The world of the small-screen TV will come to life sooner than you think. Among
the highlights on display at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas
were a plethora of new, advanced 3-D televisions, as manufacturers begin a
full-forward offense to convince consumers that 3-D TV is the next big thing.
You may not think you need one yet – but then you haven’t seen the new 3-D TV
Yep – they’re on the way. Discovery TV and ESPN are already
on board, and about 10 more players are set to begin broadcasts later this year,
according to an expert in the field. And that expert, Noam Shalev of Highlight
Films (www.highlight.co.il), is ready for the world of tomorrow with a new,
better – and cheaper – way to develop content for 3-D TV broadcasts.
fact, he says, his company is already working on a deal to produce a 3-D TV
series for a “large nature broadcaster than is going to begin 3-D broadcasts.
The series will be filmed underwater, showing viewers a dimension of underwater
life they have never seen before.”
Bet you won’t think you don’t need a
3-D TV when that series comes out! While you would think that 3-D technology –
whether in the production of the technology or the content for broadcasts –
would be an affair for Japan and Hollywood, it turns out that Israeli ingenuity
has gained an important foothold in several aspects – hardware, software and
even content – of the coming 3-D revolution. For Shalev’s Highlight Films, that
foothold comes in the form of a better – and especially cheaper – way to produce
“The rule of thumb in the industry is that the cost of 3- D
production is at least three times the cost of standard, 2-D production,” Shalev
says, adding: “Through judicious use and unorthodox tweaking of the available
tools, software and hardware, we’ve been able to reach the same professional
results that large studios have at a much higher cost.”
Shalev, who has
been in the movie production business for 19 years, both inside and outside of
Israel, has been working with his head of production, Aviv Peres, to develop the
unique work flow that enables them to deliver 3-D content for as little as half
of what other major players in the field can.
“We deliver by far the best
quality at a price no one can touch, from what I can tell, and I know the
industry well,” Shalev says.
Besides the TV series on underwater life,
Shalev is also producing a full-length 3-D movie on the Dead Sea, the first ever
made about that body of water, which will be Israel’s entry into the New Seven
Wonders of the World contest (www.new7wonders.com/en). It’s important to note,
however, that Shalev hasn’t exactly invented something new; call him a technique
“The cameras and software that go into making a 3-D
production are very complicated, and new stuff is coming out all the time,” he
says. “The only way to learn how to do what we do is to work with the equipment
While Shalev expects other producers to be able to
duplicate his success eventually, he says by that time he’ll be ahead of the
“Filming for 3-D is much different than filming for 2-D, and my
camera crews are top-flight, so I would imagine that it would take awhile for
competitors to catch up with us,” he says. Nevertheless, he is investigating
whether his production methods are patentable.
Meanwhile, Shalev has
begun producing promotional films and travelogues using his methods. The
response has been great, he says, with TV channels and producers around the
world expressing interest. You can view some of his movies on the Highlight
Films site, although, Shalev says, the standard 3-D red and blue paper glasses
most people will have as they watch on a small computer screen won’t do his work
An Israeli company that has invented something new in the 3-D
arena is Elrom Studios (www.elrom.tv), the people that put Hebrew subtitles at
the bottom of your favorite movies and TV shows. And, says Noam Gal, director of
the support department in Elrom’s Development Group, the company’s already
popular ELR Studio package is even more popular, thanks to the addition of
support for 3-D subtitles.
While there are no plans for 3-D TV broadcasts
in Israel anytime soon, Gal says, there are plenty of other countries that need
subtitling services and software for their 3-D broadcasts – and Elrom is ready
with a simpler, better and cheaper solution, eliminating the problem of
“sinking” subtitles in 3-D content.
“As the 3-D image deepens, the
subtitles seem to move backward, so the viewer feels something is ‘off,’ even if
they don’t know exactly what it is,” Gal says. “Our technology more precisely
positions the subtitle, keeping it consistent with the video.”
sound like a minor technical fix, but it’s actually a very significant
accomplishment in the subtitle business – an accomplishment that has been
generating a lot of interest, Gal says.
And if you are someone who
watches TV – or uses a video, camera, computer monitor, or any other device with
a screen – you might as well get used to the idea of 3-D, Highlight’s Shalev
“The whole video industry is working on this, and they have
invested hundreds of millions of dollars in it already,” he says. “It’s not just
TV – it’s the whole array of video products.”
And while, for now, you
really do need glasses to get the full 3-D effect, within two or three years we
will begin seeing the first TV sets and screens that let you experience 3-D
without glasses, he says. It’ll be a whole small world in – not on – the small
screen, coming to a screen near you, sooner than you think!