R.I.P. ESPN 3D—What's Next? - AVS Forum
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Old 06-13-2013, 02:20 PM - Thread Starter
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ESPN announced this week that it will drop its 3D channel (ESPN 3D) due to the lack of interest. ESPN launched the 3D channel back in 2010 for the FIFA World Cup along with golf and the NBA Finals. But it seems that wasn't enough keep the channel afloat. AT&T U-Verse, one of the launch partners, dropped the channel in August 2011 but said it would come back because of new agreements signed at the beginning of the year.

Was it a lack of subscriptions to the channel that led the network to drop 3D, or was it something else? Multichannel News reported that the decision was due to the recent lay-offs at parent company Disney, which included jobs associated with ESPN 3D. According to a statement, ESPN says it will be "committing our 3D resources to other products and services that will better serve fans and affiliates." Those services will most likely be 4K capabilities planned for the new facility in Bristol, CT. In the meantime, ESPN is willing to bring back 3D if and when the market is fully developed or glasses-free 3D TVs become commonplace.

3D is still getting mixed feedback from consumers. Of course, consumers purchasing a new display will most likely end up getting 3D capability as this has become a standard feature in most sets. But the most popular content being watched on most 3D TVs is movies, not broadcast television. Is that the problem? I think so. I also believe there is much room for improvement in 3D. I am not 100% for 3D, but I must admit I still get excited when a new flick surfaces promising an amazing 3D experience. It can only get better. Broadcast TV hasn't made the cut yet.


Behind the scenes, glasses-free 3D flat panels are increasing substantially around the world. In the last few months, a dozen companies have launched glasses-free flat panels in all areas of the market. From consumer TVs to commercial digital-signage displays, it's happening. Time will tell the true fate of 3D.


Wearing glasses to watch TV—I don't see that happening. Maybe 3D should be left for special occasions, such as movie night. What do you think?

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Old 06-13-2013, 04:14 PM
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I thought it was dumb to have ESPN in 3D in the first place. So I wont be sad to see it go.

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Old 06-13-2013, 04:39 PM
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I'd like to know how they find the 3D market is weak but then imply that they will move on to other projects (4k.) Typical Disney thinking. If you've followed the OZ debacle this week, it's very obvious that Disney does not believe 3D will survive despite it now becoming standard in most multiplexes. Satellite can barely hit 1080p and even then it's at a lower bitrate and lossy audio. How exactly do they plan on delivering 4k?
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Old 06-13-2013, 06:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by msajeff View Post

I'd like to know how they find the 3D market is weak but then imply that they will move on to other projects (4k.) Typical Disney thinking. If you've followed the OZ debacle this week, it's very obvious that Disney does not believe 3D will survive despite it now becoming standard in most multiplexes. Satellite can barely hit 1080p and even then it's at a lower bitrate and lossy audio. How exactly do they plan on delivering 4k?

+1, Agreed. I don't quite understand this myself. A codec for 4K material still hasn't even been established yet.
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Old 06-14-2013, 11:44 AM
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I don't have DirecTV so I don't know what kind of premium price they are charging for it 3D. I do know that almost every mid price and higher TV from every manufacture sold today includes 3D availability. Sine tens of thousands of these TV's are being sold every year as people up grade to bigger TV's it certainly would seem that the market for 3D programming would be lucrative. Blu-ray 3D movies are the only option today (and a pretty expensive one) and so many new releases at the theaters are available in 3D. I just bought a 3D TV and have watched Avatar, Prometheus, Ice Age 4, Fright Night, and Life of Pi, all in 3D and was blown away by the experience. I read where it took 9 months of re-mastering to bring the original Jurassic Park out in 3D. ESPN dropping their 3D channel makes even less sense when you consider how many movies Disney has released in 3D. Can you imagine the equipment cost for a national broadcast studio, like ABC,CBS,NBC,FOX to up grade to 4K ability? They still don't even give us 1080P quality and several are at 720P. As long as they feel that the consumer is satisfied with 1080i and 720P they will never spend the $$$$ to broadcast 4K. Of course touting the seldom to be appreciated advantages of 4K is a great way to sell TV's. That couldn't be behind the rush to 4K could it? Profits, Nah.
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Old 06-14-2013, 11:51 AM
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Espn 3d was the first tv channel I saw in 3d when I got my vizio 3dtv. It was ok. Some jarring effects. Then there was premium channels in 3d on demand. They were ok but not as great as bluray. If fios loses this channel then they should get 3net.
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Old 06-14-2013, 01:29 PM
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Maybe if they actually broadcast more variety of interesting events instead of airing the same repeats over and over again there would be more interest???!!
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Old 06-14-2013, 01:49 PM
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devote future monies to 4K just might be a better idea.
I too hated the repeats....

