3D Tennis, A Roundup

Wimbledon in 3D - Reviews

Wimbledon in 3D - Reviews

After our write-up of the preparation for the BBC broadcasting the 2011 Wimbledon finals in 3D, we thought we’d do a round-up of people’s experiences and opinions of tennis in 3D, like we did for Sky’s debut of 3D football back in February 2010. Is tennis more suited to 3D than other sports? Does the depth perception make a significant viewing difference? Is 3D tennis another reason to upgrade to a 3DTV?



OK, our first stop, surprisingly, is Australia, where Gizmodo have a review of the men’s final by Seamus Byrne who watched it in 3D at a local cinema. Judging from the plaudits, Seamus was very impressed and, despite being someone who is, “not at all keen on the 3D experience in cinemas”, he commented, “Tennis may just be one of the perfect sports to watch in 3D on a very, very big screen.” which he based mainly on the fact that the cameras focus on the tennis court and don’t need to pan around so much to follow the action as they do in football. He added…

I’d heard Nadal put astounding spin on the ball, and you get a sense of it in 2D. But in 3D I could truly perceive how far the ball would curve and dip off his racquet and with real kick. I felt I could follow the action in a long rally better than ever before when sitting at home.

… and…

After the first set I moved to the second row of the theatre. That’s when I was hooked. With the pictures taking over my field of view I now really felt I was sitting there in the midst of the action. Amazing pictures giving me a real view of two men at war on a tennis court.

LA Daily News

LA Daily News

Another reviewer from far-flung shores was Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News, who watched the ladies Wimbledon final in 3D, again at a local cinema. He was also impressed with the 3D presentation, saying,

Previous 3D experiments with football and basketball work to some degree, but not as well as tennis or boxing. The screen is less cluttered, the combatants more intimate and dynamic. It can feel like a video game at the highest level, but with real human movements.

At the right angle, a 100-plus mph serve flies right at the audience.

It’s tough not to flinch.

On his blog, Alexandros Maragos describes a visit to a cinema in Greece (I had no idea we would be doing such an international review of the Wimbledon finals in 3D!) and says, “The Nadal – Djokovic rivalry in 3D was simply stunning & a unique tennis experience.” Alex has some great photos of the event.

HD Wars

HD Wars

Finally, HDWars watched the men’s final in 3D on a 100-inch screen and have done a great review covering many positive and negative aspects of the 3D tennis. Overall, though, their review was positive…

It’s fair to say, then, that there’s plenty for the BBC – and the 3D world at large – to work on ahead of future 3D broadcasting events. Nonetheless, overall we now feel confident as die-hard tennis fans that we would choose to watch future tennis finals on the BBC in 3D if they’re available. Especially if improvements can be made in some of the negative areas we’ve touched on.

Interestingly, the comment on their blog post was by someone who, “watched the finals on our 40″ Samsung 3D LED TV and thought they were great.” and, “Many thanks to the BBC. I hope that they broadcast many more programmes in 3D” which just goes to show that the extra dimension that 3D brings can be appreciated on a normal-sized 3DTV and that tennis seems well suited to being broadcast in 3D.

Overall, it seems that Wimbledon in 3D was a good experiment for the BBC, with generally positive impressions.

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BBC Go 3D For Wimbledon 2011

Wimbledon Centre Court

Wimbledon Centre Court (credit Wikipedia)

In a surprise announcement, the BBC are to show their first-ever 3D broadcast on a terrestrial UK TV channel. Both the ladies’ and men’s finals of the 125th Wimbledon will be screened in 3D on the BBC HD channel. In the past, the BBC experimented with rugby in 3D, which we covered live way back in February 2010. However, back then the screenings were only made to 40 cinemas across the UK. This time, the BBC will show the tennis finals in 3D on the HD channel as well as in cinemas, in partnership with Sony who announced back in March that they were the official 3D partner for the All England Lawn Tennis And Croquet Club and would be showing Wimbledon in 3D in cinemas through their distribution partner, SuperVision Media.

So how can you watch the Wimbledon finals in 3D?

Well, the BBC HD channel is free-to-air, so all you’ll need is a 3DTV, some 3D glasses and the ability to watch the BBC HD channel. Then simply tune in to the action on Saturday 2 July and Sunday 3 July. This is the first time UK viewers will be able to watch a live 3D broadcast without a Sky subscription. The BBC HD channel is available on Freeview HD (channel 50) , Virgin Media (channel 187) , FreeSat (channel 108) and Sky (channel 169).

