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Behind the Scenes

Behind The Scenes

We've pretty much covered everything you need to know at the moment about the 'front end' of Sky’s 3D platform. So let’s now go behind the scenes into all the lovely grubby technical stuff.

Which sadly starts off with some bad financial news to counter the good news about not necessarily needing a new Sky receiver. For you will definitely need a new TV to watch Sky’s own 3D broadcasts.

This may come as a surprise to you. I’ve had numerous friends (who’d noticed Channel 4's 3D Week I mentioned at the start of this feature) who thought that a flimsy pair of cardboard 3D specs was all they needed to watch Sky’s 3D broadcasts on their current TV. This is not the case, despite Sky to some extent following the same fundamental principle as that used with the Channel 4 broadcasts of showing the two slightly offset images needed to produce a 3D picture 'side by side' within a single frame.

The thing is, all current HD TVs will be capable of 'seeing' the 3D broadcasts, but as side by side left and right images. This is what a 3D TV would see, too, without its 3D mode activated. But it’s only when you turn a 3D TV’s 3D mode on that the two images are converted to a 'stereo 3D' image that will give you a 3D image when you’ve got your glasses on.

People who’ve really been following the development of 3D closely might also think there’s an issue to do with the HDMI connections on current TVs. For a new HDMI standard, v1.4, has been developed that’s able to carry control signals connected with 3D images. However, Sky’s current HDMI box doesn’t have a v1.4 HDMI output either. So Sky has had to come up with a way to take the 3D control codes and embed them into their existing HDMI streams via data side packets, which can signal the TV to say "this is a side by side 3D broadcast". Or an "over/under" 3D image should Sky ever decide to use this alternative 3D format instead.

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