The boys over at EngadgetHD just ran a podcast interview with Motorola VP Bob Wilson on the subject of 3D. You can listen to the full 40-minute conversation for all of the details, but I thought I’d pick up on one of the discussion threads here. Will 3D finally push the TV industry from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4?
The answer is a nuanced one. In the early days of 3D (six months from now!) providers will deliver side-by-side images in 1080p at likely frame rates of 24 frames per second. This isn’t considered true-resolution 3D, but the demos are still promising. (The EngadgetHD hosts reported that DirectTV’s CES 3D demos were surprisingly good.) And critically, side-by-side video for 3D TV at 1080p 24 can be delivered using existing MPEG-2 equipment.
However, as providers move to true-resolution 3D, MPEG-4 is the only feasible way to handle delivery. As market forces take hold, and consumers start to demand higher-quality 3D video, there will be huge incentive to make the switch from MPEG-2. Bob Wilson believes 3D will ultimately be the catalyst for MPEG-4. The rate of the transition will depend on consumer behavior.
Speaking of timing, it looks like the first 3D TV content will hit homes in about six months. And true-resolution 3D is only two to three years out.
And speaking of the EngadgetHD guys, take a look at this exchange I had with editor/host Ben Drawbaugh about a year ago. He’s a 3D convert, and willing to tell you exactly why.