You will be redirected back to your article in seconds
Back to IndieWire

3D, 4K, HD? An Expert’s Take on the Battle of the TV Acronyms

3D, 4K, HD? An Expert's Take on the Battle of the TV Acronyms

Anyone at CES 2014 could not help but be dazzled by the latest 3D TVs from LG and Samsung. The 30-foot LG passive 3D video wall was the first thing to grab your attention when entering the main exhibit hall, overloading your senses with immersive content. 

Both LG and Samsung touted curved OLED 3D TVs, and the 4K 3D TV
offerings were outstanding. For those who understand the technology,
it’s obvious that 4K and 3D are not mutually exclusive TV features; they
are mutual killer apps. 4K creates a better 3D experience, and 3D makes
4K a far superior experience.  

That said, the average consumer is
likely not even aware that their 4K TV is actually also 3D. 
Unfortunately, 3D did not substantially move product sales over the past
two years. As a result, to help drive sales, the consumer electronics
industry is offering 4K TVs that are starting to appeal to everyday
users for home theaters. That’s four times the resolution of traditional
HD TVs. I mean, more pixels are better, right? 


4K, aka ultra high definition (UHD), remained a CES buzzword, but it was high dynamic range (HDR) TVs, demonstrated by Dolby, that really won over attendees. Frankly, HDR was visually far superior to any 4K or even 8K TV on the CES floor. HDR displays a wider range of colors and it’s considerably brighter than a normal TV. The whole image is enhanced to the point where it looks “photo real.” 

I’m encouraged to learn that SMPTE, the engineering and standards body representing the TV and motion picture industry, solidly supports HDR technology. When a 2K HDR image wins hands down over a 4K or 8K TV, it becomes a no brainer that increased spatial resolution (the sheer number of pixels available on the screen) is the wrong direction for TV manufacturers. It’s the depth of image data that those pixels represent that creates a superior viewing experience. Coupled with dramatically increased brightness and remarkable contrast, it will ultimately create a 3D experience that rivals theatrical exhibition. I believe that 2015 will be the year of HDR.

Memo To TV Manufacturers: Lose the Automatic 2D-to-3D Conversion Button

Automatic 2D-to-3D conversion technology is inherently flawed. Manufacturers have to understand that the 2D-to-3D conversion button that comes standard in most 3D TVs is not only ineffective, but it also hurts the 3D industry. It does not, as advertised, give the viewer an opportunity to watch their favorite 2D soap opera or game show in 3D. It simply distorts the image to the point where it is unwatchable by anyone with an eye for 3D TV or 3D cinema.

Speaking of inherently flawed technology, autostereo (glasses-free) 3D TV (at least in its current lenticular or parallax barrier format) does not produce an acceptable home viewing experience. Autostereo technology requires the viewer to stand within an invisible sweet spot cone where the refracted images for the left and right eyes line up correctly. The technology works fine as a curiosity for perhaps point of purchase advertising or cinema lobby cards, but other than that it’s costly and ineffective for home TVs.
The only autostereo displays that I consider acceptable are single user mobile devices such as cell phones, tablets and laptops that also contain eye tracking technology. Eye tracking is essential to actively adjust the positioning of the visual sweet spot so that an individual using the device will always be in the invisible cone that projects acceptable stereo to their eyes. While not perfect, eye tracking assures that the 3D stereo effect doesn’t fall apart.  For the home 3D TV market, I hope consumers are not being duped into thinking that glasses-free 3D is either here or imminent because it’s not.
3D TV Will Become Unavoidable In Home Theaters