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Old 06-14-2013, 02:07 PM
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I rejected it because it cost extra (through Fios). If it was included, for the large monthly fee I already pay Fios, I would have been interested.
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Old 06-14-2013, 02:47 PM
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life is already in 3d. if you need 3d programming it means you have no life.
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Old 06-14-2013, 03:38 PM
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I thought it was just poor, technically. It deserved to die.

Now, I viewed it on a passive set, so that didn't help. Moire was especially bad. But I have some 3D captures from XFinity that look quite good. The Mariinsky Theater production of the Nutcracker, for instance.

You're going to have to put more effort into it than just getting 3D video cameras and calling it good enough.
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Old 06-14-2013, 04:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msajeff View Post

. How exactly do they plan on delivering 4k?

The HEVC/h265 codec

with that said it will be just be crappy 4k video instead of 1080p tongue.gif
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Old 06-14-2013, 05:00 PM
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Not sure of how ESPN 3D was, but if it was anything like the crappy one 3D channel we had here in Japan for only a year then I can understand it going. The one here showed the same crap literally over and over again and was so boring. Honestly, if they wanted 3D to do well they needed more 3D shows
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Old 06-14-2013, 05:00 PM
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Nobody seemed to consider how people’s watching habits, particularly with sports, clashed with the technology’s limitations. For instance, a fan couldn’t just invite a bunch of friends over to watch a game: Everyone would have to have their own pair of glasses, and only a few people would be at an optimal angle to the screen to get a good viewing experience.

The quote above from nbcnews.com says it all.
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Old 06-14-2013, 05:13 PM
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The quote above from nbcnews.com says it all.

Exactly. Maybe re-launch when glasses-free 3D is ubiquitous.

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Old 06-14-2013, 06:33 PM
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Exactly. Maybe re-launch when glasses-free 3D is ubiquitous.
Wouldn't using a 4K display along with 4K broadcast (when available) as far as the observer is concerned offer a superior motion parallax effect along with perspective compared to current 3D with or without glasses? I see ESPN more or less ditching 3D as its already obsolete as far as realistic sports presentation compared to 4k technology demos I've seen.

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Old 06-14-2013, 06:55 PM
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Wouldn't using a 4K display along with 4K broadcast (when available) as far as the observer is concerned offer a superior motion parallax effect along with perspective compared to current 3D with or without glasses? I see ESPN more or less ditching 3D as its already obsolete as far as realistic sports presentation compared to 4k technology demos I've seen.
Key words here is (when available). Key question is, how are they ever going to make it available? 4K technology demos is all you will ever see. Read the article on HD Guru about 4K.
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Old 06-14-2013, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by msajeff View Post

I'd like to know how they find the 3D market is weak but then imply that they will move on to other projects (4k.) Typical Disney thinking. If you've followed the OZ debacle this week, it's very obvious that Disney does not believe 3D will survive despite it now becoming standard in most multiplexes.
The 3D market is weak in the US, especially compared to the rest of the world. Further, comparing cinemas - which show a movie multiple times a day to a changing audience - to a TV channel - which ends up having to repeat events to the same audience all day - is a poor comparison. TV at home also tends not to be "appointment" entertainment where people sit through the whole thing without getting up, unlike movies in a theater where you can't hit pause if you have to pee.

