This passionate opinion piece by Keith Fredericks (
@3DF33D), founder of 3DF33D.TV , explores a new angle within the 3D ecosystem. User-generated content. He argues that it is wrong to exclusively demand “high quality” 3D content. “low quality” content also plays its role, pointing to YouTube and other examples.
“More and more frequently now I am hearing people talking about quality in 3D and I begin to wonder why there is so much of this lately, if it has exceeded some critical threshold and what is behind this.
Now, let me state up front that high-quality in 3D is good. It is what we should all shoot for. But I think that 3D quality can be a slippery slope even though all indications are that it is very stable territory. What is quality in 3D? And where does quality stand overall in importance when considering the most pressing problems of the day for 3D?
Objective and Subjective Quality in 3D
Yesterday Chris Chinnock said in a video that 3D content quality was the most important factor for the success of 3D. “[…if] we produce poor quality 3D content and we make people ill, this industry will fail.” Chris is a good friend and I agree with most of the stuff he says, but on this I would like to have a bit more explanation on this sound bite.
Here, quality is connected with “making people ill” and the implicit assumption is that poor quality content will make people ill and high-quality content will not make people ill.
I could agree more with the statement if the “content” part of that statement is dropped and one just says that poor quality 3D can make people ill. But, really content is the end product of a number of processes, some of which can contribute to making some people ill.
First we have the stereo camera system, which could be high-end Red cameras in a mirror rig, or a 3D webcam. Important factors include whether or not the lenses and detectors are matched, focal length, interaxial distance, convergence, alignment and synchronization.
We also have the post-production process, which takes the raw capture or animation sequence and packages it into some file format. That file format is then taken as input to a player of some sort. If the player is setup correctly for the viewing situation, then things look right in a theater, on a television set or on a 10.1” tablet.
We have the delivery system itself, whether it be via polarized glasses in the cinema, shutter glasses at home or via an exotic future volumetric imaging system without glasses, say, in an industrial situation.
And finally we have the human visual system, which is more or less susceptible to the 3D perception problems that can be introduced into this pipeline.
If I needed to make an argument about 3D quality along these same lines, I think I would say something more like, “we need to progressively refine 3D capture, image processing and output devices to minimize and ultimately eliminate undesirable effects in humans.”
But there is another entire side to this and that is the aesthetic or subjective side. 3D content quality can also relate to script, cinematography, stereography, costumes, makeup, etc. One can compare “Clash of the Titans” with “Avatar” for example and come up with a judgement that Avatar was “better” based on some metric like how much each movie grossed, how depth was used or how it was shot. People liked Avatar better for many reasons, but in the end this is generally a subjective judgement.
Finally, quality of a 3D major motion picture shot with high-end cameras and high-end post-production is a very different thing from the quality of a 3D video shot with a Sony Bloggie 3D consumer camera and uploaded to 3DF33D. The quality of the major motion picture production system will (in all probability, with proper setup and post-processing) far exceed the objective quality of the consumer system. But, just as we have seen in the history of the photographic industry, as an example, the low-quality Kodak Brownie and Instamatic cameras fueling the consumer market had just as much, if not more impact on overall market size than the higher-end Nikon F and Hasselblad 500C aimed at the prosumer and professional markets.
Importance of Quality
Certainly, the argument could be made that consumer-grade i.e. low-quality cameras really made the traditional and now the digital photographic industry what it is. Digital photography worldwide is now somewhere in the neighborhood of a $200 billion market with much of that due to consumers with iPhones.
In my view, our goal in the 3D industry is to bring 3D to consumers, both to consume and to produce. If consumer devices are fitted with cameras that are aligned and synchronized properly, designed so that you get “good results” most of the time, and not inducing illness, then I think that is good for the industry because it promotes 3D. Indeed, most of the images and videos shared on social media are “low-quality” consumer productions. Is anyone complaining about that? Sure, some complain, but for the most part, people are rushing in to get a piece of that.
I advocate high-quality 3D content like Avatar and Hugo, and I also advocate lower-quality content shot with and viewed on the HTC EVO 3D and other lower-end systems. And I think the lower-quality content has just as much, if not more, to do with the adoption of 3D by the consumer, which is our goal.”
The original (and longer) article is posted here.