Should the BBC spend money on 3D Tennis?

Some people have voiced concerns that while the BBC is supposed to be making cuts and downsizing (the license fee is frozen for 6 years, a real-terms cut of 16%), it’s spending money to show Wimbledon in 3D when very few people, as a percentage of the UK population, will be watching the 3D broadcast on a 3DTV in their homes. While it looks like extravagance, in actuality it could be that the BBC has done a very good deal. Obviously, the BBC already cover Wimbledon and have the contract until 2014, so their correspondents and equipment will already be on location in SW14. As Wimbledon is one of the sporting “crown jewels” which can only be shown live on terrestrial TV, the BBC knew that Sky couldn’t buy the rights to show it, which means that Sony, who have put in the technical expertise along with CAN Communicate including the 3D cameras, really only had the BBC to offer the 3D rights to. I don’t know details of the deal, but it could be that the BBC got some valuable 3D live content and a lot of good publicity for not a lot of money.

Hawk Eye

Hawk Eye

Sony will sell the 3D content worldwide, so will presumably make a return on their investment, either directly or indirectly via a boost to their sales of 3DTV’s, 3D cameras and Playstations which can play Blu-Ray 3D discs. Sony recently bought “Hawk Eye”, the technology which shows whether or not any given shot in tennis was “in” or “out” using vision processing and triangulation which should look particularly good in 3D. The Lawn Tennis Club will make money from licensing the 3D rights, so it seems like a good deal for everyone, but especially so for the BBC!

As I said, the announcement by the BBC was somewhat of a surprise. Even Techradar thought it unlikely that the BBC would show the event in 3D when the initial 3D announcement was made by Sony.

See Wimbledon 3D At The Cinema For Free

In addition to it’s HD channel coverage, the BBC is offering tickets to 3D screenings at the following cinemas…

BBC TV Centre

BBC TV Centre

Cineworld Didsbury
Cineworld Cardiff
Cineworld Glasgow
Odeon Belfast
BBC Television Centre

There’s a maximum of two tickets per request and the events are on 3rd July at 1.15pm. For full details, and to apply, click here.

Sky’s Reaction To The BBC Showing Wimbledon In 3D

One interesting angle to this story is, “what do Sky make of it”? As one of the pioneers of 3D in the UK, it must be galling to miss out on Wimbledon. On the other hand, Wimbledon in 3D will almost certainly increase interest in watching 3D sporting events, and Sky has the only dedicated 3D channel in the UK which is where people will naturally turn for more 3D programming. John Cassy, the directory of Sky3D, said…

John Cassy, Sky3D Director

John Cassy, Sky3D Director

for 3D TV to truly prosper in this country, it’s essential that forward-looking broadcasters across the board help encourage industry peers – whether they be fellow broadcasters, production companies or even talent- that 3D represents a genuine opportunity – both commercially, and, as with Wimbledon, creatively, satisfying the demands of UK viewers to enjoy the best TV experience available, and in so doing helping the BBC support UK innovation. (source)

Technical Aspects Of Filming 3D Tennis

As mentioned above, CAN communicate are the technical partner working in conjunction with Sony and the BBC to create the 3D footage. Regarding the technical aspects, they said…



CAN will use the same 3D workflow that was successfully deployed at the 2010 FIFA World CupTM. With 5 camera positions per match, each position will comprise 2x SONY HDC-P1 cameras with Canon lenses fed into a SONY HD fiber adapter mounted onto Element Technica rigs and configured with SONY MPE-200 processors for convergence and interocular alignment.

The 3D signals generated from the 5 camera positions will be fed to a dedicated 3D outside broadcast facility supplied by our partner, NEP Visions. Pictures will be processed using a complete SONY 3D broadcast solution and encoded for 3D TV broadcast and 3D cinema audiences

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3D Cinema Ticket Sales: The Truth

What is going on with 3D cinema ticket sales figures?

Pirates Of The Caribbean

Pirates Of The Caribbean

I’ve read multiple sources of information, trying to distill whether 3D is a rocketing success or a dismal failure. Some people’s views are at either end of the spectrum. I guess, like anything in life, there are “fanboys” and “haters”. Let’s see if we can sift the wheat from the chaff and work out what’s going on.

