Panasonic: Mainstream 3D? The Time Is Now

By Carolyn Braff

Panasonic has made a significant push to 3D at this year’s NAB Show,
offering a stunning demonstration of what 3D in the home can look like.
According to Keisuke Suetsugi, manager of Pansonic’s high-quality–AV
development center, the 3D emphasis is far more than a wow-factor
gimmick to lure attendees to the booth. Rather, when it comes to making
3D a legitimate broadcast medium, for this brief moment, the company
believes, all the stars are aligned in Panasonic’s favor.

“We do not want to miss this opportunity,” Suetsugi says. “3D has
failed many times in the past. This time, we’d like to do this right so
that 3D can be a mainstream format for the video industry. The
environment is ready, content is ready, the technology is ready, so we
cannot miss this time. If we fail again, it’s going to be forever.”

The 3D on display at the Panasonic booth is stereo 3D, combining two
images onto a single display. Left-eye and right-eye images each flash
at 120 frames per second, in sequence (left, right, left right). Active
shutter glasses, equipped with batteries and electric socketry,
accordingly open and close the left and right viewing windows at 120
frames per second, to sync with the images being processed on the
screen. The 3D-enabled television shines an infrared signal to the
glasses, which have a receptor probe on the bridge. Inside the probe is
an IR sensor that detects the infrared signal and recognizes the timing
of the frame sequential, so that the lenses shutter at an interval that
matches the on-screen images.

“We are proposing to have full HD resolution for each eye,” Suetsugi
explains. “That has never been done in the consumer industry. We are
hoping to be able to establish two standards, the Blu-ray standard to
store that data on a disc, and the other is the HDMI standard, how to
carry the signal from the playback device to the display device.”

The display, Blu-ray, and HDMI technology already have the capability
to do that, Suetsugi says, so all that needs to be done is to assign a
3D flag to the signal.

“Just by doing that, we can have a full-resolution image, which is the
picture you looked at inside the theater,” Suetsugi explains. “That’s
what we would like to have in the consumer arena.”

And Panasonic wants that in the consumer arena quickly – sometime next
year. But before the product can hit the shelves, there must be
content, because, without compelling 3D content, all Panasonic has is a
box and a screen. With that in mind, Panasonic established the 3D
Blu-ray disc-compression and authoring center in Hollywood last
January, and the company is reaching out to content-producers to help
them create top-notch 3D content.

“That way, we can grow all together the best possible 3D by having
everything ready together at the same time,” Suetsugi says, including
cameras, editing systems, displays, and content. “That’s our message at
this NAB Show.”