This more of a tech note than dissertation.
JVC, Hyundai, Sony, Panasonic, and the like – are all coming out with 3D monitors. And they’re all flat. And they’re all shiny and sleek. Other subjective features aside, many of the ones you’ve been eyeballing don’t quite cut the mustard when used in the edit bay. Here’s why.
- Frame Rate. Sure, if you’re in the 29.97 / 59.94 world, you’re most likely OK. But if you’re in the 23.98 realm – Be careful! Consumer and pro-sumer 3D monitors often have HDMI input. HDMI is traditionally a consumer and pro-sumer video transport mechanism, so it only stands to reason they would be found on the monitor. Some oddball frame rates – such as 23.98PsF – are not a consumer frame rate. In fact, the HDMI 1.3 spec doesn’t even allow for it. Thus, if you are working in Avid or Final Cut Pro (for example) – and you’re trying to achieve that film look with 3D – that deal you got on your cheap(er) 3D monitor may have served to bite you later. I’ve recent run into this situation with the JVC 463D10U.Word to the wise: check the spec of the monitor you are buying to ensure it handles any of the frame rates and resolutions you could possibly use.
Solutions / Triage: Cross or down-convert on the output. Avid, for example, can cross convert 1080p 23.98 to 1080i 59.94 or 720p. These are more standard resolutions which a larger variety of monitors can handle. Outboard devices can also handle this, such as the AJA HI5 3G. This unit takes your HD-SDI output (Mojo DX, Nitris DX, Kona3) and does the conversion from 23.98PsF to 23.98p AND converts to HDMI. $690.00 solution.
- Type of 3D playback: Passive / Active. I’m not about to launch into the pros and cons of each format but I will tell you what is downwind: Glasses Price. Passive glasses are cheap (in some cases, less than $10, I’ve seen decent paper framed ones – for $1 a piece) Active glasses are over $100 each. So, be aware of the added cost if going active and you have a large viewing audience.
Solutions / Triage: Glasses are probably the least of your concerns – as Active vs Passive is a very old argument – with no clear-cut winner. Decide on what format looks best to you (and the people paying your rate) and find a monitor that handles that.
- Flavor of 3D compression. Avid, for example, uses a product called Metafuze to marry left eye and right eye into 1 HD frame size – to constrain to the limits of the Avid software. This yields 2 full frames squashed into 1 full frame, yielding a side by side, over/under, or interlaced image. Aside from losing half the resolution from the get go, this also presents the dilemma “which format should I choose?” Your 3D monitor will tell you. Some monitors only understand, for example, side by side. Thus, if you’ve used Metafuze and encoded into over/under, you now have media that your monitor cannot display properly. That was a waste of time, eh?Word to the wise: Always verify what you shoot – how you edit – how you view – and how you output – are all the same, or, at least can play together nicely.
Solutions / Triage: Cine-Tal’s Davio, is a hardware based solution utilizing software libraries. One of the libraries handles 3D and can convert inbound baseband 3D video signals into other flavors: side by side can become over/under, for example. You can also split single link to dual link for legacy 3D projection gear. Expect to spend $2500 for the box, and $2500 for the 3D library. DoReMi also has the Dimension-3D box, which reportedly has similar abilities.
- 2D vs. 3D Media. Some 3D monitors easily display a separate 2D image, or a separate 3D image. Taking a 3D image and “muting” one of the eyes – therein lies the challenge. Many monitors cannot eliminate the “combined” 3D image in order to view strictly one eye – 2D. Having this ability is useful in the edit bay, when A) wearing the glasses gives you a headache while you edit B) glasses cut down on light getting to your eye, yielding a darker than usual edit bay and C) you look like damn fool.Solutions / Triage: Currently, to accomplish this in Avid you would need to keep 2 versions of media – 2D and 3D – and relink to each set of media when wanting to view the appropriate output, or buy extra hardware (see Cine-tal’s Davio, above). Avid’s hardware cannot alter the output of the 3D signal in terms of swapping single frame arrangement or muting eyes (those setting you see in Avid, those are for the Composer Window – Sorry!). I understand Hyundai’s latest 3D monitor has the ability to mute an eye during 3D playback.
- 3D Editing Support. As of this writing (early July, 2010), ONLY Avid has a complete end to end 3D editiorial and finishing solution. While there are other solutions that can trick editorial softs into pseudo 3d editing, or to simply finish 3D after editorial Avid is the only complete end to end solution.Solutions / Triage: How much time do you want to waste attempting to Rube Goldberg a 3D workflow, only to have the kluge be unsupported when it blows up? If you’re doing a complete project – editing and finishing – stick with the most solid solution.