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Blu-ray group peers into 3D future

Posted: 26 Aug 2008     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:stereoscopic 3D  home video market  stereo 3D movies  3D content mastering standard 

The Blu-ray Disc Association is marking its position on stereoscopic 3D under growing pressure from Hollywood studios who want to create a home video market for their rising number of stereo 3D movies.

"There are discussions going on right now, and we are putting together a public statement," said Andy Parsons, chairman of the association's marketing group.

At least four ad hoc industry groups formed just this year to explore standards for stereo 3D on TV. The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers held a meeting this week to form a task force to explore a 3D content mastering standard. The Consumer Electronics Association will hold a meeting in October to determine if it should try to set standards potentially covering, TVs, STB and disc players.

Since 2007, studios have released or put on the drawing board as many as 80 stereo 3D movie titles. At last week's Intel Developer Forum, Dreamworks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg said all his studio's animated movies starting next year will be created and available in stereo 3D, a shift he said was as significant as the transitions to talkies and colour.

Theoretically, the Blu-ray group could take one of two broad approaches to stereo 3D, said Parsons. It could decide to just pass through to HDMI ports any 3D data on a disc letting the TV render it, or it could render the 3D information locally which would require a significant addition to the Blu-ray specification.

If the group opts for the later approach it will need to define a standard format. In either case, the group wants to make sure any 3D approach is compatible with its existing specification for 2D content, Parsons said.

Many see Blu-ray as the likely first vehicle to deliver stereo 3D movies to the home. That's because the separate images for right and left eyes in stereo 3D typically require significantly more bandwidth than 2D images, creating trouble for broadcast delivery.

"The first real stereo 3D for the home will be via Blu-ray and for that you need a standard format," said a senior executive at one large consumer electronics company who asked not to be named.

"If everything goes perfectly this could happen in 2010 or 2011, but it never goes like that," the executive added. "Hopefully there will not be a format war."

Blu-ray players and titles are just beginning to ramp up in the wake of Toshiba's decision earlier this year to abandon the rival HD DVD format. About 60 lakh (6 million) Blu-ray players have shipped into the United States to date, most of them embedded in Sony Playstation3 consoles.

About 900 Blu-ray titles are now available, more than double the number out just six months ago, Parsons said.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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