Eutelsat Ready for 3D, in Whatever Shape it Emerges

A recent Rapid TV News’ Round Table discussed the upcoming launch of 3D television in the UK. Eutelsat already has a 3D channel up and running, and is ready for whatever the industry decides. But will it be ‘full’ 3D or ‘half’ 3D that consumers get?

Michel Chabrol, Director Sales Support & Customer Care, Eutelsat said with this permanent 3D demo channel the company wanted to prove that 3D is now possible for bouquet operators and thematic channels.

“We are transmitting a side by side 3D channel at 8 megabits per second,” said Chabrol. “That is a bit-rate that is more or less equivalent to a HD channel inside a multiplex and I would say, side by side has a certain degradation because in the line you have only half of the resolution but thanks to a clever algorithm the loss is not 50% but about 25%. So it means that for each eye the resolution is not that bad and it gives good results even for sports. [One example] covers shooting of a basketball event that was made by our partners, with a team from CNI in Italy, which is a very good team. The result is good and we want to prove to broadcasters and pay-TV operators that 3D is possible now, as from now.”

Ian Trow, Director of Broadcast Solutions at Harmonic, said in the short term that a lot of the big broadcasters are really looking to get their name associated with 3D. Essentially, there is a ‘land rush’ rush at the moment.

“It’s undoubted from the reaction at IBC that there are certain screens that are favouring the passive polarised approach,” said Trow. “There are some broadcasters, who’ve got enough traction in the market place, a sufficiently recent set top box, that can either offer live or on-demand solutions within there that they’re able to go in there and establish themselves in the emerging 3D market. So I think for a good while yet it will be based around a glasses-based solution because the auto-stereoscopic screens are perhaps four, five years away. They are OK for digital signage now, but not appropriate for a broadcast scenario.”

Trow agreed that the ‘autosteroscopic’ 3D camp (a technology which does not need glasses) does not yet address family viewing. “It would cause quite a lot of eyestrain problems for people at the moment. Even the passive polarised sequences, because you haven’t got the same orientation between the viewer and the screen, and there are even differences in the size of living room that you have in Europe as opposed to America. Many of the demonstrations are very carefully staged with glasses with very narrow rectangular rooms to ensure that when you are viewing, you’re viewing in front of the ideal.

“But I think this issue about eye strain, the issue about what actually broadcasters want to market and I think in many cases there’s a significant pull through for 3D in the cinema, the budgets that they’re actually using there rely upon 3D in the home working and I think there you’re in an interesting situation. Can you actually watch 3D for an entire movie? What we’re seeing is yes, but would you feel happy watching 3D for an entire evening? There would have to be question marks about that.

Wojciech Doganowski, Vice President & General Manager at ADB’s IPTV Business Unit, said ADB had been experimenting with 3D for some time. “We were showing 3D in 2008 on the Philips booth at IBC on our existing set top box that we sold to Telefonica so there is existing hardware supporting it. Of course it’s side by side, so it’s not full 1080i even, but it’s giving quite reasonable results. The question is, is it going to be full time transmission where you switch on your TV and you have to put your glasses on? I don’t know if public would be happy to do this. I can imagine two hours video on demand in the evening, that’s probably no problem at all and as we discussed two hours is OK to watch TV.”

Chris Forrester RapidTV News