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We're developing a system that'll let you easily enjoy high-quality 3D content at home. Consisting of a 3D-ready configuration of plasma TV, Blu-ray player, Blu-ray Disc, and glasses, the system will bring you 3D content produced for theater use in all its outstanding quality, with almost no image degradation. A variety of development activities are in motion that should allow us to market the system around 2010.
The Panasonic 3D Theater System (Design Image)
Yes, it is. Hollywood, in particular, is on track to release 3D movies starting in 2009. The number of theaters capable of showing them is also rapidly increasing.
Actually, this isn't the first time that 3D movies have caused a sensation. Many who are reading this will probably remember wearing a pair of glasses with red and blue lenses to watch a 3D movie. However, today's 3D has evolved to a level of quality that far exceeds 3D attempts of the past, thanks largely to the progress made in both filming techniques and display systems. There is also a much more advanced environment in place for supplying and viewing dynamic, high-quality images. As movie creators, Hollywood directors are becoming increasingly excited about this new breed of 3D movies.
In response to these trends in the film industry, Panasonic decided to add 3D capabilities to our Blu-ray technologies. This is a natural extension of our desire to meet the needs of filmmakers by creating new ways to bring cinema-level impact into the living room and making it easy for people to enjoy. Panasonic has always worked to bring its customers the highest level of quality in AV content and AV products, and now we're doing the same with the new expressive 3D format. We're actively engaged in the technical development that will give form to Panasonic's exciting ideas.
To begin with, we record original master images in 1080p full-HD quality for both the left and right eyes onto the disc, ensuring that there is almost no image degradation. These images are then played by a 3D-ready Blu-ray player.
Panasonic uses the frame sequential method for 3D playback. This technology, which has actually existed since the 1980s, alternately reproduces images for the left and right eyes. The main difference between the previous technology and today's, though, is the stunning full-HD quality that we're using. Another point is that the alternating left and right images are each played at the super-high speed of 60 frames per second (fps). HD images at 60 fps for each eye means that HD images are being viewed by both eyes at 120 fps. That's twice as much information as in a normal HD image.
3D Image Playback
By watching the screen with 3D-ready glasses, in which the left and right lenses alternately open and close at the same speed as the images, the brain recognizes the images as 3D. Also, the large amount of image data per second produces an extremely lifelike 3D sensation.
By contrast, the following shows the amount of image data in conventional 3D playback systems.
Compared with the conventional methods, you can see how the density of image information that reaches the eyes each second is much higher with Panasonic's frame sequential method.
The production of 3D content requires a great deal of special expertise, both in the movie content itself and in aspects such as settings for the menu and subtitles. In order to quickly conduct the necessary research for this, Panasonic established the PHL Advanced Authoring Center (PHL-AC) inside the Panasonic Hollywood Laboratory in February 2009.
In addition to equipping the new facility with a variety of 3D systems, such as a 3D-ready Digital Cinema Projector (a Dolby 3D system for theater use) and a 3D full-HD 103-inch plasma system, PHL-AC is now developing a number of 3D enhancement functions for its authoring system, including 3D-ready image compression technology (an MPEG-4 AVC High Profile Video Encoder). At the same time, PHL-AC is actively producing prototypes of numerous 3D Blu-ray titles.
With the idea of achieving greater efficiency in 3D content production, up to and including disc media, Panasonic has also beefed up its support for the 3D movie production stage. This has included a wide range of technical support, such as the development of a test camera for Director James Cameron to use in the filming of his 3D movie Avatar from 2008 to 2009.
James Cameron has said that 3D will eventually become a new standard moviemaking technique in much the same way as the "talkies" did years ago. With this in mind, he is putting tremendous effort into 3D production to create 3D masterpieces with a level of quality that reflects a full understanding of the technology.
In response to the needs of film creators like James Cameron who are enthusiastically working on new 3D titles, Panasonic was pleased to announce the development of the industry's first professional twin-lens P2 video camera recorder at the NAB Show in Las Vegas, U.S.A., on April 20, 2009. Featuring pro-use, solid-state P2 cards as recording media, the compact, mechanism-free camera will greatly streamline the previously labor- and time-consuming process of creating 3D movies. Panasonic is now pouring new efforts into developing a high-quality, full-HD 3D video production system that will combine the new camera with a P2-card 3D video recorder and a large screen 3D-compatible High Definition plasma display for use in 3D image evaluation.
The day will soon come when the stunning images that are captured on movie sets and edited in studios will be available not only in movie theaters, but also on living room TVs. Naturally, in addition to its efforts in creating 3D images, Panasonic envisions the development of 3D theater systems based on plasma displays that will allow the highest-quality images to be comfortably enjoyed at home.
Well, we began by showing our newest 3D images at our 3D Full-HD Plasma Theaters at CEATEC JAPAN 2008 (Tokyo) in September 2008 and 2009 International CES (Las Vegas) in January 2009, and then in the Panasonic booth at the NAB 2009 Show (Las Vegas) in April 2009.
A view of the Panasonic booth at CES in Las Vegas. Long lines of people formed to get a look at the 3D Full-HD Plasma Theater.
At CES, we handed out leaflets describing our 3D technology with the catch phrase "See it. Believe it." The phrase turned out to be precisely true, with people who actually saw the 3D images giving excited descriptions such as, "Unbelievable! It's so much more realistic and powerful than any 3D I've ever seen."
People will have plenty of opportunities to see the newest 3D movies in the US, and I'm sure that in all of these movies the careful attention of the filmmakers and the passion that went into each movie will come across very strongly to the viewer because of the inherent power of 3D. I hope everyone reading this will also get a chance to experience these movies, because they're all very high-level productions.
The true age of 3D movies is just around the corner. At Panasonic, more than anything, we want people to be able to enjoy truly magnificent images at home. Looking forward to the very near future, when people will be able to freely choose from a large variety of 3D movies, we're speeding up our 3D efforts, and this includes our efforts to establish uniform 3D standards.