SMPTE Stereoscopic 3D Conference Looks at Viewer Comfort and Beyond

Posted By Igor Ridanovic on June 22, 2011 07:11 pm | Permalink

NEW YORK - The second day of the SMPTE conference on stereoscopic 3D was marked by presentations focused on viewer comfort, S3D processing and display technology.

Papers presented during the morning session addressed various ways to improve S3D viewer comfort through mathematically derived production guidelines, post production depth grading, and even viewer controllable apparent scene depth.

Didier Doyen of Technicolor France described the concept of embedding dense disparity maps in the S3D video signal and using them to allow TV viewers to adjust 3D intensity to flatten or enhance the appearance of depth. This adjustment could be used to suit personal tastes or to compensate for eye straining hyper convergence or hyper divergence.

The most jaw dropping presentation of the morning did not involve S3D directly, but it implied various possible applications in S3D imaging. Marc Levoy showed examples of several prototypes developed by his team at Stanford University. Particularly interesting was a demonstration of the ability to selectively refocus arbitrary planes in a still photograph in post production.

The second part of the day was dedicated to the latest in stereoscopic display systems including holographic displays.

While holographic TVs are not going to appear in stores soon, V. Michael Bove gave a good overview of the promises and constraints of the technology, which is a subject of research at MIT and several other institutes worldwide. Holographic eyewear-free images deliver comfortable 3D pictures by eliminating the vergence/accommodation disconnect which can cause eye strain in conventional stereoscopic display systems.

Douglas Lanman from MIT Media Lab offered an improvement of another autostereoscopic monitor suitable for hand held devices based on the 100 year old parallax barriers display. He invited the audience to download plans and build their own mock display using nothing more than an inkjet printer, transparencies and some software.

While waiting for the next year's SMPTE stereoscopic conference, I might just do that!

Igor Ridanovic is a film and TV technology consultant in Los Angeles.