Watching a game in 3D worth the effort?

By: Joe D.

The first major sporting event broadcast in 3-D will occur this year when Comcast broadcasts the Masters.  I love watching the majors, and I love playing golf poorly.  However, watching golf in 3-D is probably as exciting as watching CSPAN in High Def.  90% of a golf broadcast is people standing around, with 8 percent tracking the ball in the air, and 2% is Steve Williams throwing a fan’s camera into the water hazard.  What part of that translates into compelling 3-D viewing?

The NFL on the other hand… We all remember what a huge success it was when the Cowboys broadcast all replays on their ginormous screen.  Well, it was the antithesis of a success, but  in a different venue (home or theater) where you wouldn’t take off the glasses for each play it may work.

There are some hurdles to 3-D broadcast television.  First of all, a 3-D television is more substantially more expensive than most high-definition televisions.  I’d rather get two big HDTV’s rather than one (especially if it gives my family a headache and nausea).  Admittedly, explaining to your wife that your old (3 months old) television is horribly outdated and you simply must have a new one is a more convincing (and less dangerous) argument than saying your are tired of the old TV. Its picture is wrinkly, and the crisp blacks are looking grey, the excitement from turning on the old TV is gone, and you simply want, no desire, something young with a firm picture.

There are  benefits to watching programming in 3-D.  We get to wear those cool glasses.  In every 80′s teen movie, the kid who wore the 3-D glasses always got the ladies.  Now you can sport 3-D glasses 2.0. Blinders on the side of your glasses are not just for the geriatric population anymore.  Embrace your internal octogenarian.

If you are feeling nostalgic for glasses and are regretting undergoing Lasik, then go out and buy a 3-D TV.  It’s also less painful than staring into the Sun.  Also, keep in mind that you might be able to get reimbursed via your flexible spending account for the $300 pair of 3-D glasses.  What’s the penalty for insurance fraud these days?

Removing the tongue from the cheek, there may be a benefit to broadcasts being in 3-D.  The present camera angle for NFL games from the sideline presents two thirds of the players on the field.  Rarely are we given the opportunity to see the individual battles between the WR’s and DB’s.  If the 3-D broadcast primarily uses the camera angle from behind the QB, I would seriously consider the upgrade.  The blind spots would be running backs settling down in the flat and I’m willing to give that up.

Presently the broadcasts don’t take full advantage of the 16×9 aspect ratio.  The QB is kept in the middle of the viewing area and large patches of empty space occupy the “wings” of the TV viewing area.  If they isn’t a concurrent improvement of the product presented, I am certain that 3-D televisions will be a novelty and nothing more.  Save your money and don’t bet on a format that has died on multiple occasions (stereo-optic images, Magic Eye stereograms, Jaws 3-D, Rad Racer, etc.)

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