DVB approves 3DTV specifications

The DVB Technical Module has given its approval to the DVB-3DTV specification.

The Phase 1, frame compatible, system will allow viewers to keep and use their current set-top box, in line with plans put forward by broadcasters including BSkyB and Canal+, though requiring them to purchase a new 3D compatible television display.

Work in the technical module has been led by BSkyB’s David Daniels, and follows the establishment of the first set of commercial requirements that were prepared and agreed last July.

DVB commercial experts are currently discussing a Phase 2 system that may be needed to meet other broadcast requirements, such as having a 2D version of the same programme available as part of the 3D channel. There may also be a need for viewers to be able to adjust picture depth for maximum ‘eye comfort’.

The majority of interest in the Phase 1 system has come from pay-TV broadcasters, in Europe and the United States. Phase 2 is also attracting interest from the free-to-air broadcasters in the US market and some pay-TV operators. Tests of a DVB Phase 2 system are currently taking place in Korea.

“There are circumstances where each of the formats gives viewers the best quality and that’s why we need all of them,” explained David Wood, chair of the DVB’s commercial module.

Speaking at last week’s DTG 3D event, Wood said there were also plans for a Service Compatible option within Phase 1. This involved signaling information on frame cropping and aspect ratio that would instruct the receiver to ‘de-anamorphize’ one of the stereo images and output it as a normal 2D image.

Formal Steering Board approval and publication of the standard is expected towards the end of February.