3D movie streaming receives a boost with new standard

A new movie-coding standard could bring the films to living rooms

Movies in 3D could soon stream to PCs and TV sets with the development of a new video file compression standard by researchers in Germany.

Researchers at the Heinrich Hertz Institute (HHI) are developing the new MVC (Multiview Video Coding) video compression standard, which would allow compressed 3D video to be transmitted over the Internet or satellite without interruption, the institute said this week.

The institute, based in Berlin, will showcase streaming of 3D movies based on the standard over the Internet and satellite at the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC), which will be held in Amsterdam Sept. 10-14. The research is being done by the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, which is a part of HHI.

3D movies and broadcast content are being created for new devices like 3D TVs and Blu-ray 3D players, but an efficient way to transmit them over broadband networks is missing, the institute said.

The content requires considerably more bandwidth than regular video feeds, and observers have said that a large percentage of homes do not have capacity to play streaming 3D movies. MVC could potentially resolve quality-of-service and buffering issues by squeezing 3D movies into compact files that can be transmitted over existing broadband networks.

The trick is to load files quickly so 3D video can be viewed without interruption, and the standard packs two separate images -- each for the left and right eyes -- needed to provide the stereoscopic 3D effect. The MVC standard helps reduce the bit rate significantly, which helps transmit the movies faster.

The latest 3D TVs and Blu-ray 3D players will be able to decode the separate images from MVC-coded movies to display the 3D effect.

"The first view corresponds to the signal that the existing television can receive and we would hide the second view in the same stream so that only the new receivers can use it," said Thomas Schierl, a scientist at the HHI, in a statement.

The MVC file format is a 3D add-on to the existing H.264/MPEG-4 AVC video compression standard.

"What H.264/AVC is for HD movies, Multiview Video Coding (MVC) is for 3D movies," the institute said.

Movie services like Netflix are already delivering movies in HD format, but do not yet offer 3D streaming. Samsung has said it will start streaming 3D movie trailers from content providers later this year, but not full 3D movies.

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Tags multimediaFraunhofer Institutemedia streaming3dMultiview Video Coding (MVC)Heinrich-Hertz-Instituteentertainment

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