Embed Live Stereoscopic 3DTV content in a 2D signal.

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Following on to the recent article on how to Embed a Stereoscopic 3D content snippet into a 2D programme using functions of today’s Smart TVs, let’s take it a step further for the many premium TV channels that are available in HD.

Most people with 3DTV sets will already have modern LCD/LED/Plasma TVs that are connected to the internet or the so-called “Smart TVs”. To take the experience of augmenting Live entertainment programmes such as sports, Awards shows, Fashion shows and Concerts in Stereoscopic 3D, below is a case scenario of how the entire programme does not need to be shot or produced in stereoscopic 3D, but instead a “B” roll camera unit can be capturing snippets that can be seamlessly woven into the live stream.

The benefit of this approach is twofold

1) The Producer / Broadcaster does not have to plan for a complete 3DTV programme if they dont want to.

2) The audience has a choice on whether to watch in 3D or 2D.

image credit: barcinski-jeanjean

How is a Stereoscopic 3D signal embedded in a 2D programme:

  • The source feed of the 3D Cameras is brought into the main vision mixer in frame compatible (also called side-by-side) at a single 2D HD frame resolution
  • A graphics computer or standard frame store in the Vision mixer contains a single frame of video that has the Pixel pattern sequence mentioned :here:
  • The online editor or online Director is then at liberty to cut to the 3D feed as and when he/she sees appropriate
  • Whenever the 3D feed goes live, the pixel pattern framestore is also overlaid over the outgoing signal

At the Audience’s end:

  • The viewer watches the event being broadcast live in 2D.
  • The SmartTV via a firmware update is constantly looking for the unique pixel pattern in the first scan line of the TV image.
  • On detecting this pixel pattern it extrapolates the 960 x 1080 (assume left eye view) to fill the screen discarding the right eye view. This still maintains 2D compatibility
  • However on detecting the pixel pattern the 3DTV can display a small bug or icon alerting the viewer that this segment is *ALSO* available in Stereoscopic 3D.
  • The viewer simply has to confirm YES for the TV to switch to 3D mode.
  • If the viewer prefers to continue to watch in 2D… he/she does not have to do anything more.

Choice! is the motivator for Audiences:

Given a choice, most, at least the younger generation of TV viewers who don’t have decades old habits of TV viewing, will probably put on glasses for the small segments that are in Stereo 3D.

This could be a new way of hybrid Television programming and content production.

Examples for 3D snippets:

  • Action replays of Sporting events
  • B roll camera (3D) on any event, concert
  • News highlights captured by journalists with run and gun 3D Cameras such as the Panasonic AG-3D A1
  • iReporter style CNN content sent in by viewers
  • Live 3D camera feed at Sporting events, Hero-GoPRo 3d POV shots from a Formula 1 car dashboard etc…

Current Considerations:

  1. This concept of hybrid 2D – 3D TV programming would need a firmware update to the Smart TV (usually done seamlessly via the internet connection at the back of the TV without need for user intervention)
  2. The solution needs either a) A Smart TV or b) A set-top box that can be updated by the operator
  3. Chances are that most current households that subscribe to HD TV anyways would have either a Smart TV or a HD set-top box
  4. There is a choice of preserving Horizontal HD resolution (at the cost of vertical) by using Above/below format instead of side-by-side if 2D fidelity is of prime concern
  5. Usually the 3D Snippets would not be more than 5 minutes at any given point, thereby resolution “loss” should not be that much of an issue for 2D only viewers.

The biggest benefit of this approach is that this will also be backward compatible on TV’s that are non 3D enabled, either by way of firmware update (if Smart TV) or via Set-top box update in case of flatscreen HD TVs with no internet port.

Download a PDF presentation of the white paper: Embed an S3D signal in a 2D TV feed

** update **

Over in the Linkedin forums, on discussing this article, a member, Giovanni Ballocca posted this interesting link from the DVB specs (see Annex B) in this DVB 3DTV Standards Document.

However, as can be seen the method I describe above, allows a more robust method of adding a “simple Pixel Pattern” on the first line of the video signal. This allows the pattern to be inserted by any production company for pre-recorded segments or LIVE at events when cutting to a 3DCamera feed.

Again, the premise being that the key to successful 3DTV programming may be to not bore the audiences with lengthy 3DTV coverage, but instead show the programme in HD 2D and select snippets get inserted seamlessly for 3DTV viewing should the audience *want* to put on their glasses.