Monday, February 01, 2010

Is 3D TV's future?

I'm a lucky boy. Yesterday I was invited by BskyB to watch the launch of their new 3D TV service. They expect to launch a full channel in April showing sport, movies and other special content. Ahead of this they trialled their technology by broadcasting the Premier League game between Arsenal and Manchester United.
Nine pubs across the UK were allowed to show the match - the venues kept secret so they wouldn't be swamped with people wanting to witness the extra dimension.
So, with much cloak and dagger I made my way to the Red Lion in Withington and was ushered into the back room after having undergone a full security check. Not quite Manchester Airport body scanning levels but almost.
I was handed my 3D glasses, they are exactly the same as you might have used at your local cinema when you've paid £5 extra to see a movie that would have looked just as good in 2D, and waited for the action to start.
Nothing too special with the pre-match build up, Richard Keys hairy hands didn't pop out of the telly to tickle you on the chin, but the Sky Sports logos and on-screen graphics floated in mid-air, as you would expect.
As we headed towards kick-off they played a promo for their 3D coverage and I have to say that was amazing, rugby and tennis balls spilling out of the screen, Usain Bolt streaking down the streets of Manchester, athletes jumping hurdles in mid-air, really impressive with Hollywood production values.
Now we're back with the live action, the Arsenal and Man U players along with the football officials make their way onto the pitch and out of the screen, it was quite a weird sensation. The game kicked off. The wide camera angles from the side of the stadium didn't look anything out of the ordinary, although you could see which way the ball was going mid-air. The 3D came into its own with the camera shots from the side of the pitch when they get up close to the players, and from behind the corner posts and goal. You really had a sense of how long the pitch was and how far the players had to run and how far the goal keeper had to kick the ball. The slow motion replays looked good and the Sky Sports graphics get right up close.

Will it last? Probably, though it does seems a little gimmicky, but Sky are getting used to their new toys. It was a pleasant experience and I wasn't left with a headache or sore eyes. It is a shame that you have to wear special glasses for the full effect. The real technological leap will come when we don't need the specs.

Will I get Sky 3D? I'd like it, but I'm reluctant to shell out for a new 3D capable TV to watch it when I've not long bought a HD Freeview TV. Sadly you do need a 3D compatible set to see the broadcasts, but they are transmitted through your existing Sky+HD box.

Verdict. Loved it, though it's a work in progress and it has potential. I don't think all TV should be in 3D, it's good for the special events.

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