The roar of the stadium grows increasingly louder as the player dribbles down the field, dodging opponents in a quick zigzag fashion. In the blink of an eye, the player's foot makes contact with the ball and it blasts high-speed toward the goal in a direct arch. The goalie dives to catch the ball mid-air, and as he hits your living room floor you jump - knocking off your 3D glasses.
At the Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas in January, ESPN announced that they would be launching ESPN 3D, the first 3D television network with the opening match between South Africa and Mexico of the 2010 FIFA World Cup this June. As the tournament nears, anticipation strengthens; sports fan or not, all television viewers alike are eager to see how this revolutionary technology will change the entertainment world.
ESPN has been testing 3D broadcasting for more than two years, working on improving the technology to enhance the programming. As it has been developed, producers must use specialized 3D cameras - ESPN has partnered up with California-based company PACE to capture the footage and viewers will need to have 3D-ready television sets as well as specific 3D glasses. ESPN ran a demo last September at selected theatres with a 3D broadcast of a University of Southern California vs. Ohio State football game; the majority of viewers were "wowed", according to USA Today.
With 3D technology now becoming increasingly popular (but not quite yet the norm) in the movie industry it will be fascinating to see how it unfolds in the world of television. Thus far the involved corporations have appeared confident about the success of 3DTV. ESPN 3D plans to have 85 live 3D broadcasts in its first year, with the Summer X Games, NBA games and college basketball and football arriving after the World Cup. Discovery is also set to launch a 3D network in 2011 which will broadcast 3D programming 24/7, whereas ESPN3D is currently set to only broadcast selected live events.
But with the tide of excitement and innovation that is rushing in with ESPN3D, a certain fear prevails. Will it be worth it? While viewers should certainly not hope for the broadcasts to be on a staggering, Avatar-esque level, expectations are still high, especially considering the many ties that come with having access to 3DTV. With a large percentage of sports-viewers having only recently upgraded to HDTVs, brands like Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Toshiba and Samsung have all recently released high quality and high priced 3D television sets. In addition, many may have trouble getting adjusted to having to wear the 3D glasses, which are expected to sell for about $150. With so limited 3D broadcasting within the near future, it is unlikely there will be a big turnover to 3D televisions anytime soon.
But regardless, ESPN 3D is also going to mark a significant milestone in the progress of entertainment media. Although 3DTV has endless room for development, it would probably be wise to set aside a fund for a spiffy 3D-enabled television. No one needs glasses of any sort to see the very real revolution that is coming to our homes.
Anya Gosine. More »