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Special Report: 3D Video in Pro AV

In part one of a two-part special report, our video expert details how 3D video works and which technologies work best depending on need.

3D. by now, chances are you’ve heard of it. You’ve probably seen it in a theater, at a trade show, or at your local home entertainment store. For much of 2010, the buzz around 3D has been impossible to avoid, from the long-awaited release of Avatar to ESPN’s 3D coverage of the World Cup soccer tournament. Multimillion-dollar marketing campaigns have been launched to convince consumers they want 3D in their homes. Digital cinemas charge 30 percent to 50 percent more for tickets to 3D movies. The first 3D Blu-ray discs and players are trickling into retail stores. And other TV networks are making plans to show major sporting events and concerts in 3D this fall.

In our market, 3D is showing up in self-contained large-screen displays and front-projection rigs. Manufacturers are touting the advantages of 3D for schools, simulation, home theaters, and large venues. Interface manufacturers tout their “3D compatibility” while software companies are rushing low-cost tools for authoring 3D content on computers.

If all this reminds you of the digital TV transition from a decade ago, it should. The interest in 3D is similar to that of digital TV and the rush of 3D activity has created just as much confusion. Once again, acronyms and shorthand have gotten ahead of facts and education, leaving many would-be customers and solution designers baffled and wondering if there really is a place for 3D in the professional AV marketplace.

The answer is yes, 3D does have a place in our world. It’s not going to replace conventional 2D projection and displays. And not every presentation or video benefits from the 3D format. It is not the next step in presenting visual information; rather, 3D is a subset of digital videoand a very specialized one at that.

In the first part of our special report on 3D in pro AV, we’ll break down how exactly today’s 3D display technologies work and discuss when to use one over another. In part two, coming in the next issue of Pro AV, we’ll delve into real-world applications.

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