3-D HDTV World Cup viewing report
Like some of you, I spent part of this morning watching the U.S.-Slovenia World Cup match and yelling at a TV. But this particular TV was a Samsung 3-D HDTV, set up in a room at the Southwest D.C. offices of the electronics manufacturer Harris Corp. for a few dozen guests to watch.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the experience fell far short of demo clips scripted to show three-dimensional effects at their best.
One reason: Soccer isn't the greatest sport to demonstrate 3-D's benefits. The standard overhead shot effectively conveys the game's progress but doesn't leave enough depth of field for anything to stand out. The sideline cameras, in turn, did leave players looking distinct from the background but without much depth of their own, making them look a little like cardboard cutouts.
By contrast, think of how 3-D could work in baseball or basketball, where the TV broadcast tends to focus on one player after another instead of panning across the entire playing surface.
To see things really pop onscreen, we had to wait for close-ups of players throwing in the ball and goalies kicking or throwing it back into play. Of course, when a player ran toward the camera or the ball rolled up to it, there was no mistaking the 3-D effect.
ESPN's score banners appeared to float in front of the action, but not in a distracting way. I can't say the same for the huge FIFA logo that regularly moved across the screen, which exhibited an annoying flicker every time.
I saw other video artifacts emerge when the ball moved quickly on the ground or in the air; it blurred and sometimes looked doubled. But I don't know if blame for that falls on ESPN's hardware or software, the compression the video experienced on its journey from South Africa through DirecTV's satellite to Harris's dish or the limitations of the Samsung LCD screen.
The powered "active shutter" glasses required by 3-D HDTV weren't bulky, heavy or uncomfortable to wear, but I couldn't help seeing reflections of the scenery behind me on the outside edge of each lens. In my own living room, which has a large window behind the couch, I'd expect this issue to be more noticeable.
And, sadly, awful officiating doesn't look any better in 3-D.
June 18, 2010; 3:15 PM ET
Categories: TV , Video
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