Building a 3DTV Programming Guide

LOS ANGELES: Doing 3DTV is a bit like recreating the wheel, or at least many of the basic elements of regular two-dimensional television such as the programming guide. Burbank, Calif.-based 3ality is working on a 3D programming guide in partnership with Nagravision.

“We’re trying to avoid floating the guide in front of the action,” said Howard Postley, chief operating officer and chief technology officer of 3ality. Postley spoke at an event sponsored by the Sports Video Group. “We discovered that it was an improvement to push the guide behind the screen and let the action play over it.”

Postley said people found it jarring when the programming guide was brought to the forefront of 3D video images.

“We pushed the guide into the screen.” he said. “The navigational metaphor is like the channels were on the surface of a ball. The ball was sitting physically in the screen, and you could move it around the screen. Information got blocked by the live action--you couldn’t predict when--but was preferable to having it forward.”

It made a scene seem to crowded, he said. “We did the same test with subtitles and discovered the same thing.”

Postley said the development team had to look at the level of computational analysis necessary to get the guide into homes, as well as considering relative depth, geometry and rates of change.

“The high-level take-away, is a whole set of data that has to go into the home,” he said.

3ality and Cheseaux, Switzerland-based Nagravision introduced a prototype 3D electronic program guide at IBC last September. It’s expected to be incorporated in Nagra’s pay TV devices.