Broadcast Engineering
3DFusion live 3D transmission
"New York City-based 3D Fusion used a live basketball game outside of the Las Vegas Convention Center during the NAB Show to demonstrate its new 3DFMax autostereoscopic transmission system, which allows viewers to watch live 3-D images without special glasses. The 3-D platform, which is designed to mimic the way the eye sees, addresses the entire production chain, from live camera capture and control room engineering to viewer display. The company also makes a 3DFMax system that requires 3-D glasses.

“Although we are targeting the richness of the ‘with-glasses’ 3-D imaging, our 3DFMax images are designed to mimic the way the eye sees,” said the president of 3DFusion. “With the 3DFMax 3-D TV technology, the viewer can adjust the 3-D depth impact to his personal preference, on the fly, in real time. He has the same control as he would in correcting color or adjusting volume with his remote control.”

3DFusion’s PC-based 3-D TV platform is based on a combination of depth-mapping algorithms and stereoscopic left/right 3-D data. The company worked with 3ality Digital and Bexel for the demonstration.

“This is the best autostereoscopic display I’ve seen to date,” said Steve Schklair, CEO of 3ality Digital. “For certain commercial applications, the 3D Fusion ASD is ready now, and this technology for the home is a lot closer than I previously thought. Their live 3-D camera capture/ASD display, complete with on-the-fly depth adjustments, clearly demonstrates beyond proof of concept — it works.”

In addition to offering glasses-free autostereoscopic 3-D display technology, 3DFusion is bringing to market state-of-the-art 3-D content players and intelligent 2-D-to-3-D content conversion technology. Its main focus is on a few vertical markets, such as 3-D digital signage and content conversion for 3-D cinema/broadcasting with glasses. 3DFusion live camera capture and ASD displays are supported by a full line of technology offerings from content conversion tools and video game plug-ins to post-production editing suites for 3-D content conversion and creation.

Production services company Bexel helped set up the camera systems for the outdoor, half-court basketball showcase between the Central and South Halls at the Las Vegas Convention Center. In addition to providing a full engineering crew, Bexel supplied its portable Hercules HD fly-pack and Eagle Announcer System, in conjunction with six 3ality Digital acquisition rigs."

Michael Grotticelli, Broadcast Engineering

HDTV Magazine
3DFusion 3D Display
"The auto-stereoscopic (glasses-free) 3DTV technology is usually criticized by many in the press, especially those that have only seen the first generations of prototypes. The negative comments are mainly about the limited number of viewing positions, the low resolution of the image on each viewing zone (eye) and the disruption of the 3D effect when changing positions.

Auto-stereoscopic panels of today are designed to display 3D to a few viewers in their pre-established positions, and the 3D effect is generally shifted when the viewer changes the position, or when moving the head away from the 3D zone. Although the image may still be seen as 2D in between the 3D viewing zones it is generally blurry. This is a common issue of most auto-stereoscopic prototypes, even the most current generation sets."...

"When the press asserts that the auto-stereoscopic technology itself still needs a decade to be at an acceptable level of quality, the assessment is inaccurate. I admit that the quality of the first demos of some main stream manufacturers, such as Sony and Toshiba at CES 2011, may be insufficient to those that expect perfection in the first models, but the auto-stereoscopic technology is perfecting at a very fast pace, as shown by the prototypes at every trade show, some of very near future products." ...

"Sony and Toshiba should not be used as the primary measurement of the quality readiness of the auto-stereoscopic technology, when at the same CES 2011 the company 3DFusion demoed their panel and 3D video processing engine at a much better level of quality compared to others. As mentioned on this article3DFusion’s ability to implement their proprietary smart software engine often makes the transitions between 3D viewing zones while changing positions walking in front of the TV at various angles imperceptible.

Additionally, 3DFusion is already working on continuous improvements to their current auto-stereoscopic 3D panels. For example, the image resolution per viewing zone (eye) will increase beyond the current 900x500 pixels, the panel resolution will be 1.5 times the current 1080p (which in theory should also improve the viewing of 2D), offering screen sizes in the 40s/50s+ inches, that are much larger than the typical laptop-size auto-stereoscopic 3D competitors designed for just one viewer; newer screens will have a higher number of viewing zones (17), which combined with their smart software engine makes the issues of viewing zone transitions a matter of the past (although other manufacturers still have that issue at the present time).

In summary, judging by the articles that inaccurately express that the 3D auto-stereoscopic technology will take a decade, it is obvious that the authors have not yet seen 3D demos from 3DFusion, and I encourage them to view their auto-stereoscopic panel with their software engine."

