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Blu-ray 3D On The PC: The Tom's Hardware Review

The Blu-ray 3D Format

The following page contains a broad overview of the main points concerning the Blu-ray 3D specification, but for a detailed look, please see our 3D whitepaper.

The Blu-ray 3D specification was only officially nailed down in December of 2009. This specification calls for a separate image to be presented to each eye (stereoscopic vision) using the multiview video coding (MVC) codec.

This new codec is an extension of the existing AVC codec that standard 2D Blu-ray players already support. The difference is that the MVC codec carries two streams of information: one for the base view and another for the dependant view. The base view is a standard 2D H.264 video stream, but the dependant view isn't a standalone video stream. Rather, it can reference information in the base view to save bandwidth, and it contains its own unique differences for the second, separate perspective.

This approach accomplishes two important things: first, Blu-ray 3D discs are backward-compatible with standard Blu-ray players because they can read the base view as an ordinary 2D Blu-ray video stream. Secondly, the dependent view saves bandwidth because it doesn't contain an entire video stream. It only contains the differences from the reference view. Because of this, Blu-ray 3D does not require twice the bandwidth of a regular Blu-ray disc. Instead, it requires about one and a half times the bandwidth, in the neighborhood of 60 Mb/s.

The best part about this is that any 2x speed (or faster) Blu-ray optical drive should work just fine when reading Blu-ray 3D discs. Existing drives don't even need a firmware update to play Blu-ray 3D discs because the MVC codec works under the standard AVC blanket of 2D codecs. Most folks with an existing Blu-ray drive in their PC don't need an upgrade. The first-generation 1x Blu-ray drives are the only exception; they're simply too slow to deliver the necessary bandwidth.

It's important to mention that the Blu-ray 3D format is designed to be display-agnostic. That means you don't necessarily have to use a 120 Hz alternate-frame sequencing display, while a DLP TV with a checkerboard format or a polarized monitor might work. We'll go into this in a little more detail later.

These are the important points when it comes to Blu-ray 3D specifications. As we mentioned, it's a display-agnostic media. But let's talk about the compatible displays and why one display type stands above the rest.

  • Annisman
    The big issue I have with Blu-Ray on the PC is this: There is no free, or reasonably priced software to play Blu-Ray disks. I was pretty much forced to purchase Power DVD 10 Ultra for 110$, as there is no other application that I have found to watch Blu-Ray with. Of course you can 'screw the man' and go pirate Power DVD, but that's probably the main reason I have to shell out over a hundred bucks for the software in the first place. We need an integrated software solution for BD as it is becoming more mainstream. What happened to Blu-Ray playback being included with WMP for Windows 7 ? VLC doesn't even have a solution, what is the reason we don't have 3rd party BD software yet ? Until that is addressed, I can't see Blu-Ray on the PC being viable.
    Reply
  • joytech22
    I gotta say i own Nvidia's 3D vision kit + a BD drive + a GTX470 and i just cant wait until the 3D Blu-Ray's are released but first i need to replace my Samsung 2233RZ since the top 15-20% is no longer in 3D.

    So far i have had a Very positive experience with Nvidia's solution!
    Reply
  • ajy0903
    And also we need to have bigger 3D monitor for PC then what they have currently!!!!!!!!!
    Reply
  • jrazor247
    seems most 3d movies are cg currently. probably the entire tool chain to edit and post process digital film has to be upgraded. adding stereoscopic cameras to production is probably the easiest. in a computer generated movie, all the processing can be converted to 3d almost natively in the rendering software. I went to a see the 3d vision setup at a blockbuster near my house. it showed games and animated movies in 3d. the real wow effect came watching footage of people skydiving in 3d. once 3d video production ramps up, its here to stay. i would be addicted to watching sports and performances in 3d. the next road block would be distribution, as the cable and sat providers would have to double bandwidth - artifacts from over compression would def ruin 3d.
    Reply
  • johnb4467
    If the hardware settles 7 stabilizes, this is something I would be interested in, whether it's for the PC or the upcoming PS3 firmware update.
    I do agree, however, that there needs to be more built-in support for software. I'm sure that will find its way into apps such as XBMC and Plex eventually.
    This is going to be hardest for consumers to adopt who have sunk a lot of money into existing HDTV's...especially ones who 'claimed' 120hz refresh rates -- but won't work with 3D. My own TV is a low-end Westinghouse 1080p, so down the road I wouldn't mind upgrading...if the material and quality is there!
    FYI: I had older shutter glasses on my old PC & CRT display -- with a fast enough refresh rate...no headaches; it's really not an issue (current demos have confirmed this).
    Reply
  • toxxel
    I wear glasses already, wearing another pair of glasses over my own is an annoyance. I've never really been a fan of 3D since my eyesight mostly keeps me from seeing anything 3D. I can see nearly perfect out of one eye but the other is another story. My first experience of a 3D polarized movie was Avatar. What I saw didn't impress, blurriness, strange effects from pronounced objects on the screen, felt distracted and ruined many scenes. I understand it's my eyesight that caused problems but I feel 3D won't become main stream simply because of the glasses, but if it were to I'd feel completely alienated seeing I don't have the same experience.
    Reply
  • gti88
    Unfortunately, I don't expect the 3d to come to Formula 1 soon. At least, until Ecclestone is no longer in charge.
    Reply
  • jsm6746
    this is mostly a rehash of the article you posted by cyberlink's tom vaughan yesterday... i must say i found his article much more informative... the benchmarks were all that was needed in this... the opinion piece was unnecessary... O_o

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/blu-ray-3d-3d-video-3d-tv,2632.html
    Reply
  • cleeve
    jsm6746this is mostly a rehash of the article you posted by cyberlink's tom vaughan yesterday...
    I disagree with you there. Tom's article is a great Blu-ray 3D white paper, but it's not a Blu-ray 3D review. We did have to duplicate some of the information briefly so this article could stand on its own, but the focus of either article is quite different.
    Reply
  • cknobman
    3d at home can suck it.

    New tv's, special glasses, limited viewing angles, new media, new monitors, special software to play them, new blue ray players, etc.., etc...

    Not to mention the general discomfort associated with having to watch things in 3d, the fact that 3d is NOT suitable for all situations, many people in the general public have an impairment that wont allow them to enjoy 3d, etc.., etc...

    Let this fad fade away and quickly!!! Im not reinvesting thousands and thousands of dollars into this new marketing gimmick. Its another way for the entertainment industry to make even more money off us. Now the push it to make all movies 3d and charge a mandatory 15-20 bucks per ticket to see it.

    Its just sad there is such a large portion of the population that mindlessly follows anything presented to them and like zombies will pay what they are told without regard to the cost/benefit ratio.
    Reply