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Blu-ray 3D Specification Is Finalised

Gordon Kelly by

Blu-ray 3D Specification Is Finalised

We said the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) should finalise 3D specifications in the near future and thankfully that's proved to be the case.

Today the BDA has dotted all i's and crossed all t's with the announcement of the 'Blu-ray 3D' specification. Hollywood, the major consumer electronics and computer manufacturers are all onboard and it should mean the rapid acceleration of 3D into our living rooms.

"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 BDA Global Promotions Committee chairman Victor Matsuda . "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."

'Full HD' is an important phrase here because Blu-ray 3D will deliver a 1080p resolution to each eye so in theory there should be no drop off in picture quality over regular Full HD two dimensional broadcasts. Furthermore, Blu-ray 3D is 'display agnostic' which is a swanky way of saying it will happily work on any compatible 3D display regardless of whether it is LCD, plasma or made from Mexican jumping beans.

As for the techy bit:

"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."

All of which is just dandy except, in my opinion, for one significant detail: current 3D technology is crap. Far from being a true three dimensional experience, it seems to me closer to that of an elaborate pop-up book where certain elements in the picture are simply 'raised' compared to others. Think parallax scrolling and Shadow of the Beast. It didn't impress me at the world premier of Avatar, so what hope home cinema?

Still, at least we now have a standard for this nonsense...


Blu-ray Disc Association

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December 18, 2009, 5:08 am

Suppose it's good new for some people.

Personally i can't see the point, i perfectly happy with standard HD, for me 3D is just a novelty that will go past me very quickly.

On top of that so far in my opinion Blu - Ray has been a complete con, i have a DVD upscaler that makes my Band of Brothers DVD look amazing. Yes i am aware that Blu Ray is even better, however the premium on DVD's is not worth it in some cases pushing £20. I have a blu-ray player in my PC only to find i need to fork out a further £80 on software to be able to play them.

Hans Gruber

December 18, 2009, 9:02 am

3D? Pah, who cares. The real holy grail in living room entertainment is still in inventing Smellovision. I want to really smell the coffee and onions!


December 18, 2009, 1:31 pm

@Gordon: believe me, you are not the target audience, that's why you're missing it:)... I showed "Journey to the centre of the earth" in 3D to my 8 and 12 year old nephews, and they came out of my home cinema saying "this is the best film we've ever seen". Granted, they haven't seen that many, and the story is underwhelming, but it is great fun (I enjoyed it!) and this captures what it is for: kids, even younger that the main under-25 target of the studios (ie those who actually go to the movies more than a few times a year). Or grown ups who are still kids (like I am), definitely not you or Andy...

The picture quality of a 3D version of a movie on a standard BD player really suffers at home on a standard 1080p PJ, so the news that a standard is born allowing for full resolution is great.

The next step is to get rid of the glasses that take so much of the brightness away they force you to put yout PJ in dynamic mode and make the film look greyish rather than in color.

Until you can get the same picture quality (color reproduction, resolution) as in 2D, the 3D movies will remain (great) gimmicks for kids, young and old.

But if/when the technology matures, it should be great at least for a portion of the production (and a larger portion of the audience). Just my .2 cent.


December 18, 2009, 1:35 pm

@Kieran: you have to watch HD on a screen that is at least 42". Under that, from a normal seating distance (3m or more), there is not much of a difference between BD and DVD (for untrained eyes). I have a small screen by home cinema standards (88" diagonal in 16/9), and even with the best available upscaling, and watching a DVD hurts my eyes!


December 18, 2009, 5:51 pm


Yeh i was aware of the viewing distances not sure what they were though, i uses a 26" TV/Monitor for my PC that's full HD and shows do look amazing, BBC Iplayer i watch all the time and the recent "Life" shows looked great in HD (admitidly they are probably only 720p) The distance i view my TV from isn't as much as 3m but the size of my TV that distance isn't needed so i can still appreciate the detail. However i still stand by my point that the premium is not worth the added detail when my up scaler can do just as well in my opinion.

As for 3D until i have my own holodeck im not interested =P


December 18, 2009, 6:12 pm

@Manni - they are fair points and you make them well. My primary issue though is this simply isn't 3D - it's just dodgy image manipulation to create layers rather than true depth. I also think the whole thing has been horribly over-hyped, possibly by Hollywood as a desperate attempt to reduce piracy.


December 18, 2009, 7:29 pm


Why stop there?

I want those onions to make me weep!

b o d

December 18, 2009, 7:57 pm

I have been playing 3d games for a few months now and there is no way I would go back to 2d unless the 3d support in a individual game was poor. The depth of game world and separation of objects you get in 3d games offers a much greater feeling of immersion. You also get some pop-out, but personally I find too much of this can send you cross-eyed and detract from the overall experience.

There is no reason why this cannot be transferred to films, and there are some very good examples of this being done well such as the Nürburgring 24 hour race trailer.

That said, a poor film will always be a poor film no matter how many 3d or special effects are added. I can see 3d going the same way as special effects, over applied and used to mask weak plots and storytelling. The technology fine, although the application of the technology may not be.

Granted 3d isn't perfect and will only reach that when glasses are not needed, but it is ready for consumers. There is alot of hype, but in some ways there needs to be as the only way to appreciate the potential is to see it in action.

I would disagree with the attempt to reduce piracy comment. Bandwidth is sufficient now to download twice the amount of data without any issues. It may be used to push lots more electrical equipment into peoples homes though.


December 18, 2009, 9:34 pm

Can't wait for (proper) 3D.

What is a 3d compatible display. The article barely mentions this implying that these will work on any TV. Will it?


December 19, 2009, 2:11 pm

My guess: it will have the same fate as video calling. There is widespread support from the cariers, phone manufactures but few people use it because it's not practical (or desirable).

The only 3D movies I enjoyed were those seen in amusement parks where 3D is coupled with movement of the floor simulating acceleration in sync with the image. I guess that technology isn't coming to my living room soon :-)

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