Masters 3D 425Masters SBS 425

(April 10, 2010) This week marks an historic milestone with the first multi-region 3D telecast in the USA. Comcast, Cox and Cablevision began its daily two hour 3D coverage of the Masters with the Par 3 competition on Wednesday, followed by its first round on Thursday and continues through this weekend.

Using the Samsung 55″ UN55C8000 and a Scientific Atlanta (Cisco) DVR we tuned in Cablevision’s signal on channel 1300. The beauty of the Augusta National Golf Club, enhanced by 3D’s unique ability to immerse the viewer as well as capture the splendor of topography of the course creates a televised golf tournament like no other.

What You See

Sony’s production of the 3D program is well planned and executed. They make judicious use of extreme 3D effects, limiting gimmicky shots to sand hitting the camera when a player hits the ball out of a bunker and the occasional golfer goofing around by sticking the head of his club toward the viewer into your living room.

The 3D experience captures the perspective of the game like no past 2D HD broadcast. We invited a number of guests to get a variety first 3D TV impressions. Exclamations of “awesome” and “incredible” punctuated the overall amazement by everyone viewing the telecast.  Surprisingly, golf is an ideal sport for 3D capture.

The Tech Side

The 3D image is broadcast as two 16×9 images, side by side with anamorphic compression, know as frame packing. The 3D Samsung HDTV decompresses each view and displays it as a frame sequence (left-right-left-right etc.). Viewed without the 3D glasses, it appears as a double image (see top photo) in 3D mode or as two squished images on a 2D HDTV (see bottom photo).

There were a number of bugs in the otherwise fine images, including dropped frames occurring a few times during the two hour program. Friday’s broadcast opened with early to mid-day action with a bright clear blue sky and high sun angle. This condition produces occasional crosstalk on the Samsung, seen as ghost images of players and spectators wearing light colored shirts. As the broadcast progressed to late day action, the crosstalk artifacts occurred less frequently.

After tuning to the Cablevision channel, viewing the 3D program requires four keystrokes on the Samsung remote to properly format the TV for viewing. Unfortunately, you must repeat the procedure every time you power on or go to a 3D channel, as there is currently no protocols to automatically format the TV for a 3D broadcast signal, as it does when it senses a 3D Blu-ray players.

With the left and right images packed into a single standard 1080i signal (1920 x1080) we were able to store the Masters programs in 3D on our Cablevision leased DVR as well as our new TiVo Premier recorder (equipped with a Cablevision supplied multichannel-M CableCard and Cisco digital tuning adapter).  Look for a review of the new TiVo soon.

Edited by Michael Fremer

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