BDA Releases New 3D Blu-Ray Standard

By Chris Chinnock
Sr. Editor/Sr. Analyst, Insight Media

Blu-ray Disc Association web site has no information about the 3D spec release or any details about how to access it.

chris_chinnock-0110According to news reports and the people we have talked to about the spec over the last few months, “encoding of 3D video will be done 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 percent 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 3D BDA spec is designed to position the platform as the gold standard for delivering 3D content. It will output content in a 1080p/24Hz, frame sequential (page flipping) format over an HDMI cable. Any 3D capable TV, regardless of display technology or 3D approach, should be able to display this signal, assuming the TV has been equipped with electronics to transcode this signal and convert it to the native 3D mode of the TV. Glasses will be required.
The Blu-ray 3D specification is also designed to allow PS3 game consoles to play back Blu-ray 3D content in 3D. And it is backward compatible, meaning that 2D discs will show 2D images when played on new 3D capable Blu-ray disc players, and 3D Blu-ray discs will show 2D content on legacy Blu-ray players.
The completed specification will be available shortly and provides individual manufacturers and content providers with the technical information and guidelines.

At CES, we expect several companies to announce Blu-ray players based on the new specification. In fact, Broadcom just released a new single die Blu-ray disc chip that supports front-end and back-end video processing. The chip not only supports 2D and 3D Blu-ray playback, but also supports Netflix 2.0, Pandora, Vudu, CinemaNow and other services.


Getting this spec done and getting players into the market are the necessary first steps to enabling the 3D market. HDMI LLC has also released guidelines for HDMI 1.4, which includes support for 3D signaling.

And don’t forget about Avatar. The movie will eventually show up on Blu-ray, but the 3D game is already available (for a review of the game play, see last month’s edition of Mobile Display Report).

In our recent 3D Gaming Report, we forecast 3D capable TVs. As part of this analysis, we foresaw the availability of this hardware and used surveys and other analysis to judge availability of content in the coming years. 2010 will be a very important year in the establishment of 3D in the home, and CES will be the watershed event where it all begins.

Chris Chinnock is a senior editor and analyst for Insight Media. Reach him at chris@insightmedia.info