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Gearing up to deliver Wimbledon 3D

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Andy Quested Andy Quested | 10:37 UK time, Tuesday, 7 June 2011

As you've heard by now we are planning to transmit the Wimbledon finals in 3D this year!

It's part of the remit we have to try out and test new technologies where we can and as the main tennis coverage has moved to BBC One HD this year, we have the chance to try something new. For more details of the coverage have a look at Danielle's blog.

The Wimbledon 3D event is a collaboration between the All England Lawn Tennis Club, Sony Professional and the BBC along with many of our partners. After the finals weekend I will do an update with more details of the Outside Broadcast, camera technology and all the bits between SW19, W12 and your screen! I hope to persuade some of my R&D colleagues to write about the other technology we have used and the future of 3D TV.

What are we up to before the big weekend?

The production company working with Sony Professional and BBC Sport are trying to get the best camera positions fitted into Centre Court.

This is a schematic of the 2D and 3D camera positions on Centre Court:

centre court six cameras

More cameras are used on Centre Court during finals weekend so by the time 5 6 extra 3D camera positions have been added it looks a bit busy! Obviously we try to keep as many cameras out of shot as possible so there may be a few changes to make.

I hope to have some stills so you can see the cameras in situ as well some of the other 3D facilities on site, in time for the next post.

Back in W12, my colleagues in BBC R&D and Distribution who have been working on the satellite encoder's move to S2 and are now working on a further temporary up-date to the BBC HD Channel encoders to get them ready for 3D transmission. When they're happy, all the BBC HD Channel encoders will be updated. As we are transmitting on all platforms (Freeview, Freesat, Sky and Virgin) there's a lot of testing to do!

When the 3D update is complete a modified BBC HD Channel Promo will replace the current version. This has a short 3D clip and a change to the test card to help us check registration.

As we are trying to fit two images into the current BBC HD Channel's signal, one of the temporary changes is change the horizontal resolution from 1440 pixels to 1920 for the trial period.

If all goes to plan, the 3D changes will be made during the morning of 16th 13th June and they will change back to the current settings on 6th July.

What will you see on the BBC HD Channel?

Just like the Sky 3D channel we will transmit a Side by Side (SbyS) image. If you are watching the channel on a 2D TV when a 3D image comes on you will see two squeezed images next to each other. This is the reason we need the1920 horizontal pixels - each image (eye) will be squeezed to 960 pixels wide but will still be 1080 high.

Federer side by side

A 3DTV takes the two half-width images and stretches them to fill the screen. How the TV displays them depends on the technology it uses.

The test card will look the same (SbyS) but when displayed on a 3D TV (in 3D mode) the two half width images should line up exactly - there should be no horizontal or vertical shift between left and right eye images. The frequency gratings will give us a good idea of the system filtering and if we are introducing alias components.

Testcard side by side

Above: SbyS Test Card as seen on a 2D TV

SbyS Test Card as seen on a 3D TV - with or without glasses!

Above: SbyS Test Card as seen on a 3D TV - With or without glasses!

If you want to know more about 3D see my next post.

Andy Quested is Head of Technology, BBC HD & 3D, BBC Future Media & Technology

See also "3D for Wimbledon - the Future of TV" by Danielle Nagler on the About The BBC blog..

N.B. Correction - the date for the encoder change is the 13th June not the 16th. This is corrected in the text above. Apologies for this error. (NR)

N.B. Correction - the previous image of Centre Court cameras was incorrect. The correct one has now been inserted. Apologies. (NR).


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  • Comment number 1.

    Good to know that the BBC are embracing future possibilities of 3D. You have taken your time since I saw your live test of the Calcutta Cup in 3D at Riverside Studios four (?) years ago!

    Why revert to 1440 after Wimbledon? Are you the last broadcaster to use this pseudo HD format? I understand that it mimics the internal workings of the older HDcam cameras but surely that is not the point.

  • Comment number 2.

    Just move to 1920 permanently and have done with it please...

  • Comment number 3.

    Thanks Andy for the insights to the 3D experiment and I do hope there are other blogs from your R&D colleagues.

    The BBC HD & BBC 3D services need to catch up with other broadcasts and so such experiments are to be welcomed.

    But do I have to ask why does this important upgrade to 1920x1080 from 1440x1080 have to be temporary? This is something many of us have been requesting for over a year.

    I take it that for people with only 2D capable TVs they will at least benefit by having that picture broadcast at 1920x1080 too?

    Cheers, daveac

  • Comment number 4.

    Certainly I think the whole tired bitrate debate is a bit of a red herring, but the case for going non-anamorphic and having the full 1920 horizontal resolution is unanswerable. No-one can argue that doesn't give you better quality. This trial demonstrates you *have* the bandwidth, clearly.

  • Comment number 5.

    Well as I said in my previous posts I suspected that you would have to go to 1920. 720x1080 3D would not look very good and I am not sure all 3D sets would handle it properly.

    So what is the relevance of S2. Are you going to increase the bitrate BBC HD to handle 1920.

    So please do the right thing and keep 1920 and increase the bitrate on BBC One HD, and BBC HD.

  • Comment number 6.

    Why change back to 1440 after Wimbledon is over?

    Just leave it at 1920 like everybody else.

  • Comment number 7.

    I totally don't understand your blog. Are you saying that BBC one HD is going to be used to transmit tennis to non 3D viewers? But that BBC HD channel is going to be transmitting 3D so will be useless to non 3D viewers because they'll get 2 pics side by side? What will people without 3d tvs see on BBC HD channel?

  • Comment number 8.

