3DTV Standardization and Related Activities

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Standardization efforts have to be understood in the context of where stakeholders and proponents see the technology going. We already defined what we believe to be five generations of 3DTV commercialization in Chapter 1, which the reader will certainly recall. These generations fit in well with the following menu of research activity being sponsored by various European and global research initiatives, as described in Ref. [1]:

Short-term 3DV R&D (immediate commercialization, 2010–2013)

  • Digital stereoscopic projection
    • better/perfect alignment to minimize “eye-fatigue.”
  • End-to-end digital production-line for stereoscopic 3D cinema
    • digital stereo cameras;
    • digital baseline correction for realistic perspective;
    • digital postprocessing.

Medium-term 3DV R&D (commercialization during the next few years, 2013–2016)

  • End-to-end multi-view 3DV with autostereoscopic displays
    • cameras and automated camera calibration;
    • compression/coding for efficient delivery;
    • standardization;
    • view interpolation for free-view video;
    • better autostereoscopic displays, based on current and near future technology (lenticular, barrier-based);
    • natural immersive environments.

Long-term 3DV R&D (10+ years, 2016–2020+)

  • realistic/ultrarealistic displays;
  • “natural” interaction with 3D displays;
  • holographic 3D displays, including “integral imaging” variants;
  • natural immersive environments;
  • total decoupling of “capture” and “display”;
  • novel capture, representation, and display techniques.

One of the goals of the current standardization effort is to decouple the capture function from the display function. This is a very typical requirement for service providers, going back to voice and Internet services: there will be a large pool of end users each opting to choose a distinct Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) device (e.g., phone, PC, fax machine, cell phone, router, 3DTV display); therefore, the service provider needs to utilize an network-intrinsic protocol (encoding, framing, addressing, etc.) that can then be utilized by the end device to create its own internal representation, as needed. The same applies to 3DTV.

As noted in Chapter 1, there is a lot of interest shown in this topic by the industry and standards body. The MPEG of ISO/IEC is working on a coding format for 3DV. Standards are the key to cost-effective deployment of a technology. Examples of video-related standards include the Beta-VHS (Video Home System) and the HD DVD–Blu-ray controversies.  SMPTE is working on some of the key standards needed to deliver 3D to the home. As far back as 2003, a 3D Consortium with 70 partner organizations had been founded in Japan and, more recently, four new activities have been started: the [email protected] Consortium, the SMPTE 3D Home Entertainment Task Force, the Rapporteur Group on 3DTV of ITU-R Study Group 6, and the TM-3D-SM group of DVB. It will probably be somewhere around 2012 by the time there
will be an interoperable standard available in consumer systems to handle all the delivery mechanisms for 3DTV.

At a broad level and in the context of 3DTV, the following major initiatives had been undertaken at press time:

  • MPEG: standardizing multi-view and 3DV coding;
  • DVB: standardizing of digital video transmission to TVs and mobile devices;
  • SMPTE: standardizing 3D delivery to the home;
  • ITU-T: standardizing user experience of multimedia content;
  • VQEG (Video Quality Experts Group): standardizing of objective video quality assessment.

There is a pragmatic possibility that in the short term, equipment providers may have to support a number of formats for stereo 3D content. The ideal approach for stereoscopic 3DTV is to provide sequential left and right frames at twice the chosen viewing rate. However, because broadcasters and some devices may lack transport/interface bandwidth for that approach, a number of alternatives may also be used (at least in the short term). Broadcasters appear to be focusing on top/bottom interleaving; however, trials are still ongoing to examine other approaches that involve some form of compression including checkerboard, sideby-side, or interleaved rows or columns.