Dolby Vision adds support for 4K 3D content on Apple's Vision Pro headset
Dolby Vision adds support for 4K 3D content on Apple's Vision Pro headset
By Mike Wheatley - 9 February 2024

Dolby has confirmed that its Dolby Vision HDR standard now supports stereoscopic 3D video, enabling the playback of cinema-mastered 3D movies in 4K resolution. 

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The move is a natural progression for Dolby Vision, as the company recently announced a collaboration with Apple to support 3D 4K movies on that company’s new Apple Vision Pro headset, enabled via the new Dolby Vision Profile 20. 

Dolby explained in a support page that Profile 20 is the first profile it offers that supports MV-HEVC (Multiview High Efficiency Video Coding) and Stereoscopic 3D video. Its older profiles only support monoscopic 2D content. So far, the Apple Vision Pro is the only device that supports HDR stereoscopic video via Dolby Vision Profile 20. 

Dolby has supported 3D content in other ways, notably in its Dolby Cinema locations, which have been screening 3D movies for some months now. Those movies will soon become available at home via the Apple Vision Pro headset, the company said. 

The company says Profile 20 is intended to provide an immersive 3D video experience for head mounted displays, supporting the playback of premium Dolby Cinema 3D movies. According to Dolby, it’s an “exciting step forward for high-quality visual experiences that until now could only be enjoyed in high-end cinemas.” 

Previously, it was only possible to view 3D movies at home in 1080p resolution and SDR on regular Blu-ray discs or via the Vudu streaming service. With Profile 20, Dolby Vision HDR in 4K is now available, albeit only for Apple’s headset at present. 

The MV-HEVC codec is the foundation of Profile 20, and enables two views for 3D, with one for each eye. Although MV-HEVC was launched back in 2014, it was previously limited to 8-bit SDR. That changes with the up and coming 10-bit MV-HEVC Main10 extension, which is expected to be published in April. 

Unfortunately, the Dolby Vision Profile 20 is not backwards compatible with older Dolby Vision-supporting devices such as TVs and media players. For now, the company is only talking about headsets, which means TV makers are unlikely to consider delving back into 3D TVs again, at least not now. 

So, Profile 20 is only going to benefit Apple Vision Pro users, who will be able to watch more than 200 3D movies via Disney+ and Apple TV, but note that not all of them will be available in 4K resolution.