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.