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Pioneering the 3D Tile format

Davide Boscaini, CEO at Quartarete explains the results of the company’s foray into 3D production and of its pioneering trial of a 3D Tile transmission format.

Davide Boscaini, CEO at Quartarete, explains the results of the company’s foray into 3D production and of its pioneering trial of a 3D Tile transmission format. DB (pictured): “3D has always been an interest for Quartarete – we are keen to pursue technical developments that give our brand an edge in the marketplace. So our first experiments with 3D were quite early: in 2003 we trialled it in collaboration with CSP (the research centre for Piedmont’s public administrations) and the Polytechnic of Turin. “In those days, finding enough 3D content was a major problem – what there was usually carried expensive copyright and had been created for film rather than television. But our trial convinced us that with a good technical solution and a library of quality material, 3D had a promising future on television. “The technical solution we recently adopted is the 3D Tile Format, developed by Sisvel Technology. This innovative format offers several substantial benefits: it’s backward-compatible, meaning that users not equipped for 3D but provided with HD TV sets can watch the programme in 2D; it provides a higher quality of image by maintaining the complete resolution of the picture; and the transmission of both 2D and 3D can be achieved without increased bandwidth. “The 3D Tile Format doesn’t require any special equipment to broadcast, so after some software updates, we were ready to begin in November 2010, delivering a range of arts and sports content to the region of Piedmont and, from June 2011 of Tuscany (when Città Digitali, independent regional editor from Tuscany, decided to join the trial); on two channels specifically allocated for the trial. Using the 3D Tile Format allowed us to service both the 2D and 3D audience within a 9Mbit bandwidth.
 “Formatting stereoscopic images by integrating two 720p frames within a single 1080p frame, the 3D Tile Format provides better-quality images for 3D content and maintains backward compatibility, allowing viewers not equipped for 3D to view the transmission as 2D images on their full HD sets. The reconstructed right and left images maintain their original 720p spatial and temporal resolution, giving viewers of both versions the full benefit of the original picture, and the transmission of both 2D and 3D can be achieved without the need for increased bandwidth.
 “To increase the pool of content we also established our own production island to cover sports events in 3D, including judo, table tennis, Thai boxing, basketball and others. Shooting for 3D is highly demanding because it’s very difficult to edit in the event of any mistake, and with the extra field depth a lot of detail is highlighted. Lighting is also critical. “Certain types of content lend themselves more easily to 3D production: our unit has recently covered some fashion shows in 3D, and these are easier to shoot because the stylists are already very aware of all the visual details of the setting and the lighting. “Since our adoption of the 3D Tile Format, the results have been excellent, and we believe the format should be adopted across Europe. As the format becomes more widely understood, the industry will appreciate that the quality of HD-native 3D broadcasts with the 3D Tile Format is superior because there is no loss of image quality.” Davide Boscaini studied engineering and law before beginning a career in technical development. He founded Quartarete, one of Italy’s first regional broadcasters, in 1979 with three other partners.