ATLANTA – Next3D, a startup based here that develops
compression technology for FullHD 3D streaming media,
will use the upcoming NAB Show (April 11-14) to present
new technology enabling streaming FullHD 3D content
over the Internet and eventually broadcast pathways.
David Cole, Next3D co-founder, said the company
has partnered with Turner to deliver in 30 to 40 days
demos of a video-on-demand (VOD) client running
sample streaming 1080p 3D material, and will gradually
transition over the course of the summer into a full
pay-for-play system running undisclosed 1080p theatrical
content in 3D.
In the same time frame, gaming PC OEM partners
will begin delivering keys pre-installed in their hardware
to enable playing streamed Full 1080p 3D video
games, as the company also takes its system to “by
far the largest community of early adopters in the 3D
space,” Cole said.
He added that Next3D will not compete with 3D
gaming developers or distributors like Crytek or EA but
is establishing “very fertile ground” for cooperatively
reaching the market.
The following is a Q&A interview with Next3D’s Cole
prior to the 2011 NAB Show, where the company will
engage content producers and broadcasters in discussions
on using his 3D platforms.
TWICE: What is Next3D’s mission?
Cole:We are taking an H.264 3D-compression-
technology system that is what we believe
to be the best form of stereoscopic compression possible
for bit rate-constrained distribution like home
broadband. That core technology is the basis for two
independent business units for us. One is a stereoscopic
VOD service that is getting ready to launch this
spring. That utilizes our core technology built on the
compression technology to deliver FullHD 3D to the
home, initially to PC clients over the Internet, but the
road map includes Internet-connected devices and
game platforms as well.
For the second business unit, we’ve been developing
a system with Turner for over a year, called Next-
Stream, that will soon be formally announced. It is
real-time live streaming technology for stereoscopic
3D, using our core technology built out to deliver fastaction
content as effectively as possible.
The bias that we have in compression is that utilizing
existing 2D infrastructure and technology is potentially
very destructive for a stereoscopic image because, unfortunately,
it can quantize out the most important psychological
stereoscopic cues and the resultant image
can cause some pretty insidious eye strain.
So, we have focused on preserving very important stereoscopic
cues, including occlusions [strong edges]. That
information is held precious, as other portions of video is
quantized out. It gives us leverage to deliver a Full 3D 1080
signal over a relatively low bandwidth connection. We are
visually equivalent to 3D Blu-ray at about 8Mbps.
TWICE: Who are your distribution partners?
Cole: Turner is sort of a one-stop-shopping partner
because not only are they a co-developer, they will
be utilizing the technology themselves and that helps
propagate the core technology.
The strategy on the VOD service right now allows us
to ally with some of the strongest partners. We aren’t
ready to announce any quite yet, but an early target is
manufacturers of 3D-ready PCs using any of the three
GPUs that are stereoscopically compatible — Nvidia,
AMD or Intel Sandy Bridge. We have in development a
number of relationships with OEMs that will be including
the VOD service and effectively bundling content, although
they’ll just be bundling download keys for various
theatrical releases. So those announcements are still to
be determined, but we should be able to announce the
first partner both on the distribution side [an OEM of a
3D-ready PC] and content partners around NAB.
TWICE: How far are you from introducing a 3D distribution
system for connected TVs?
Cole: Our app requires our decoder be live on the
hardware. Leading CE TV manufacturers have added
more sophisticated system-on-a-chip (SoC) abilities in
the last year, and we are now developing for a few core
SoCs being used across manufacturers’ products.
We expect to announce around midyear a single
manufacturer with whom we’ve integrated across the
TWICE: Can this be adapted to a multichannel video
service system, such as cable TV or home satellite?
Cole: It certainly can, and our partner Turner is extremely
interested in the broadcast opportunity. There
are political and technical issues to push a proprietary
format. We have miles to go yet with Turner, but they
are certainly eager to evangelize a solution that gets
beyond the half resolution distribution solution, particularly
for sports. Destruction of the occlusions really is
causing problems for sports. Turner is eager to evangelize
a solution that works beyond over-the-top (OTT)
distribution — which is Internet distribution that works
for broadcast as well, but our business model right
now is very much targeted toward Internet delivery.
TWICE: Will passive 3D present an impediment to
what you are trying to do?
Cole: No. In fact, it helps. If you use a half-resolution
format to send an image to a half-again-resolution device,
you are effectively quartering the resolution. So our
marketing message actually gets stronger in that environment.
In fact, it is a substantially important issue.
We talk natively to the display controller, which gives
us the capability of only abandoning the information
that we are sure the television isn’t going to use.