NAB Perspectives: 3ality Digital’s Schklair on Game-Changing 3D

3ality Digital has spent years attempting to automate 3D camera convergence and alignment, and, at the 2011 NAB Show, the company has unveiled the fruits of that labor. 3ality is showcasing a new suite of technologies, dubbed the 3space line, which will provide automation and flexibility in the 3D-production chain. In turn, that automation is designed to enable the creation of better, faster, less expensive 3D.

“We’ve been promising this for a while, but now you can look at it and it works,” says Steve Schklair, CEO/founder of 3ality Digital.

3ality’s IntelleCam software solution answers the question Schklair is most often asked when it comes to 3D production: when are you going to get rid of all the convergence operators? IntelleCam does just that. By automatically controlling the convergence and interaxial spacing of the cameras, the software eliminates the extra operator needed to converge each camera, and Schklair says the broadcast product is improved as a result.

“You no longer have to drag those extra 10 people for a 10-camera show, and the show is actually better without the convergence pullers because the computer never gets restless or sneezes, so it’s actually smoother,” Schklair says. “One guy can run all of the cameras. He controls the depth of the scene, and the cameras follow his demands for what the depth is.”

That operator can tweak individual cameras if needed but manipulates the parameters of the 3D, not the camera itself.

“He can say that camera 3 from that angle can go a little deeper, so he’ll adjust it a little bit,” Schklair says. “Nobody’s actually moving the cameras. One guy can run five, 10, 20 cameras himself.”

Powered by a Bexel-provided flypack of equipment, the auto convergence software is in action at the 3ality Digital booth, covering a pickup basketball game between the Central and South Halls.

“The amount of processing behind this is unbelievable,” Schklair says. “It runs in our stereo image processor, which is an unbelievably powerful box. The challenge was really getting the algorithms to work with consistency.”

Another frequent question he fields covers better ways to handle graphics. To answer that, 3ality debuted IntelleMatte, a graphics application that can insert graphics between objects in the foreground and background, on the fly.

“We can put graphics anywhere, behind the people, behind the goalpost, anywhere, dynamically,” Schklair explains. “That solves the whole graphics problem. Now the director can put the graphic in the middle of the field or on the back wall. For advertising, you can start plastering ads over the back of the stadium.”

3ality is also showcasing its IntelleCal solution, which eliminates the problems caused by camera-alignment delays. IntelleCal profiles and matches lenses and performs alignment on five axes to automatically align two cameras on a rig within five minutes, at the push of a button.

“Now you don’t need a specialist to align the cameras,” Schklair says. “Any camera operator can come in, push the button, and the cameras will align themselves.”

3ality also released its IntelleMotion image-stabilization software for long lenses and its IntelleScene automated transition and scene-management tool, but none of the new software has been delivered to customers yet.

“Sky is going to start testing IntelleCam very shortly, but I don’t want to release it until I’ve tested it in real battlefield conditions,” Schklair says. “Sky is a great testing ground, and they’ve agreed to test for us.”

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