Foxtel To Launch 3D Broadcasts In 2011

One of the concerns with 3DTV in Australia is actually getting the content onto your expensive new television. It's not enough to just watch a handful of animated Blu-ray films and Avatar over and over again, is it? You need a 3D broadcast channel, which is something the free-to-air networks aren't going to offer any time soon. Fortunately, it looks like Foxtel is coming to the rescue (for people who want 3D in their homes).

We contacted Foxtel to get an official statement on their position on 3DTV, and actually received a really informative response from Foxtel CEO Kim Williams:

“FOXTEL has been closely monitoring 3D developments since January of 2009 and has an active program for 3D broadcasting in its Engineering Development Labs,” said FOXTEL CEO Kim Williams. “3D is an exciting development in broadcasting and FOXTEL HD set top units have already carried 3D signals in our premises with terrific picture clarity. FOXTEL will continue to run laboratory trials on 3D transmissions over the next year,” Mr Williams said.

Commenting on timing for 3D release Mr Williams said, “I expect that FOXTEL will bring its first test broadcasts in 3D to subscribers in 2011 when full product details will be revealed. It will be an exciting addition to our range of high quality HD products which now encompasses the most comprehensive offering in Australia with 15 twenty-four hour HD channels (including all mainstream sport and movie channels) and which will see the first all HD transmission of the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games via four HD Channels in February – an exceptionally exciting Australian and world first for any Olympic broadcast.“

So once you take out that marketing bit at the end, you get left with something that essentially says: "Yes, we're looking closely at 3D and I reckon we'll launch test broadcasts next year".

I bet the Aussie arms of the TV manufacturers pushing 3D internationally wish it was a bit sooner, but at least it's something, right?

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    Someone clarify for me. . .
    Why do we need a 3D tv to watch 3D programs?
    Surely the tv just shows the image (whatever it is) and you put the glasses on to see it in 3D.
    Well, thats how its worked for the few movies Ive watched in 3D on my tv.

      Because you don't have a 3D-capable TV, the only way for you to watch a 3D movie is in anaglyph, i.e. the views from the left and right eye are coloured red and cyan, respectively, and the two views are mixed together into an ordinary broadcast. You then put on the coloured glasses, which filter out the unwanted view for each eye, and you get a limited 3D effect.

      Anaglyph is about the worst way to do 3D; the colours are muddy, the filtering isn't very good, and the overall result is little more than a novelty. But it's the only way to get a 3D effect from an ordinary TV.

      The new 3D-capable TVs do it differently. Instead of colouring and mixing the two views, they show them alternately, at 2x or 4x the normal framerate. You wear special battery-powered LCD-shutter glasses which block each eye in turn, in sync with the display. This gives you a far better 3D effect than anaglyph, a little dimmer but correct colours and with a much sharper 3D effect.

      Importantly, you can also easily disable the 3D effect at any time, and watch it without glasses just like any other 2D TV.

        If this is the case, then what technology does Avatar use at the cinemas?

        Seemed like an ultra sharp image to me, and the 3D glasses they give you certainly aren't some battery powered marvels.

    @warcroft: There are a number of 3d TV methods. The old dual colored glasses is one (not a great one) and you don't need a special TV for that - well it has to be a colour TV :P

    For the more advanced type of 3d TV you need the TV to show double the normal frames it would for normal tv as the TV has to display an image for each eye and do so very quickly. You need a special TV for that as most today can not do this. You also need glasses that have lenses that are electronically synched to the image being displayed on screen and the 3d effect is then created by your brain.

    Avatar was shown using Real D's 3d technology. instead of a left/right shutter, the image left/right images are alternately circularly polarised and projected several times per frame.

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