Q&A: DDD Group's Chris Yewdall

One of the
key issues with the deployment of three-dimensional stereoscopic technologies
in the home has been the lack of 3-D content that would drive consumers to buy
3-D-capable TVs and devices. The DDD Group hopes to help this emerging
technology overcome that bottleneck by offering software and hardware that
automatically converts 2-D video games, movies or television programming into 3-D
content. In this edited transcript of a much longer interview, DDD CEO Chris Yewdall talks to HD Update's George Winslow about some of
his company's work in the 3-D space and the likelihood that cable, satellite
and IPTV providers will embrace 3-D services.

Q: How do you see the immediate
prospects for 3-D in the home?

A: Clearly, the catalyst for the interest in 3-D has
been the success of 3-D movies in the digital cinema market. It's shown that if
the quality of the content is good and the story is good, the consumer has no
problem wearing glasses for a couple of hours for the 3-D experience.

The other
thing is that the digital display technology has reached a point where it is
possible to deliver a very, very high-quality 3-D experience very cost-effectively.

Our focus
has been to make sure that the consumer who wants to buy that 3-D TV can see 3-D
content. While the 3-D movies that have been released have been very
successful, you can't buy any of those on DVD or Blu-ray.

Q: Which platforms do you think will
be the first to play an important role in popularizing 3-D in the home?

A: It is interesting, because the most widespread 3-D
device delivered to the consumer market so far has been Sharp's 3-D mobile
phones that have been sold in Japan. Between 2003 to 2005, they sold
just under 3 million of them. I think that eclipses the installed base of DLP [3D-capable] televisions that
Mitsubishi and Samsung shipped over the last couple of years.

But we're
now seeing a more-concerted effort to expand the technology. Sony, LG, Samsung,
JVC, RCA, Hyundai, were all demonstrating 3-D TVs at [the Consumer Electronics
Show] this year. The whole industry believes 3-D technology is at the right
quality level where it can delivered to the home cost-effectively and that the
consumer will buy it.

The content
makers are creating some really good content. I think there are 40 3-D movies
scheduled to be produced in the next year, and in early 2010 we will see a lot
of those TVs making their way into consumer distribution channels.

Clearly the
multichannel operators, companies like [satellite-TV provider] Sky, which has
been producing 3-D content in the U.K., are interested. CableLabs has
obviously been educating their members about the different options.

There is a
recognition by the cable, satellite and telecommunications operators that 3-D
is going to be an enhancement to their business, and I don't think anyone of those
wants to be left behind.

I think the
jury is still out on which platform will be first, but it's important to
remember that the TV experience is far different today than when we made the
transition from black-and-white to color and that there are many more things
that people enjoy on TV.

Q: As you mentioned, satellite
providers have already experimented with 3-D. As it moves into the multichannel
landscape, do you think they'll offer it on a regular basis before cable or the
IPTV providers?

A: I think there are already experiments happening on
all three platforms. Some of them have been more highly publicized than others.
You've seen what Sky announced and publicly demonstrated in the U.K. Obviously
[the largest U.K. cable operator] Virgin just
announced in that they will do some high speed broadband tests and that 3-D HD
would be part of those experiments.

the broadcasters and programmers in the U.S. have bought 3-D TVs and are
experimenting with them. Cable companies are experimenting with them, as are
technology providers to the cable and satellite industry.

I think the
Hyundai TVs are really a watershed product. It is the first product that people
can simply plug into their existing infrastructure. With it, you can take
content coming from either cable or satellite, through an existing MPEG
delivery stream from the head end into the set-top box and into the TV and have
it appear in full HD in 3-D with very comfortable glasses.

allows engineers to take this to their management team and say "look this is
the sort of 3-D visual experience that is sitting just around the corner, for
our consumers." It has gotten their management teams very excited. I think it
really helps crystallize a lot of cable, satellite and IPTV operators' interest
in taking a serious look at 3-D.