Sports will drive 3D broadcasts, says Motorola

For TV broadcasters the main driver for 3-D programming will be sports because other genres don’t have the same need for super-real images, according to Frank Patterson, senior manager for Networked Video Solutions at Motorola.

Sports generate the interest and the revenue to support the investment into 3-D, said Patterson.

Baseball, football and motor sports are all good fits for 3-D, according to Patterson. Just think of seeing the image from the camera behind the helmet a Formula 1 driver in 3-D, he noted.

Golf would also take advantage of the 3-D effect. “You can imagine you’re standing behind the tee, and then when you’re looking down the fairway and seeing that in 3-D is quite an experience,” Patterson said.

Success in movie theaters is the main reason for the resurgence of 3-D. But live sports events, unlike movies, can only be seen on TV.

For 3-D broadcasts to work, the whole chain of equipment, from cameras at stadiums to set-top boxes in the home, will have to be upgraded.

On Friday, Motorola launched a European version of its next-generation encoding platform, the SE-6000, at the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) in Amsterdam. A version for the North American market was launched at the NAB conference earlier this year. The encoding platform, which is used to transform the original signal into something that can be broadcast, supports the 1080p video format.

“That will be the underlying format that will drive 3-D programming,” said Patterson.

The 1080p format works well because broadcasters can take every other line to form two separate images, one for the left eye and one for the right eye, which are used to simulate the -D image effect, according to Patterson. The bandwidth needed per channel is about 16M bps (bits per second), he said.

Content owners like HBO and Fox Sports are already beginning to equip their camera galleries and outside broadcast vehicles for 3-D capture, according to Patterson.

Consumer electronics manufacturers, including Sony and Panasonic, have said that they will launch TVs during 2010.

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