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...