The requirements of a new standard for mastering stereoscopic 3D video have been outlined by The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers at the Digital Cinema Summit, held prior to the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas. Agreement on a common mastering standard is seen as critical for defining the requirements for the delivery of 3D materials across all distribution channels, from physical media to terrestrial, satellite, cable and broadband.
More than 200 representatives of movie studios, broadcasters, cable and satellite television service providers, as well as consumer electronics manufacturers and semiconductor companies, collaborated on a SMPTE 3D Home Entertainment Task Force formed last August.
The SMPTE task force report recommends a mastering standard based on 1920 by 1080 pixel resolution at 60 frames per second and per eye. The standard will be required to support backward-compatibility to 2D material.
“Everyone was watching SMPTE for this first, critical move of defining the requirements,” said Bill Zou, the chairman of the task force. The next step will be the formal definition of the SMPTE 3D Home Master specifications, with work on core standards expected to conclude within a year.
The movie industry is looking to 3D as a means of maintaining the value of theatrical exhibition, providing a two to three-fold premium on box office receipts. For a recent release, the 3D screenings provided nearly 60% of revenue in the first week.
Consumer electronics companies see it as a significant differentiator following the widespread adoption of high-definition devices and services.
“This was a very important step for SMPTE to take,” said Nandhu Nandhakumar, who is responsible for advanced technology at LG Electronics. “With studio and equipment vendors saying here’s what the master formats will look like, then the rest of the distribution chain can become more focused.”
“We are very bullish on 3D,” he said. “It’s an experience that is finally feasible at high quality and at consumer price points. With standardization happening across the board — including at all distribution links in the supply chain — and with rapid technology advances, I think 3D is very near term. These technologies will be quickly deployed and they create a very new and enhanced consumer experience.”