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Blu-ray 3D

Primer: The Principles Of 3D Video And Blu-ray 3D
By

Blu-ray 3D is a new movie format developed by the member companies of the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA). Blu-ray 3D movies are expected to be released in early 2010, providing an extremely high-quality format for enjoying 3D movies at home.

The physical format for Blu-ray 3D is identical to all other forms of Blu-ray disc. The logical format is based on the current Blu-ray audio/video format, but has been extended to provide for stereo 3D video and 3D menus. Earlier Blu-ray players will not be able to play Blu-ray 3D titles. While set-top Blu-ray players will need to be replaced, PC-based Blu-ray player software can be upgraded. Blu-ray 3D player software will require a Blu-ray drive that is capable of 2x or faster read speeds. Fortunately, all but the first generation of BD-ROM and BD-R drives are 2x or faster.

Blu-ray players capable of playing Blu-ray 3D are backward-compatible, supporting standard (two-dimensional) Blu-ray movies. In addition, the Blu-ray 3D format allows for Blu-ray 3D titles to be created in such a way that they can be played by a legacy Blu-ray player as a standard 2D Blu-ray movie. Blu-ray 3D players can be configured to operate in either 2D or 3D (stereoscopic) mode, allowing consumers to upgrade their player and disc collection before they upgrade their TV or display to 3D.

Blu-ray 3D movie titles will contain two full Blu-ray quality video streams, one for each eye. Decoding a Blu-ray 3D is comparable to decoding two standard Blu-ray movies at the same time. While it would be reasonable to expect that the video file size and bit rate would double (since the number of decoded frames doubles), there are some efficiencies in a 3D video that can be taken advantage of. Since each eye is seeing a slightly different perspective of the same scene, there are many similarities in the frames of video for the left and right eyes. The video encoding experts in the Motion Picture Experts Group (MPEG) have taken advantage of this fact to reduce the overall bit rate and file sizes for stereoscopic 3D. A new video codec was developed, based on the Advanced Video Codec (AVC, also known as H.264), called Multi-View Codec (MVC). Blu-ray 3D uses MVC video encoding, which provides for very high picture quality with an overhead (versus standard Blu-ray) of 50%. While the peak bit rate for standard Blu-ray movies is 40 Mb/s, the peak bit rate for Blu-ray 3D is 60 Mb/s. 

Blu-ray 3D MVC is encoded as a primary video stream (for one eye, or for 2D playback) and a dependent video stream for the other eye. The dependent video stream references the objects in each frame of the primary video stream, encoding only the differences.

Blu-ray 3D has enhanced graphics capabilities, allowing for 3D menus and subtitles positioned in 3D video. Menu and subtitle graphics and text can be defined to appear on a plane that is offset from the screen. This plane can be defined to be either closer to or farther away from the viewer. This depth offset is accomplished by shifting the text or graphics horizontally by an equal and opposite amount over the video stream for each eye.

Upgrading to Blu-ray 3D

To enjoy Blu-ray 3D titles, consumers must upgrade their PC or their home theater system. There are several components that are needed:

  • A 3D-capable display (TV, desktop display, or notebook PC display)
  • 3D glasses compatible with your display
  • A PC with Blu-ray 3D player software, or a (set-top) Blu-ray 3D player


In order to choose the right solution, there are some important things to consider for each of these components.

Blu-ray 3D TVs or Displays

The Blu-ray 3D format does not specify the 3D display technology. This allows consumers to choose the 3D display technology that best meets their needs. At the high-end, consumers will likely select true 120 Hz frame-sequential displays that use LC active shutter glasses. Less expensive systems can be configured using polarizing displays and glasses.

Blu-ray 3D Players

Blu-ray 3D players can be implemented on a PC using Blu-ray player software, or as a dedicated hardware solution, otherwise known as a set-top Blu-ray player. Sony's PlayStation 3 (PS3) game consoles, for example, are expected to get a firmware upgrade in the summer of 2010, providing support for Blu-ray 3D. Several set-top Blu-ray 3D players have been announced, and some are already available.

