Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tech Check: Coming From Another Dimension

From Broadcasting & Cable, January 9:
"At times, the 3D images were stunning, perhaps never more so than when confetti filled the air at Dolphin Stadium in Miami to celebrate Florida’s 24-14 victory over Oklahoma. The confetti appeared to be floating off the screen and into the air in the Paris theater. Fox’s 3D graphics also consistently leapt off the screen."
Despite being skeptical prior to the 2007 football season, I eventually went to Best Buy and took the plunge into the world of HDTV and never looked back. Not a Sunday goes by that I don't find myself sitting in awe of the clarity and picture that comes along with viewing NFL games in HD. Honestly, how could it get any better? I think I've found the answer.

As sales for HDTV's began to slow in the second half of 2008, companies such as Panasonic and Sony were searching for the next big thing. In the months leading up to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week, I had heard rumblings about various companies dabbling in the potential for 3D television and hoped it wasn't just a fad. On January 8th, in 82 theaters across the country, Sony and Fox took the first big step in making this potential a reality when they broadcast the BCS national championship game between Florida and Oklahoma in 3D.

What made this experience unique was the fact that Fox utilized a completely different broadcast for the 3D fans than the rest of the country witnessed. Separate announcers and numerous camera angles from field level were used in an attempt to capture the true feeling of being "in the game" with receivers diving in front of fans to catch balls.

The only major hiccup I see with this new technology is the current need for viewers to wear special glasses. Special filters on TVs will need to eventually replicate this effect before 3D would ever gain widespread appeal of the masses.

When should we expect this new technology? Efforts are underway now to standardize the format for 3D television, movies, and video games, but Sony hinted that content and image devices may be available for Playstation 3 games as early as 2010.

Think 3D sounds pretty cool? It's only the beginning...another D is on the way. For those of you who live in Chicago, you are probably familiar the Shedd Aquarium's 4D Theater. I recently visited the theater and found myself sprayed with water, prodded in the back through my seat, and surrounded by smells which accompanied the images on the screen. To steal the tagline from Samsung, Imagine The Possibilities.....

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