Rapporteur Group On 3DTV of ITU-R Study Group 6

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Arranging a television system so that viewers can see 3D pictures is both simple and complex. ITU–R has agreed on a new study topic on 3D television, and in 2010 it expects to be building up knowledge of the options. Proponents had made the proposal to the ITU-R in 2008 that the time was ripe for worldwide agreements on 3DTV, and the ITU-R Study Group 6 has agreed on a “new Study Question” on 3D television, that will be submitted for approval by the ITU-R Membership

Though there are different views about whether current technology can provide a system which is entirely free of eyestrain, for those who wish to start such services, there could be advantages in having a worldwide common solution, or at least interoperable solutions, and the ITU-R Study Group 6 specialists have been gathering information, which might lead to such a result.

Therefore, the Question from ITU-R calls for contributions on systems that include, but also go beyond stereoscopy, and include technology that may record what physicists call the “object wave.” Clearly, this a more futuristic version of 3DTV. Holograms record in a limited way the “object wave.” Will there be a way of broadcasting to record an “object wave”? This remains to be seen. No approaches are excluded at this stage. The “Question” is essentially a call for proposals for 3DTV. Journals and individuals are asked to “spread the word” about this, and to invite contributions. Such contributions are normally channeled via national administrations, or via the other Members of the ITU—the so-called Sector Members. Which proposals will be made and which may be the subject of agreement remains to be seen, but the ITU-R sector has launched, in its own words, “an exciting new issue, which may have a profound impact on television
in the years ahead.”

The Question is included below to give the readers perspective on the ITU-R work.

QUESTION ITU-R 128/6
Digital three-dimensional (3D) TV broadcasting

The ITU Radiocommunication Assembly

considering

a) that existing TV broadcasting systems do not provide complete perception of reproduced pictures as natural three-dimensional scenes;

b) that viewers’ experience of presence in reproduced pictures may be enhanced by 3D TV, which is anticipated to be an important future application of digital TV broadcasting;

c) that the cinema industry is moving quickly towards production and display in 3D;

d) that research into various applications of new technologies (for example, holographic imaging) that could be used in 3D TV broadcasting is taking place in many countries;

e) that progress in new methods of digital TV signal compression and processing is opening the door to the practical realization of multifunctional 3D TV broadcasting systems;

f) that the development of uniform world standards for 3D TV systems, covering various aspects of digital TV broadcasting, would encourage adoption across the digital divide and prevent a multiplicity of standards;

g) the harmonization of broadcast and non-broadcast applications of 3D TV is desirable, decides that the following Questions should be studied

  1. What are the user requirements for digital 3D TV broadcasting systems?
  2. What are the requirements for image viewing and sound listening conditions for 3D TV?
  3. What 3D TV broadcasting systems currently exist or are being developed for the purposes of TV program production, post-production, television recording, archiving, distribution and transmission for realization of 3D TV broadcasting?
  4. What new methods of image capture and recording would be suitable for the effective representation of three-dimensional scenes?
  5. What are the possible solutions (and their limitations) for the broadcasting of 3D TV digital signals via the existing terrestrial 6, 7 and 8MHz bandwidth channels or broadcast satellite services, for fixed and mobile reception?
  6. What methods for providing 3D TV broadcasts would be compatible with existing television systems?
  7. What are the digital signal compression and modulation methods that may be recommended for 3D TV broadcasting?
  8. What are the requirements for the 3D TV studio digital interfaces?
  9. What are appropriate picture and sound quality levels for various broadcast applications of 3D TV?
  10. What methodologies of subjective and objective assessment of picture and sound quality may be used in 3D TV broadcasting?

also decides

  1. that results of the above-mentioned studies should be analyzed for the purpose of the preparation of new Reports and Recommendation(s);
  2. that the above-mentioned studies should be completed by 2012.

It should be noted that the ITU-R has already published some standards and reports on 3DTV in the past, including the following:

  • Rec. ITU-R BT.1198 (1995) Stereoscopic television based on R- and L-eye two-channel signals
  • Rec. ITU-R BT.1438 (2000) Subjective assessment of stereoscopic television pictures’
  • Report ITU-R BT.312-5 (1990) Constitution of stereoscopic television
  • Report ITU-R BT.2017 (1998) Stereoscopic television MPEG-2 multi-view profile
  • Report ITU-R BT.2088 (2006) Stereoscopic Television.

ITU-R BT.1198, Stereoscopic television based on R- and L-eye two-channel signals, suggests some general principles to be followed in development of stereoscopic television systems to maximize their compatibility with existing monoscopic systems. It contains

  • requirements for compatibility with monoscopic signal;
  • requirement for a discrete two-channel digital video coding scheme;
  • requirement for a discrete channel plus difference channel digital video coding scheme.

Obviously these are “old” standards, but they point to the fact that transmission of 3DTV signals is not completely a new concept.