Digital TV group sets 3D standard
The overseers of the DVB digital TV specification have given the thumbs up to a proposed standard for broadcasting 3D footage.
DVB-3DTV was mapped out last year, but only completed a month ago. Now the proposal has the backing of the DVB organisation, it can be formally added to the DVB standard to join the likes of DVB-S for satellite broadcasting, DVB-T2 for terrestrially transmitted HD content and DVB-H, the scheme for sending telly programmes to handhelds.
The DVB organisation said it will now submit DVB-3DTV to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) for formal standardisation.
The standard is "frame compatible": the left- and right-eye images can be included within a conventional 2D HD frame to allow broadcasters to use existing kit. Metadata is included in the transmission to help the receiver identify that the broadcast is in 3D and to extract the two sets of images from the stream.
This makes it easier to upgrade existing hardware to 3D with a simple software update.
DVB-3DTV not only includes 720p and 1080i frame-compatible formats at both 50Hz and 70Hz, plus top-and-bottom and side-by-side 3D frame formats, but also 24Hz 1080p side-by-side frames.
The spec mandates the ability to extend DVD-3DTV in the future without breaking the existing version. Features being considered include the ability to use one of the two 3D images as a 2D image, allowing the one broadcast to feed both 3D and 2D TV sets. ®
Where's the market for 3D?
The recent take-up and future interest in 3D has been shown to be very low indeed - A number of (neutral!) industry assessments have shown this to be true in many locales across the globe.
The commercial push for 3D seems to be from those manufacturer(s) who also have film studio/prior content ownership - It appears to be nothing more than another "missed opportunity": these studios will NOT produce creative and original output, rather than use this technology just as a vehicle to re-make/re-hash those old titles.
Innovation shouldn't stop at the technology, the content must be innovative, too. From a technical perspective, current '3D' isn't truely 3D; a veiwer can't move around the scene to get a different perspective of their own, its just the content producer's take on what they want to project at you that you are allowed to see...
When you really stop to think about 3D, what does it add to the story, the plot, the sporting event? Is it truely worth the premium that TV/Player manufacturers/Studio owners really want to extract from you?
Frame compatible = easy way out
Anamorphically squashing L+R frames into a single frame means half the horizontal resolution. Perhaps that's the easiest way to shoehorn 3D into existing transport streams but it's hardly a good forward looking solution.
It's half the horizontal resolution and can hardly be efficient from a compression standpoint since there is huge redundancy between left & right eye but both images are fully reproduced in the stream.
I wonder if the DVB chickened out from implementing something like MVC (multi view encoding) under pressure from STB manufacturers like Sky who want to retrofit 3D into their existing offerings rather than push out new hardware.
I'd certainly keep an eye out for any broadcaster who claims a channel 3D *and* HD in the same breath because the ASA might take a dim view of that claim considering it's effectively halving the number of pixels each eye sees.
"This makes it easier to upgrade existing hardware to 3D with a simple software update."
Ah. Never worked in the consumer TV industry then? :-) Except for the _very_ latest tellies (which won't have hit the shelves yet), this will not happen. It simply won't.