BBC warning on 3D standards

The BBC is maintaining its cautious stance on the development of Stereoscopic 3D broadcasting. In an update to its technology strategy, the BBC says much of the current hype has come from the success of recent movie titles and their imminent release on Blu-ray.

In a cautionary note, the BBC says the strategy is expected to have a lifespan that reaches only as far as mid-2012, by when either a full 3D strategy will have been developed, or current 3D standards will have failed to deliver.

The report states: “There is no standardisation of the technologies for acquisition, post production, contribution or distribution of S3D. This approach is likely to suit a smaller but better funded number of players in the movie industry. Within the broader, more diverse and often less well funded television making community a lack of standardisation would be a more significant issue; not just for S3D as a format but also in financial terms for the
producers and commissioning broadcasters.”

Reiterating previous statements that the corporation will not invest in 3D programme production, the BBC says it will continue to investigate the genre through limited trials and participation in standards making. Yesterday it was announced the Wimbledon tennis championships, where the BBC is host broadcaster, will be filmed in 3D. However, the project is being backed by the manufacturer Sony.

Meanwhile, a much more positive outlook is being given to high definition, which says the report will be “business as usual” for the BBC by 2012/13. The BBC puts this down to a combination of the benchmark quality level expected by the viewing audience and because the HD standard is one of the key enablers of the transformation to an efficient end to end digital TV operation

The BBC exclusively supports the 1920 x 1080 HD standard (so called Full HD by the consumer market) for programme making using a range of frame rates and the delivery of programmes with multi-channel audio (surround sound). The plan is for the BBC to work with other UK broadcasters to produce common delivery standards for tape and file based HD programmes. Only platforms capable of meeting a minimum standard will have HD branding.

Support continues for Red Button interactive services with plans to create broadcast and IP “hybrid” services, which include broadcast event driven interactivity on connected TV platforms. The document does not mention the YouView project, continuing the theme started by the BBC’s director of archive content, Roly Keating in his presentation to the DTG Summit on Friday.

Flash, MHEG and HTML will be used in presentation environments, which the BBC says will help it remain relevant on the emerging connected TV platforms.

The Future Media & Technology division will build interactive TV applications using the Krypton Framework and MHEG+.