The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) on Friday announced the finalization and release of the Blu-ray 3D specification. The specification, which represents the work of the leading Hollywood studios and consumer electronic and computer manufacturers, will enable the home entertainment industry to bring the stereoscopic 3D experience into consumers’ living rooms on Blu-ray disc (BD), but will require consumers to acquire new players, high-definition TVs and shutter glasses.
“Throughout this year, movie goers have shown an overwhelming preference for 3D when presented with the option to see a theatrical release in either 3D or 2D. We believe this demand for 3D content will carry over into the home now that we have, in Blu-ray Disc, a medium that can deliver a quality Full HD 3D experience to the living room,” said Victor Matsuda, chairman of BDA global promotions committee.
The specification allows every Blu-ray 3D player and movie to deliver full HD 1080p resolution (1920x1080, progressive scan) to each eye, thereby maintaining the industry leading image quality, which further distances Blu-ray from high-definition options provided by Internet-based services.
The specification is display agnostic, meaning that Blu-ray 3D products will deliver the 3D image to any compatible 3D display, regardless of whether that display uses LCD, Plasma or other technology and regardless of what 3D technology the display uses to deliver the image to the viewer’s eyes. The compulsory thing for stereoscopic 3D is that those screens should support 120Hz or higher refresh rate.
The specification supports playback of 2D discs in forthcoming 3D players and can enable 2D playback of Blu-ray 3D discs on the large installed base of Blu-ray Disc players currently in homes around the world.
The Blu-ray 3D specification calls for encoding 3D video using the Multiview Video Coding (MVC) codec, an extension to the ITU-T H.264 Advanced Video Coding (AVC) codec currently supported by all Blu-ray disc players. MPEG4-MVC compresses both left and right eye views with a typical 50% overhead compared to equivalent 2D content, according to BDA; and can provide full 1080p resolution backward compatibility with current 2D Blu-ray disc players. The specification also incorporates enhanced graphic features for 3D. These features provide a new experience for users, enabling navigation using 3D graphic menus and displaying 3D subtitles positioned in 3D video.
What is important, the BDA has not announced any actual stereoscopic 3D-capable BD players. Nevertheless, the BDA stressed that Sony PlayStation 3 is stereo 3D-compatible with a simple update of its firmware.
“In 2009 we saw Blu-ray firmly establish itself as the most rapidly adopted packaged media format ever introduced. We think the broad and rapid acceptance Blu-ray Disc already enjoys with consumers will be a factor in accelerating the uptake of 3D in the home. In the meantime, existing players and libraries can continue to be fully enjoyed as consumers consider extending into 3D home entertainment,” added Mr. Matsuda.