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Blu-ray Disc 3D Spec Finalized

17 Dec, 2009 By: Chris Tribbey

The Blu-ray Disc Association has finalized 3D specifications for the high-def format, allowing future 3D content to be viewed in 1080p on any 3D compatible display, the group said Dec. 17.

The specification, long awaited by a home entertainment industry still resorting to anaglyph (red/cyan) glasses, will allow 3D Blu-ray content to be displayed on 3D displays utilizing newer technology, including active shutter and polarized glasses. The specification calls for 1080p resolution for each eye, and will deliver Blu-ray 3D images regardless of the display technology itself (LCD, plasma, etc.).

“From a technological perspective, it is simply the best available platform for bringing 3D into the home,” said Benn Carr, chairman of the 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.”

Hot on the heels of the announcement, Sony Corp. said Dec. 17 it would license 3D technology from RealD, for integration in HDTVs and other electronics. RealD, which announced in December that more than 100 million moviegoers have watched a 3D RealD film worldwide, is responsible for the 3D theatrical presentations of Avatar, Beowulf and Meet the Robinsons, and just this year RealD 3D showings of A Christmas Carol, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Monsters vs. Aliens and Up each earned more than $100 million. Twenty-four films have presented theatrically using RealD polarized 3D glasses technology, and another 50 films are slated for the format.

The PlayStation 3 will likely become the first Blu-ray player capable of playing Blu-ray 3D content on 3D displays, with the specification purposefully keeping the gaming console in mind. There are nearly 10 million PS3s in U.S. households, and Sony Computer Entertainment said in November that it expects to release a 3D firmware upgrade for the system in 2010.

“It's unlikely that existing [standalone] players can be upgraded to 3D playback unless it was designed with this in mind. I'm not aware of any Blu-ray player company announcing this so far,” said Andy Parsons, SVP of corporate communications and new product planning for Pioneer and chair of the Blu-ray Disc Association promotion committee in the United States. “We have been saying that a new player will probably be needed for 3D playback.”

While consumers will have to wait for other 3D-capable Blu-ray players, the specification does require backwards compatibility for current players, so future 3D discs will offer 2D versions of content. The specification also requires that 2D discs play on all future 3D players.

Dorinda Marticorena, SVP of worldwide marketing and high definition for Warner Home Video, praised the announcement. “Blu-ray is the foundation for the great consumer home entertainment experience that will be 3D. The finalization of 3D specifications by the industry is a significant step in moving the format forward and underscores, in a very powerful way, the vibrant future of Blu-ray,” she said.

The specification also allows for 3D Blu-ray menus and 3D subtitles.

“In 2009 we saw Blu-ray firmly establish itself as the most rapidly adopted packaged media format ever introduced,” said Victor Matsuda, chairman of the BDA Global Promotions Committee. “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 BDA added that complete information about the 3D specification would be made available to content owners and consumer electronics manufacturers in the coming weeks.

“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,” Matsuda said. “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.”


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