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Do you think 3D Broadcasting in its current format is likely to gain much market share? Ask the experts T by Giovanni Ballocca, Digital TV Project Manager at Sisvel Technology 3D Broadcasting here are two issues that affect the potential growth of 3D in broadcasting: they are the widespread availability of 3D enabled devices, and the cost of producing and broadcasting 3D content. All HD TV sets from major manufacturers over 40 inches that are sold today include 3D capability, so the end-user market of 3D capable viewers is growing by default. 3D is not even a remarkable selling point any more for the latest TVs: if you take the Samsung Smart TV as an example, this is marketed as a connected TV - the 3D capability is advertised with just a small label on the box. So there is a growing potential market of viewers for 3D content providers. On the other hand, there is a considerable obstacle to growth in the 3D market, and that is the lack of content created in 3D. With millions of 3D capable sets sold, even viewers of subscription television services can still on get a very limited amount of content. There are several Blu-ray movie titles available, but in general the amount of content is not enough to create a mass market for 3D. Perhaps the Olympics in 2012 will see mass production of 3D content, as was the case in the previous football World Cup. How much do production and transmission costs affect potential growth? There are two ways to produce 3D content: one - the approach taken by broadcasters like Sky, is to shoot live premium events such as sports and provide them as paid premium services. This is expensive, both in production, where large numbers of stereoscopic cameras are required, and in the cost of the contribution links. Other content providers such as National Geographic or Discovery are producing documentaries offline and post processing the video content for 3D with software, and this is an approach that can be afforded even by small broadcasters. It gives good results in terms of quality, and when the broadcaster has gained the skills necessary to shoot good 3D content, there is little further expense because almost all broadcasters already have the means to do the necessary post production. Transmission costs for 3D can be another obstacle for the broadcaster. The current approach is to simulcast the same content in two versions: the 2D and 3D, dedicating a separate channel for the 3D transmission, and that extra channel is a cost the broadcasters can’t avoid. This method is out of reach for many terrestrial because simulcasting 2D and 3D transmissions require more bandwidth and terrestrial spectrum is a scarce resource. Can new formats for 3D transmission help reduce these costs? Yes, one benefit of new transmission formats will be cheaper transmissions for the broadcaster, and this will remove one of the obstacles to 3D broadcasting growth. The format we have developed at Sisvel Technology allows the broadcaster to distribute a single piece of content that is both viewable in 3D and backward- compatible for 2D, allowing the broadcaster to use a single channel service to reach both audiences. The essential principle supporting this method has already been adopted in the standard proposed by DVB because the ability to transmit to both 3D and 2D viewers in the same channel is what European terrestrial broadcasters want. Sisvel Technology’s 3D Tile Format is a frame-packing format, like the currently default standards, which are known as Side-by-side and Top-and-bottom. The 3D Tile Format allows two component images, the left and right images of the stereo pair, to be packed into a single HD frame . When the format is compressed using H.264/ AVC, suitable signaling can be applied so that the 2D decoder can isolate from the frame packing format one of the two frames used for the display of 2D video, while at the same time the 3D decoder will understand that the signal carries 3D video and will provide the 3D decoding. The underlying technology has been already adopted by DVB in the Annex B of the specification where it specifies that the cropping rectangle feature of the AVC coding standard might be used to produce a backward- compatible 2D stream. Major >> 36 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE