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The Saga Continues: to Blu-ray 3D or Not to Blu-ray 3D

The demand for perfection is increasing gradually every day. Some ten years ago many were satisfied not only with quality of DVD video, but also with quality of DVD rips encoded using Divx codec. Nowadays even 720p (1280x720) video does not seem as crystal and perfect as it was four years ago. Many online video services now offer movies in 1080p (1920x1080) resolution, but with bitrate much lower than that of movies distributed on 50GB Blu-ray disc media. But tech companies – as well as end-users – want something even more advanced and today they are rolling out stereo-3D movies on Blu-ray 3D format.

In fact, the movie industry is among those, which adopt the newest technologies very quickly. Special effects, sound, colour, multi-channel sound, high-resolution films, videotapes, video discs, high-definition, stereo-3D and so on. Stereoscopic 3D (S3D) technologies and movies started to emerged back in the and later experienced a worldwide resurrection in the 1980s and 90s driven primarily by Imax high-end theaters. In the recent years stereo-3D theaters and movies became more popular and technological evolution now allows to enable S3D for the home entertainment market. Considering the fact that historically far not all movies were presented in S3D format and that there is still not a lot of content in stereo-3D available, the offensive of the technology onto the home market will take a long time. At the end, all players, PCs, consoles and TVs will be S3D-capable, but the vast majority of content they will show will be in traditional 2D format.

Blu-ray 3D demo by Sony Corp. Image by CTV News

As for players, in fact, the Blu-ray disc Association (BDA) has managed to invent an almost infinite engine for hardware upgrades. Firstly the Blu-ray disc was introduced without any advanced functionality like picture-in-picture or Internet connectivity. The following generations of BD players obtained functionality, which probably has caused at least some owners to upgrade their devices. Late last year the BDA finalized yet another iteration of the standard called Blu-ray 3D, which requires upgrade of both players and HDTVs to take advantage of stereo-3D. Moreover, this year the association ratified BDXL standard that describes triple-layer and quadruple layer Blu-ray discs that are officially designed for “commercial segments with significant archiving needs”, but which will eventually find their support by forthcoming consumer players and recorders. Hence, BDXL is a forthcoming reason for a BD hardware upgrade. Obviously, DVD has evolved too, but the BDA has introduced five major enhancements of Blu-ray standard in four years of the format’s commercial life and BD 3D and BDXL are absolutely not the final updates.

The main issue with stereo-3D at home is necessity to wear special glasses and sit in certain area opposite the TV. This is not suitable for loads of living rooms and is also not suitable for large companies. Autostereoscopic screens exist, but their quality is rather low. As a result, even when all installed equipment becomes S3D capable (which will take 10 to 15 years in the U.S.), the demand towards stereo-3D content is likely to be limited. Still, the majority of modern graphics cards for HTPCs are capable of BD 3D playback even today.

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