Vizrt Dives Into 3D Stereoscopic Graphics, Enhances Multi-Touch Capabilities

Later this week. IBC, the European equivalent of NAB, will kick into high gear, and Vizrt will be among the hundreds of exhibitors looking to impress broadcast technologists from around the world with new products and features. Topping the Vizrt list will be advances in real-time stereo-3D rendering, including the ability to insert real 3D graphics in true Z-space to enhance a stereoscopic production.

“For stereoscopic production, you usually have 3D video material, like video inputs and clips, and you want to put graphics on top, like lower thirds,” says Gerhard Schaber PhD, head of R&D Austria for Vizrt. “By controlling the parallax, you can move the graphics into the scene or towards the viewer, and you can play with this effect. For example, you can put an advertisement right into the playfield of an American football game or put nametags directly over each player. This takes the graphics right into the action, instead of just flat on the screen.”

Taking graphics into the action, and into the realm of stereoscopic 3D, will require artists to be more careful when designing 3D elements and scenes.

“Moving graphics near the left or right border of the visible area might disturb the viewer,” explains Schaber. “Graphics for either eye might disappear out of the visible area. It is recommended to only move graphics in and out from top to bottom, bottom to top, back to front, and front to back.”

In addition, he says, scenes often look disturbing when stereo-3D rendering is turned on for a graphic designed for 2D needs. “A designer of 2D scenes usually does not care how it looks in stereo 3D.”

Also, at IBC, a new multi-touch API within Viz Engine 3.3 will be exhibited. “We have a prototype of an app for Apple’s iPad to control the Viz Engine for playout,” says Schaber. “But of course, there is still need for multi-touch devices. The anchorman can directly touch the graphic elements on the screen and control the presentation. This is intuitive and easy to handle. With iPad, you need more training to speak fluently while operating the device.”

But Schaber sees some potential for iPad and other touchscreen devices as tools for talent and others to control 3D elements.

“With properly designed scenes and control interface, the anchorman can decide which scenes to display, like charts of an election, and which parts to emphasize,” he says. “By turning the device 90 degrees, the device shows a list of actions he can take. With iPad or other touch devices, the anchorman gets a control interface in hand that could never be displayed on a screen that the viewer actually sees. A viewer would not want to see the control interface, only the content.”

Also set to be unveiled is support for Windows 7, along with 64-bit processing to provide 4 GB of memory to both Viz Engines.

“Although a 32-bit application cannot make use of the full 64-bit address space,” Schaber points out, “it is still a great improvement to run it on a 64-bit OS, because each process can address full 4 GB of memory.”