Firstly, there’s the interesting fact that 3D cinema ticket sales for Pirates of the Caribbean 4 On Stranger Tides in the USA have only captured 47% of total ticket sales compared to 61% for Shrek Forever After and 68% for How To Train Your Dragon (figures are for regular 3D and 3D Imax combined). The data, from analyst Richard Greenfield of BTIG Research, prompted him to say that 3D was fading due to the higher ticket prices, 3D fatigue and the fact that kids don’t like to wear the 3D glasses.

To throw more data into the mix, Jeremy Playle, Sales Director at DCM told Techradar that in the UK, admissions to 3D screenings of “Pirates 4” were 34% higher than 2D screenings, despite the price difference.

OK, so what do we make of all this data?

Firstly, we need to consider that the USA and UK are different markets. It may be that in the USA the 3D cinema market is becoming saturated, but in the UK we may have a way to go before that point is reached. It’s interesting to note that in China 85% of takings for “Pirates 4” were from the 3D version, and for Russia is was 71% (source), so there is most definitely a strong geographical component to how well 3D is doing at movie theatres.

It seems to me, that comparing 3D ticket sales for “Pirates 4” to “Shrek” and “Dragon” is probably unfair as you’re comparing certificate PG films with a 12A which skews the comparison. Although, it is true that other 3D movies had higher percentages of people choosing to watch the 3D version such as Avatar (71 percent), Alice In Wonderland (70%), TRON:Legacy (82%), Thor (60%) and The Green Hornet (69%) (source). So why was Pirates at just 46%? Well, there are two strong possible reasons. Firstly, Disney didn’t choose to emphasise the fact that Pirates was a 3D movie shot in 3D, so cinema goers may have thought that the 3D was a low-grade conversion. Secondly, this is the fourth Pirates movie and all others have been in 2D only, so the audience would’ve been expecting a 2D movie. By way of comparison it’ll be interesting to see how the final Harry Potter film fares in 3D, seeing as all the previous films have been 2D.

The fact that 3D ticket sales are holding up for the international market seems to indicate that pricing isn’t an issue. I can’t see that the UK market being happy to pay much higher prices for the 3D version of the movie while in the USA people said no. I think it’s more likely to be the factors listed above.

When taken as a whole it seems that there may be an element of 3D movie fatigue in the USA, which isn’t showing up in the UK or other international markets. Movie studios may want to bear in mind that it’s important to emphasise that a movie was filmed in 3D and is worth seeing in 3D as well as not get greedy with the ticket prices, especially if they want to see the 3DTV market grow rapidly and sell many copies of their movies on BluRay 3D.

What do you think?

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Competition: The Champions League Final In 3D

Football in 3D

Football in 3D

If you’d like to watch the UEFA Champions League final between Manchester United and Barcelona, but don’t have tickets for Wembley, what’s the next-best-thing? How about winning tickets to watch a VIP screening of the match in 3D at a pub with free food and drink, courtesy of LG? Sounds good to me! 

LG are giving two lucky winners and a friend the best VIP seats in the house at the Cock Hotel in Manchester to see Rooney and Messi go head to head in brilliant 3D, complete with free food and drink and surprise VIP guests.

To enter, just visit this page and answer the question by leaving a comment (you may need a Disqus account). If you need help with the question, this page should help. Act fast, the competition closes at midnight on Thursday the 26th of May and winners will be notified via email the following day. So far, there are only three entries! :-)

Thanks to Joe for the heads-up on the competition!

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Win A 3DTV With Sony

The Green Hornet

The Green Hornet

Sony are offering the chance to win a 3D TV if you’re a resident of France, Germany, Spain or the United Kingdom aged 16 years or over. All you have to do is visit the competition webpage before the end of 13 June 2011, sign in with your Playstation Network account and answer one simple question.

If you don’t have a Playstation Network account, don’t worry, I didn’t have one either. The signup process is on the competition page and takes about five minutes, including verifying your email address. Once you’ve signed up and logged in, just answer the question. If you don’t know the answer immediately (I didn’t), just plug the question details into Google. I found the answer in 10 seconds. Alternatively, the answer’s in the video, below. :-)

The prizes are… “One winner will get a Sony 3D TV as well as a copy of The Green Hornet on Blu-ray 3D to get you started. One runner up will win a European exclusive copy of The Daily Sentinel newspaper (as featured in the film) and a copy of the film on Blu-ray Disc”.

So there you go. A quick and easy way to enter Sony’s 3DTV competition. Best of luck!

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