    @ #7,

    BBC1 and BBC2 SD are the same as now.

    BBC1 HD will have 2D HD coverage. BBC HD will have 3D coverage.

  • Comment number 9.

    Good to hear from you Andy.
    Nice to have 1920, but why don't you just leave it at that standard and also improve the quality.
    What BBC giveth...

  • Comment number 10.

    3DTV/Movies/Games are a massive gimmick.

    The public have already shown they are not interested in viewing content this way, so why is the BBC chasing it?

    Also, in a time when the BBC is making massive cuts to all of its budgets, how can this be justified when so few who pay the licence fee will be able to see the results?

  • Comment number 11.

    Dear All,

    Just give up on the question of 1920 vs 1440, or bit rates.

    It is obvious the BBC are using these blogs to tell us what they have already decided to do and are not after any input. At the top of these items it says that they "talk about" subjects - not that they want to discuss them.

    All decisions are being made internally and any changes are being driven by commercial or political demands (such as putting BBC Alba on Freeview) or on the basis of alleged efficiency improvements (such as dropping bit rates, or DVB-S to DVB-S2).

    The BBC will only answer questions when they want to and if they do not want to they do not. The whole question on 1920 vs 1440 has been going on for about 18 months now and finally came up with a more detailed background about why only recently.

    The change to 1920 for the 3D trial shows they could easily change HD if they wanted to - someone has decided they don't want to.

    Getting honest reasons for any decisions made is even harder. After all - who do they have to justify there actions to? Not us for sure.


  • Comment number 12.

    Good afternoon all

    Good to be back and with a different topic!

    Re the 1920 vs. 1440 debate, I will refer you to the blogs and posts of December 2009 and June 2010 https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/andy_quested/

    Dear digitalscoobiedoo
    Good to hear from you again. BBC One and BBC One HD will be showing the Wimbledon finals leaving BBC HD available to show the matches in 3D as you say. If you look at the BBC HD Channel on a 2DTV you will see a side by side image.

    Dear FishFingers
    Thanks for the post - just to really reassure you we are working with Sony on the coverage so there is virtually no additional cost to the licence fee. Gimmick or not 3D is a technology that needs to be investigated and there are a lot of people who would like to have an opinion - this is your chance

  • Comment number 13.

    thegrail - just to add to Andy's comment the question of bit rates and BBC HD picture quality was debated for over a year on this blog. The Trust made a judgement about this question last year. If you want to reopen this I suggest you write to the Trust or find another place to discuss it.

    As Andy has responded to some of the on topic comments I'm now going to rule that off topic comments about picture quality will be removed.


  • Comment number 14.

    Hi Andy

    You are still alive then after trying to defend the undefendable in the picture quality debate. I guess you needed some time off.

    My question is simple what relevance (if any) does S2 have to 3D. In particular are you going to increase the bitrate on satellite during the trial?

  • Comment number 15.

    Thanks trevorjharris

    The S2 switch was not vital to the 3D trail - see later posts on Alix's S2 blog. The encoders still decide the bit rate required based on the picture content so other than the small change to the BBC HD Channel encoders i mentioned, there is no change during the trial.


  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    I know that 1920vs1440 has been discussed to death a couple of years ago. I'll admit - for most viewers, the difference nowadays is minimal. But sets are still getting bigger, so in the not-too-distant future, isn't it likely that, especially on big HD projectors, the difference will become very noticeable? So certainly, I think it's something worth considering again in few years' time, and I hope that when that time comes, you won't just write it off because it's already been discussed in 2009.

  • Comment number 18.

    I don't think that 3D televisions support 1440x1080 split screens. I looked up the 3D spec for HDMI 1.4a and that does not support 1440x1080 even as a secondary mode. SDI also does not support 1440 which is why the BBC use 1920 internally.

    Some of you may already know ITV 3D has started test transmissions so ITV will have 4 HD channels and a proper 3D channel.

  • Comment number 19.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 20.

    what will happen to the additional capacity that there will be with using dvb-s2 after wimbledon is over, will the bitrates and resolutions increase on bbc's channels? Will the bbc launch BBC2HD or something.

    Please don't launch a 3d channel fulltime, 3d is a gimmick, 12% of brits can't see 3d due to the brains not coping and they get a headache as a result. Its not even good to look at, i prefer 2d movies as do most people. Use the additional capacity to launch BBC2 HD and increase the res to 1080i and bitrate to 12mbps or so and remove the DOGS then we'll be happy licence payers!

  • Comment number 21.


    Of course the encoders should find the 1920 3D picture more complex and therefor allocate a greater proportion of the bitrate to 3D. The problem here is that you are transmitting similar pictures on BBC 1 HD at the same time. Statistical multiplexers work best with dissimilar channels and so you will have both channels demanding higher bitrates at the same time. It seems to me you will be taking a very big risk not to increase the available bandwidth especially with a high profile programme. The satallite transponder has 11.4 Mb/s of null bits which could be used. It was noted that during the royal wedding you transmitted a static picture on BBC HD in order to make a higher bitrate available to BBC 1 HD. For Wimbledon you do not have that option.

  • Comment number 22.

    Dear trevorjharris

    A quick clarification to my post #15. The move to S2 was not vital to the trial but was of course needed to move to 1920 on the HD Channel


  • Comment number 23.

    Andy - this may be late in the day, but the inclusion of the 3D 'portion' of Strictly Come Dancing produced for Children in Need, within the modified BBC HD promo would be a great chance for more people to experience what Danielle said caused 'Whoops from the team....'

  • Comment number 24.