Blu-ray 3D on a PC

Another way to enjoy Blu-ray 3D is to purchase Blu-ray 3D player software like CyberLink's PowerDVD 10 Ultra. PCs can be connected to a 3D-compatible display, and later, to a 3D-capable TV. In other words, a PC with Blu-ray player software is a true Blu-ray player, capable of all of the same functions as a set-top Blu-ray player. In addition, a Blu-ray 3D-capable PC offers many capabilities that fixed function hardware devices don’t:

  • Enjoy 3D Games; over 400 game titles can be played in 3D
  • Access and enjoy Internet video from any Web site, including 3D video
  • Play 2D and 3D video files from almost any source (DV, HDV, AVCHD, AVI, WMV, MOV, etc.)
  • View 2D and 3D photos
  • Support for cable or satellite TV content through solutions such as DirecTV2PC
  • Support for premium, protected video (Amazon, iTunes, etc.)
  • Video enhancement, such as CyberLink TrueTheater HD, TrueTheater Motion, and TrueTheater Lighting
  • Access and play music, video, or browse photos on your home entertainment system
  • Use other 3D software, such as CAD, 3D animation, or 3D solid object modeling software


Blu-ray 3D capability will be available in every PC form factor, including:

  • Notebook PCs (with true 120 Hz sequential-frame displays)
  • Desktop PCs and displays
  • Home Theater PCs
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  • 1 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , May 19, 2010 7:44 AM
    Very informative primer. Lots of information that was easy to undertsand.

    Unfortunately I am one of those who recently purchased a new TV. It will be quite some time before I upgrade.
  • 6 Hide
    TheGreatGrapeApe , May 19, 2010 8:48 AM
    Nice article, but I think there's a few issues with regards to the overall balance of the information being put forth.

    I understand the author's preference for shutter glasses (especially since it's a certain product's preferred method of choice) even if I don't share it, the major limitation is having to buy a pair for all your friends coming over, which gets impractical until they are more commonplace.

    Also polarized solutions are not limited in resolution if they are set-up beyond just the example provided in this article (like they do in the theatre with dual projectors [like the THG review by Don see: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/3d-polarized-projector,2589.html]) and may have an improving single source future with 2K and 4K displays on the horizon. It's a question of preference, but it seems like the full story wasn't explored on that subject.

    Now on to a pet peeve: I love the part about "While set-top Blu-ray players will need to be replaced, PC-based Blu-ray player software can be upgraded." as a subtle product benefit plug.

    Unless it's a free upgrade, you are still replacing the software, not upgrading it (it's not a plug-in), and you're likely forking out nearly the same amount of money for the 1/100th of the cost to produce that software update, so it's not like it's a major advantage. Especially when upgrading requires a FULL upgrade to the most expensive model Power DVD (version #) Ultra 3D, and I can't simply add it to my existing PowerDVD bundles thus potentially changing my backwards compatibility (Ultra 9 already removed my HD-DVD support from Ultra 7 that I upgraded on my LG HD-DVD/BR burner [that I also used for my old Xbox USB HD-DVD player too).

    Make it a ~$20 independent 3D add-on and then you have a point [ooh I can save $5 'til May 25 :sarcastic:  gee thanks ! ], until then it's $99 (or $94.95 for loyal saps) vs $150-200, plus with the set-top route now I have a second BR-/DVD player for another room or to give to a friend (the BR software on its own is useless to give to someone else without a drive), and that's not even compared to the free PS3 upgrade.

    Also can someone explain this statement;
    "Blu-ray 3D video decoding solutions can be expected for ATI Radeon 5000-series graphics in the future."

    Didn't Cyberlink already show their BR-3D solution on ATi hardware last year? So what's the issue?

    Also why is it limited to "GeForce 300M-series mobile graphics" when often the core is the same a previous generation 200M series (example GTS 350M / 250M )?

    And this section "Full-quality 120 Hz frame-sequential 3D video (such as Blu-ray 3D) is only supported through a High Speed
    HDMI cable to a HDMI 1.4-compliant TV. " seems to miss the DVI dual-link to monitor option currently being used for 3D on PCs, and also the dual 1.3 input monitors/TVs.

    A nice little article for people unfamiliar with 3D, but there's a subtle under-current of product preference/placement in it, and far too many generalities with little supporting information. :??: 
  • 2 Hide
    hixbot , May 19, 2010 12:10 PM
    well done. I would of liked more detail on the hdmi 1.4 spec, specifically framepacking and the mandatory standards (no mandatory standard for 1080p60 framepacking).
    also some info on AVRs and how a 1.3 hdmi AVR might pass on 3d video and still decode bitstream audio, or not - do we need 1.4 hdmi AVRs to decode audio from a 1.4 source? we shouldn't need 1.4 receivers since the audio standards haven't change, but I'm understanding that in fact we do neeed new receivers. :/ 
  • 0 Hide
    hixbot , May 19, 2010 12:16 PM
    double post. good article.
  • -1 Hide
    ArgleBargle , May 19, 2010 12:37 PM
    Unfortunately for people with heavy vision impairment (astigmatism, etc.) which require corrective lenses, such 3D technology is out of their reach for the time being, or at least next to useless. Until some enterprising company comes out with 3D "goggles", people who wear corrective lenses might as well save their money.
  • 1 Hide
    boletus , May 19, 2010 12:53 PM
    3D is cool, and high definition video is cool. But Sony's moving target of a BD standard is not cool, and Cyberlink's bait and switch tactics are not cool (unless you have bundles of money you can throw at them every 6-12 months). I sent back my BD disk drive (retail, with Cyberlink software) for a refund after finding out that I would have to shell out another $60-100 just so I could watch a two-year old movie. As far as I'm concerned, high definition DVD video is dead until some more open standards and reliable software emerge.
  • 2 Hide
    cangelini , May 19, 2010 4:08 PM
    Great,