Rodolfo La Maestra, HDTV Magazine

HDTV Magazine
3DFusion at CES
“…So which was the best looking glasses-free large screen 3DTV? Who was the 3D-glasses-free queen of CES? Not Sony’s 56” 4K, or 46” 2K LCD panel prototypes shown with floor platforms that wisely limited the viewing area/angles. Not the 65” and 56” LCD models from Toshiba shown with fixed feet marks on the floor (so you better not move) in a tunnel-type booth that also precluded angled views other than straight to the set. Not even LG. The best looking large screen 3D image without using 3D glasses to my eyes was the one demoed by 3DFusion in a private viewing at the Stratosphere hotel in Vegas. I dedicated an unusual couple of hours viewing different 3D content and talking to the people responsible for this effort.

The majority of the 3DFusion technical 3D ASD team is based in Netherlands, Europe, and the company has a corporate office in NYC. When attending CES I generally avoid going to meetings in hotels outside the Las Vegas Convention Center because of the excessive time it takes to reach them (and return to the show), but I made an exception in this case because I knew that what I was about to witness was worth the effort. But I didn’t go alone. While attending a Consortium meeting of industry members at CES, I ran into Chris Chinnock, Founder and President of Insight Media and a key facilitator of the 3D@Home Consortium, and extended a courtesy invitation to him to attend the demo with me.

In November, when I attended the 3D University workshop in NYC, ... 3DFusion invited me to view their auto-stereoscopic (glasses free) 3DTVs (22”, 42", 55", and a 128" video wall of 9-LCD tiled panels) in their Wall Street corporate office but my return flight to Washington D.C. did not allow for sufficient time for the demo, so we arranged a private visit at CES, and I am very glad I did.

I will cover further this 3DFusion development and their technology in an follow up article but I just wanted to, once again, defuse the negative press claiming that the technology for auto-stereoscopic 3D will take 5 to 10 years to be available.
I consider the 3D technology to be at its beginning phase, and for it to be just a feature within a good quality HDTV for those that may want to occasionally watch a 3D movie, and hope that the 3D transmission and display technology will improve with time so the image quality of 3D could eventually be as good as, or better than, the quality reached by HD and no less than what the 3D cameras recorded at the source. However, I also consider that regular consumers are not as concerned about high image quality as they are about accessing appealing content with online convenience, lower price, and features like Smart TV connected to the Internet for browsing and Netflix without waiting for a disc, Skype, etc.

In other words, the setback that 3D entails to the reached plateau of quality HD image and adequate infrastructure may not be of concern to the average consumer that drives huge volume sales and seems to be content with an over-compressed, low-resolution YouTube video on a large 1080p quality panel if the content is of interest, unfortunately for those that strive for quality.

While it is true that glasses-free 3D demos over the past couple of years have shown viewing limitations in resolution, size, and viewing zones for a low number of viewers, the fact is that 3DFusion has done a considerable effort on their software engine to process in real time a 3D source to soften, and most of the time completely eliminate, the typical visual breaks viewers experience when moving between viewing zones to change their sitting position or when moving their heads, which is known to disturb the 3D effect.

In the case of the 42” 3D LCD shown by 3DFusion at CES 2011, the visual breaks between viewing zones were almost imperceptible and I was able to change positions freely in front of the 3DTV panel maintaining a uniform 3D viewing even at wide lateral angles, a typical weakness of LCD panels even with HD. Although CES did not show the variety of 3D without glasses TVs I was hoping to see, I was glad to see Sony’s and Toshiba’s demos, but they did not compare to the viewing-zones-change ability of the 3DFusion demo.

The 56” Sony 4K set (which was a demo of future technology, no specs, no timeline, no pricing) showed a crisp 3D trailer of racing cars but the viewing was visibly disturbed when changing the viewing position or moving the head (the 46” 2K LCD set degraded the experience even further). The Toshiba’s glasses-free pair of 3DTVs, announced to be available by year-end for an undisclosed price and specs, also offered a 3D viewing experience that could not compete with the quality of the 3DFusion demo.

Granted, these demos were prototypes that are expected to improve when their final products are out, but that was the case with 3DFusion as well and the difference was noticeable. How the Sony’s and Toshiba’s 3DTVs would have performed if using the 3DFusion proprietary software to soften the viewing zone breaks? I would assume much better but that is a conjecture, and I’d rather concentrate on facts.

The 3DFusion panel (based on off-the-shelf LCD), the lenticular screen, and the proprietary software were all designed to show 9 zone views of approximately 900x500 pixels of effective resolution per view zone (eye) using a sub-pixel sharing method to offer the best resolution while maximizing the use of the total 1920x1080 pixel resolution of the panel. These numbers will continue to improve according to 3DFusion management (a 47” panel with 1500+ lines (rows) of vertical of resolution is in the works, 1.5x 1080p HD resolution, with 27 views).