    Andy, will these encoder changes next week fix the white dot issue on BBC HD, i would be interested in what has caused this and where about in the broadcast chain it is. I have not seen a 3D channel before (only seen 3D in the cinema) what will the DOG look like in 3D will it jump out of the screen or remain inset, or will it be removed during 3D broadcasts?

  • Comment number 25.

    Dear chautara - Thanks for the post. Unfortunately we can't show the Children in Need clip again. It was done especially for the programme for cinema release. Hope you enjoy the short 3D piece we do have though.


  • Comment number 26.

    @post 24 On Eurosport3D the DOG was in front of the picture. Like you are watching through a window with the DOG stuck on the window and all the 3D behind the window. With tennis in 3D do not expect any images "in front of" your screen. The depth is to the back of the tv.

  • Comment number 27.

    Dear NSM_D

    Thanks for the post - I have asked what stage we are at getting rid of the spot. It is actually caused by the vision mixer and as it's an integral part of the vision chain we have to be sure up-grades are fully tested. I am chasing this week. As for the DOG it will be there. It will also be on the 3D section of the promo in the "Sport" position right of screen. It's 60% transparent and there is a 3 pixel offset (right eye 3 pixels to the left) between the Left and Right eyes pulling it out of the screen.

    Dear Piet Boon

    Thank you for the post. I hope the coverage will have a few front of screen (negative parallax) shots and graphics. Some of the test material looked very good but there is still work to do on the final camera positions and shots. Please give us feed back on the coverage as it's all very useful and will help us with future projects and tests.


  • Comment number 28.


    Good to see your back posting again. Always very interesting.

    Whilst the 3D venture is obviously an exciting one for the BBC, I'm reserving judgement on it. I note that there is already talk that the novelty is beginning to wear off in the US (at the box office, admittedly) and that this will follow internationally. Dont get me wrong, technology wise it is impressive and it will be interesting to read what viewers who have a 3D set think of the transmissions by the BBC.

    In my opinion, Super HD (or Super Hi-vision) will be bigger than 3D, when the time comes, someway off though I admit !

    Slightly off topic I know, but I recall last year that there was talk of the BBC planning to hoist Super Hi-Vision screens around the land for the Olympics. Is this still planned Andy?

  • Comment number 29.

    Dear Paul_Billo

    Thanks for the post. Super Hi-VIsion (UHDTV) work is still going on. There is still talk in the ITU and other standards bodies. BBC R&D are working with NHK on some of the issues and opportunities the it offers - maybe I should push the R&D people involved into a blog soon!

    As for the Olympics, I am not sure what the latest position is but I'm sure that will become clear over the coming months.

    I said in a recent briefing note that although 3D has come and gone many times, this incarnation has some pretty strong support and some amazing technology behind it. Not in time for the Olympics but UHDTV in 3D no glasses????

  • Comment number 30.

    Oops sorry for some typos in the last post - para 1 should be...

    Thanks for the post. Super Hi-Vision (UHDTV) work is still going on and there is much talk at the ITU and other standards bodies ongoing too. BBC R&D are working with NHK on some of the issues and opportunities it offers so maybe I should push the R&D people involved into a blog soon!

  • Comment number 31.

    Andy great to see the BBC trialling these technologies.

    Whilst the move to 1920 is welcomed (albeit for a trial period only) it has to be said that with any increase in resolution, there needs to be a corresponding increase in bit rate in order to maintain the existing picture quality as a move from 1440 to 1920 increases the pixel count by approximately 1.5 times and so the encoder has 1.5 times more information to encode within the bandwidth available compared to 1440.

    Hopefully, the bit rate increase will be sufficient to give a good 3D picture.

    On the same subject, maybe following the recent bit rate increase for the Royal Wedding and the improved picture that resulted, the BBC will now consider implementing 15mbs average for 1440 2D pictures, 18mbs for 2D 1920 pictures and hopefully around 24mbs for 3D.

    Any technology is only as good as the constraints placed on it and BBC's HD offerings have been strangled for far too long.

    Please don't allow 3D to go the same way and please don't allow the opportunity to use increased bit rates for both 3D and 2D to go to waste in your testing department as its clear to many of us that the picture did improve during the recent increased bandwidth transmission.

    @ Paul Bilbo #29, I think both technologies are the future of tv. SuperHiVision because of its increased reality provided by the sharper edges within the picture and 3D because its the only real way realism in tv can progress beyond increased pixel count which with the advent of SHV is reaching its limits in terms of delivering discernible difference.

    As I've commented on other forums, before anyone rights 3D technology off, they really should audition all of the systems - lenticular, polarising and shutter as some are better than others. My own recent experience with Panasonic's shutter system blew me away despite the fact that I entered into the audition expecting to hate it and this really goes to show that some systems are massively different in result to others (at least in my opinion).

  • Comment number 32.

    Dear Alsone

    Thanks for the post and it's good to have a new technology to talk about for a while. Just to say though, we haven't changed how the encoders choose the bit rate required for any programmes and although 1920 needs more than 1440, it's not a linear relationship. I will have to refer you to the blogs and posts of December 2009 and June 2010 https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/andy_quested/ for the comments on 1440 and encoder quality vs bit rate.

    Glad you enjoyed the 3D experience you had and hope you can see the the tennis in 3D somewhere too.


  • Comment number 33.

    Thanks Andy for the response very interesting, that would explain why it is only on BBC HD, and on all of the platforms!, great to see you trial 3D, just checking on LinowSat seems Sky 3D is running at similar bitrate to how BBC HD is at present, max about 16Mb/s, average around 14MB/s and min 8mb/s! although i expect you use different encoders.

