EMC2 Industry Workshop 2011: “The Future of 3D Media”

Berlin, Monday 14th November 2011 - Watch the workshop on-line!

Berlin, one of the world’s leading centres of art and culture, is currently witnessing a surge of media technology innovation, both in academic research centres and in a growing number of ‘Silicon Allee’ start-up companies. The city’s Heinrich Hertz Institute (HHI) was therefore a fitting venue for the first international industry workshop of EMC2, headlined “The Future of 3D Media”.

The one-day workshop was hosted in HHI’s brand new Theseus Innovation Centre, and featured a full programme of activities to entertain and engage the 50-plus research and industry delegates gathered from countries across Europe and Asia.

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Exhibition area at Theseus Innovation Centre

The programme was designed to showcase innovation in 3D media, consider future developments and opportunities, and exchange ideas on entrepreneurship and academia-industry partnership – both critical ingredients of future European competitiveness in this rapidly evolving field.

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Workshop participants

A summary of the day’s events is presented below, and you can access many of the talks and presentations via the links in the table below. To download the full workshop programme, including participant names and contacts, follow this link: Berlin 2011 programme: "The Future of 3D Media" (247).

3D Innovation and Entrepreneurship

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Peter Eisert

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Ralf Schäfer

After welcoming everyone to the Theseus Centre, Peter Eisert introduced Ralf Schäfer, head of the Image Processing Department at HHI. Ralph’s presentation showed the rapid recent growth in 3D film and TV, but also revealed a continuing need for research to overcome technical problems and to drive production costs down. He predicted that 3D will come to dominate Internet visualisation and will spread through many different application areas including medicine, surveillance and the automotive industry. He gave a preview of HHI’s 3D Innovation Centre (3D-IC) due to open early next year, a state-of-the-art facility combining R&D lab, resource pool, communication platform and 3D technology showroom.

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Viorel Peca

In a talk entitled, “Bridging the gap between Research and Innovation: The EU Initiative on Strengthening the Environment for Web Entrepreneurs in Europe”, Viorel Peca of the European Commission described EU plans for promoting European competitiveness and innovation. The initiative includes support for R&D and commercialisation, facilitation of EU-wide networking for start-ups, best practice sharing with world-leading entrepreneurs, the establishment of innovation hubs around top European universities, and prize competitions to give public recognition to outstanding young entrepreneurs.

In an afternoon talk entitled, “Experiences with Technology Transfer in the USA”, Aggelos Katsaggelos of Northwestern University showed successful initiatives from the US, including ‘innovation gap’ projects by CITT (Centre for Commercialization of Innovative Transportation Technology) designed to push research outcomes closer to implementation. Aggelos described the MIT Media Lab sponsorship scheme that has attracted 70 sponsors by giving access to knowledge transfer, technology demonstrations, student recruitment, business connections and licensing agreements. Such initiatives, he said, were supported by “a culture of educating entrepreneurs and assisting them in materializing their ideas“.

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George Whale

George Whale’s 15-minute presentation outlined the objectives of EMC2 (Excellence in Media Computing and Communication), a new pan-European project operating in the area of 3D media processing for social networking, immersive environments, augmented reality and 3D broadcasting. Backed by 7 world-class research institutions, EMC2 offers academia-industry matchmaking and technology transfer to SMEs, provides educational services for entrepreneurship, and seeks to shape national and European research agendas in the MC2 field. At the hub of an expanding network of companies and researchers in 3D R&D and production, EMC2 aims to make possible new connections and collaborations, help academic researchers respond to market opportunities, and enable industry to make best use of academic research to increase competitiveness.

Industry Technical Presentations

Sebastian Knorr, CEO of imcube in Berlin, opened the second session with a fascinating presentation on high-quality conversion of 2D movies to 3D. Starting with a classification of conversion techniques, he compared offline and real-time approaches to automated conversion, outlining the steps and techniques involving in assigning depth to scene objects and solving problems such as the filling-in of background areas – necessary when a monocular view becomes binocular. (Sebastian’s talk was not intended for the public domain – however, you can find out more about imcube’s work from the company website.)

Next up was 3D broadcasting pioneer Alexander Schaefer, who captivated the audience with his account of the technical, logistical and aesthetic challenges involved in the production of a stereoscopic transmission of a musical performance by German rappers Die Fantastischen Vier (Fantastic Four). The live broadcast from Halle to 91 cinemas in 5 countries required precise synchronisation of video capture (from multiple stereo cameras), rectification, live editing, 3D encoding, transmission and screening, and was an unprecedented success, earning Alexander a gold record award.

France’s Éric Seulliet uses virtual, immersive and AR technologies to support the creation of products from collaborative design stages through to rapid prototyping and digital manufacturing. In his presentation, “La Fabrique du Futur” (Factory of the Future) Éric introduced the concept of the ‘Living Lab’ as a place for user-centred experimentation and innovation, and described how 3D technologies can support communities of users in taking concepts from the virtual to the real world.