    This piece is a prelude to tomorrow's coverage, by Don, of Blu-ray 3D on a notebook and a desktop. Perhaps that one will answer any of the questions you were left with here?

    As for AMD, Tom and I went back and forth on this piece, and we agreed that it was critical to get AMD's feedback on Blu-ray 3D readiness. The fact of the matter is that it isn't ready to discuss the technology. It's behind.

    The mention of dual-link DVI was in the first revision of this piece and removed in a subsequent iteration. I've asked the author for additional clarification there and should have an answer shortly.
  • 0 Hide
    cangelini , May 19, 2010 4:37 PM
    So it turns out there were two sections on this and one was cut accidentally. Should be good to go now, though--dual-link DVI is discussed with PC displays!
  • 0 Hide
    cleeve , May 19, 2010 4:58 PM
    TheGreatGrapeApeAlso can someone explain this statement;"Blu-ray 3D video decoding solutions can be expected for ATI Radeon 5000-series graphics in the future."Didn't Cyberlink already show their BR-3D solution on ATi hardware last year? So what's the issue?


    It turns out the demo (I think it was at CES?) only used CPU decoding over an ATI graphics card; the Radeon did no software decoding.

    The Cyberlink rep tells me that Blu-ray 3D software decoding is extremely CPU-dependant and might even require a quad-core CPU. He said all four threads were being stressed under software decoding, not sure what quad-core CPU they were using though.

    Definitely something I'd like to test out in the future...
  • 1 Hide
    Alvin Smith , May 19, 2010 5:20 PM
    This was a very informative and well written article BUT, I chose to skip to the last two pages ... Because ...

    These implementations, while ever more impressive, are still being threshed out. Because of possible physiological side effects, I think I will NOT be a first adopter, with this (particular) tech (3D).

    Anyone ever watch that movie "THE JERK", with STEVE MARTIN ??

    = Opti-Grab =

    ... I can see all these class-action suits by parents of cross-eyed gamers ... hope not, tho ... I *AM* very much looking forward to the fully refined "end game", for 3D ...

    Additionally, the very best desktop workstations are only just now catching up to standard (uncompressed) HD resolution ingest and edit/render ... since that bandwidth IS shared, between both eyes, this may be a non-issue.

    I will let the kiddies and 1st adopters take-on all those risks and costs.

    Please let me know when it is all "fully baked" and field tested!

    = Alvin = (not to mention "affordable").
  • 1 Hide
    cyberlink , May 19, 2010 6:49 PM
    cangeliniAs for AMD, Tom and I went back and forth on this piece, and we agreed that it was critical to get AMD's feedback on Blu-ray 3D readiness. The fact of the matter is that it isn't ready to discuss the technology.

    While AMD has not yet announced their specific plans and schedule to support Blu-ray 3D MVC hardware accelerated decoding on ATI graphics, they were willing to confirm that a solution is coming for Radeon 5000 series graphics.

    Tom Vaughan
    Cyberlink
  • 0 Hide
    TheGreatGrapeApe , May 19, 2010 7:08 PM
    CleeveIt turns out the demo (I think it was at CES?) only used CPU decoding over an ATI graphics card; the Radeon did no software decoding.


    Ah that makes more sense (of what was trying to be said, not ATi/AMD's method) which is Ala AVIVO X1K series, make it 'sound' hardware accelerated, brilliant!

    So, it's still available, just not hardware assisted. It's not like it's not possible as that statement would suggest, just you don't get any hardware benefit. Notice they kept the intel portion separate mentioning only the dual stream HD decoding (available since the HD4600 series, and GF9600 series) infering it's doable on intel, but not on the next stated option which would be in the future, not well written in that section if providing clarity is the goal. One would assume by the statement that A) 3D BR is not possible if running on an new HD5770 with a Core i7 920-980X, and B) that when it is 'made possible' it will only be on the HD5K series.

    Quote:
    The Cyberlink rep tells me that Blu-ray 3D software decoding is extremely CPU-dependant and might even require a quad-core CPU. He said all four threads were being stressed under software decoding, not sure what quad-core CPU they were using though.Definitely something I'd like to test out in the future...


