Olympics’ TV Goes 3D

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Since the 1939 Olympics in Hitler’s Berlin, the worldwide event is a natural draw for new broadcast technology transition. And, like color TV and the more recent HDTV that followed some 40 years later, technology transition for the broadcast industry is often slow in coming, due in part to the expense of ramping up the required new infrastructure. Then there’s that pesky issue of content, broadcast standards and QC (Quality Control) to deal with — not to mention getting the new TV sets into the homes of consumers.

Still, 3D broadcast from the unlikely Sochi, Krasnodar Krai, Russia (chosen site for the 2014 Winter Games) is a safe bet, given the 4-year Olympic cycle and the fact that part of these ongoing 2010 games are already showing up in limited 3D feeds both locally in Vancouver, BC and elsewhere.dispdaily-germany-0210

Case in point, Panasonic, probably one of the strongest corporate proponents of the new display technology, opened its Olympic 3D Pavilion in Vancouver BC on the same day as the Opening Ceremony. The 3D venue features Panny’s giant 103-inch 3D plasma behemoth with 1080p images for each eye (120fps.) The company said that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will produce the 3D video highlights to be shown in the Panny pavilion. Visitors will see the latest in 3D products from the company, including a 50-inch 1080p plasma set with a home-theater system and 3D-ready Blu-ray Disc players-all in an effort to move the mindset of consumers toward the new standard in broadcast television.

Panasonic’s USA CTO Eisuke Tsuyuzaki summed it up this way: “We’ve successfully moved from black and white, to color, to high-definition television. But immersive, totally realistic 3D imagery has been the final frontier [and] with Panasonic’s new line of Full HD 3D products, which will be launched in North America this Spring, we will conquer that as well.” The company is the official A/V sponsor of the Games, and for that honor, Panasonic’s DVCPRO HD recording format is the “official” video format for this Olympics. Panasonic will also contribute video-production and broadcast equipment for the event.

Want more? OK, try going to this Olympics in 3D web site. It offers a look down (Google Earth-like) view of the event on your PC (or streaming TV) and gives you full control of your 3D experience, plus the latest Olympic news, Twitter feeds and more — all in 3D!

Interestingly, as if to demonstrate the speed of new technology adoption, the 2010 Olympics is the first ever to deliver all video feeds in HD, according to Panasonic. And if our prediction is correct and 3D video broadcast dominates in 2014, that “all HD” video feed distinction will have lasted just one 4-year cycle. We’ll see.

Steve Sechrist, a senior editor and analyst at Insight Media, is a 13-year display veteran with experience in business development strategy, competitive market analysis, and technology writing. He is responsible for the editorial management of Insight Media’s Large Display Report and Mobile Display Report. Contact him at steve@insightmedia.info