  • Comment number 34.

    lol @ UHDTV. We don't even get 1080p nor a decent bitrate nor resolution, don't be expecting UHDTV this decade :P

  • Comment number 35.

    @Andy, than you for your comments on the encoders staying constant. What this suggests to me therefore is that the lower limit is set too low as its quite clear that when a programme pulls more bit rate through, the overall picture quality is improving as opposed to the encoder just coping with the increased detail at the same quality.

    I've long said that I've never been opposed to a bit rate cut where codec improvements have allowed it, its just always been the case that many of us have felt the the cuts went too far and despite the improvements noticed by the change to VBR (thanks for listening on that one BBC :) ), the previous wow factor of BBC HD seen at 18mbs CBR at launch has never been recaptured. This is why many of wish to see the average bit rate pushed upwards especially given that bandwidth costs is only a minor part of production. One has to wonder what the effect of say 10mbs min / 24 mbs max would be with a consequential average no doubt around 15mbs, instead of the current which I believe is around 6 / 18 mbs.

    The bit rate situation can only get worse with 3D without change as the demands are higher bandwidth. I seem to remember reading somewhere a recommendation for 30% extra minimum for 3D, although I could be wrong on that. But if correct at a revised 10/24 for HD that would be 14 / 32 for 3D.

    Finally, the BBC should take note of NHK's Worlds HD production. A minor channel but one with the best HD and sharpest HD by far on Freesat in many viewers opinions although C4 HD is quite good also the majority of the time.

    Just a pity they don't do 3D so we can make a direct comparison there (or should I instead interpret that as one that causes a corporate sigh of relief!)

  • Comment number 36.

    Dear hajj_3 thanks for the post - maybe not this half of the decade but then again there are still standards discussions going on so maybe longer. There is still a lot to explore beyond current HD including much higher frame rates. Have a look here for some of the longer term projects https://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/projects/production.shtml

    Dear Alsone thanks for the post - can I point you back to the earlier blogs again especially the discussions on resolution vs sharpness.


  • Comment number 37.

    I see little value in this experiment except as a publicity stunt. Firstly the does not seem to be anything here that is new. Sky have been using DVB-S2 from the start, and they have a 3D channel broadcasting a very wide range of material. It seems to me that it is Sony that have done all the hard work here and the BBC is just adding a commentary. It is difficult to see what benifit this is to the licence payer. People are not going to invest in 3D for the occational 3D program once in a blue moon. To create the market the BBC needs to do what Sky has done and actually start a channel. Danielle has already said that there will be no new channels until 2013 and so the whole exersize is a little pointless.

    Reading the blogs it seems most people want the BBC to sort out their HD channels before embarking on 3D. BBC 1 HD is still the only proper 3D channel and we would not have had that till 2012 if 5 hadn't pulled out of Freeview HD. I would have expected by now that all the major BBC channels would be in HD. The news is not going HD till 2013!.

    Why on earth did the BBC lease of part of their HD transponder to ITV when they are so desperate for bandwidth themselves.

  • Comment number 38.

    I have gone back and read your posts from Dec 09 regarding encoding and various related matters. I found them interesting from the point of view of someone who has worked in post production but is not an engineer. I also believe they were quite clear to the HD enthusiast.

    The H.264 set of codecs are still evolving (?) and there are a plethora of different profiles as it is. Is there any information in the public domain regarding the profiles used by the BBC and the degree of importance to you of things like variable block-size motion compensation (what block sizes are normally used) and an indication of what is lost by using 4.2.0 (and conversely what is gained by doing so).

    Presumably the bit rate controversy can be countered or reinforced by the profiles you use.

    I do think the 1440 argument is also a swings and roundabouts problem. I expect that most mid and low budget HD is still shot on standard HD-Cam and DVC-ProHD and of course these are 1440 cameras (thank heavens that HDV is prohibited!) but even so you require delivery to you on HD-CamSR so this would seem to indicate you want the quality in the bag for later, or is it just for international and Blu-ray sales?

    As a related aside I always thought that the SD digital switchover was sold on the wrong benefit. Analogue reception was generally far better quality than digital, unless we are looking at BBC1 with a high bitrate. More channels in less spectrum was the real reason which is fair enough.

  • Comment number 39.

    thank you for fixing the white dot issue! much better

  • Comment number 40.

    Dear Kit Green Thanks for the post. All I will say is encoding is still developing. The EBU have new guidelines out that include the 3rd generation encoders and the 4th are on the way!

    Dear trevorjharris - thanks for the post. You are of course entitled to you opinion and we are carrying out audience reaction to 3D which you should contribute to.

  • Comment number 41.

    Lets stop faffing about with the gimmick that is 3DTV and put that money to use upgrading the entire BBC lineup to FULL HD.

    BBC Two should have an HD simulcast at the least. Let alone Three, Four, News, CBBC etc.

    It will be interesting to see the viewing figures of BBC One HD and BBC HD (3D) during the match. Comparing them not only to each other but the first Wimbledon Finals broadcast in HD. Then we can see whether the uptake of 3D is the same as the uptake in HD was.

  • Comment number 42.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 43.


    Yes I do have rants from time to time as my wife keeps me in touch with how the BBC is spending my money.

    The BBC have always oversold the benifits of codec improvements as we can see on our screens. We are very fortunate that 3D will not work at 1440. My main interest in this experiment is not 3D but in how good 1920 will look in 2D. Will it come up to the standards of other broadcasters.

    Up to now there has been no mention of MVC for true full resolution 3D. It does seem to me that we do need to move fairly quickly if we are not going to be stuck with the inferior SbyS method. The BBC is not going to like the extra bitrate required but does have to advantage of being 2D compatable and so could actually save bandwidth.

