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Sports TV to move into 3D this year- how long until F1 follows?
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Sports TV to move into 3D this year- how long until F1 follows?
Posted By: James Allen  |  07 Jan 2010   |  7:42 pm GMT  |  117 comments

One of the strong messages coming out of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week is that 2010 is the year of 3D TV becoming a reality and sport is set to be one of the early adopters.

An ESPN 3D camera in action (Photo ESPN)

An ESPN 3D camera in action (Photo ESPN)


American sports network ESPN has announced that it will be broadcasting games from this year’s football World Cup in 3D, as part of an offering of 85 shows starting in June.

“The sports genre is probably the best suited to exploit this technology,” Sean Bratches, an executive vice president at ESPN told the New York Times.

One of the pioneers of 3D TV is LG Electronics, which is a technology partner of Formula 1, now entering the second year of a five year contract with FOM. LG has been advising FOM TV on High Definition, and has run some test exercises, such as at Monaco this year where HD cameras were trialled around the track. But HD is probably not going to happen in F1 until 2011. It took about 10 years for HD to catch on but many sports are now broadcast in HD and F1 is dragging its heels.

On that basis it could be quite a few years before viewers at home will be leaping out of their seats as they see a car hurtling through the Swimming Pool chicane at Monaco and into their living rooms. Industry experts agree that the consumer already has a bewildering array of TV viewing choices to make and 3D just complicates things further. But F1 would surely be a perfect sport for it, once the technology and production facilities are mature.

“The stars are aligning to make 2010 the launch year of 3-D,” John Taylor, a vice president for LG Electronics USA said in the New York Times. “It’s still just in its infancy, but when there is a sufficient amount of content available — and lots of people are working on this — there will be a true tipping point for consumers.”

The 3D TV works by dividing picture images into two sets, one for each eye. The viewer wears special glasses, so each eye captures a different image, creating the illusion of depth. Filming involves two linked cameras, one serving the image for the left-eye image and the other for the right.

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1

It’s all very well talking about 3D TV, free cardboard glasses or active £50 ones but nobody has mentioned the millions of us who are short sighted and wear prescription glasses to watch TV.

Am I expected to put the 3D glasses on top of my normal ones ????

3D TV is a dead duck until this kind of problem is solved.

As for HD, of course F1 should be available. It need not be expensive either : Our Humax Freesat box and 50″ Samsung TV bring us brilliant HD content completely free from both the BBC and ITV and the Humax box cost us less than 8 month’s of my now-cancelled basic SKY subscription.

Compared with the cost of the Licence fee, for us, the content on SKY was very poor value so this was a very good trade off.

If FOM would just come into the 21st century, all of us in the UK could watch F1 in HD on the Beeb for free.

James : All the BBC would then need to do is re-establish your partnership with Martin and F1 in the UK would be brilliant

2

This is an interesting thread.

With regards to 3D TV, TV manufacturers need to sell more, with this they need to find ways to ask buyers to put their hands on their pockets, as the saying goes does this ‘wash whiter’ than HD or ‘interactive’ viewing.

Towards the end of the nineties I was part of a European consortium that looked into virtual sets and 3D TV. At the time it was quite high-tech, clearly by today’s standards it isn’t. However, a few findings still stand, namely the viewers’ need to be able to consume their entertainment without any barriers. Glasses is a key barrier, there are others too, satelite dishes too pose quite a significant barrier to gloabl TV audiences.

Many will notice that most TV graphics are designed with a 4:3 aspect ration and safe areas in mind.

Before there’s a torrent of ‘no one has a 4:3 TV’! F1 has a global audience in many emerging markets, it takes time and sensitivity to move a global product from one that is available to all to one that is state of the art.

It’s worth mentioning, back in the late nineties, we experimented with 3D cameras on Rally cars, so this isn’t new tech at all.

Let’s get digital for all and HD first.

3

The way I see it is that Bernie is actually being very wise.

He knows that when he launched his subscription service in the past, very few people took it up, as there was the alternative of a free feed.

So, the only way to make a paid for tv feed to pay is by having it as the only feed. Current technology means that BBC over freeview etc cannot offer the range of options that are demanded by some hard-core football fans, so the only option for using this technology would be to go to a paid-for feed. However, this would not work either. Look at what happened to GP masters. It had huge ratings when launched on the BBC, but then when it moved to Sky, no-one watched and the series folded. F1 is dependent on getting large audiences, in order to make the sponsors think that they are getting worthwhile value for money. Moving to subscription services would remove the casual viewer, and only leave the hard-core, reducing the value to the sponsors.

