imcube, a leading R&D and Software Development company for 2D-to-3D Conversion and 3D Image Processing in Berlin has provided a revolutionary 2D-to-3D conversion service for her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s 2012 Christmas Broadcast. The Queen has made history, becoming the first Royal to appear in 3D in her annual Christmas Day speech. The speech was produced by Sky News and recorded using BSkyB’s 3D cameras, involving support from ONSIGHT’s camera department. ONSIGHT, a leading production facilities company, has also been chosen as imcube’s UK post production service provider. The speech was made available in multiple formats in addition to the 3D version. Using 3D for such an iconic TV broadcast testifies to the strength of 3D, and its move into the mainstream.
The broadcast consisted of a combination of live footage of the Queen’s address, shot natively in 3D, and archived footage including several scenes of the Queen’s Jubilee and the 2012 Olympics, all of which were retrieved and later converted into 3D using imcube’s technology.
The broadcast’s Director John Bennett says, ‘The beauty of the conversion process is it gave us the luxury of beingable to turn the best HD images from a memorable day into 3D, long after the event! The quality and effect is breath taking – far better than I had hoped, bringing thecrowds and the boats on the River alive in 3D space for the first time. It really is a fantastic facility for enhancing 2D pictures for a 3D audience.’
2D to stereoscopic 3D conversion is now a well-known process. It has previously been applied to such famous films as Titanic and Star Wars for their 3D cinema re-release. In this process, every single frame of a film has to be treated manually by highly skilled conversion artists, mostly at conversion facilities in India. It is a labour-intensive process, incurring costs of around US $100,000 per minute (Titanic cost $93,000/min). The 3D conversion process is also integral to shooting many films in ‘native 3D’. Essential parts of the film are recorded in 2D and later converted into stereo 3D in order to avoid the complications and imperfections that are inherent in native 3D shooting. The best-known example of this ‘hybrid 3D workflow’ is Michael Bay’s box-office hit Transformers III: Dark of the Moon, in which 78 minutes of converted footage was seamlessly integrated with natively captured 3D.
Chris Johns, BSkyB’s Chief Engineer, says, ‘The imcube technology has given Sky the opportunity to incorporate some powerful images originally shot in 2D within the 3D broadcast. Using the technology has helped usdeliver an immersive and historic 3D view of a momentous year.’
imcube has developed a patented process, which supports the laborious processes of conversion with a number of automated software stages, and which will bring cinema-quality 3D conversion to 3D TV, at an affordable cost for 3D TV channels’ budgets. Wilhelm F. Mittrich, imcube’s Director of Corporate Development, says, ‘We are proud to be involved in this spectacular broadcast production, which is the result of a truly international joint effort. Our scientists in Berlin started to develop the broadcast 3D conversion technology about 18 months ago. Our many skilled artists in Ji’nan, China, underwent training in the conversion process for many months, producing a result that the stereographers and producers in London were extremely happy with. This is now part of a unique 3D production, and was broadcast on 3D channels in many countries on Christmas Day 2012.’
Sky News’ Associate Editor John McAndrew adds, ‘The work imcube did for us on the Queen’s Christmas Broadcast was amazing; this was the first time we’d done anything like this in 3D – and it was a year packed for of amazing images from the Olympics and the Jubilee. They brought many of these iconic images to life for us andmade an invaluable contribution to one of Sky News’ biggest projects of 2012.’