Create a 24 hour channel where all the content is 3D without repeats is an enormous task and isn't being done by anyone - and the hatrid for 3D some of the most vocal people have ensures it won't ever be.
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Satellite can barely hit 1080p and even then it's at a lower bitrate and lossy audio. How exactly do they plan on delivering 4k?
Satellite is only limited to how the transponders are broken up into indivdual channels. You can buy as much sapcve as you want on a transponder to send a larger chnunk of video, it just costs more.

The problem with 4K TV is the limits at the local and user end. You need cable and satellite boxes than can pass it along. Most of the path through the cable and satellite providers is set up for 6Mhz stations at the current resolutions. If those paths were upgraded and the home gear could spport higher bandwidth stations, it could be done. That's a lot of gear, though. However, we've managed to go through a lot of swapping over the years for HDTV. As viewers upgrade their gear, they can do it again for 4K.

Broadcast TV, though, has no shot. The bandwidth they have is all they'll ever have - and even that is slowly being sold off to mobile companies.
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+1, Agreed. I don't quite understand this myself. A codec for 4K material still hasn't even been established yet.
Form what it's worth, ESPN's new building is still being built. It's still roughly a year away from the first control room even coming online. A lot can happen by then. However, they have to plan ahead with facilities layout and the budget to cover it. They also have to begin exploring what companies can do for them now and in the future. That's a long process.

Besides, I would suspect that we're aren't going to see full 4K programming from ESPN or anyone else at the start of it anyway. 4K is likely going to start in things like replay cameras that would allow them to zoom way in on a play to, for example, see if a ball was in bounds or out or if someone's knee touched the ground. Combine that with high frame rates and you can have ultra-crisp, ultra-smooth slow-mo replays.

It's going to be years before you see a full 4K game event, though.
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Old 06-14-2013, 09:12 PM
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Key words here is (when available). Key question is, how are they ever going to make it available? 4K technology demos is all you will ever see. Read the article on HD Guru about 4K.
Did you notice the recent bit of news: Japan to hold 'world's first' 4k streaming trial to set-top box.
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June 11, 2013, 10:31 AM — A major Japanese telecommunications provider will stream 4k video over the Internet to set-top boxes this week, in what it is calling the world's first public test of the technology.

NTT West said Tuesday it will conduct a three-day trial in Tokyo during a digital media seminar from Wednesday through Friday. The firm said it will use the HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) standard to send video from a cloud server directly to a set top box attached to a standard 4k television. The company did not reveal what it will stream, but said its goal is to launch commercial 4k service.

The test will use H.265/HEVC, the successor to the H.264/MPEG-4 standard in wide use today. HEVC, approved as an international standard in January, was designed to double the compression ratio of existing standards, and covers traditional TV broadcasts as well as Internet streaming. Compression is crucial for 4k, or ultra high definition, which has a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160, four times the pixel count of current HD.

From HD Guru online 6/13 article
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And as for 4K broadcast dates, the earliest we’ve heard is Japanese satellite broadcasts of the 2014 FIFA World Cup starting June 12, 2014. Will the TV and satellite industry be ready? Will there be more UHDTVs in homes? Will any of them work with this content? We’ll see.
If it regulated to 4k@24hz content probably sooner then you think. I've already walked into a sports bar where a 4K UDTV was present. It will take some time to have a useful percentage to appreciate the next standard, but it will happen sooner then later. This is why ESPN is ditching expensive 3D broadcasting now, because all the mainstream CE vendors see 4K without the various negatives associated with 3D presentations, like elevated brightness to compensate for 3D glasses, and the associated poor contrast, along with limited viewing positions in ones home theater.

