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3D vs. HD?

A session titled “Depth Perceptions: Technical Approaches for 3D Video Integration” at yesterday’s 2010 Cable Connection Spring Technical Forum drove home the current conflict between 3D and HDTV in the home.  Moderated by Comcast CTO Tony Werner, the standing-room-only opening event at the conference, jointly sponsored by CableLabs, NCTA, and SCTE, unveiled some of the challenges facing 3D on cable TV.

It began with a presentation by CableLabs vp of consumer video technology David Broberg of almost every possible method for delivering 3D via cable, most of which involve a reduction of horizontal resolution (side-by-side images), vertical resolution (over-under), temporal resolution (alternating frames) or some combination.  There are mechanisms for delivering 3D in HD (Walt Husak, Dolby’s director of image technologies, later described some), but they’re not available in first-generation implementations using existing set-top boxes (STBs).

NDS system architect Kevin Murray offered other reasons why those STBs might need to be changed, including making sure that such graphics as captions and program guides are placed in 3D space in front of any picture content they occlude.  Current STBs not only don’t take depth into account but would also place a single caption across the width of a side-by-side 3D image pair, making it impossible to read even with one eye closed.

What about future non-glasses multiview systems?  As a participant on the panel, I pointed out that the number of views divides the spatial resolution.  That led an NHK demo shot with an ultra-high-definition (“8K”) camera to appear to have lower resolution than even a YouTube clip.

There’s more coverage of the session in yesterday’s Multichannel News here: http://www.multichannel.com/article/452530-Cable_Show_2010_3DTV_Work_Left_To_Be_Done.php

My paper from the proceedings can be found here: Mark Schubin’s paper from the 2010 Cable Connection Spring Technical Forum Proceedings and is copyright 2010 by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association