Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

3-D gives visual feast

Fans enjoy hockey in 'pretty cool' format

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Calvin Monkman's favourite hockey team -- the Montreal Canadiens -- might have been losing going into the second period, but seeing the team for the first time on a 3-D television was a winning score.

"It's excellent," Monkman said on Saturday as he saw part of the game on a 3-D television set at the Visions store on Regent Avenue.

"It's a real difference. I watched the football, the NFL, one day when I walked around the store before and it was hard on my eyes, but this works really well."

The Hockey Night in Canada broadcast on Saturday night marked the first time CBC had used the technology for the iconic show.

Hockey Night in Canada used six Panasonic 3-D high definition cameras -- four at ice level and two from the booth -- to capture the action Saturday, and CBC plans on using the 3-D format for the outdoor Heritage Classic in Calgary Feb. 20.

Through parts of the broadcast, the anchors themselves wore the special 3-D glasses to watch the game and they made many comments about attendants on ice wiping down the glass in front of the cameras between the action.

Charles Marcoux, another Visions customer, was also impressed at seeing the professional hockey players in 3-D.

"That's pretty cool -- honestly, I didn't think it was going to be this good," Marcoux said.

"It's almost like you're almost there... this is frickin' pretty good -- and you can quote me."

Though the format is still in its infancy, Barry Olinyk, general manager at Advance, says 3-D TV is built for the serious visual addict. People who want the latest and greatest technology don't need to be sold on the screens, he says, so the store is selling them a different way.

"We've been promoting them as the best 2-D sets available -- with the opportunity for the consumer to upgrade to the 3-D component," Olinyk said. "In my humble opinion, you won't find a better 2-D TV on the market than the current 3-D models."

David Saifer, manager of the video department at Advance, says the technology provides the viewer with a greater sense of depth when watching television, so the prominent images presented on the front of the screen are that much closer than they would be on a normal TV.

Programming with a series of visual twists and turns make for the best experience and you can include sports in that category. The players on the ice look like they are skating right through the living room.

"It's like you can walk into the screen and be a part of the action," said Garth Irvine, a home theatre specialist at Best Buy. "The content pops right out at you... it's almost like you're inside the television."

The TVs are available in all the usual electronics operations around Winnipeg (the units range between 40 and 65 inches with a top-end price tag of $4,000). Irvine says his shop has been selling models from Panasonic, Sony and Samsung since March and sales have been "pretty good" -- though things are more on a curiosity level at this stage.

Avatar, the blockbuster film that brought the medium into mainstream focus, is the gold standard for 3-D and the starting point for the technology moving forward.



Special glasses

don't come cheap

You have the TV, now you need the glasses.

One of the drawbacks to the 3-D TV viewing experience is that you can't fully enjoy the ride without the appropriate eyewear. The old blue and red, white cardboard-framed spectacles will not work, meaning those who drop a couple grand on a new screen will also be on the hook for a pair of special shades.

Cost starts at around $100.

"It's definitely a concern," said David Saifer, manager of the video department at Advance. "People make the comments that they already wear glasses, so I try to explain it that eventually it's going to come to the point where anyone who buys a new TV is going to be wearing glasses. Still, (the glasses) are the largest stumbling block for 3-D TVs."

The battery-powered glasses feature something called active shutter lenses. They block off one eye while the TV is providing an image for the other and this constant switch happens back and forth continuously (120-240 times a second), thus creating the 3-D image.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 12, 2010 A6

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