I firmly believe that the clear winner when it comes to quality 3D experiences at home are passive TVs, those TVs using polarizing glasses that do not require batteries or charging. LG appears to be the clear winner in that category. The image quality of its 3D TVs is outstanding.  I have no vested interest in LG’s success; I simply have kudos for the company’s consistent innovation to bring the highest quality passive 3D experiences to the consumer.
To the average consumer looking to purchase a big screen TV, 3D is somewhat unavoidable. Today it’s difficult to purchase a big, flat screen TV from a reputable manufacturer that isn’t 3D ready, even if the consumer did not purchase the set specifically for that feature. Once in the home, the 3D feature will inevitably be used.  And despite what one might read in the media, there are plenty of 3D Blu-rays for sale today of all genres. In fact, a lack of content is no longer an excuse. Furthermore, in the near future 3D content will be streamed to smart TVs, dramatically increasing the voluminous choice of 3D content.
The consumer electronics market is placing the consumer in a state of confusion. Consumers are continuously being given options without the full scope: 3D TVs, passive systems that use inexpensive 3D glasses, active 3D TVs that require more expensive battery operated glasses, or glasses-free TV (despite them being technically being far off). The unnecessary, rushed progression to 4K TVs that have the 3D feature, can befuddle a buyer’s decision even more. What’s in store for the consumer at next year’s CES will be the addition of yet another decision point, HDR 3D TVs. Personally, a passive 4K 3D TV with HDR would more than satisfy me, but today I’m absolutely thrilled with my current passive 55″ LG, bringing the cinema experience right into my home.
Barry Sandrew, Ph.D. founded Legend3D, Inc., and is an internationally recognized visual effects pioneer and digital imaging expert with more than 14 VFX patents and 23 years of feature film and TV experience. In 2001, he developed the Company’s technology for the original patented digital systems and processes for colorization which he then later utilized as the platform from which he created Legend3D’s proprietary 3D conversion software. 

He was previously the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of American Film Technologies (AFT), a pioneer colorization company and utilizing his patented technology, AFT colorized more than 200 motion pictures, 170 television programs and 90 animated cartoons under his management, accounting for over 80% of colorized product worldwide. After leaving AFT, Dr. Sandrew was a founder of Lightspan, Inc. in 1993, one of the largest educational software companies in the U.S.  From 1978 to 1986, Dr. Sandrew was on the faculty of Harvard Medical School where he established three laboratories in neuroscience, including the first Neuroscience Imaging Laboratory in the Department of Radiology centering on MRI, CAT, and PET imaging of the brain.  He also served on the staff at Massachusetts General Hospital and Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons.

This Article is related to: News and tagged , , , , ,



early in the article they mentioned that 3d sales were low. all i can say is most of the 3d movies ive bought have to have a:disc for bluray,bluray 3d, dvd and this stupid ultraviolet web connection adding to the cost to make the movie over $30.00. can i just buy the 3d movies instead all the extra, seems not. ive sold the extra dics to bring down my investment in movie.
on another note on bluray, so i bought this pc with bluray player in it thinking, video card might make it look better than my tv..ha..
once i got the pc i had to buy software to watch my bluray movies(not cheap) all said and looked like crap, compared to my tv and ps3. what a waste of money, i’ll never go that route again.
so my point is: keep ripping us off.. and yeah sales are going to be weak and this media is going to disappear, just like dvd audio and super audio disappeared, who wouldn’t like to listen to favorite tunes in surround sound. most people i talk to dont even know what this is, and it was excellent. dead for now.
greedy companies will ruin everything.


Wouldn't a passive 4k tv always be handicapped once real 4k 3d content is available?
Forced to display 3840×1080 instead of 3840×2160?


Chris W. Morris

Labeling is needed for 3D content that is "True Stereoscopic 3D" vs "Processed/Converted 3D". (Similar to "Vanilla" or "Vanilla Flavoring" in food.) They are VASTLY different products, and such labels would help consumers determine which to purchase. This industry standard should apply to Movies, TV's and other 3D content.

With such a delineation, the auto-conversion could be applied as an alternative for those who like it. Many kids love it, despite it's problems!

Dean Homayouni

The article was really good. However, I have written you before the issue with 3D is the time and expense to make it. I had to pull back for a year and work heavily with BorisFX and NewBlueFX on an underwater toolset and continued to work with Vision II Imaging Inc. 3D editing solution for Premier Pro. I just do not see indie people being able to make quality 3D at an economical manner. As an example, I am now using DnxHD rendering format at 220 Megs and at 10 bit after purchasing an Atomos Samurai Blade and having a new underwater housing built. I have to do 5 different renders and each eye is taking upwards of 80 hours for each render in order to meet the broadcast 50 megs requirement. I have the luxury of time but the vast majority of people do not.

Pingback: URL

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *