Star Wars 3D confirmed for 2012

The entire Star Wars saga is being converted to 3D and will be in theaters sometime around Valentine’s Day 2012.

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The first film to be featured in full 3D will be “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace“, followed by the five other episodes, each one year after the other.

You may also find interesting the “12 Scenes From Star Wars I Need to See in 3D” list from Big Shiny Robot here.

Is Best Buy’s Buy Back Program Worth It For TVs?

Best Buy logo.jpgBest Buy’s commercial featuring Ozzy Osbourne and Justin Bieber was one of the higher-rated commercials during the big game, but how should we rate the Buy Back Program it promotes?

Launched last month, the Buy Back Program allows consumers to receive gift cards in exchange for laptops, netbooks, tablets, post-paid mobile phones, and televisions returned to Best Buy. The catch is, you have to buy the Buy Back Program option when you purchase your new device. The upfront cost depends on the product, and the amount of money you get back depends on the length of time you owned the product and the condition it’s in. All returned merchandise must be in “good working condition and include all original parts.” Best Buy will purchase the product anytime within two years for laptops, netbooks, tablets, and mobile phones…and four years for televisions.

Sounds simple enough, right? Not really. Our friends over at HDGuru.com have posted an excellent breakdown of cost and other caveats specifically related to TVs. It’s definitely worth a read if you’re considering opting in for the Buy Back Program during your next TV purchase.

By Adrienne Maxwell

AT&T to Charge Overage Fees for Internet Use

AT&T logo.jpgDo you love the streaming video and other Web services offered on your new HDTV or Blu-ray player? Well, if you get your high-speed Internet from AT&T, that love may soon cost you.

AT&T has announced that, beginning on May 2, the company will put a cap on its high-speed Internet service: 150 GB per month for DSL customers and 250 GB for U-Verse subscribers. For every 50 GB of data that you go over the cap, you will be charged $10.

BroadbandReports.com was the first to report this development on Sunday, and that article says that users who exceed the cap three times will have to pay the new fee. In other words, you get two over-the-cap freebies before the hand-slapping sets in.

While no serious Internet user likes the idea of a cap, at least AT&T’s new caps are fairly high. AT&T says the move will only affect about two percent of its customer base, who use a disproportionate 20 percent of the network bandwidth. The company claims that the average DSL subscriber uses about 18 GB per month.

That’s all well and good, but the important question is, how much are you using? Is your Netflix or Amazon VOD going to push you over the cap? While rates will vary depending on the quality of each service’s compression and such, I have seen estimates that place HD video streaming at between 1 and 2 GB per hour. You can do the math based on how much video you watch per month. AT&T says that they will provide customers with several updates as they move closer to the cap amount.

We all knew this day would come. More people are exploring Internet-based content delivery methods, and some are cutting back on traditional TV services in the process. Service providers will always find a way to make money, and I personally prefer a high cap to tiered plans…although I’m sure that’s the next step.

By Adrienne Maxwell

3D has great value in Japan

Hi-tech 3D security cameras are recording events at the damaged core in Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant. The thermal 3D cameras also have the ability to detect the presence of radioactive clouds in the air.  Using these special cameras can also identify radioactive clouds, due to the spectrum that the 3D cameras can sense.fukushima_01-200px

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Introducing “Clean Walls”

TRUFIG—a revolutionary new flush-mounting technology developed by the engineers at Sonance, the inventors of the original in-wall speaker. TRUFIG takes ordinary protruding wall elements like Control4 touchpanels, Lutron lighting keypads, electrical outlets and even recessed lighting fixtures and turns them into flush-mounted pieces of architectural beauty. This new technology is turning heads the architectural and interior design committee, as TRUFIG recently received the Wallpaper* Magazine Design Award in the “Best Turn On” category.

Audio Video at 50 Men who can Cook Fundraiser

Wow we had a great time. Congratulations Teresa and CSISD. Great event
Brett at Audio Video is the BCS Video Guru!

What to look for when buying a HDTV

The goal of every TV is to accurately reproduce the image that was captured by the camera. There are four primary factors that contribute to our perception of video quality.  Here they are, in order of importance:

  1. Contrast

    Brett at Audio Video is the BCS Video Guru!