    I had to laugh when BBC was upstaged by Sky at the Royal Wedding. They recodered all the outdoor scenes in 3D but only announced it at the last minute. Sky can now generate 3D from the events inside the abbey and have a very valuable archive in 3D.

  • Comment number 44.

    Sorry Alsone your last is off topic and refers to areas now closed.

  • Comment number 45.

    While we're talking tennis... Watching Queen's Club tennis this week (via sat), and unfortunately the match sound it slightly out of sync (maybe 80ms behind, but hard to measure). After all the great work you did on A/V sync, I'm surprised this happened - can you please check into it? Would hate to see (hear) the same for 2 weeks of Wimbledon!

  • Comment number 46.

    Dear trevorjharris. Thanks for the post. We are very keen on exploring frame combatable systems for 3D. I hope it's one of things R&D will explore in a blog later.
    Re the Royal Wedding, there was no 3D coverage in the Abby as you are aware and I think the global audience we serviced were just as happy with the event as the UK's. Sky's own 3D delivery guide does not encourage 2D to 3D conversion.


  • Comment number 47.

    Andy, from the diagram above it appears that all the cameras are at low level. If this is correct why not at high level?

  • Comment number 48.

    @Andy #44, off topic when it was both a direct reply your post above and also addressed 3D quality.

    Seems more like censorship to me.

  • Comment number 49.

    Hey the white dot has gone!

    Aw, I'm missing it already... ;-)

  • Comment number 50.

    Dear Grafix thanks for the post. 3D works best from lower angles with cameras closer to the point of interest. There are a mixture of camera positions for the centre court but low and close is best!

    Dear StrangeNoise It was doomed in the next batch of updates but I managed to get it done today!

  • Comment number 51.

    @ Andy #50, you say 3D works best at low angles but how are we assessing 3D here, in terms of action coming out of the screen or going back into the wall.

    I only ask because I saw some very good 3D on Panasonics 50" plasma system where the majority of the action went back into the wall rather than out into the room. Some people seem to tire of in your face action although I have no personal preference as I like all good 3D inwards or outwards. It tends to be the system or poor production that it let it down rather than the use of 3D itself in my opinion.

    In fact one of the very best examples was a train station where the platform went backwards into the wall and the nearest thing I can describe it to is being in the front row of the theatre with the stage stretching away in front of you. It was stunningly good.

  • Comment number 52.

    Dear Alsone thanks for the post. Both actually (negative and positive parallax). I am not sure what the final set up will give yet, there will still be a lot of setting up going on right up to the finals, but a good rule of thumb says around 1% negative to 2 or 3% positive i.e. more into the screen than out.

    Obviously, into the screen is always going to be safer - no edge violations - where an object in front of the screen suddenly disappears behind the edge of the screen that it's supposed to be in front of! Also captions are easier to add - nothing that should be in front of a caption still has the words superimposed over it. But it is less exciting. Just every now and then it's fun to have something that makes you duck!

  • Comment number 53.

    what bitrate and resolution does the EBU recommend now then? I looked on their site but there's loads of documents and i think you need to subscribe to open the .pdf files.

    Will a new hd channel be launching in 2011 to make use of the dvb-s2 unused bandwidth?

  • Comment number 54.

    Will you be sending out the correct Frame Packing SEI messages and the appropriate flags in the MPEG-TS? I haven't seen anybody follow the recent DVB specification for a broadcast service yet, although I have seen the specs followed for VoD (mainly because I created the encoder!)

  • Comment number 55.


    From memory the EBU only test for constant bitrate streams. The BBC uses variable bit rate and so it is difficult to compare. I am not aware of them changing the recomendation in any case it would only be a minor change. If you look at the way the ebu evaluates bitrates you will see that the standard of picture quality it uses is failrly low. However the ebu does have a very good methodology for doing the test as opposed to the farsical way the BBC did their tests.

    Although the EBU does release some of thier material to the public in general it is a very secretive organization.

  • Comment number 56.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 57.

    56. At 11:39 10th Jun 2011, trevorjharris

    SD 720x576, 414,720 pixels

    "HD" 1280×720, 921,600 pixels

    HD 1920x1080, 2,073,600 pixels (225% as many as 720)

    Super Hi-Vision 7680×4320, 33,177,600 pixels

    Remember that bitrates also involve frame rate. Part of the reason there are so many frame rate standards in HD is so that SD simulcasts can be made at the same time and using the same source as the HD. More of a problem in the States. Also remember that i and p will require differing compressions to preserve each ones unique characteristics.

    Classic TV engineers are wedded to their love of interlace. For good definition one can always use progressive but up the frame rate. The trouble is (partly) the increase in storage and also the far higher specification of all the equipment in the post production and delivery chains.

    Perhaps the ideal is 1080 50p as a standard but that is some way off in practical terms. It would at least allow for an alternate frame version of 3D at a good resolution.

    In the home Super Hi-Vision is surely only needed (if needed is the right angle) when we have screens the size of walls. I have seen a Panasonic 152in screen at a couple of trade shows and even "proper" HD looked quite acceptable at that size. Not for the normal home!

  • Comment number 58.

    Sorry the thought police did not like me posting a URL. I didn't know that was not allowed the BBC is really getting paranoid.

    @hajj_3 You can find an ebu document called

    Signal Quality in HDTV Production and Broadcast Services

    They claim that 3rd generation encoders get away with 9Mb/s which I assume is for 720p. So I guess they would now say 10.8 (20% more) for 1080i50.

