Many of the leading imaging and video technology firms are gearing up to expand in a number of exciting directions. We’re not talking about imminent product rollouts, or doing some crystal-ball exercise trying to peer a decade or two into the future, but simply taking a cool, calm and collected look at what’s ahead in the next six months to year.
The “near future” of imaging will find everything from the Web to the latest movies being enjoyed in more places, with amazing resolution all the time, while video will be following powerful trends emanating from a handful of major players and intriguing developments from a few smaller ones. Some of the prime movers in both fields-Samsung, Apple, Sony, the “New Asian Tigers” of China, Korea and Vietnam, and, interestingly, Google, which bought On2 Technologies in August-are, in fact, looking to move in multiple directions.
The post-conference reports are in from such important video/imaging conferences as DisplayWeek, and pre-conference press releases are already promoting such upcoming ones as the 6Sight event. The consensus at the end of 2009′s third quarter is that there are four particularly exciting R&D areas right now on the imaging side of things. On-demand printing, new synergies among and between camera phones and social networking, 3D imaging and displays, and the increasing dependence on amateur photographers by print and Web publishers all have industry-defining, even paradigm-changing, potential.
Ready for 3DTV?
This year already, FujiFilm demonstrated an amazing new consumer 3D camera (and viewer, too) while many other firms continue working on a broad range of new video and imaging product ideas. The technologies involved reach from Hollywood to Silicon Valley, which is dramatically demonstrated by the fact that a filmmaker and author, Lenny Lipton, is the driving force behind RealD (formerly StereoGraphics Corp.), a pioneer of “electronic stereoscopic display” technology.
In such industry groups as the 3D@Home Consortium, early adopters and the developer (“geek”) community are very excited about imminent production of 3D content—which wouldn’t be the case without some good inside information on various ways to display it. This is the way momentum builds, the kind that will ultimately lead to 3DTV.
In addition to pushing the boundaries of on-demand digital printing, many firms are putting a great deal of money and energy into electronic ink, digital paper and flexible displays. Today’s displays, like the LCD monitors that CRE rents, are so exacting that it is hard to imagine how “new and improved” will look. The answer is “real,” in case you haven’t seen a new OLED display yet.
OLED panels are supremely expensive now, of course, but costs come down quickly on new technologies-and the technologies discussed here will have literally hundreds of applications and will change the world in ways big and small. The Fast-Fold Da-Lite screen that CRE rents is state-of-the-art today, but just imagine 4½-by-8 foot presentation screens that roll up into portable tubes. Combine flexibility with electronic ink, and you get magazines whose pages refresh with news updates delivered by WiFi. It’s all coming.
Video everywhere, all the time?
Camera phones, YouTube and computers with built-in Web cams have contributed to today’s “video everywhere” environment. With the “big bucks,” movie studios and TV producers could always do special effects work, but not on “a desktop.” Since the advent of the PC in the 1980s, there have been consumer-level image editing software programs, like Digital Darkroom (in grayscale, yet), for everyone to use.
Now the software is both affordable and powerful. The waiting time was due to the lag in low-cost and efficient digital still cameras and camcorders. The first camcorders used analog tape, featured in a famous but short-lived “Beta vs. VHS war,” and even the first digital models in the 1990s used digital tape. This meant a lot of extra work to get the footage into the computer, where small hard disks and slow processors made even the best applications hard to use.
Fast-forward a few years into the current crop of fast, huge storage systems, like the RAID arrays from CRE, and cameras have closed the “power gap” with the software. Meanwhile, video capture has come to cellphones, cheap wireless minicameras and—on Wednesday, September 9, 2009—to the newest iPod Nano. With the ongoing development of Flip HD cameras and other capable devices at stunningly low prices, the title of “videographer” will be available to anyone with $79 to invest.
Leading the way have been the professional animators and post-production pros, many of whom are CRE customers, using systems like CRE’s PowerMacintosh G5 with Kona card to ply their trade. They, too, should see increased demand for their services from millions of new filmmakers who have been coaxed into creativity with less costly, less daunting, less finicky cameras, but don’t know how to use an AJA Io HD system, such as CRE rents to production pros, to produce the final theatrical releases.