    Yeah sorta gets back to the VC-1 H.264 decoding of the early generation HD-acceleration GPUs.
    Still unclear why it's nV G300M-centric though based on the relationship of the chips as stated above.

    BTW, need to get you some new projectors for a 1080 stereo projector setup. Isn't it tax return time? :whistle: 
  • 0 Hide
    cyberlink , May 19, 2010 7:29 PM
    CleeveThe Cyberlink rep tells me that Blu-ray 3D software decoding is extremely CPU-dependant and might even require a quad-core CPU.

    To clarify, while it's possible to play Blu-ray 3D on a PC without video decoding acceleration (video decoding on your graphics processor), it takes most of the CPU power of a quad-core CPU to do software decoding of Blu-ray 3D MVC. GPU accelerated decoding is really the way to go, if possible.

    Tom Vaughan
    Cyberlink
  • 0 Hide
    cleeve , May 19, 2010 7:43 PM
    TheGreatGrapeApeSo, it's still available, just not hardware assisted.


    Well grape, that's where things get interesting. It might be *possible*, but it can't be *available* until they develop something.

    in Nvidia's case, they have their own 3D Vision infrastructure in place, so you plug in the 3D Vision stuff and you're off to the races.

    Radeons on the other hand, I think it's safe to say they'll never be 3D Vision compatible. So AMD has no way I can think of that they will be able to provide a full-resolution 3D solution... in the near future anyway. maybe they'll someday be able to plug into 3D TVs and utilize their proprietary glasses, but for that they'd need HDMI 1.4, not sure if the 5000 series can handle that with the current hardware.

    There's a lot to talk about, but it's easier to direct you toward my article that's coming out tomorrow. Then we can chat. :D 

    Take care,

    - Cleeve
  • 0 Hide
    bjrobert , May 19, 2010 9:28 PM
    I'm holding out for magic eye TVs.
  • 1 Hide
    geok1ng , May 19, 2010 11:21 PM
    hixbotwell done. I would of liked more detail on the hdmi 1.4 spec, specifically framepacking and the mandatory standards (no mandatory standard for 1080p60 framepacking). also some info on AVRs and how a 1.3 hdmi AVR might pass on 3d video and still decode bitstream audio, or not - do we need 1.4 hdmi AVRs to decode audio from a 1.4 source? we shouldn't need 1.4 receivers since the audio standards haven't change, but I'm understanding that in fact we do neeed new receivers.


    Great comments, but ATI is not showing for the game. If a product is not on the shelves, it will not sell. It is simple like that, as NVIDIA learned the hard way with Fermi.

    The 3D modes are a lose-lose alternative: it is either an expensive display coupled with inexpensive glasses, or a mildly expensive display coupled with mildly expensive glasses.

    NO matter which one goes, you lose performance or resolution: single DVI and HDMI cant display 3D over 1080p60Hz links. HDMI 1.4 was the salvation of 3D, if one can accept 24 Hz signals...

    DisplayPort would be the way to go, but TVs are HDMI domain, and will remain so for the next decades, thanks to HDMI audio.

    The point is that i see more benefits from higher resolutions than from 3D, and ther is no consumer grade cable today that can deliver 60Hz of 1080p or higher resolutions on 3D. But even modest systems demand such computational power that heat dissipation issues comes into play, much like the Graphics war of performance and Heat.

    It would take a massive change on the way consumer grade Tvs and players are manufactured to bring the high end visual experience of 3D images and 4K resolutions to the living room. There is no way to produce viable chips on 90nm or bigger-hotter processes.
  • 0 Hide
    cyberlink , May 19, 2010 11:48 PM
    geok1ng - HDMI 1.4 supports 1080P60 stereoscopic video with frame packing. I'm not sure what you are referring to when you say "if you can accept 24 Hz signals". While the full spec is confidential and only available to HDMI adopters, you can go to HDMI's website and request a subset of the HDMI 1.4 specs. This "extraction" document provides all of the detail about the 3D modes.

    hixbot - an HDMI 1.4 3D source (HTPC, Blu-ray player, or other device with HDMI 1.4 output) can choose to support one of several mandatory 3D video signal formats. If an HDMI 1.4 sink (device with input) signals that it supports 3D, it must support all mandatory 3D modes (it can advertise support for additional modes).

    Tom Vaughan
    Cyberlink
  • 0 Hide
    jsm6746 , May 20, 2010 12:47 AM
    fantastic report tom... on tom's hardware... 5stars...
  • 0 Hide
    ca87 , May 20, 2010 9:42 AM
    This is pure Computer vision! Nice report.
  • 0 Hide
    B-Kills , May 20, 2010 2:21 PM
    thanks for the report, interesting read....
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