  2. Color Saturation
  3. Correct color
  4. Resolution

Contrast – Also known as black level, contrast measures the difference between a TV or projector’s black and white light output and is measured as a contrast ratio of white light output to black light output and is one of the most important of the four factors. In a perfect world, we’d see zero light for black and very bright light for white. For example, a very high contrast ratio measured in a commercial theater might be as high as 300:1. We typically measure contrast with a black and white checkerboard pattern displayed on screen, and observe the differences between the white squares and the black squares.

I know you’re asking, what about TVs with advertised contrast ratios of 10,000:1, 50,000:1, or even 150,000:1?”  The answer to that simple: it’s marketing. While contrast is very important, you really can’t take a manufacturer’s specification of contrast ratio seriously. For the ultimate in contrast, it’s best to have your new TV or projector professionally calibrated by experts.

Color saturation – A TV or projector’s ability to reproduce deep, rich colors is called color saturation However, there’s something to be said for striking a balance between undersaturated and oversaturated colors–with the latter resulting an artificially bright image. And while some TVs are better at producing deep colors than others, perfect color saturation is something that can only be truly achieved by a professional calibrating expert.

Color correctness – The color video signal we see is actually made up of a combination of red, green and blue. When our TVs display the correct amount of these three primary colors, the image appears correct and natural. However, if the level of just one is incorrect, you will instantly see something wrong with the picture. Many manufacturers and retailers will increase red and blue levels in order to make a TV appear brighter on a showroom floor. While it succeeds in producing a brighter image, often times this tweak results in an unnatural, almost cartoon-like appearance. Proper color correctness can have a huge impact on your TV, and it’s something that is best to be left to the calibration experts.

Resolution – Simply put, resolution is the number of pixels the display can use to re-draw the image. The more pixels a TV can reproduce, the more detailed image it can display. Here in North America, there are five common levels of resolution:

  • 480i – 480 lines of resolution, interlaced scan (regular standard-definition TV)
  • 480p - 480 lines of resolution, progressive scan (DVD-quality enhanced definition)
  • 720p – 720 lines of resolution, progressive scan (broadcast HDTV – Fox, ABC, ESPN, etc.)
  • 1080i – 1080 lines of resolution, interlaced scan (broadcast HDTV – CBS, NBC, etc.)
  • 1080p – 1080 lines of resolution, progressive scan (Blu-ray Disc)

Of those, the last three HDTV formats are the ones that dominate the video landscape today, with 1080p coming into popularity as Sony’s Blu-Ray Disc technology gains market share. There are two factors at work in each of these specifications–the first is the number of lines the TV can draw (more is better), and the second is progressive and interlaced scanning methods. Interlaced formats such as 1080i draws even lines in one frame and odd lines in the next, which can sometimes lead to motion artifacting during action-packed scenes. Progressive scanning redraws the entire screen on every frame, which is why it’s the superior format, especially for live-action sports and other motion-intensive programs. And while resolution is an important factor when choosing a new TV or projector, most experts agree that resolution needs to be doubled for the human eye to discern a difference in resolution.

Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring in 3D

Created by Klaus Obermaier, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring 3D will take place in Symphony Hall in Birmingham (UK) on 21 April 2011. Nine stereoscopic cameras will feed the on-stage movements of dancers into a computer that will generate and project 3D content on to a giant silver lenticular screen positioned above the orchestra.

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The sound will be relayed by microphones on instruments, helping to influence the form, movement and complexity of both the 3D projections and those of the dancers. Over 2,200 pairs of 3D glasses will help to immerse audience members in the live experience. Right Of Spring 3D is here on the web. Here under is a view of a control room similar to the one that will be used.

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J. Cameron will shoot AVATAR II at 60 fps

James Cameron himself said “we want to shoot the movie at 48 or maybe even 60 frames a second, and display it at that speed, which will eliminate a lot of the motion artifacts that I think are causing some people problems.”

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As Blu-Ray don’t support 48Hz, we guess Avatar 2 will be shot at 60 fps, a now-standard frame rate in the DCI spec document ruling D-Cinema encoding.

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