2D to 3D Conversion Technology; Is it important on my 3D TV?
By Jack Burden, Senior Reviewer
How Does 2D to 3D Conversion Work?
When a movie gets converted from 2D to 3D it can spend months in post production getting tweaked and redone in 3D for the theaters. As you can expect, most comsumers aren't going to wait that long for their TV to convert 2D to 3D so in a 3D TV this conversion must be done real time. How does a television convert a 2D image into a 3D image? It's a very complex problem that we will attempt to simplify in this article.
Generating 3D from a 2D image in real time requires more processing power than it does to just display 2D or 3D directly from a source so more powerful processing hardware is the first requirement for the conversion. Software then analyzes the content's color and motion and even uses edges to define objects in the picture. It can decide what parts of the image are in the background by noticing how objects occlude, or cover, each other in the picture. In fact, the more motion there is in a picture the easier it is for the software to determine what objects on screen are in the foreground and which are in the background. The more color or contrast difference there is between the foreground and the background also helps the software to determine the depth of objects in the picture.
After analyzing all of the above information the software creates a depth map of the picture and from that creates two versions of the frame with the 3D information embedded into them, perspectives of objects are slightly tweaked to give the appearance that each eye is seeing the object from different angles which creates the 3D effect. What is really amazing is that in the time it took you read to this point a 3D TV would have completed this process about 1800 times and rendered 3600 frames of 3D content.
How Does it Look?
Recently, we have reviewed 3D TVs with 2D to 3D conversion from almost every manufacturer. It seems to be a requisite capability these days for any TV manufacturer serious about producing 3D TVs. Though the technology is difficult to accomplish, it shows. I havent seen any 2D to 3D conversion out there where I thought, "Wow, that looks good." Not a single one. And the private displays in which I have participated are showing the best possible presentation of the technology. The 3D depth perception impact is greatly reduced and muted from the normal active 3D picture presentation. The picture quality is somewhat grainy normally with lots of picture artifacts. The active shutter glasses are always required, based on what I have seen thus far. So I have to ask, what's the point of having a subdued 3D effect? This is certainly not a feature upon which I will critically evaluate which 3D TV to purchase.
What 3D TVs have it?
Samsung currently has this capability in all sizes of the C8000 and C7000 series plasmas and the C9000, C8000 and C7000 series LED TVs. The C750 series of LCD televisions also has 2D to 3D conversion. For 2011 the D9500, D7900, D8000, D7000 and D6400 lines of LED TVs will have it as will the D8000 and D6500 plasmas. See Samsung 3D TVs
Current Sony models featuring this technology are the LX900 and HX909 LED backlit LCD TVs. In 2011 the HX929 and HX820 will feature this technology. See Sony 3D TVs
LG, Toshiba, Panasonic and others will be featuring 2D to 3D converison on 2011 models but do not have it in any available models at press time.