ESA Supports 3D TV Satellite Delivery

The European Space Agency is taking a practical step forward in the ultimate television viewer experience: satellite-delivered 3D TV at home. Through the Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) programme and the project Stereoscopic Broadcasting, ESA is providing its support to companies OpenSky and SkyLogic in the provision of a complete service offering for consumer-oriented 3D TV broadcasting.

The 3D TV's and standard reception equipment are currently being deployed across Europe. Transmissions of a 24 hour, seven days a week 3D channel began on the 12th of March 2009 via the EUROBIRD 9A satellite. The content catalogue for the channel includes a range of program lengths and material including sport, a short film and trailers. However, the 3D TV channel will include, not only pre-recorded 3D content, but also events filmed in live 3D.

The project objectives include:
- Set up a complete end to end chain for satellite 3D TV broadcasting,
- Target viable solutions for consumer 3DTV products,
- Produce 3D content and deliver 3D events for an on-air pilot trial,
- Set up reception sites which will be used to gather end user feedback.

Two types of reception sites are being created. One will mimic a home environment using longer duration content and the other will be a public venue with short duration content. One of the home sites has been deployed at ESTEC, ESA’s research and technology centre located in Noordwijk, The Netherlands.

“The first challenges overcome by OpenSky were a proper architecture for delivering the service and the different critical aspects, such as maintaining frame accurate synchronisation over a long period between the left and right eye images,” says Walter Munarini from OpenSky. “In addition, the project is giving evidence of the content management process that is needed behind the broadcasting in order to properly provide and play the 3D content.”

The perceived quality of 3D content is dependent on more factors than 2D including the resolution, bandwidth as well as the size of the screen and aspect ratio. “Now, thanks to the ESA ARTES programme we know all these aspects and we can do it properly,” concludes Mr. Munarini.

The Telecommunications and Integrated Applications (TIA) directorate is supporting the development of 3D TV through several ARTES elements. In the longer term, for example, a study is being conducted under ARTES 1 called 3D@SAT (3D Scalable Multi-View Satcom Services), while activities are being proposed in the ARTES 5 Workplan to maximise the data throughput for next generation satellites.

For those with capabilities to view the 3D channel, the EUROBIRD 9A satellite is located at 9 East (Transponder frequency 11747MHz, SR 27500, Horizontal). Videos are transmitted in a modified side by side arrangement. To view them properly, a 3D capable TV and glasses are required.

Source: ESA