Crosstalk free 3D and the art of Soccer

Through the miracle of pen and paper you are reading this many, many hours after I wrote it (actually on Wednesday evening, 2 June). I am in Sydney at a private home in the salubrious suburb of Rose Bay. Were it not 8:30pm I might be able to see the glorious harbour views this location would have to offer.

Instead I’m sitting on a couch, rudely ignoring any who would seek to engage me in conversation, scribbling on this note pad and hoping my right ear will soon recover. Rogue Traders have just performed several songs. In order to position myself for a good view of the 3D big screen, I ended up with said ear a bit too close to a loudspeaker.

The event is a bit weird. I’m here as a guest of Sony (it’s putting me up in a hotel as well, this being an evening event). The main purpose seems to be for it to announce that it will be bringing an undisclosed number of 3D TVs into Australia prior to the start of the World Cup football competition, which starts in a week or so. Apparently SBS will be broadcasting some games in 3D on a dedicated channel.

In Canberra? Who knows.

Samsung 3D TV owners, and those buying this limited number of Sony TVs, will be able to enjoy this.

Of course, the event has given me the chance to check out my previous impressions of 3D TV, and in particular whether the cross talk problems of which I’ve previously written are evident.

As far as I can see, and I’m sitting here looking for it very carefully, there hasn’t been the slightest hint of crosstalk. I have looked closely at extended clips from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (to be released in Australia on Blu-ray 3D on 14 July 2010) and G-Force. In the former there were plenty of scenes in which food was falling from the sky. The depth effect on this fast moving material was excellent, and sometimes seemed to extend outside the viewing area itself. The picture is formatted at 2.35:1, and very occasionally a falling food item seemed to pass through the black top and bottom bars as well as the main picture area. I didn’t have control of the remote, so I couldn’t rewind to check. It is possible that it was an illusion.

The lack of crosstalk makes the 3D effect considerably more effective, because the image is clean. Of course, there are only four 3D TVs here, and all may have been tuned up with enormous care. Getting a production unit into the office will be the final test.

I also closely examined some 3D soccer material. The elements where just about everything on the screen was in focus were, to my eye, more impressive and easier to watch, than stuff where there were distance-related focus issues. An example of the latter was an actual football game, shot a night (therefore reducing depth of field) in which the players were in focus but the crowd behind them wasn’t. I’d glance at the crowd, and of course they remained out of focus. In the real world, they would come into focus when looked at.

There were also a number of still photos in a slide show, made to demonstrate some forthcoming Sony digital still cameras that use a panoramic shooting mode to generate 3D stills. Some of these looking incredible, but it must be said that apparently these were mockups of the types of results the cameras are supposed to produce.

There was a racing game on the PS3 as well, in 3D. I found this least convincing. The fast moving out-of-focus foliage as it passed to the left and right just seemed to blur in a way at odds with the 3D effect.

Anyway, firmware 3.2 for the Sony Playstation 3 will add 3D games support, with another firmware promised for later this year to provide 3D movie support. Sony is also releasing a couple of 3D Blu-ray players (BDPS470 – $299, BDPS570 – $379) and a bunch of 3D TVs, some with integrated 3D (the LX900 series: 52” LX900 – $5,499, 60” LX900 – $7,499, including two pairs of 3D glasses), some with 3D support (40” HX800 – $2,799, 46” HX800 – $3,499, 55” HX800 – $4,699, 46” HX900 – $4,699, 52” HX900 – $5,699). This last lot need the addition of the 3D IR transmitter ($69) and shutter glasses ($99 each).

Lots of pretty people at this event, by the way, almost none of whom I recognise. An exception is Hayley Warner, a runner up in a recent Australian Idol, who was watching Rogue Traders perform with what looked like a great deal of professional interest. A journalist mentioned that he had seen a certain morning show hostess, and that her charisma seemed to surround her with a metre wide aura. I went looking and all I saw was a middle-aged woman, well dressed, well made-up, looking quite unexceptional, if it weren’t for the group of people surrounding here who seemed vaguely captured by awe.

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