3D TV Round-Up

--CableLabs to Offer 3D TV Testing
--Comcast On Demand Offering 3D Horror Movie
--Discovery, ESPN to Launch 3D TV Channels
--JVC Launches 2D-to-3D Converter
--MPEG Industry Forum Launches 3D TV Working Group
--Samsung in 3D TV Partnership with RealD
--Sigma Designs to Demo New 3D Technologies at CES
--Vizio Launches New Line of 3D TV's

As was widely anticipated, 3D TV has emerged as one of the major themes of this year's Consumer Electronics Show--and a number of pieces of 3D TV news came across [itvt]'s desk, Tuesday. Here is a brief round-up:

  • CableLabs has announced that it is providing testing capabilities for 3D TV implementation scenarios over cable. According to the organization, these capabilities "cover a full range of technologies including various frame-compatible, spatial multiplexing solutions for transmission." The organization--which has opened a 3D TV test lab at its Louisville, Colorado facility--says that it has "determined that many of the digital set-top boxes deployed by cable operators are capable of processing 3D TV signals in frame-compatible formats" (note: a frame-compatible 3D format is one that "carries separate left and right video signals within the video frame used to convey a conventional 2D high-definition signal by squeezing them to fit within the space of one picture," CableLabs explains in a press release), and that "cable's VOD and SDV systems can deliver...3DTV signals to those subscribers who have upgraded to new 3DTV's, while simultaneously delivering a 2D variation of the program to existing subscribers with only a small fractional increase in bandwidth needed."
  • Comcast has announced that its VOD service is offering the occult-horror movie, "The Final Destination," in anaglyph 3D (as well as HD) day-and-date with its DVD and Blu-ray release. Comcast customers will be able to pick up 3D anaglyph glasses at Comcast payment centers and malls "while supplies last," the MSO says. Other 3D titles recently offered by Comcast On Demand include "My Bloody Valentine," "Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience" and "Coraline."
  • ESPN and Discovery Communications have announced plans to launch 3D TV channels. ESPN's channel, dubbed ESPN 3D, is slated to launch in June and, according to the broadcaster, will air more than 85 live events in its first year. While ESPN's new 3D TV channel will only be available during live events, Discovery's--which is the result of a partnership with Sony and Imax--is expected to broadcast 24/7. However, no launch date has been announced for Discovery's channel.
  • JVC USA's JVC Professional Products arm has launched a product called the IF-2D3D1 Stereoscopic Image Processor, which it says works as a 2D-to-3D converter and as a 3D L/R mixer for video content producers. According to the company, the product is designed to "help 3D content producers improve their workflow, whether they are converting archived 2D material or shooting original content in 3D."
  • The MPEG Industry Forum has launched a 3D TV Working Group, which will hold its inaugural meeting at CES this Saturday (note: the meeting will be open to the press and to non-members). The group's founding members are Motorola, Harmonic, dicas, NetLogic, MainConcept and TDVision. According to the MPEGIF, the new working group "will take on an unique, important position in the industry, closing the gap between content mastering, an area covered superbly by SMPTE, and content display, which is perfectly represented by the CEA, as well as facilitating a coordinated course of action both in respect of technology standardization and creation of adequate business models."
  • Samsung plans to incorporate RealD's 3D technology into its TV sets. "Samsung will support the proprietary stereoscopic RealD Format for the delivery and display of high-quality 3D content," the companies state in their press materials, and "the two companies will also work jointly on active eyewear technology and new passive display technology to promote the adoption of quality 3D TV." According to RealD, the RealD Format is "an enhanced version of a side-by-side 3D format that uses a unique set of filters and other technology that multiplexes a left-eye and right-eye 3D image stream into a single channel for delivery of high-definition 3D content using today's HD infrastructure to any 3D-enabled display type."
  • System-on-a-chip (SoC) specialist, Sigma Designs, has announced that it will showcase a new range of 3D video and graphics technologies at CES. The company says it will demonstrate "3D video capability that takes advantage of advanced 3D video algorithms and content from RealD to show stereoscopic output on a 3D-equipped television. This 3D video platform," the company continues, "is based on Sigma's SMP8644 media processor combined with Sigma's GF9452 VXP video processor which will output full HD left-eye/right-eye interleaved images. Additionally, the demonstration will provide image enhancement of the 3D content using proprietary VXP detail enhancement and adaptive contrast enhancement algorithms." Meanwhile a second demonstration will feature a "showcase of the robust 3D graphics capability that operates over the OpenGL ES interface to render high-performance 3D imaging," the company says. "This 3D graphics platform is based on Sigma's latest silicon that offers a new 3D engine--featuring a tile-based architecture with a universal shader engine supporting multi-threaded operations with both pixel and vertex shading. It is capable of rendering 16 million polygons/second, pixel fill rates of 500 million pixels/second, and texture element fill rates of over 100M texels/second."
  • Vizio has launched a range of connected HDTV's, collectively dubbed the XVT Pro series, which incorporate 3D technology from Sensio. "Utilizing Sensio 3D technology to deliver 3D content over conventional 2D infrastructure, the new Vizio XVT Pro Full HD3D TV's display stunning 3D content that the user can view with XpanD active-shutter glasses (sold separately)," Vizio states in its press materials. "Unlike other 3D TV's that use passive stereoscopic imaging, Vizio's Full HD3D TV's can display full 1080p video to each eye by rapidly alternating between the left-eye and right-eye images within the same visual space. The special active-shutter glasses, which communicate with the television over Bluetooth, then transform each lens from opaque to transparent in perfect synchronization with the images displayed on the TV, which allows for delivery of the full frame rate capable by the television for the ultimate 3D HDTV viewing experience. These sets can produce 3D images from Sensio-encoded material on conventional DVD and Blu-ray players, as well as from future distribution channels such as pay-per-view, video-on-demand, DTV and HDTV broadcasts."


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