    As I said in my previous post the quality standard is not acceptable to British viewers. It is important to note the BBC did increase the bitrate for the royal wedding, a damming indictment of thier current policy of delivering a low quality service.

  • Comment number 59.

    Dear trevorjharris - thanks for the posts. This is getting complete off topic now, so to clear up before we move back to 3D;

    1. The 9Mbs CBR is for 1080i/25

    2. The tests demonstrating 9Mbs CBR were done around the time of the BBC's encoder hardware update

    3. Since that time several firmware updates have occurred including the move to VBR

    4. The document also goes in to say "...It is expected that encoding efficiency will continue to develop over the next few years." Which it has indeed done

    5. Your URL was to a PDF download not a web page and that's why it was removed


  • Comment number 60.

    Sorry there is a 6. There were no encoder changes made for the Wedding. We "lock down" all changes from several days before a big event so there is no "tweeking" on the day. The encoders are VBR and therefore take what they need/is available based on content

  • Comment number 61.

    Just on Andy's number 5 (hello again Andy!), I fell foul of the 'no pdfs' rule last year, even though pdfs had been posted multiply, and to the benefit of readers, for months. So now we have to just put titles in posts and get people to google them. What a circus.

    I complained that this was an asinine rule that only made using the blog a less informative place. I received a long and considered reply from the person in charge of moderation complaints, who said the BBC appreciated the drift of the argument and they were looking for ways to allow pdf links in future.

    Looks like that came to nothing, so the circus rolls on.

    Anyway, back on topic, I see Andy is Chairman of the EBU Project Group on
    3DTV, so I guess congrats are in order!

  • Comment number 62.

    Dear kierank - thanks for the post. Do you work for an encoder manufacture?

    Dear hajj_3 - thanks for the post. Have a quick look at #59. Have a looked at Alix's post #104 about the change to S2

    Dear Kit Green - thanks for the post. The Panasonic is a "beast" where did you see it?

    Dear HD_fan428 Thanks for the post and good to speak again. I cannot comment on the PDF issues but links to the download page do work. With a purely BBC hat on though I would worry about linking to any download. Thanks for the congratulations - it's a big task!


  • Comment number 63.

    Dear Andy - Further to post 45, Queen's club tennis audio is still out of sync (delayed around 80-100 ms I think) today. I checked the A/V sync preview loop today and it looks like that is out too. Verified here on multiple TVs so maybe you have a channel issue on BBC HD?

  • Comment number 64.

    62. At 14:32 10th Jun 2011, Andy Quested wrote
    The Panasonic is a "beast" where did you see it?

    IBC, I think it was that size screen, but I have not seen the 3D version they are now showing. It will probably be there this year, as may I.

  • Comment number 65.

    Watching the Queen's Club coverage of the Ward-Querry match with low-level cameras was quite scary even in 2D - the ball seems to move so much faster. Can't wait to see the Wimbledon finals in 3D (no Sky in this household)!

    But spectacular as the tennis might be in 3D, how about some less ambitious (and possibly easier to watch) footage, such as Question Time?

  • Comment number 66.

    Dear Bluestraw - thanks for the post and I am getting it checked now. I can't check the AV sync signal until it goes out tonight but will check that tomorrow am.

    I might be slightly "miffed" if someone has done something!!!


    Dear Kit Green - That was the last time I saw it too but I can't remember if it had HD or 4k feeding it

  • Comment number 67.

    Dear P9TER thank you for the post. The 3D coverage will not be as dynamic as the 2D - but then the 3D means it doesn't need to be! Some of the 3D tennis I've seen looks very good


  • Comment number 68.

    66. At 17:00 10th Jun 2011, Andy Quested wrote:
    That was the last time I saw it too but I can't remember if it had HD or 4k feeding it

    I was told that at the time I saw it the feed was 1080 of some flavour.

  • Comment number 69.

    @Andy quested: post #104 on the other topic only says that 3d testing it being used temporarily for the extra bandwidth. I and countless others are wanting to know if we will be getting another channel and/or increased bitrate/resolution/progressive with the extra bandwidth now available.

    Has the BBC made a decision with what to do with the spare bandwidth after wimbledon?

    Please whatever you do don't make a 3d channel permenant. No-one has a 3d tv, they cost a fortune, 12% of brits can't see 3d and its just a gimmick. I'd rather we have another HD channel and improved bitrates/resolution for the 2 current bbc channels and so would everyone else.

    3d is just for bragging rights, no-one with half a brain wants to wear glasses to watch tv and be distracted by depth instead of concentrating on the tv show.

    Could we have an eta of when you will decide what the extra bandwidth will be used for?

    My vote is for Film4 HD or preferably BBC2 HD, i'm not sure about the legality of BBC2 HD as freeview HD doesn't have the capacity to add that channel until next year after the switchover ... i think?

  • Comment number 70.

    Dear hajj_3 Thanks for the post. Have a look at Alix's post 104. We have no plans for a 3D channel. Personally, I think there are much better ways to deliver additional, alternative or just different content!

  • Comment number 71.

    @hajj_3 I have a 3D television, and it is just an additional feature of my Full HD television. Off course, nobody watches 3D all day. But, yes, I want to be able to watch 3D on special occasions. And like with FashionTV HD (who broadcast 2 ten minute programs a day in 3D) this can be done on the existing HD channels and no new channels are needed.

  • Comment number 72.

    Yes, our encoder was used in the development of the DVB-3DTV Frame Compatible standard, which is why I'm hoping the BBC's broadcasts will be one of the first "proper" broadcasts to follow the spec.

