioning wrong and the 3D illusion can be destroyed and the viewer made to feel ill. By understanding the physiological effects of the 3D illusion, broadcasters and cinematographers will decide on new house rules for 3D subtitles, just as they have for 2D, but the rules will be more complex.”
 Screen Subtitling’s solution is its Poliscript 3DITOR (pictured), a suite of products launched last September and in test at two unnamed European broadcasters. It believes its technology is uniquely capable of handling delivery subtitle formats ranging from SMPTE DC28 Digital Cinema and 3D Blu-ray to open (burnt in) subtitles and DVB Broadcast bitmaps. It recently introduced an autopositioning function to enable 2D subtitle files to be automatically and ‘safely’ positioned in 3D space.
 The company has also launched a training course to teach the theory behind 3D subtitling; and is calling for disparity (depth) information to be made available to the entire production and broadcast chain. Currently, there is no standardised means of distributing this type of material, which would facilitate the safe insertion of burnt-in or optional graphics.
 “Without considerable thought, research and understanding, subtitling and captioning run the risk of sabotaging the entire market,” adds Deakin. “We are working to develop ways of delivering the relevant information without creating problems for the viewer. The first phase of this has been the development of a sophisticated preparation and review system for 3D, but there is much work yet to be done. This will require an industry wide effort to resolve.”

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