Diego Bajo showed some of the diversity of 3D work being done at Tecnalia Medialab in Spain, including immersive heritage interpretation of historic and prehistoric environments, pre-visualisations of engineering projects like the future Basque railway network, stereoscopic visualisation for cinema, TV and mobile devices, and a range of research and educational services.

Finally in this session, Pierre Lebreton of T-Lab in Berlin presented research conducted by him and his colleagues into 3D broadcast quality and viewer comfort. Comparing different coding schemes (Side by Side, Simulcast and MVC), the researchers found downsampling and packing using Side by Side format to be the most efficient way to transmit HD stereoscopic videos, with less bandwidth requirements than Simulcast and MVC using full resolution. Also, comparing 2D and 3D videos in cases of packet loss, the researchers observed no significant quality difference at a given packet loss rate.

3D Demos

The early afternoon was given over to demonstrations of some of the stunning and technically innovative work being carried out at Heinrich Hertz Institute. Workshop participants saw technologies for 3D TV content generation; the Stereoscopic Analyzer (STAN) that uses real-time image analysis to assist cameramen in shooting stereo content; the Virtual Eye Contact Engine that supports natural remote interaction by enabling proper eye contact; and the Virtual Mirror, where everyone had fun trying on virtual clothes via touch-screen interaction.

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Immersed in a football crowd at Cinema of Tomorrow

The highlight of the day was a visit to Timelab: Cinema of Tomorrow, where an array of projectors seamlessly projecting panoramic images and videos onto a large, curved screen enabled us to look down on the blue earth from a satellite drifting through space; to soar in the clouds with a supersonic jet; to find ourselves suddenly surrounded by a roaring crowd at a football match, and then an orchestra; and finally to join the audience of Alexander Schaefer’s 3D Fantastischen Vier concert – so real we could almost touch the performers.

Panel Discussion

In the final panel discussion, Ebroul Izquierdo of London University questioned Viorel Peca of the European Commission, Aggelos Katsaggelos of Northwestern University and Jonathan Tustain of 3D Focus magazine on issues relating to innovation, entrepreneurship and the future of 3D media.

Considering media research at EU level, Viorel spoke informatively of current and ongoing cooperative projects designed to enhance the entrepreneurial spirit of young researchers, whilst Aggelos elaborated on the US experience of developing productive academia-industry relations.

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Panel from left to right: Viorel Peca, Aggelos Katsaggelos, Jonathan Tustain and (far corner) chairman Ebroul Izquierdo

As editor of a leading 3D industry website, and therefore informed on technology and current trends, Jonathan was well placed to consider future mass-market 3D products and services. Though concerned about industry’s occasional loss of focus on what consumers really want – as exemplified by the disappointing performance of some 3D mobile phone products – he was generally very optimistic. Referring to ‘amazing’ technology seen recently in Blackpool and Spain, he predicted significant growth in theme park applications of 3D, and in premium 3D TV content development, especially for sports, music concerts and other popular entertainments. He anticipated significant uptake in 2012 of full-HD passive (polarised) 3D TV, which most people seem to prefer over active (shutter) technology.


You can download presentation files and/or video recordings by clicking on the links in the ‘Files’ column of the table below.

Title Presenter Files
Welcome Peter Eisert, HHI Eisert Video
3D Innovation Centre Ralf Schäfer, HHI Ralf Schäfer on the 3D Innovation Centre Berlin (51) / Schäfer Video
Bridging the Gap Between Research and Innovation Viorel Peca, European Commission Viorel Peca: "Bridging the Gap Between Research and Innovation" (50) / Peca Video
The EMC2 Project George Whale, EMC2 George Whale: Introduction to EMC^2 (35) / Whale Video
High-quality 2D to 3D Conversion of Feature Films Sebastian Knorr, imcube (Not for public domain)
Creation and Distribution of 3D Live Events Alexander Schaefer, MMZ Schaefer Video
SmartSystem/ La Fabrique du Futur Éric Seulliet, France Eric Seulliet: "La Fabrique du Futur" (32) / Seulliet Video
Tecnalia MediaLab: The Spanish 3D Lab Diego Bajo, Tecnalia MediaLab Diego Bajo (1) on Tecnalia Media Unit Spain (42) / Diego Bajo (2) on Tecnalia Medialab Spain (47) / Bajo Video
Transmission issues in 3DTV Pierre Lebreton, T-Lab Pierre Lebreton: "Transmission issues in 3DTV" (76) / Lebreton Video
Experiences with Technology Transfer in the USA Aggelos Katsaggelos, Northwestern University Katsaggelos Video
Panel Discussion: The Future of 3D Industry and Research Ebroul Izquierdo, Queen Mary, University of London / Viorel Peca, European Commission / Aggelos Katsaggelos, Northwestern University / Jonathan Tustain, 3D Focus Panel Discussion Video