Blu-ray 3D specification finalized

Folks who saw Avatar in 3D this weekend may soon be able to reproduce that experience in their living rooms—provided they can afford some new, likely expensive equipment, of course. The Blu-ray Disc Association says it has finalized the Blu-ray 3D specification, which will allow "every player and movie supporting it to deliver full HD 1080p resolution to each eye."

Interestingly, the spec has no ties to any stereoscopic display technology in particular. Users should be able to enjoy Blu-ray 3D playback on any type of compatible, 3D-capable display, "regardless of what 3-D technology the display uses to deliver the image to the viewer's eyes." Also, the BRDA designed the spec so that Blu-ray 3D players can play back regular 2D movies, and 3D discs can play in 2D on existing players. Here are the technical details, straight from the press release:

The Blu-ray 3D specification calls for encoding 3-D video using the Multiview Video Coding (MVC) codec, 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 with a typical 50% overhead compared to equivalent 2-D content, and can provide full 1080p resolution backward compatibility with current 2-D Blu-ray Disc players. The specification also incorporates enhanced graphic features for 3-D. These features provide a new experience for users, enabling navigation using 3-D graphic menus and displaying 3-D subtitles positioned in 3-D video.

The specification will be "available shortly," the BRDA says. Incidentally, PlayStation 3 owners may not have to buy new players: the Blu-ray 3D spec will purportedly enable 3D playback on Sony's console.

On the PC side of things, AMD and Nvidia are also setting the stage for Blu-ray 3D support. AMD recently announced plans to demonstrate Blu-ray 3D alongside CyberLink at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. Meanwhile, Nvidia says it's already been showing Blu-ray 3D demos using its 3D Vision goggles, and it has been "working closely with . . . Arcsoft, Corel, Cyberlink, and Sonic, to ensure seamless support for 3D Blu-ray titles when they are ready to ship in 2010."

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