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Old 06-15-2013, 03:16 AM
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A 4K broadcast in Japan is much easier to accomplish due to the superior infrastructure they have compaired to here in the states... we are a ways away from that, even given the inevitable upcoming adoption of H.265/HEVC standards (as well as HDMI 2.0).... you are talking comparisons of apples and oranges when comparing US and Japanese capabilities for 4K.

And all this talk about "glasses free" 3D makes me giggle. Those who are waiting for this to take the 3D plunge will be very disappointed in the initial offerings (at a substancial price point to boot!) due to the limited viewing angles/"sweet spots" where the 3D effects will be apparent, and those unfortunate to be stuck "in between the cones"... and that's not even mentioning what effects the screen filter to acheive the glasses free 3D will have on 2D viewing!

Does this reinforce the idea/wish/profound hope of some that 3D is dead? I don't think so. I'm not in the hunt for a new 4K set (atleast not at this time, maybe in a couple years when I wish to upgrade from my 2010 52" set I currently have). But I do appreciate all the advancements the CE manufacturers are attempting, cause in the end, all of us will eventually benefit from those advances. So ESPN will no longer repeat the same old programming on their 3D station... not a terrific loss or overwhelming blow to 3D believers. We all know the major studios can't get 1080p to most of their markets/customers, this really is not that earth shattering. What is interesting is where their pursuit of 4K takes them... because that is also looks to be the best format for 3D!
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Old 06-15-2013, 03:33 AM
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+1, Agreed. I don't quite understand this myself. A codec for 4K material still hasn't even been established yet.

Yes it has. HEVC is the next-generation codec that is expected to replace H264 as an encoding standard for 4k (and possibly 8k) broadcasts. Broadcom and other providers have already started shipping prototype silicon I believe. SES-Astra in Europe have already broadcast 4k material using HEVC as a trial. Eutelsat have been running 4k tests using 4 x 1080/50p H264 (i.e. modified current gen tech) streams for a while.

The H264 broadcasts have room to spare on a standard DVB-S2 transponder, so it is expected that you should be able to get 2 or 3 4k streams onto one.

The BBC and Sky in the UK are both continuing with 4k tests, and Sky have commissioned a 4k-capable OB truck (aka mobile production truck) with Sony 4k cameras, after shooting quite a lot of test material on F65s. The BBC are trialling at Wimbledon.

We're about 7 years into H264 HD launching in Europe (and second gen modulation systems arrived terrestrially about 4 years ago). The first H264 HD services launched 8 years after MPEG2 SD widesecreen digital services. 7-8 years seems to be a reasonable expectation for a new standard to launch and get some traction over here. For pay-TV services who have reached a plateau of subscribers, it makes sense to have a new USP to drive subscriptions or allow a new tier to generate more revenue. 3D was hoped to be it - but it hasn't been. 3D services have been closing around Europe (Canal Plus in France closed their service a while back, though Sky in the UK still have their service running - which is a mix of sport and movies)

3D's major issues have been the lack of content, the requirement for glasses, and the average picture quality that side-by-side or top-bottom transmission (used for compatibility with existing distribution chains for broadcast) limits you to. It also limited production - and in many cases required two separate operations and extra people (stereographers) so was significantly more expensive than the switch from SD to HD (which was basically just changing kit)

I suspect as 4k displays drop in price - and screens continue to increase in size - there may end up being a market for it.

And - of course - just as HD production also improved the picture quality of downconverted SD, 4k production will also improve the quality of HD downconverted content. You don't have to massively change what you do to switch from HD to 4k production (other than buy the kit) - unlike 3D.
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Old 06-15-2013, 07:15 AM
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One thing you see in Hollywood is movies being filmed in 2D and converted to 3D, even when the option to film in 3D exists. The reason for this is how exceedingly difficult it is to film in 3D and do it well. Sports broadcasts don't have that luxury, they have to be filmed in 3D, and the probability is that the 3D will not be optimum, especially in a live event where the camera operators have to spend most of their effort just tracking the action.

