As we reported last Thursday in Display Daily, the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) announced the finalization and release of the Blu-ray 3D specification. The upcoming release of the specification, which represents the work of leading Hollywood studios and consumer electronic and computer manufacturers, was confirmed in an email exchange we had with an official at the BDA. Here are some more details on the specification and its parent standards.
Insight Media Consultant
The Blu-ray 3D specification calls for encoding 3D video using the Multiview Video Coding (MVC) codec (ISO-MPEG-14496-10:2008, Amendment 1), an extension to the ITU-T H.264 Advanced Video Coding (AVC) codec currently supported by all Blu-ray Disc players. MPEG4-MVC compresses both left and right eye views, and can provide full 1080p-resolution backward-compatibility with current 2D Blu-ray Disc players.
MVC was developed by MPEG to support multiple simultaneous views of a subject. In general, an MVC encoder receives N temporally-synchronized video streams and generates one output bitstream. The decoder receives the bitstream, and decodes and outputs the N video signals. The video representation format is based on N views, and for stereoscopic 3D, N=2. MVC works by exploiting the similarities between multiple-camera video captures of a scene. By eliminating redundant information across camera views, MVC achieves a reduction in bit rate of approximately 20-25% on average, when compared to encoding views from each camera separately.
The new Multiview High Profile, as defined in the MPEG-MVC Amendment, uses the same coding tools as supported by the previous High Profile (HP) of the MPEG-4 AVC standard, which was already adopted into the Blu-ray Disc specification. Level constraints for this profile have also been specified so that fixed decoder resources of single-view AVC decoders, such as memory, could be repurposed for decoding stereo and multiview video bitstreams. (MPEG-4 also defines a High Stereo Profile; it’s not immediately known which of these is specifically part of the BDA specification). Moreover, MVC is backwards compatible in the sense that one view (the so-called base-view) can be decoded from a part of the MVC stream by using a HP decoder, which could then be output on a conventional monoscopic display. An MVC decoder would generate multiple output views from the full stream and forward them to a stereoscopic or multiscopic display.
It often takes several years for an industry to develop and embrace a single standard, with "format wars" all too often the case. MPEG-MVC, while defined over a year ago, was rapidly adopted by the Blu-ray Disc Association nonetheless, and this haste shows how this emerging market is motivating manufacturers and content providers to get Blu-ray 3D products and content quickly out the door: expect the first products and titles sometime next year. It’s going to be a very interesting Consumer Electronics Show next month! -agc