Overview of MPEG Standards for 3DTV

The MPEG committee has been anticipating the widespread deployment of 3DTV for some time. As early as 1996, 3DTV capabilities were included in the MPEG-2 standard. Over the past several years, MPEG has worked to amend MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 to include Multiview Coding (MVC), which is a way of improving compression between multiple views (camera angles) of the same content. Last year, Stereo High Profile was added to deal specifically with the case in which the multiple views of MVC were the left- and right-eye stereo views.

Also last year, Frame Packing Arrangement Supplemental Enhancement Information (SEI) messages were added to MPEG-4 AVC (SEI messages inform decoders about any special attributes of the compressed video.) The Frame Packing Arrangement SEI message tells the decoder that the left- and right-eye stereo views are packed into a single high-resolution video frame either in a top-to-bottom, side-by-side, checkerboard, or other arrangement. Packing both left- and right-eye stereo views into a single video frame makes it possible to use existing encoders and decoders to distribute 3DTV immediately without having to wait for MVC & Stereo High Profile hardware to be deployed widely.

All this activity at the standards committees is now playing out in the commercial realm. Several broadcasters have announced plans to deliver 3DTV using MPEG technologies. Most will use frame packing methods to leverage existing infrastructure and will benefit from the new signaling protocols provided by Frame Packing Arrangement SEI messaging and HDMI connections. The Blu-ray Disc Association announced that they have adopted full 1080p resolution MPEG-4 MVC as part of their specification. And as the 3DTV market grows, it is easy to foresee that broadcasters will also move towards MPEG-4 Stereo High Profile.

Source: Motorola