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Settle down 3D fans, the solution to all of your high-def 3D woes is finally here in the form of 3D Blu-ray. Word has been swirling about the format for the past year or so, and now the Blu-ray Disc Association has announced that the specifications for 3D Blu-ray have been finalized.

The key bits: 3D Blu-ray will use the new Multiview Video Coding (MVC) codec, which is an extension to the MPEG-4 AVC codec we use today on BR discs. MVC only requires about a 50% storage overhead, compared to the 2D version of a film, and both the discs and players will also be backwards compatible with existing 2D Blu-ray tech. To actually take advantage of 3D Blu-ray, you’ll need a 3D BR capable player (the PS3 will offer an update to support it), glasses — and most likely, a new HDTV since only newer sets support stereoscopic 3D.

Clearly, nothing can go wrong with this plan, and 3D Blu-ray will soon take over the world.

Or not. Normally, I’d take this opportunity to criticize Sony’s bungling of the Blu-ray format thus far, but with 3D Blu-ray, they’ve been forced to make the best of an untenable situation. Blu-ray releases of 3D films up until now (like Coraline) have relied on the older red/blue anaglyph method of 3D, and they’re noticeably worse looking than either of the newer theatrical 3D experiences, which utilize polarized glasses. The need for perfectly recreating the new 3D in the home hasn’t been truly necessary until the release of Avatar, so it’s no coincidence we’re getting finalization of these specifications today.

By the time Fox is ready Avatar‘s home release, 3D Blu-ray players should be on the market. Given that a huge portion of the film’s enjoyment comes from its groundbreaking use of 3D, you wouldn’t want to watch the film at home any other way.

The problem, of course, lies in the fact that this new Blu-ray standard is coming too soon after many have already invested in new HDTVs and Blu-ray hardware. There also aren’t too many films, aside from Avatar, that will compel consumers to invest in new hardware — along with glasses for the entire family. It’s basically too much work for the average consumer, and this will quickly relegate 3D Blu-ray to the home theaters of a lucky few.

Read the full press release over at Engadget.

Discuss: What are your thoughts on Blu-ray 3D? Will you upgrade, or keep it in mind for new TV purchases?


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