3D programming is typically transmitted by your video provider--i.e. via cable, satellite, telco--in one of two formats: Side-by-Side or Top-and-Bottom. The electronics in your 3D HDTV should detect the format and converts it into full-screen left and right images for viewing with 3D eyewear. However, some do not, and in that case, it may be helpful to understand formats so you can make the appropriate selection on your television.
3D formats are compatible with existing video standards. If you come across a channel on your 2D television that has a split picture, you are viewing a 3D channel. If you have a 3D HDTV, select the appropriate 3D format (ie. Top-and-Bottom or Side-by-Side) grab your glasses and enjoy the show!
Side-by-Side 3D Format
Side-by-side is another 3D transmission format. Side-by-side preserves vertical image resolution, but cuts horizontal image resolution in half, as the left eye and right eye images are squeezed to fit into one video frame. The TV converts these squeezed frames back into sequential full frames of left and right eye video.
Top-and-Bottom 3D Format
Top-and-Bottom is a transmission format for 3D video streams. In a top/bottom 3D image, both the left eye and right eye information occupy the same video frame, with left eye information on top and right eye information below. The vertical resolution of each frame is decreased, but the horizontal resolution remains constant.
Both Top-and-Bottom and Side-by-Side are both referred to as Frame Compatible .
SENSIO Hi-Fi 3D Format
SENSIO® Hi-Fi 3D is another 3D frame-compatible transmission format. Based on quincunx subsampling, SENSIO® Hi-Fi 3D preserves both vertical and horizontal image resolution by reconstructing the source images using a decoder in the 3DTV. The resulting 3D image is very close to the originally-captured one.
Blu-ray 3D Format
You may be asking yourself, 'what is the difference between the signal coming from my provider, and that coming from my Blu-ray player?' The Blu-ray 3D format is two full resolution 1920x1080p images, plus a small buffer of dark pixels to separate them.
So one full frame of video delivered from a 3D Blu-ray disc is twice as large as the two formats described above, providing double the resolution. 3D broadcasts (over cable, satellite or via antenna) will, over time, migrate to this higher resolution picture. However, today this high resolution format requires clearer standards and more bandwidth than broadcasters are able to devote to it.