    (not sure why it won't let me post as kierank...)

  • Comment number 73.

    Dear kierank1 thanks for the post, I must pass you back to your own company and DVB for more information. Andy

  • Comment number 74.

    I must admit that's a very strange and obfuscated answer but I guess we'll find out soon enough if the actual 3D broadcasts comply with the DVB-3DTV spec.

  • Comment number 75.

    Dear kierank1 - apologies if you think it obfuscated but I can't use the blog to discuss products or product implementation with manufacturers. Sorry Andy

  • Comment number 76.


    The DVB-3DTV spec is online but is a PDF so I cannot post the URL.

    Search for DVB BlueBook A154

    Please can you tell us what is not followed in the spec in other broadcasts.

    On another matter looking at the spec 1440 is only mentioned in the context of "disparity values". The HDMI 1.4a does not mention 1440 either. Does that mean DVD-3DTV does not support 1440?.

    As Andy has said the BBC has no plans for a 3D channel but of course the BBC had no plans for BBC1 HD but were forced to change their minds by circumstances. It always seemed to me that after Sky's announcement of an HD service that the BBC spurred into action. It is interesting to note that ITV 3D is testing now just the sort of thing that might make them change their mind.

  • Comment number 77.

    Whats all this secrecy about. It was revealed under the Freedom of Information act that Grass Valley encoders were used by the BBC.


    Are you the kierank that has worked on x264?

    Actually I am not in favour of Frame Compatable 3D systems. I much prefer things like MVC used by blue ray and Sony camcorders to give full definition 3D. Of course Frame Compatability is dirt cheap for the broadcasters but yet again it is the quality that really suffers.

  • Comment number 78.

    Dear trevorjharris thanks for the posts. there is no secrecy but this is a blog about 3D and Wimbledon. Please stick to topic

    Your last paragraph is very wrong, FC is less cost for broadcaster than SC, once we have the 2D 3D compatibility cracked we only need 1 channel for both instead of a 2D and a 3D. However FC may mean a new STB.


  • Comment number 79.

    So Andy, if everything goes to plan the changes to the encoder for 3D will occur on Monday 13th June, if so what time will the changes occur roughly. Again congratulations for trailing 3D and i hope all goes well with it.

  • Comment number 80.

    @trevorjharris and @andy: why do you not call each other or mail each other... this is not a chat box!

  • Comment number 81.

    Dear NSM_HD. Thanks for the post. If all works well it should be about 11:00 but as it's across two platforms I can't give an exact time. Once everything is OK I will do a quick post if I can

    Dear Piet Boon - thanks!

  • Comment number 82.

    OK maybe best to talk about SC on your other blog.

    Re Wimbledon I wondered if we could have a blog about how the 3D will be distributed, how you record 3D, changes to encoder parameters etc.

  • Comment number 83.

    Dear trevorjharris - Thanks for the post, I hope to do a couple more blogs after the finals weekend. As things are changing I can't be sure of the exact set-up yet. The current plan is to record both left and right full resolution on site but to pass the signal ready for transmission through they chain to the encoders. We can do this as Wimbledon is the last production point (not W12).


  • Comment number 84.

    Dear Andy - In case it helps, the A/V sync is significantly better for the tennis on BBC1HD (instead of BBC HD) today.

  • Comment number 85.

    Dear all - the first 3D tests have gone out successfully. Due to the tennis there will probebly be only one more transmission today but from tomorrow it will be once an hour. The 3D section is about 20 mins into the HD Channel promo and last 6 minutes.


  • Comment number 86.

    @Kit # 57. I disagree that SuperHiVision needs to be for huge screens only.

    Here (best watched at 720P or above):


    The benefits can clearly be seen even on a screen of maybe 60 inches. Sure its a big screen but not the cinema sized screen many suggest is necessary.

    The sharpness and colour detail is terrific.

    Now to address the point of 3D / HD frame rate, on motion some of the best results are seen at 50P or even 100P which can then be interlaced to 25i to viewing on normal tv sets.

    During the Freerunning Championships that were broadcast from London by BBC HD in 2008, high speed cameras were used (I believe 100P) and although the picture wasn't perfect in every single aspect due to bit rate issues, the motion was absolutely perfect despite some very fast moves performed by the competitors.

    I think this shows the value in using high speed cameras for HD and 3D.

  • Comment number 87.

    Actually watching the video I stand corrected, it was an 85 inch the screen but still much smaller than wall sized and the picture is so much more lifelike than HD. This has to be the future of tv - SuperHiVision in 3D!

  • Comment number 88.

    Congratulations on the success of the 3D tests and encoder changes yesterday.
    But i have to tell you as its the truth, I saw a huge difference in picture quality straight after the change, i was watching the HD preview before the change and after and i could see a difference, there is now more fine detail on the channel.
    I noticed the difference on a 42" and 32" identical modal TV's on both Freeview HD and skyHD, its a shame you cant keep it like this all of the time for both channels.

  • Comment number 89.

    Andy something really strange just happened on BBC HD just now (14:16) the picture and sound has been breaking up, so i thought it was a signal problem, but the picture froze at 14:16 but i checked and my signal is fine changed channels and back again and some daytime show came on in SD, please say it is a fault your end, as i type it keeps breaking up!

  • Comment number 90.

    I think i have figued out where the rouge picture had come from, 60 minuite makeover from the itvhd channel on your transponder is there a fault with the transponder, perhaps the vid's and pid's are getting mixed up somehow, is this possible? i hope it is fixed for spring watch tonight!

  • Comment number 91.

    I just watched the 3D content in the BBC HD Preview loop on a Samsung 3DTV.