I think the sport that would benefit the most from 3D broadcast is baseball.

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Old 06-15-2013, 07:38 AM
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I don't have DirecTV so I don't know what kind of premium price they are charging for it 3D. I do know that almost every mid price and higher TV from every manufacture sold today includes 3D availability. Sine tens of thousands of these TV's are being sold every year as people up grade to bigger TV's it certainly would seem that the market for 3D programming would be lucrative. Blu-ray 3D movies are the only option today (and a pretty expensive one) and so many new releases at the theaters are available in 3D. I just bought a 3D TV and have watched Avatar, Prometheus, Ice Age 4, Fright Night, and Life of Pi, all in 3D and was blown away by the experience. I read where it took 9 months of re-mastering to bring the original Jurassic Park out in 3D. ESPN dropping their 3D channel makes even less sense when you consider how many movies Disney has released in 3D. Can you imagine the equipment cost for a national broadcast studio, like ABC,CBS,NBC,FOX to up grade to 4K ability? They still don't even give us 1080P quality and several are at 720P. As long as they feel that the consumer is satisfied with 1080i and 720P they will never spend the $$$$ to broadcast 4K. Of course touting the seldom to be appreciated advantages of 4K is a great way to sell TV's. That couldn't be behind the rush to 4K could it? Profits, Nah.


directv didn't charge extra for their 4 3d channels. with the demise of espn 3d, dtv will be left with 2 3d channels.
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Old 06-15-2013, 01:40 PM
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I hardly see glasses-free 3D TV as the panacea, for reasons others have already brought up (viewing angle issues etc).

The thing is, it's not JUST the glasses. The very impression of 3D itself has left many consumers cold. I love it sometimes, but find it quite poor other times, even within the same movie - e.g. a convincing realism in one moment, then a distracting impression of layers of flat images behind one another the next (which strikes me as even more artificial than regular 2D).

Even if glasses-free 3D comes to the market and matches current 3D, that's not particularly saying much in terms of consumer satisfaction with 3D. They have to make the actual 3D look better.
(Though, I suspect it's too late for that. We have a 3D TV downstairs and we haven't watched it in 3D once. The kids certainly don't seem to care.)
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Old 06-15-2013, 02:23 PM
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I'm not surprised ... ESPN got in too soon and their implementation was awful - bad (headache inducing) 3DS, low res (720p over-under or side-by-side), etc. The Olympics 3D was the same - unwatchable. Many thought the sports market would help drive 3D but it ended up not being the case (except for Soccer which is not popular in the US).

Slow adoption of 3DTV's in homes is a mostly a US issue, and a bit of a chicken-egg problem. Not enough broadcast or streaming 3DS content so no reason for most consumers to spend on a new TV. Also, the US TV market is really segmented - HDTV's vs older SDTVs (a recent survey said almost 50% of US homes still have a SD tube TV), broadcast vs cable vs streaming, etc.. From what I've read current growth in the US 3DTV market is being driven by games and cine-files - and the growth is consistent (i.e. predictable) with those markets. They're just not as big as the broadcast/streaming or sports markets. (I wonder if streaming is the next market to embrace 3DS content to help it gain more ground against broadcast and cable markets ...).

Europe and Japan are a very different story - 3DTV in homes is already big and still growing. It makes sense ... they both have smaller, more unified/up-to-date home TV markets, have a much larger cine-file demographic, have more 3DS broadcast content (special event broadcast programing, like the World Cup, concerts, etc., is huge in those markets), and, gaming is big in Japan.

China actually has the strongest 3DTV growth. The Chinese government has even mandated a percentage of broadcast be 3DS in the next few years (I think by 2016). Since they are the largest single market in the world that alone could help push 3D broadcast.

