With coverage of the Masters golf tournament and a live hockey game, the cable industry has been on the cutting edge of the 3-D TV boom, but there’s an even better viewing experience on the horizon.
Tuesday’s “Depth Perceptions: Technical Approaches for 3-D Video Integration” Cable Show session covered a lot of ground on the migration of 3-D TV from its current infant stage. David Broberg, CableLabs’ vice president of consumer video technology, said signal formatting methods need to evolve from existing compression and equipment to AVC-based multi-view video coding, and there’s a need for replacing equipment such as set-top boxes.
“The first option is the interim, but the endgame is to deliver full resolution,” Broberg said.
Kevin Murray, NDS’ system architect, outlined some areas of concern, such as 3-D picture-in-picture or 3-D picture-in-guide, as well as closed captioning that gets divided into two separate boxes on the screen.
He also spoke about graphic design elements and cues that make it easier for the human brain to see the 3-D left and right images correctly.
Murray said new set-top box silicon will have a big impact on enabling stereoscopic 3-D TV. Set-top boxes need to be able to distinguish what types of 3-D formats they’re receiving, as well as detect when content switches back and forth between 2-D and 3-D.
When asked for a timeframe on the new silicon by moderator Tony Werner, Comcast’s executive vice president and CTO, Broberg said CableLabs is in the process of extending its tru2way set-top box specifications to include 3-D TV.
“The first phase is those additional functionalities that are needed in the set-top box for frame caption delivery in a user-friendly way – the switching, signaling, graphic overlays,” he said. “The second phase is where do we want to go, and how do we migrate to the full resolution space? How do we integrate more beautiful graphics, more 3-D rendering in the user interface? I think it’s about two years away, and that’s the reason the specifications are phased.”
Werner also asked Mark Schubin, technology consultant for SchubinCafe.com, when the industry could expect “glassless 3-D” viewing. Schubin said watching 3-D TV without the glasses is doable technology-wise by providing more than two views, but the additional number of views also divides the resolution, which defeats the point of watching 3-D content.
In response to a question by Werner about 3-D audio, Walt Husak, senior manager of electronic media at Dolby Laboratories, said the current versions of surround sound did a good job of putting viewers in the 3-D environment, but there’s a “localization” feature from games that can be used in the future.