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Sky Dismisses 3D Standards Debate As Unnecessary

by David Mercer | 4月 22, 2009

The standards battle in 3DTV for home applications has already begun, and it’s not just between competing systems. There is also a division in the industry between those who believe new standards are necessary, and those who don’t. BskyB’s Director of Strategic Product Development, Gerry O’Sullivan, stunned NAB conference attendees by claiming that no new standards were needed to get home 3D off the ground. He claimed simply that the standard already exists, “and it’s called HD”. Sky has already trialled several 3D broadcasts in the UK and is satisfied that the technology works today and can be deployed to customers of its existing HDTV service using HD PVRs already in the field. For what it’s worth, I thought Sky gave some of the most impressive of the many 3DTV demonstrations I have seen at NAB. O’Sullivan played clips of a Liverpool football game broadcast in 3D at the end of last year. One particular shot, taken at pitch level behind Stephen Gerrard as he fired a corner away from the viewer and towards the penalty area, demonstrated how much more effective 3D can be compared to 2D. This was the best example I have seen so far of a 3D production offering an experience that came close to being a spectator at the game. It also illustrates some of the creative challenges involved in developing compelling 3D material compared to traditional 2D approaches. O’Sullivan concluded his speech by hinting strongly that Sky would forge ahead with its own approach to 3D programme creation and broadcasting, regardless of the intentions of other industry players. This strategy would continue Sky’s long tradition of innovation in new services and ensure that, as other broadcasters begin to follow Sky by rolling out HDTV, Sky stays one step ahead by introducing the next technology. If Sky does begin to offer 3DTV without consulting on standards, it is likely to create divisions and disharmony across the industry value chain. As we heard in other presentations, there are multiple alternative technical approaches to creating, delivering and displaying 3D TV and video to the home environment, and universal compatibility across these approaches does not exist. In fact, according to Brad Hunt of Digital Media Directions “no single 3D format is supported by all the 3D-ready TVs currently available on the market”. That analysis applies largely to the US market, where a few 3D-ready TVs from a handful of manufacturers have been sold in the last few years. In the UK, Sky may be able to get away with driving its preferred approach because few if any 3D-ready TVs have been sold. But we can be sure that other broadcasters and technology vendors will kick up a fuss if Sky appears to be getting its own way without wider consultation. It is unlikely they can do anything to stop Sky launching 3DTV services, in which case customer confusion and standards wars seem inevitable. Twitter: twitter.com/DavidMercer_SA Client Reading: Western Europe Digital Television Forecast: 1H'09 Add to Technorati Favorites Buzz up!vote now submit to reddit
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