Bernie knows that the best way to keep the value of F1 is to keep it on free-to-air television. Anything else would be financial suicide.

4

Why do we need special TV’s when we can already see 3D movies at the cinemas WITHOUT special projectors or screens? We’ve also had 3D programs on TV for years. For example, we had an episode of MEDIUM a while back that was partly in 3D and it didn’t take a special TV or “active” battery-powered glasses to see the 3D effect! This GIMMICK is just another way for the cable/satellite providers and TV manufacturers to get their fingers into our wallets. Who needs it? And the depth of field in a good HD broadcast is fine with me.

5

TSN is showing F1 in HD…As is SPEED.

6

In 20 years time I hope we have holograms….

Although I just can’t see how that would work with motor racing.

As I say for the next little while I would prefer nice HD coverage with on board, the option for watch timing screens too!

Don’t mind the adverts, although it good it gone now with BBC however I could live with it for good pre coverage, cover and post coverage

7
Craig Scarborough

3D for the world cup may well be shown live at UK cinemas, that are equipped with digital 3D projectors. Already cinemas have shown live F1 and other sport via special satellite services.

Home 3D TV is still at an early stage compared with the RealD or Dolby 3D services, shown in cinemas, no longer needing the headache inducing blue and red glasses. Just look at the rise in quality 3D movies, Avatar being the big hit currently.

I think the progression towards 3D at cinemas wil be the first step with this technology in the sport.

8

I understand that adoption of HD in Europe has lagged behind the U.S., but I find it amazing that NASCAR (the series that still uses pushrod engines and 4-barrel carbs) has been broadcasting in HD for nearly a decade.

9

Guys

I think we all should remember Mr.E will be dead soon he is knocking on 80 even he can not live for ever.

Once he is gone and the cival war end, we will have want we want.

10
David Whitworth

3D! let just get it on HD. Don’t run before you can walk. HD When? James can you do some digging on this?

11

Sorry to post off topic James. But:

Whatever is Bernie doing involved in a bid for Saab? (used to be one of my favourite ever customers back in the 80s when they were at Marlowe)

The only way he could make money from it is in some kind of “Rover 4” deal whereby he buys it for £1, owns the assets and lets the company go bankrupt. (John Towers has a lot to answer for)

He knows nothing about car production, he used to own an F1 team but that is a world away from mass production so it must be that he sees a financial gain.

12

James, your description of 3D TV is outdated.

The older technologies for 3D were indeed with either coloured or polarized glasses so that what the left eye sees would be different than what the right eye sees.

Some brand new (and currently horrendously expensive) TV’s are capable of 3D imaging without the glasses, in full HD however. So fast forward to around the time when F1 will be in HD and people will start getting no-glasses required 3D TVs at home..

13

Doesn’t 3D reduce effective frame rate by 2x?

I would be more than happy if the TV coverage was improved to actually show what is happening in the race – HD or SD. Many times passes are not shown and instead they focus on someone going around the track by himself. Or a pass is about to happen and they switch over to another shot.

14

the last part isnt correct.

since fom took over race coverage from most host broadcasters in 2007 (which allowed the switch to widescreen,one reason that took so long was because half the host broadcasters coudn’t go widescreen) the coverage has been significantly better.

the host broadcasters often did stick with a single car going around on its own,however fom always stick to where the best action is.take silverstone last year where they stuck with the hamilton and alonso battle even though they were down battling over 16th place,since it was the best scrap fom stuck with it rather than follow vettel out up front on his own as the local host directors often used to.

95% of all on track passes are shown on the coverage now either live or via replay and that figure is a lot higher than it was even just 2-3 years ago.

15

I agree with that. FOM coverage is better than the standard we had when different host nations used to do it and from extensive experience of working with them they always listen to ideas and constantly try things to improve the coverage.

16

Yeah I also agree. Some of the broadcasts were atrocious in the past – particularly the French, who I recall would follow the lone leader around the track for up to 5 LAPS in a row, ignoring some fantastic battles and instead showing a car by itself.

It’s much better now, though I think they can get some better in-race stats going. Cricket does very well in that respect.

17

Yes the French was one of the worst. German was always good.

18

I’d love to see F1 in HD but not 3D. I did not enjoy wearing 3D glasses for 2hrs 40mins when I saw Avatar, they were too heavy. And, if you’re in your home with the family watching, you want to discuss and that involves looking at people, not just the screen.

19

Thanks James for the reply, I thought it might be tricky, just wish I could volunteer and get s but closer.

I’m planning a GP this year, so to all the readers here, which in your opinion do you think will be the best circuit for good photography, not just your favorite circuit for good racing, but will provide good images?

