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Technicolor Aims to be Leader in 3D HDTV Technology



By : Chris Tribbey | Posted: 25 Feb 2010


HOLLYWOOD — Technicolor is a name synonymous with film, set-top box technology and disc authoring, compression and replication.

The Paris-based company hopes to soon be tagged with another moniker: leader in 3D.

From delivering 3D broadcasts to high-def set-top boxes, to working with the positioning of subtitles and other data on 3D images for film, disc and broadcast, to perfecting the front-end filming of 3D images, the company displayed all its 3D guns Feb. 25 at the just-opened W Hollywood Hotel, entertaining clients, media and local film students.

“We’re showcasing a number of technologies that could be used by Technicolor or farmed out to others,” said Gary Donnan, SVP of corporate research. “We have a range of 3D technologies that are going to impact how we view 3D theatrically, as well with home entertainment and on mobile devices. It’s an important part of our strategy.”

Among the more interesting Technicolor 3D technologies displayed was one that will allow 3D HDTV owners to control the left- and right-eye depth of their 3D images. In addition to controls for volume, brightness and contrast, consumers could some day have a “depth” option as well.

Donnan and Thierry Borel, with Technicolor’s research and innovation division in France, pointed to two different 3D films that used different tactics with depth. Avatar, they said, purposefully went light on depth, aiming to be easier on viewers’ eyes. 2007’s Beowulf, on the other hand, used strong depth with various items on the screen at the same time, potentially overworking the eyes of some viewers.

The Technicolor technology, which is still in development, would allow 3D HDTV owners to throttle the depth of 3D content up or down.

“With 3D you have to be careful with what you ask someone’s brain to do,” Donnan said. “It’s all about comfort.”

Technicolor also showed off technology that automatically translates and crops 3D content for mobile devices. Animated 3D content is the easiest to translate and crop from mobile applications, Technicolor said. For live-action fare, sporting events, and even theoretically simple fare such as news broadcasts, it takes more work. The company’s technology is built to recognize faces, focused action, even the ends of a tennis court net, and allows for instant cropping from 16:9 to 4:3, hopefully without losing any of the important content.

“The degree of immersion has to be raised,” Donnan said. “3D raises a whole lot of technical innovations that deal with the comfort of the user. The person sitting down in the theater, in their living room, has to enjoy the experience.”

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