In the vast shadow of the release of James Cameron’s Avatar, the Blu-ray Disc Association released the finalized 3D specifications. 3D media has bounced in and out of pop culture since the 1950s when it was introduced as a way for motion pictures to compete with television. Now the home entertainment industry has embraced 3D technology with a method for delivering the media.
Blu-ray 3D will be 1080p and backward compatible, meaning that the disks will be playable and viewable as 2D on existing equipment and current disks will play on any new equipment. The new compression codec is known as MPC, a variant of the current AVC. Importantly, the new standard will work with “any compatible 3D display,” which sounds vague, but appears to mean that there won’t be any format wars between different monitoring technologies. There are active and passive displays with high and low refresh rates, and side-by-side and line-interweaved technologies. Get ready for a whole new set of specs as different flat screen monitors debut for the home and the professional industry. 3D will work this time because the display technology will drive it directly to the audience. Even the Sony PlayStation 3 is included in the new Blu-ray 3D spec. Soon 3D will be yet another creative tool available to the creative cinematographer – instead of asking for a focus pull or a small dolly creep, perhaps that next dramatic moment will be best punctuated with a “depth pull.”
Here’s the complete Blu-ray Disc Association press release:
Blu-ray Disc Association Announces Final 3D Specification
“Blu-ray 3D” Expected to Reach Consumers in 2010 LOS ANGELES –(Business Wire)– Dec 17, 2009
The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) today 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 3D experience into consumers’ living rooms on Blu-ray Disc, the most capable high definition home entertainment platform.
“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,” said Victor Matsuda, chairman, BDA Global Promotions Committee. “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.”
The “Blu-ray 3D” specification fully leverages the technical advantages of the Blu-ray Disc format to deliver unmatched picture quality as well as uniformity and compatibility across the full range of Blu-ray 3D products, both hardware and software. Notably, the specification allows every Blu-ray 3D player and movie to deliver Full HD 1080p resolution to each eye, thereby maintaining the industry leading image quality to which Blu-ray Disc viewers are accustomed. Moreover, 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.
“From a technological perspective, it is simply the best available platform for bringing 3D into the home,” said Benn Carr, chairman, BDA 3D Task Force. “The disc capacity and bit rates Blu-ray Disc provides enable us to deliver 3D in Full HD 1080p high definition resolution.” The Blu-ray 3D specification is also designed to allow PS3 game consoles to play back Blu-ray 3D content in 3D. Additionally, 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.
“In 2009 we saw Blu-ray firmly establish itself as the most rapidly adopted packaged media format ever introduced,” said Matsuda. “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.”
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, 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.
The completed specification will be available shortly and provides individual manufacturers and content providers with the technical information and guidelines necessary to develop, announce and bring products to market pursuant to their own internal planning cycles and timetables.