Tag Archives: IMAX

World’s First 4K 3D Civil War Battle videos

I realized last night that the 4K 3D videos I posted on Youtube are the world’s first ever Civil War era battle re-enactments posted online in 4K 3D format. Kind of cool.

The videos were created using dual Lumix GH-2 cameras, each shooting a 1920×1080/30p video stream.

These were edited and mastered in Sony Vegas Pro and output as full width side by side videos – meaning 3840 pixels wide by 1080 high.

This is then uploaded to Youtube with several “tags” set to tell Youtube how to encode the video properly. When viewed on Youtube, two new viewing resolutions appear: 1440 HD and 2160 4K. Even if you only have a typical 2K monitor, either of the higher resolutions looks much, much cleaner in 3D!

ImportantThis remains experimental! I can only view the videos in correct format using Firefox. Chrome tells me I do not have HTML5 compliant hardware. I could play all but one video on an LG 3D TV using the LG Youtube app. However, when I played the videos on the same TV using a Sony BluRay player’s Youtube app, the videos have the wrong aspect ratio (3840×1080 instead of 1920×1080). A separate video I mastered as 3840×2160 side-by-side 3D did better, but means I have to double the file size (data rate) to get the same image quality.

We can argue about whether or not paired 2K streams are really 4K video. In one sense, they are half vertical resolution 4K. But when 4K is used to stream 3D, we end up with half size images on the left and right anyway. The effect is therefore the same in terms of what gets delivered.

Additionally, Digital IMAX theaters, as of now, are thought of as 4K theaters but they use dual 2K projectors (they will be upgrading the theaters eventually). Digital IMAX provides a more immersive and louder sound experience, but the Digital IMAX screens are just a little bigger than regular movie screens – and not like the 70 to 90 foot tall original IMAX screens.

In other words, dual paired 2K streams used for 4K 3D end up being roughly equivalent to having been shot in 4K on both cameras due to how the 3D left/right pair has to split the 4K image anyway.

IMAX 3D version of Top Gun

I watched the 2D to 3D conversion of Top Gun, presented in IMAX 3D.

Digital IMAX is not real IMAX for those of us who used to see the big screen IMAX. Digital IMAX 3D is a tiny screen with a really, really, really loud sound system. So loud that I wore ear plugs through the entire movie (I often carry earplugs with me to protect my hearing).

The only meaningful difference between IMAX 3D and Real 3D theaters is IMAX 3D is really, really, really loud. Yeah, the IMAX 3D sound system is “better” and goes to at least 11. Maybe 111.

The 2D to 3D conversion mostly works well.  Many of the original scenes used narrow depth of field to convey depth so that in this 3D conversion, those out of focus section are still out of focus. Not my preference for out of focus to convey depth in 3D when actual depth can convey the same idea.

There were several scenes that probably work better as 2D-to-3D conversion than if they had been shot in 3D. During the conversion process, depth maps are created and they can be used to position subjects where ever needed. The aerial combat scenes are an example where this works well – in real life, it would have been tough to capture the deep 3D effects due to the need for very wide lens spacing in a true 3D camera. Another example was a brief clip of an air terminal building, and one of planes on the flight lane, where a 3D camera probably would not have captured depth so well due to the placement of subjects from near to far.

This was the first full length 2D-to-3D conversion that I have watched and I thought the conversion was done well and worked out well and I will go see other converted movies in the future.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie more than I thought I would. My recollection was that I liked the movie when it first came out long ago due to the fact that I liked the flying scenes (even if somethings were a little goofy – I have a pilot’s license and I can be picky about such things), but had remembered not liking the cocky, arrogant attitude of the young pilots portrayed in the movie. (I’ve known a few military pilots and they were neither cocky nor arrogant but professionals.)

In the final assessment, I’ll pay a premium for 3D – but I would not pay a premium for digital IMAX. Today, the IMAX brand means its really loud and the screen size in digital IMAX is not the giant IMAX screens of the past.  May as well see the same movie, if available, on Sony 4K/RealD 3D instead for a bit less money.

That out of the way, the U.S. Navy rocks and anyone who watches the movie will want to enlist immediately afterwards 🙂

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The Hobbit in High Frame Rate 3D

Last weekend, we all watched The Hobbit at a 2D movie theater (part of a family get together). The movie was great – but this post is not about the story – but about the technology.

The 2D movie theater used a 2K projection system and the image appeared remarkably soft to us. From our seats, it felt like watching a standard DVD projected on to an HDTV screen and we felt sort of cheated by the theater experience (from a national movie theater chain).

Last night, my wife and I watched The Hobbit in HFR 3D and that was a far better image quality. The theater was using the Sony digital cinema 4k projection system and the RealD 3D system. While half the bandwidth goes to the left eye and half to the right eye, our brains fuse it all back together to give us pretty much a 4k equivalent viewing experience.

Many reviewers have complained that HFR 3D looks too much like TV or a “soap opera” look, but I suspect the complaint is not about HFR, per se, but about the projection system. I saw what they were talking about – there was a slight color cast to the images reminiscent of television, rather than the more saturated colors of film. I have not seen similar complaints about the digital IMAX version, for example.

My guess is this has to do with the HFR 3D projection system itself. The digital projection outputs through (as I understand it) a couple of beam splitters with significantly less light striking the screen. They compensate for this, in part, by using a more reflective silver screen than the usual white screen. I suspect this with perhaps polarized glasses, results in a slight color cast. I especially noticed this early in the movie inside Bilbo’s hobbit home.

One would think theaters would individually do some color calibration. Anyway, the color issue that so many reviewers write about seems likely due to color calibration and not HFR.

The Hobbit has been released in multiple formats including 2D, conventional 24 fps 3D, HFR 3D, IMAX, IMAX 3D (on film) and IMAX HFR 3D.

The IMAX HFR 3D version is available in only a small number of theaters. Just one theater in my entire state is able to show the IMAX HFR 3D.

For most of us that means we can choose between HFR 3D (probably using RealD technology) or IMAX 3D.

“digital” IMAX 3D is sort of, pardon the phrase, a digital “fake” IMAX – unless you have access to one of the very few real IMAX screens.

The screens are much smaller than the original giant IMAX theater screens. Theater chains have reconfigured existing theaters to slightly enlarge the screens from floor to ceiling and wall to wall – but no where near the giant 60 to 90 foot high screens of the original IMAX. The digital IMAX 3D version of The Hobbit is essentially a 24 fps version projected on a slightly larger screen. But, per the IMAX company, digital IMAX has an enhanced projection system – higher contrast, for example – and a better sound system. The technology uses dual 2k projectors operating together – but they are a different aspect ratio than a wide screen 4k projector. (And a 4k image has 4x the image resolution of a 2k image – its doubled in both horizontal and vertical.) “digital IMAX” is impressive technology – the problem is the dilution of the IMAX brand name which was long associated with huge screens and detailed 70mm film resolution into what is sort-of a 4k projection system on smaller screens, albeit with enhanced sound systems and possibly better color and contrast.

Yet, side by side “shoot out” demonstrations of 4k projection systems with digital IMAX practically call them a draw, giving high marks to the digital 4k projections versus the historically better IMAX.

Another wrinkle is calibration of the lensing on the 3D projection systems. A number of viewers on the 3D Photo forum report seeing The Hobbit in 3D theaters where the projection system was not properly aligned, being off by an estimated 1 to 15 pixels. That is enough to cause eye strain.

What this means is that for most of us, the HFR 3D experience will be on par with the “digital” IMAX 3D – unless you are near one of the few “digital IMAX” theaters than can show IMAX HFR 3D.

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