As the BBC and NHK wow audiences with Super Hi-Vision screenings of the London Olympics, we ask why the ‘future of television’ format is able to provide a pseudo 3D illusion, despite being presented on a 2D screen.
It is not difficult to understand why the 7680 x 4320 pixels of picture resolution, immersive 22.2 channel 3D sound and 60 FPS refresh rate impresses viewers more than 3D with its bright super crisp images. But why people acknowledge a 3D effect remains a mystery, even to NHK.
NHK believe Super Hi-Vision will be the final 2D definition and expect the format (also known as Ultra-HD) to be broadcast sooner than the original 2020 target date due to the rapid progress of the technology. Beyond SHV, NHK are looking towards a 3D format known as 'Integral 3D' which requires no 3D glasses and allows the viewers to look around objects.
Speaking to 3D Focus last week, Keiichi Kubota, NHK’s Executive Director-General for Engineering said "We could make a two lens 3D Super Hi-Vision camera but we will not do that. We do not like 3D with the glasses. The current 3D with glasses is not real 3D. If we move our position, we cannot see behind the objects. Integral 3D is real 3D but it will take time. From HD to SHV is the way to go. Super Hi-Vision is the last final 2D and after that it is 3D TV but that must be real authentic 3D and not pseudo 3D.”
While the expected 20 year wait for 'Integral 3D' may disappoint some, the closer to life 3D effect of Super Hi-Vision is bound to impress viewers who have found the resolution and brightness reducing 3D TVs on the market less than appealing.
According to Jason Geng, Vice President for the IEEE ITS Society, nearly 50% of the human brain's capability is devoted to processing visual information and that "flat images and 2D displays do not harness the brain's power effectively". There are four depth cues which the brain uses to process stereoscopic information; a) the focus: where the eyes focus on a specific object in a 3D scene, b) convergence: where the eyes converge so each eye sees the 3D object simultaneously, c) motion parallax: where speed indicates distance from the eyes (for example, when you look at the landscape when travelling in a car) and d) binocular disparity: the differences between the left and right images.
When we close one eye, we still see the world in 3D due to other cues and it is thought that these cues may be more apparent in Super hi-vision thanks to the extra picture information.
Below, an NHK engineer exclusively reveals the theory why Super Hi-Vision offers a 3D effect.
Many viewers of SHV do say that it looks three-dimensional to them. This effect is probably due to a combination of the wide angle and high definition but we are currently studying why these 2D images generate this 3D impression.
The fact that higher definition does enhance the immediacy of the images has been demonstrated in physiological and psychological tests. Whether the 3D illusion is due to the greater prominence of other cues than those used for the current 3D images viewed with special glasses has not, however, been studied.
We will be studying the relationship with the 3D impression. However, it has been shown that the wider angle does enhance the sense of immediacy. The definition of Super Hi-Vision is such that no roughness to the image stands out and the viewer obtains a 100 degree field of view. The present frame rate is 60Hz but we have decided to double that to 120Hz, for the full spec frame rate on the basis of evaluations of moving images.
The human sense of 3D vision is due to both factors which are only obtained by using the two eyes together and factors observable by a single eye. A 3D effect can, for example, be obtained simply by drawing in perspective and we can make a circle look like a sphere by simply drawing on a shadow. In the case of Super Hi-Vision, there are no binocular cues but the wide angle, high definition and pixels do provide a lot of information, so we suppose that the system is rich in monocular cues. We are studying the 3D illusion of Super Hi-Vision on this assumption.
The 3D coverage of the London Olympics appears to be dissapointing the few viewers who have watched it. Could this be an indication that Super Hi-Vision will replace existing 3D display technology? Please let us know your thoughts below…
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