While the initial broadcast 3D tech won't be Full HD, it will be HD and at CES the common response to DirecTV's 3D demo was "why doesn't DirecTV's HD look that good" (meaning no obvious signs of compression artifacts).
I recently did an interview on the Engadget HD Podcast with Bob Wilson, the VP of Network video solutions group at Motorola and he explained that many providers are already planning to upgrade their systems to 1080p60 per eye 3D and that we should have this at home within 3 years.
I've been meaning to write up the comments from the interview (so you wouldn't have to listen) but I never did. Here are my notes though.
cut the total resolution per eye in half to use existing transmission, which is phase 1.
Ultimately content owners will use H.264 and something like MVC to get full frame 3D HD and at the same time use less bandwidth than 1080i with MPEG2.
Until you move to higher resolution per eye, most of what is there today will work. The investment is on the production side.
Ideally 3D would have separate production techniques, but just like in the case of HD vs SD, 3D will probably be shot HD safe. Economics won't support multiple productions.
3D will have multiple formats (720p60 and 1080i60) just like HD and again your set-top or TV will convert them to a format that is compatible with your display technology.
The most recent set-tops with some changes will work with frame-compatible, but full 3D HD will require end-to-end changes include the set-tops. We believe that many operators will make that choice because of the reduction in bandwidth constraints. The rate will be driven by consumers, based on what they will pay for the differentiated service.
1080p 60 per eye in two years is doable, but aggressive. 6-24 will be frame-compatible, but certainly in 3 years you are going to see it (1080p60 per eye) which is my view, not pre-announcing anything.
A new one is 1080p60 which would be great for sports. Using H.264 we can offer a better 1080p60 using less throughput than 1080i60 using MPEG2. Doubling the frame rate uses about 30% more throughput.
"When you are looking at stereo, you are not as critical of sharpness as you would be otherwise" You can live with less resolution and get a good result. Anaglyph was awful and no one seems interested in using it.
Some networks might convert 2D material to 3D, the same way TNT HD converts SD content to 3D. Some 2D to 3D conversion turn out great, others look horrible.
Content owners like ESPN have not talked about what transmission technique they will use.
"I think they're going to move to 1080p60 very quickly, once you get over the issue of changing out the set-tops." Higher tier services.
Eventually full HD 3D will be important to customers so providers will want to offer it as a distinguishing service.
I don't think cable will let DirecTV offer 3D alone because the high tier customers are people everyone covants.
We've seen a major shift to mpeg4 deliver system, but we provide a transcoding capability that is located in the head-end so the operator can switch to MPEG4 when ready. AT&T, Dish Network and DirecTV are MPEG4, but the rest are almost all MPEG2. FiOS is prepared to take a hybrid model. The cost of replacing set-tops is holding back MPEG4 to the home.
The success of 3D
I think we'll be shocked how quickly people go for it (3D). When it (3D sports) is done properly it is stunning, even the half resolution stuff is stunning. I think this full reuses things are table stakes.
Moving to full 3D 1080p will also mean moving to 1080p, and your TV or set top should let you view the full 1080p video in 2D.