Silicon Imaging Announces SI-3D Stereo Monitoring, Analysis, Recording and Transmission System

Stand C8444, NAB 2012

Silicon Imaging, the recipient of this years International 3D Society Technology Award, announces the patent-pending SI-3D Stereo Monitoring, Analysis, Recording and Transmission (S.M.A.R.T) system. SMART captures images from RAW or HD-SDI sources, such as RED, ARRI, Sony, Panasonic, Canon, P+S and Silicon Imaging SI-2K to perform stereo analysis, image correction, 3D LUT color processing and recording, all in a single portable platform under wireless control via Apple iPad. Camera alignment and scene depth information, along with rig and lens controls are displayed graphically with the stereo video. SMART determines residual errors caused by lens mismatch and keystones from convergence and generates real-time warped corrected video outputs. For live-events, it can directly output side-by-side corrected material and externally encoded for Internet delivery. Recording can be either uncompressed or visually lossless compressed into a single file encapsulating both left and right eyes along with audio, rig motion, stereo correction and timecode metadata. The recorded content can be immediately edited in Final Cut, Avid, Adobe Premier Pro or other applications supporting Apple QuickTime files on a PC or Mac, or linked with 4K source material recorded in-camera.

“The innovative SI-3D SMART system enables you to quickly shoot perfect 3D with your favorite cinema or broadcast cameras and stereo alignment rigs” states Ari Presler, CEO Silicon Imaging. “In the past, a rack cart full of proprietary processing devices and nest of cables would be required to be connected to the rigs. Now, everything needed to monitor, control and record synchronized 3D is self contained, can be battery powered and even fit on a steadicam to operate handheld and untethered.”

The system captures synchronized HD-SDI streams and combines them into a variety of viewing formats such as Anaglyph, Delta, Split, Interlace and Side-by-side). Each view is independently selectable on dual monitor outputs, for use by the director, operator and stereographer. In addition, source Left and Right inputs are directly looped out for additional distribution. A built-in 3D LUT processor enables camera Log C or REC 709 format to be colorized with a desired look for on-set visualization. Sophisticated calibrated looks can be created using Adobe CS6 Speedgrade and fed back into post for a seamless color workflow.

The captured video is then processed by the stereo analyzer, featuring technology developed in collaboration with Fraunhofer HHI. SMART determines camera alignment (eg. tilt, roll, height and keystones), lens focal length (zoom position) differences and relative H and V image position. Once a rig is initially aligned with its sub-pixel precision mode, cameras can be moved with inter-axial and convergence controls while the system displays a color-coded depth gauge with alarms for depth budget and geometry violations. For more detailed view of depth objects, color coded vectors can be overalyed on the image to indicate areas which would show up in front or behind the screen plane.

“The Silicon Imaging SMART 3D system combines all the tools needed for shooting perfect 3D from HD to 4K into a single portable platform” states Fredrik Zilly, of the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute. “We are very excited to be collaborating with Silicon Imaging, a leader in this industry, to deliver best-in-class stereo production products and technology.”

Even the best prime or zoom lens optics and aligned rigs will have some residual errors resulting in focal length mismatch and geometry distortion. Also, when shooting converged or toed-in, keystone errors are introduced. The SMART system determines these errors and uses its WARP engine to correct the image, prior to output.

Its FIZICS engine communicates with a variety of rigs and motion controllers to capture Focus, Iris, Zoom, Inter-axial, Convergence and Stereo alignment (aka F.I.Z.I.C.S.) status. Then send commands back to the rig for manual or automated controls. It also enables parallel shooting with virtual convergence using Horizontal Image Translation (HIT), eliminating the keystone artifacts introduced by mechanical convergence. Adjustment commands, typically sent from a hand unit by convergence puller, are received by the FIZICS engine and applied as on-screen HIT. No black borders appear on the outputs, as a fixed percent zoom is applied, leveraging the extra resolution found on 2K and 4K camera.

For multi-camera shoots, each SMART unit contains an embedded Ambient precision clockit module. It can be used as the master timecode generator for all other devices on-set including multiple SMART units. Once they are jammed, the SMART units will stay synchronized with less than one frame of drift for an entire day of shooting.

The source stereo footage along with rig data, geometry correction, Virtual Convergence, On-set Color, Audio and Timecode metadata are all recorded into a single Quicktime file, either uncompressed or compressed using the GoPro Cineform codec. This eliminates the need linking left/right pairs, transcoding footage and synchronizing metadata in post. Each recording also generates a simple text file, with a line of metadata per frame for parsing and use in 3rd party VFX and post stereo tools. The stereo files can be immediately played back as original raw footage or output with corrections applied. Stereographers can even override recorded HIT and watch changing virtual convergence during playback.

Finally, the system can wirelessly transmit the stereo image and touch-screen user interface control to an iPad, further simplifying on-set monitoring and reduced cabling.

“Combining all these functions into a single portable platform has enabled more cost effective production and higher quality stereo content, than has been shot to date. states Nick Lantz, stereographer at Radiant Images. “The stereo alignment, depth visualization with instant stereo playback is amazing. I can adjust my rig and pull convergence directly from my iPad.”

Silicon Imaging will be demonstrating the SI-3D SMART system at NAB 2012 in collaboration with Fraunhofer HHI in booth C8444.

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