3-D Blu-ray Spec Expected by Year-End


The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) is expected to complete a specification for the delivery of 3-D content into the home via Blu-ray discs by the end of the year, a top official said.

Blu-ray discThat word came from the chairman of the BDA’s U.S. promotion committee, Andy Parsons, senior vice president of product development and corporate communications at Pioneer Electronics (USA).

The move is important because BDA represents over 180 companies in the consumer-electronics, software, information-technology and content-production community, including the major Hollywood studios.

The development of a 3-D spec for Blu-ray discs could speed the introduction of three-dimensional sets and Blu-ray players into the market and reduce potential consumer confusion over competing formats. The latter problem slowed the early deployment of high-definition compact disc players.

“The target date for getting this done is pretty aggressive and we have been working on this at breakneck speed,” Parsons said. “When we have a specification that everyone agrees on, it means we don’t have to worry about incompatible sets or competing formats. That is fundamental to the success of 3-D.”

While the timing for the launch of 3-D capable TVs and Blu-ray players will be up to individual companies, Parsons said that BDA does “expect product to be appearing in 2010.”

A number of TV manufacturers who belong to BDA recently demonstrated -3D TV sets at Japan’s influential Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies convention earlier this month and the rollout of 3-D technologies is expected to a major theme at the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.

Blu-ray discs and games are widely considered to be the two most likely avenues for 3-D content to make its way into the home. There is already significant amount of 3-D programming that has been created for theatrical-film distribution that could be reformatted for 3-D capable Blu-ray discs and players.

“Some of the exit polls done by the studio have shown there is a very high enthusiasm for 3-D when people are finished with that experience in the theater and it is a natural thing to make that available in the home,” Parsons said.

Parsons also said there could be a robust market for the new 3-D HDTVs, though it will obviously take time for penetration to reach significant levels.

“There are a lot of people out there who have already purchased their first HDTV and many may be in the market for a replacement set or an additional set,” he said.

Earlier this year, the BDA set up a 3-D task force, which concluded that any spec should offer the best possible high-definition experience with one 1080p channel per eye and that the discs complying with the specification would need to be backwards-compatible. That means consumers will be able to watch 3D Blu-ray discs on the new 3-D sets and Blu-ray players for the full stereoscopic experience but those consumers who have 2-D sets and Blu-ray players will be able to use the discs and view the high def content in 2-D.

“Blu-ray has always been about the very best of high definition, such as DVD was for standard definition, so one of the requirements was the need to do 1080p per eye,” which produces a higher quality image than some of the other approaches to stereoscopic video that divide the 1080p signal in half in order to conserve bandwidth, Parsons said.

Blu-ray’s capacity also makes it an ideal medium for delivering the large files needed for 3-D HD into the home, he added.
“If you think about delivering 50 gigabytes through an IP connection it doesn’t make a lot of sense, especially when you consider that average bandwidth of broadband home is below 5 megabytes per second,” he said. “We see more content being delivered through streaming IP connections like Netflix but if everyone in America decided to watch movies online the backbone couldn’t handle it. The optic disc is an ideal vessel for delivering the very best in HD and 3-D.”

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