Posted on March 3, 2010

Rogers In Talks to Bring 3D TV Channel to Canada

Rogers Communications is in talks with potential partners to bring a new 3D television channel to Canada, David Purdy, vice-president of video products at Rogers, said in an interview.

Consumer demand for 3D television will be tested in the United Sates as ESPN, Discovery and Imax partner to launch a shared 3D television channel in the next few months.

“None of these players has enough content on their own, so they’re doing it together. This 3D channel will be broadcast in standard resolution 3D,” Purdy told The Wire Report.

“They’ve informed us there will be programming available, and our intent is to launch a similar, shared 3D channel in Canada.”

Purdy said Rogers is in talks with TSN, Discovery Channel Canada, and Imax to produce a similar channel in Canada.

Although the industry’s interest in 3D TV is picking up, the technology consumes more than two times the bandwidth of a regular HD TV, causing some observers to question whether cable companies and broadcasters are ready for 3D TV.

Purdy acknowledged that high-definition 3D channels consume about two-to-four times the bandwidth of regular HD TV.

“But every set top box in the market today can only pass through standard resolution 3D, which will still look good, but isn’t HD. It will be another 12 to 24 months before cable and satellite companies will be deploying set-top boxes in HD 3D,” Purdy said.

Not all cable companies are ready for the coming wave of 3D television, but Purdy said Rogers has the bandwidth in place.

“Two years ago, we deployed switch digital video, which allows for more efficient distribution of TV signals. So we have enough spectrum to handle 3D HD over the next five years.”

Other elements necessary to create 3D content for television are falling into place.

“All the big parts of the ecosystem are almost there. When production of Avatar started two years ago, it gave confirmation that content providers should invest in this area,” Christian Laforte, CEO of Feeling Software, a 3D application developer based in Montreal, said in an interview.

Canada has played a leading role in the 3D space for decades, Laforte said.

He was the recipient of an Academy Award in 2002 as a team member at Alias-Wavefront, a Canadian developer of 3D special effects software called Maya, used extensively by major Hollywood studios today.

“The University of Toronto and Universit√© de Montreal had advanced research labs in the 1980s, and they trained a generation of engineers who went on to start 3D companies like Alias Research and Softimage,” Laforte said.

Today, York University is playing a significant role.

It recently received more than $1.4 million from the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC) and Ontario Centres of Excellence to fund the 3D Film Innovation Consortium (3D FLIC), a two-year academic-industry partnership that will expand capacity for 3D film production in Ontario.

“The technology is ready, so the next step is to figure out how we can use 3D to make storytelling more engaging,” said Ali Kazimi, project leader of 3D FLIC and assistant professor at York’s Centre for Film and Theatre.

Kazimi said he’s working with a psychologist and computer scientist to develop the science of 3D storytelling.

“We want to see what it does to the perception of viewers by testing them as they watch 3D images at different stages, then use their feedback to make improvements.

“People use both eyes to fuse the image, so there are some real physiological and pain factors to consider in doing 3D right.”

FLIC 3D has lined up industry partners and will be going into production later this year.

Previously released content is also being reproduced in 3D for home consumption, and Star Wars aficionados like Purdy are eager for remakes.

“When I saw a battle scene in 3D in a Star Wars remake, that”s when I knew 3D television was real,” he said.

Advertisers may also start eyeing the 3D space, Laforte added.

“3D will make advertising more interesting, and advertisers may even take on a lead role,” Laforte said.

“They are players who can make a real difference in developing 3D television. Maybe their involvement in will even save broadcast television.”

Source: The Wire Report, 03/05/2010