    Technically it worked fine, but the "band in studio" content made my eyes hurt a little. I'm usually fine with 3D, but the frequent cutting, and the changes to 3D depth on almost every cut, seemed to be what was triggering eye stress.

    It wasn't too bad - I watched it all, and found the 3D effect mostly enjoyable - but I hope/assume that Wimbledon will adopt a less aggressive and more consistent 3D style.

    The quality was fine. 3D was visibly softer than 2D, but not annoyingly so. There was a brief moment of visible artefacting, mostly visible on the little BBC logo top right, but otherwise the picture was good.

    I may be imagining it, but some of the 2D HD content has looked sharper since the change to 1920x1080. Not all content, but some.

    Also, on a Sony LCD I sometimes use, the pictures used to look a bit "crunchy" (in a bad, slightly blocky way) when there was fine detail, but this effect has been reduced since the change.

    As I say, I may well be imagining it - I haven't saved any 1440 recordings to do back-to-back comparisons - but as I say, I think there's increased resolution on some content, and decreased "crunchiness" on most.

  • Comment number 92.

    I noticed yesterday on Springwatch the picture seemed better. Is that more or less when it happened? Sometime on Monday? Just confirmed now with a computer receiver that the signal really is 1920.

    It is visibly, visibly better. Please don't revert after wimbledon!

  • Comment number 93.

    @2Bdecided, You are not imagining it at all. As everyone knows by increasing resolution this increases picture quality. The Tennis from Queens yesterday was on par with Eurosport HD for the first time. The logo on BBC HD looks far sharper, and all the programmes look more detailed. This is ruled off subject by Andy and the Mods because they do not want to admit this increases quality - even though its there for everyone to see now. Also as Andy has admitted an increase in resolution requires more bandwith which the BBC do not want to increase.

    Anyway back on topic.

    Looking forward to seeing how the beeb handle 3D. Should be an interesting experience. Good to see the Beeb looking at new tech. Good luck. Hope it goes well.

  • Comment number 94.

    Just got round to watching SpringWatch from Monday, like #92 it did seem much sharper with great detail & colour, more life-like which I guess is essential for this genre. I like to sit at the correct HD distance from my full-HD screen when viewing HD content (~1.5x the screen diagonal) so the difference between 1440 & 1920 is obvious. So impressed was I that I binned last night's recording of Luther on BBC One HD & opted for the later scheduling of same on BBC HD. I wonder if you might show a film or 2 on the enhanced-resolution BBC HD - some of those on 4HD (I only have Freesat) are stunningly good & it would be great to have a comparison?

    Not often I come on these blogs to praise the BBC, but today is that day. Great work, & I hope sense prevails after the Wimbledon finals & you choose to retain the 1920 resolution! A great opportunity to restore the good name of the BBC with the viewing public.

  • Comment number 95.

    @93 Wednesday only if the BBC also increase bit rate. This is one of the dangers with 3D.

    This was recently posted over on digital spy:

    The bit rate appears to low to support 1920 at high quality..


    Pass mouse onto the picture to change to the 2nd picture.

    1st picture is said to be BBC HD at 1440. 2nd is same scene at 1920.

    There's a visible drop off in sharpness and a loss of detail between the picture labelled 1440 and 1920 shot suggesting to me higher compression and thus insufficient bit rate.

    Classic example of how higher resolution doesn't equal a better picture unless bit rate is also increased enough to support it.

    This is also the danger with 3D. Introduce a 2nd picture and thus more detail but don't up the bit rate enough and the higher compression causes loss of detail and loss of sharpness.

  • Comment number 96.

    Can I just remind people that this is a post about Wimbledon 3D not BBC HD in general.

    Please stay on topic.


  • Comment number 97.

    Whilst I can understand the BBC providing split screen approach for 3D now, do you expect the same method to be used in the future?

    The current 3D services are not compatible with 2D, so you have to provided duplicate services for both 2D and 3D viewers.

    If you have potentially loads of bandwidth available (such as on satellite or cable)this "doubling" of capacity is not so much of an issue (however, I recall the BBC's need to make efficiency savings), but on terrestrial there isn't such capacity available.

    According to Barry Fox in this month's What Satellite & Digital TV, in the US they are providing "depth based 3D" where is 2D HD signal is accompanied by an additional "helper" signal to provide depth information.

    This sounds similar to FM Stereo encoding where a L+R signal is provide for mono radios and an additional L-R signal is available that can be used by stereo receivers to rebuild the separate L & R signals.

    Do the BBC forsee the current 3D "split screen" system being used being replaced by a system similar to that in the US in the future for BBC 3D transmissions?

  • Comment number 98.

    #60 Andy Quested

    "The encoders are VBR and therefore take what they need/is available based on content"

    That's not quite the full story as we can now see that parameters such as max, average or min bitrate can and are being restrained on a channel by channel basis on the BBC DSAT transponder. If this weren't the case, then both BBC One HD and BBC HD would have started to use the additional headroom created by the move to DVB-S2, but as we can see from Oliver Linow's excellent LinowSat website, only BBC HD is doing so.

    The additional capacity needed for the Wimbledon 3D trial could have been met from the Null Bytes pool by reducing it from its pre DVB-S2 average of just under 12 Mbps to say 1 Mbps (as used by transponder 12266 for example). Was this considered or is this spare capacity still "reserved for future use"?

  • Comment number 99.

    Dear burnlea and Alsone and all - please as Nick says, stick to the topic of Wimbledon 3D. All the bit rate vs quality discussions have been had, tested and closed.


  • Comment number 100.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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