The uptake of 3DTV has not proved to be as rapid as some experts predicted when the new range of television sets first arrived on the market. Despite the first live sports broadcast in 3D being all the way back in 2008, it’s still something of a niche market, and of the major broadcasters, only Sky have really championed the 3DTV cause.
One of the problems for people looking to purchase 3DTVs is that there simply isn’t enough programming around to make it a worthwhile investment. One of the reasons that there isn’t a lot of programming is quite simply that it’s a complicated and expensive process to get a 3D image from the set to your living room.
If we take the example of a live sports broadcast, there are six phases that the signal has to go through before it ends up on your set.
First of all the action has to be shot using a different type of camera. These cameras are essentially double cameras, positioned very close to each other which capture exactly the same detail as one another, just from a slightly different angle – much like a pair of human eyes. These cameras are phenomenally expensive, and that’s just the start of the process.
After the images are captured they need to be framed separately (step 2) and then combined using some very clever computer technology (step 3). Whilst this is not particularly time consuming, after all, it can be done in the blink of an eye, the technology is powerful and very cutting edge.
From there the images are put through a digital HD encoder, so that they can get from the site of the broadcast to your living room. Once the coding is completed the images are sent up to a satellite, or via a television mast, from where it’s then received by a satellite dish or by the connection on your digital television.
After that, it’s just a simple process for the 3DTV to unscramble the encoding and show you the images, whilst your eyes essentially function as the original pair of cameras, seeing the image from a slightly different angle to one another, and combining the image in your head to give the perception of a 3D image.
So, all in all, 3DTV is incredibly complicated stuff, and particularly in the current economic climate, it’s a significant undertaking for broadcasters to produce 3D material for what remains a relatively small market.