Regarding original resolution of the 3D source image, it must be highlighted that a passive polarized 3DTV with glasses shows 1920x540 per eye of the original resolution of 1920x1080 of Blu-ray 3D/3D camera recording, but only shows 960x540 per eye of that original resolution (one quarter of it) when displaying 3D content that was broadcasted side-by-side, regardless of the magic interpolation of created pixels the TV can do to complete the displayed image.

Side-by-side is one common 3D format/structure used by DirecTV and Cable with some 3D content, and eventually most probably be used by over-the-air 3D broadcast to maximize the 6 MHz bandwidth limitation of the channel allocation.

In other words, the number of pixels of “original resolution” each eye receives on the 3DFusion demo without 3D glasses (900x500) is similar to what each eye receives of the same “original resolution of 1920x1080” from a side-by-side 3D broadcast when displayed on a passive glasses 3DTV (960x540). Would you prefer to view the same original pixels with or without glasses?

... the company is now making available a proprietary real-time processing software solution that manufacturers can license to facilitate their implementation of better quality glasses-free 3D. Such a processing feature can be incorporated into Blu-ray players, external boxes, or the display itself to reach the same goal. Although the technology can be applied to plasma panels, the company feels that the results will not be as good because of the lower fill rate of plasma displaying 3D images.

Although no price was officially established, informal discussions pointed to a starting $8,000 range until sufficient production volume can be leveraged. When judging an $8,000 price on a 2011 world of $2,000-$3,000 3D active/passive displays that require glasses, one may react negatively to the choice, but it is important to remember the high prices during the introduction of HDTV in 1998, with first generation CRT RPTVs in the range of $5,000-$9,000 (56” Toshiba to 64” Pioneer Elite), over-the-air HDTV tuners as high as $3,000 (Pioneer external unit) just to tune ATSC, and 42” plasma panels around the $10,000 range (Fujitsu for example) that were not even in HD resolution.

I remember that in detail because I have been involved with HDTV since the 80s and purchased my early-adopter HDTV and tuners as soon as they became available, certainly at prohibitive prices but worth every penny when considering the importance of that first experience of a technology that took so much effort and time to develop by the US television industry.

This phase of glasses-free 3D should be evaluated under the same perspective until economies-of-scale kick-in for the glasses-free 3D business model, while the 3D auto-stereoscopic technology improves rapidly on a daily basis.

I close with a quote 3DFusion received from a renowned 3D industry leader at a November  12th 2010 demonstration of 3DFusion's 42" glasses-free Auto Stereoscopic Display at the 3ality Digital Studio in LA, where 3ality Digital CEO’s Steve Schklair offered the following thoughts on the 3DFusion 3DTV ASD platform:                           

"…this is the best autostereo display I've seen to date"…"For certain commercial applications, the 3D Fusion ASD is ready now, and this technology for the home is a lot closer than I previously thought. Their live 3D camera capture / ASD display, complete with on-the –fly depth adjustments, clearly demonstrates proof of concept.  It works.

Rodolfo La Maestra, HDTV Magazine

Variety Magazine
3DFusion Brings 3D TV to Hollywood
"Excited about 3D TV but skeptical about the glasses? You may want to check out a demo of the 3DFusion autostereo (glasses-free) 3D TV.

3DFusion unveiled its glasses-free flatscreen at the Paul Kagan 3D conference in Gotham in October, generating some buzz on tech websites. We saw it a week later and were impressed enough to invite them to the Variety offices for a demo. We also invited CEO James Carlton of HC 3D and his business partner Charlotte Huggins, producer of "Journey to the Center of the Earth."

3DFusion CEO Ilya Sorokin came to Variety right off the plane without a chance to adjust their gear, and only got the picture to "75%." Even at that level, Huggins said: "Without a doubt it's the first glasses-free 3D I've ever seen that completely worked for me," adding that "I have never wanted my HDTV at home to be 3D until (seeing the 3DFusion)."

Carlton said, "I had the same feeling I had when I saw HD for the first time in 2003. If the technology is what it appears to be, it could be groundbreaking."

3DFusion licensed autostereo patents from Phillips, which abandoned its efforts to market an autostereo TV in the economic downturn. They return to their Gotham HQ today. L.A.-based Tao 3D has struck deal to become the exclusive West Coast partner of 3DFusion for 2D-to-3D conversion, events and advertising."

David S. Cohen, Variety
3DFusion at New York Signage Fair
"One of the most exciting technologies on display was 3D Fusion’s remarkable three-dimensional television.  Unlike current 3D TVs on the market, this one did not require special glasses to deliver a highly effective three-dimensional image, which is visible from every angle that a standard 2D flat panel monitor is.  Content can be prerecorded such as movies and other videos, or live 3D broadcast, which can be viewed in real-time."

Mario Almonte, Examiner