I have an amazing image of Michael Schumacher going through the senna s, while the sun is low and track is glistening. It’s glorious!

20

I can’t really fault Bernie or FOM for the lack of uptake on various advances… cos it’s ultimately all about the money.

If someone approached Bernie and made a plausible, convincing case that HD or 3D would cost, say, £2m per year, but that either it would be guaranteed to generate £3m+, OR that any losses on the venture would be guaranteed, then Bernie would say ‘go and make it happen’ in a heartbeat. But the guy has enough to do without also placing himself in the technological vanguard…

So it’s basically up to someone out there to approach him and make it worth his while.

21

HD hasn’t really caught on with the majority of the public yet so I can’t see 3DTV making huge inroads until we’re at the end of the 2010s.

I’d rather watch F1 in black in white with exciting racing than a dull 3D race around Valencia.

22

I would assume that live television filmed in 3D would feature very few “popping out-of the-screen” effects, as are applied in films and responsible for most of the strain put on viewers’ eyes. Rather, I’d expect that it would create the illusion of watching the real thing through a window, with most of the 3D happening behind the screen surface. I found this approach very convincing in the cinema, and personally I can’t wait for affordable 3D televisions.

Considering F1’s less than impressive uptake of HD, isn’t there a case to be made to upgrade straight to 3D capable equipment, skipping “HD-only” gear? Otherwise I’d agree that we won’t see 3D in F1 for a long time, as investors would point to clearly benefitting from the HD upgrade first, before contemplating a further 3D upgrade.

Let’s not forget that whenever we are at the brink of new broadcasting technology, there are other ways to bring its benefits to the people than plain old TV. Imagine you could see the Monaco GP in a 3D cinema live, or buy classic GPs in 3D on disc or stream them over the internet. Would I pay money to relive Brazil ’08 in 3D? Hell yeah!

23

I know this is off-topic, but any takers for Saab F1?

24

I have found that in the 20+ years I have followed F1 there has been a noticeable distancing of the cameras from the cars, one presumes to capture the advertising hoardings around the circuit? Switching to HD or even ultimately 3D (just can’t see it) needs a complete reappraisal of camera angles. We need to feel that we are experiencing the speed, the blinding direction changes, the craft of the driver. There have been some innovative camera positions in the last few years but circuit ones are too distant to make you feel as involved as you can be. HD or 3D won’t solve that.

25

F1 not-in-HD in 2010 is a joke, as others have mentioned many times. Pathetic, really.

26

regarding things like nascar,soccer,nfl. its easier for these sports to be broadcast in hd because they are filmed by the broadcaster.

nascar for example is filmed by fox and espn, so when fox launched its hd and wanted nascar in hd it only had to supply its nascar tv crew with hd cameras and they had a hd broadcast. same with sky sports soccer games and coverage of the nba,nfl & american football.

with f1 its fom who provide a world feed broadcast to all its worldwide providers so it has to make sure its broadcast fits all the broadcasters that take it.

as someone mentioned the japanese broadcaster fujitv has been doing a hd broadcast since 2006 but are only doing that hd feed for themselfs,they dont make it avaliable to anyone else although they could if they wanted to.its for the same reason fom don’t,there feed has to work for all broadcasters that carry the world feed,there hd broadcast is actually handled by a seperate tv truck that also adds japanese language graphics.

in the uk if say bbc were producing the feed for silverstone it would be no doubt hd using there own cameras however like japan it would also be kept only for the uk bbc coverage.

the thing to remember with fom is that they no longer have the sort of budgets they had when they were producing there multi-angle digital ppv service some 10 years ago.if that were still around it no doubt would have been widescreen and hd many years ago.both fom and bernie himself lost a fortune from that failed service.

the final thing i will say is that while the nascar broadcasts are hd,the fom world feed is still of a higher quality,the way fox and espn produce there broadcast is nowhere near the quality standards of fom who very rarely miss a piece of action tht happens on the track and always follows the best action regardless of where it is in the field so tend to provide a more intresting broadcast than what fox and espn do.

27

Is the lack of HD in F1 a technology issue? There are so many cameras used in F1 nowadays including rather small track embedded cameras and car mounted ones in mirrors, steering wheels etc. Maybe insufficient bandwidth to stream the video from these devices to the broadcast center or perhaps the HD technology for these specialist cameras is the issue?

It’s not my personal area of expertise so happy to be enlightened!

28

As if it wasn’t clear enough just how far down the food chain I really am I’ll now get to see Vijay Mallya’s bling in full HD.

Hope Red Bull start to broadcast their parties after the 9pm watershed.

29

Surely gaming is the obvious vestige of 3D?

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