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EBU says poor stereoscopy is responsible for headaches

Suggesting that Europe's public service broadcasters “take a pragmatic approach to 3-D services,” the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has released a 15-page status report (what it calls a briefing) on the display market, availability of content, acquisition techniques and a variety of production issues relating to 3-D content creation and distribution.

Its findings won’t be news to most of those who follow the growth of the medium; instead, it provides validation for many of the issues management and production professionals are now discussing privately on a regular basis.

The EBU's “3D Briefing Document for Senior Broadcast Management” discusses managing and developing the required infrastructure for 3-D broadcasting.

Among some of its recommendations, the report says, “Poor stereoscopy is responsible for headaches, eye strain and nausea.” (Emphasis original.)

It also appears to suggest that 3-D is not suitable for every program. “The EBU believes … [public service broadcasters] should be aware of the value of an event or program to its audience when making decisions about producing and broadcasting in 3-D.

The medium is gaining traction, the EBU says, basing its assumptions on the consumer electronics industry display sales projections. The report says that by 2014, more than 40 percent of all displays will be 3-D-capable. Europe is expected to finish 2010 with 600,000 3-D devices in the market, with the figure growing to 3 million by the end of next year.

Content rights issues surrounding 3-D have yet to be addressed by the industry, and the EBU suggests that usage deals will have to be negotiated on an individual case basis, at least in the short term. “The current position of 3-D rights is unclear, and public service broadcasters must pay close attention to developments in the discussions of 3D rights,” the report said.

In terms of creating content, a new set of parameters must be considered, similar to the way the widescreen aspect ratio of HDTV gave rise to center protecting for 4:3. With 3-D, screen sizes are ranging from a few inches in mobile devices to cinema-sized and IMAX screens.

“Making 3-D that is OK on all screen sizes may be just that: OK but not stunning,” the report said. “This means that 3-D content produced for the cinema requires post-processing to work adequately on consumer-sized displays and vice versa. Not following this guideline will generally lead to unsatisfactory results.”

The comprehensive briefing also features a summary of the history of stereoscopic moving images, including the first 3-D film, shown at the Ambassador Hotel Theater in Los Angeles in the fall of 1922.