Just have to wait 'n see ...
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Old 06-15-2013, 04:35 PM
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Europe and Japan are a very different story - 3DTV in homes is already big and still growing. It makes sense ... they both have smaller, more unified/up-to-date home TV markets, have a much larger cine-file demographic, have more 3DS broadcast content (special event broadcast programing, like the World Cup, concerts, etc., is huge in those markets), and, gaming is big in Japan.

Can't speak for Japan - but here in the UK 3D hasn't been a major success. Whilst a large number of TVs on sale now are either 3D or 3D-ready (i.e. don't come with glasses but they can be bought separately), there is only one real 3D channel (Sky 3D) and the BBC only broadcast occasional 3D trial material. (Sky 3D and BBC HD - now closed - broadcast 3D Olympic coverage in the UK but the audiences for that content were tiny)

I don't know how many people are watching 3D Blu-rays on their 3D TVs - but it hasn't exactly become mainstream.

Similarly, I believe that the main pay-TV platform in France has closed their main 3D channel.
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Old 06-15-2013, 08:39 PM
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Originally Posted by R Harkness View Post

I hardly see glasses-free 3D TV as the panacea, for reasons others have already brought up (viewing angle issues etc).

The thing is, it's not JUST the glasses. The very impression of 3D itself has left many consumers cold. I love it sometimes, but find it quite poor other times, even within the same movie - e.g. a convincing realism in one moment, then a distracting impression of layers of flat images behind one another the next (which strikes me as even more artificial than regular 2D).

Even if glasses-free 3D comes to the market and matches current 3D, that's not particularly saying much in terms of consumer satisfaction with 3D. They have to make the actual 3D look better.
(Though, I suspect it's too late for that. We have a 3D TV downstairs and we haven't watched it in 3D once. The kids certainly don't seem to care.)
You really should try watching Avatar or Life of Pi. Having a 3D TV and never watching 3D on it once sounds a little short sighted and I know from reading your posts for all these many years that you do not seem to fit that mold. You very well might not like it but them again life is full of surprises. Of course I have a Passive TV so the cost of the glasses is less than $10 pr. Buying a couple of pair of active glasses makes for a rather expensive test so I can't blame you there.
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Old 06-15-2013, 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by imagic View Post

One thing you see in Hollywood is movies being filmed in 2D and converted to 3D, even when the option to film in 3D exists. The reason for this is how exceedingly difficult it is to film in 3D and do it well.

Difficult and expensive.
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Sports broadcasts don't have that luxury, they have to be filmed in 3D ...

NTM it's live - they don't get a second take to get the 3D right. There is a company that specializes in shooting 3DS live and they are great at it (each camera's 3DS signal goes through a computer station where most of the 3DS parameters of the camera and 3DS rig are controlled, the station operator views the 3DS realtime and makes corrections on the fly), but ESPN could never afford them and tried to do it on their own.
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Old 06-15-2013, 09:15 PM
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Originally Posted by sneals2000 View Post

... Sky 3D and BBC HD - now closed ... Similarly, I believe that the main pay-TV platform in France has closed their main 3D channel.

I heard that Sky 3D went dark (not too long ago I finished a lot of on-air 3DS graphics for them.)

Currently working on 3DS broadcast graphics packages for other European, and Japanese and Chinese channels ... someone must be planning on broadcasting 3D?
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Old 06-15-2013, 10:47 PM
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Originally Posted by andy sullivan View Post

You really should try watching Avatar or Life of Pi. Having a 3D TV and never watching 3D on it once sounds a little short sighted and I know from reading your posts for all these many years that you do not seem to fit that mold. You very well might not like it but them again life is full of surprises. Of course I have a Passive TV so the cost of the glasses is less than $10 pr. Buying a couple of pair of active glasses makes for a rather expensive test so I can't blame you there.

Yes I have both of those titles and Avatar is probably the most coherent 3D experience I've had. The problem is it seems quite a rare achievement.
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