September 25, 2020

A TV revolution made in London?

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Exclusive: A new technology could bring 3-D effects into your living room – and without any need for those awful glasses

This article appeared on line on  www.standard.co.uk website

To see the three videos with the 3D effects you MUST visit the link at the bottom of the article. It is a MUST see.

In a nondescript office a few minutes’ walk from Victoria station, a small team of technicians have spent the past few days giving the 2008 animated comedy Kung Fu Panda some very serious attention.

They are running the film through a system called EDS – which stands for Enhanced Depth Solutions – to show a Chinese company why the patented technology they have been developing in London for over a decade could now change the face of TV worldwide.

As its name suggests, EDS increases the sense of depth in moving film, granting the viewer a deeper level of immersion in the pictures they are watching. And unlike the 3D systems developed so far, it doesn’t require special glasses, a tailor-made 3D TV set or expensively filmed programmes and it works on all screen types, including phones.

If the hapless panda Po’s efforts to be a kung fu master look good after being treated with EDS, the company which owns the technology – Ying EDS – could have a story of triumph against the odds of its own. The Standard has learned that on top of its ongoing trials for the massive Chinese market, the firm was close to a deal with the BBC worth hundreds millions of pounds as recently as late 2010 and had the support of several senior executives at the corporation.

Ying was even offered an office in the BBC’s Foley Street building, with the prospect of converting thousands of hours of BBC TV into its more immersive format and an international distribution arrangement. Ying says the deal was derailed by objections from a senior figure in the technical department, who it claims felt EDS was a distraction from the BBC’s adoption of high-definition, but the firm has also met ITV’s chairman and hopes to return to the BBC soon.

EDS works by taking conventional 2D video frames and manipulating the signal to create a deeper experience of the depth in the moving edge. It works on the brain – persuading viewers that they are seeing a deeper picture than they are – rather than creating an optical illusion, circumventing another complaint made about conventional 3D: that it can give viewers a headache.

The effect isn’t as stark as 3D, although that is how many who have seen converted footage describe it. “There is a slight degradation in the quality from full high-definition to this but it is a minor thing that only a technician would pick up on,” an industry expert told the Standard.

 

The fact that it is a post-production technique means that no special cameras have to be used making the film, and it therefore offers studios and TV companies a cheaper way to give their films depth than either shooting in 3D or converting to 3D later. It costs about £21,000 for an hour of TV or £105,000 for an hour of film, whereas 3D often costs more than £70,000 per hour for TV and Ying estimates that the £12 million 3D reworking of Titanic recently cost more than £60,000 per minute.

Mike Linley, the former producer of ITV’s acclaimed nature series Survival, saw EDS at work when Ying offered to convert a sequence of one of his programmes to demonstrate their system and was “bowled over” by the enhancement: “I’m old enough to have seen black and white change to colour and 16 by 9 change to high def. And there’s very little you can do to bridge the gaps – you’ve got to go back and make your film again. But here we have a system that allows you to go to the next level – a kind of 3D – by putting your existing film through a process, which is just remarkable.”

Hugh Hudson, who directed the Oscar-winning Chariots of Fire, has also had film converted by Ying and tells the Standard that while he doesn’t feel all films needed a more immersive picture, he is impressed by the extra depth the technology offers: “Sometimes they put films into 3D afterwards and that never works. I think this is a better system than that.”

Ying – which employs just a handful of staff – has the financial backing of big media names like Chris Deering, known as the “Father of the PlayStation”.

The London inventor behind EDS, James Ashbey, told the Standard that he sees his technology as a complement to full 3D, not a competitor.

“3D is an event, an event for the producers, the broadcasters and the viewers: they all have to spend more money and buy or do something different. EDS is a very good candidate to upgrade 2D. A lot of people are very excited about how much it could do.

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