European Space Agency

Stereoscopic Broadcasting


The objective of this project is to take a practical step forward towards satellite delivered 3D TV at home. There are many companies engaged in the production of 3D TV screens for domestic use and in parallel many companies engaged in the study of new techniques for encoding 3D content and its transportation over satellite networks. However, to date these elements have yet to be integrated to yield a complete service offering for consumer oriented 3D TV broadcasting.

Within the scope of this project is an evaluation of the entire end to end chain, followed by a pilot trial where current technology and user experience will be assessed in depth. The pilot trial will consist of both pre-recorded 3D content and the production of live 3D events. It is recognized that satellite technology, as well as being inherently broadcast in nature, is associated to providing live images from around the globe.

In summary the project objectives are:

  • Set up a complete end to end chain for satellite 3D TV broadcasting,
  • Target viable solutions for consumer 3DTV products,
  • Produce 3D content and deliver 3D events for an on-air pilot trial,
  • Set up reception sites which will be used to gather end user feedback.


The technical architecture was refined during the project through extensive testing in an operational environment and a number of lessons were learnt. These are summarised below.

  1. No Separate 3D STB available.
  2. Sync of right and left view. Pre-encoded files have been selected
  3. Ingestion of content: hard disk and FTP transfer.
  4. Content storage parameters. The bit rate of the content has been encoded for storage at 50Mbits/s and the GOP structure has been refined.
  5. Progressive vs interlaced. An interlaced setting was chosen in order to maintain the same format throughout the chain from sources to the 3DTV.
  6. Availability of 3D equipment. Extremely restricted availability of professional 3D equipment at the start of the project.
  7. Increased bit rate of channel. The increase in bit rate of channel from 8Mbits/s to 12Mbits/s was planned and executed.
  8. HD consumer receiver overscanning. Some HD consumer decoders used in the project cause enlargement of the image.


The main benefits accrued during the project can be summarised as follows:

  • Technical learning,
  • Experience in acquiring HD 3D content,
  • Experience in live transmission in 3D,
  • Lay the foundation for commercial services and offers.


The general system architecture is summarised in the following figure.

click for larger image

The figure presents the two contribution chains: one for recorded content, one for live events.


Hereafter the main stages in the project.

September 2008: the project officially starts

September 2008 – November 2008:

  • Service and system requirements: detailed description and analysis of the service requirements and system,
  • Market review of 3D technology: analysis and description of 3D technology market in 2008.

September 2008 – January 2009

  • Content Analysis: a list of 3D content available in the market and analysis of the possible utilisation of this content in the 3D channel.
  • Final Architecture: a document with the final architecture chosen for the realisation of the 3D channel. This version of the architecture has evolved during the project: the first version of the architecture used a real time 3D Sensio encoder, the current architecture uses pre-encoded content.

January 2009 – July 2009

  • System integration and teleport installation: all the equipment necessary for the set up of the 3D channel was chosen, installed and integrated.

July 2009 – December 2009

  • Pilot installation: the 8 sites were chosen and all the necessary equipment was installed: 3DTVs, HD receivers and antennas.

December 2009 - February 2010

  • Technical problem resolution: before starting officially with the pilot the 3D channel had to be stable and reliable. The following technical problems were solved in this period:
    • Synchronization of the two video flows in the playout machine,
    • Quality problems related to the MPEG4 encoder.

February 2010 – August 2010

  • Pilot: the pilot phase starts officially in February 2010:
    • 3D Live event has been demonstrated,
    • Test sessions conducted using the stored content with pilot participants at the test sites,
    • Questionnaires have been collected.

September 2010 – November 2010

  • Re-examine 3D market, standards and value chain,
  • Final report: the final report summarises the work conducted during the 3DTV project.

Current status

The Stereoscopic Broadcasting project has ended, the 3DSatTV channel is on air and can be received from the EuroBird 9 satellite at 9 degrees East with the following parameters:
Frequency: 11474
Symbol Rate: 27500
Modulation: DVBS
FEC: ¾


Status date

Tuesday, December 14, 2010 - 13:53