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Monday, April 20, 2009

3D at Home Update: Interview with Chris Chinnock

Hi, Michael here.  Insight Media President and 3D@Home Consortium Board Member Chris Chinnock took some time away from his busy schedule at NAB in Vegas to answer questions regarding the current state of the push towards 3D in the home.  Both publicly and behind the scenes, Chris has been leading the charge towards 3D standards.  Below he gives an update as to the current state of the effort.

Michael: Where in the process towards completing the necessary 3DTV standards (for both a mastering standard, potential necessary HDMI/Blu-ray upgrades, and 3D-capable HDTVs) are we at this moment? Has 3D@Home Consortium finished with its recommendations to SMPTE and CEA, or do you have a continuing involvement? If so, what are 3D@Home, and you personally, focused on presently?

Chris Chinnock: SMPTE has just released their report on 3D formats. It essentially describes a high quality master that is created at the end of the post process. It does not describe how this is to be formatted for distribution, so there is much work to be done there. BDA (Blu-ray Disk Association) is secretive about their process, but the goal is to come up with a standard by end of year. We are working with CEA (Consumer Electronics Association) on a number of issues, and have just reached out to EBU (European Broadcasting Union) to help them. Metrology co-op with ICDM (International Committee for Display Metrology) is well advanced. We have a whole briefing on 3D @ Home at NAB, so I would rather send the sanitized version of those slides after the event rather than discuss here in full detail.

Michael: Do you know whether the Entertainment Technology Center at USC is still involved in the march towards a standard? I am unclear as to what their role has been up until this point.

Chris Chinnock: Yes they are very interested in 3D and have set up a new lab with a bunch of 3D monitors and TVs. They want to have a consumer facing focus in evaluating equipment and content. The 3D @ Home consortium is talking with them about supporting the effort to create a 3D test reel of content and in doing consumer testing of active shutter glasses.

Michael: I am also curious about the 1080p/60fps per eye standard that SMPTE is advocating.  I think it sounds great, and would work perfectly for 60i and 30P material, but wouldn't a 24p movie require some kind of pulldown? Some MarketSaw readers have already expressed concern about this.  I would think (correct me if I'm wrong) that for flawless, judder-free 24p 3D at home that is compatible with 30p and 60i content, the TV would need to be fed two 120fps streams (one per eye), requiring the TV to have the ability to process and display 240 fps?

Chris Chinnock: If 1080p/60 per eye is desired, then in theory, a 120Hz display could do this. The problem is ghosting between the two images. The turn off time for the LCDs and the phosphor decay times for the plasma as not fast enough, so you need to increase speed (essentially going to a 240hz, or 480hz equivalent speed). The Panasonic demo is at 1080/24p as this is the fastest the phosphors and electronics can do in the current PDP to support good 3D (my understanding anyway).

Michael: Given the current state of the effort, what is the greatest challenge going forward in terms of bringing 3DTV into the home?

Chris Chinnock: There are many: improving cost and efficiency of content creation workflow tools; distribution standards thru all media; 3D encoding evaluations and decisions; 3D TV technologies, more content, business models and on and on.

Michael: What do you think are the chances of having a 3D-at-home standard in place in time for the Avatar Blu-ray release (circa May 2010?)

Chris Chinnock: I think goal is achievable and will be achieved (too much money at risk).

Thanks very much to Chris for providing us with this update!

The 3D@Home Consortium was formed in 2008 with the mission to speed the commercialization of 3D into homes worldwide and provide the best possible viewing experience by facilitating the development of standards, roadmaps and education for the entire 3D industry - from content, hardware and software providers to consumers.  Visit the 3D@Home site at www.3dathome.org

Insight Media is a market research, publishing and consulting firm focused on the emerging parts of the display industry.  Visit their site at www.insightmedia.info

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