The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) has today released the final specification for Blu-ray 3D, an optical-disc format expected to bring 3D entertainment to the mainstream.
Blu-ray 3D, which makes use of existing Blu-ray technology, will provide full-HD 1080p footage to each eye from a single disc. In order to maintain a full-HD resolution, the Blu-ray 3D specification has called for the use of the Multiview Video Coding (MVC) codec, as opposed to the H.264 Advanced Video Coding (AVC) codec employed by current Blu-ray discs.
The BDA states that MPEG4-MVC compression will allow both left and right eye streams in full-HD 1080p resolution to occupy only 50 per cent more storage capacity than a traditional 2D disc.
But what do you need to be able to take advantage of the 3D footage? The BDA confirms that Blu-ray 3D is display agnostic, and will output 3D images to any compatible 3D display regardless of what 3D technology the display uses to deliver the image to the viewer's eyes.
That's good news for the consumer, but there are still a few drawbacks. Most displays appear to be continuing to adopt the use of 3D glasses, with active shutter technology proving a popular choice, and TV's with a high refresh rate are likely to be best suited for the technology. More importantly, Sony's PlayStation 3 games console is the only existing Blu-ray player confirmed to offer support for Blu-ray 3D via a firmware update expected early in 2010.
Firmware updates for other existing players are a possibility, and the BDA adds that 2D playback of Blu-ray 3D discs will be possible, as will the playback of 2D discs in upcoming 3D players.
We're yet to be won over by 3D technology, but we do like the sound of Blu-ray 3D's "enhanced graphic features", including 3D menus and 3D subtitles. Though, perhaps 3D gaming on the PlayStation 3 is where the format will really shine.