What Went Wrong

The main reason for this, we suspect, is that the 3D cameras used during the event tended to be more or less ‘locked off’ at a short distance from the green, with little scope for shifting position or moving in to follow a particular ball. This combination of distance and locked positioning meant that only very occasionally and by chance did a ball find itself in a perfect position on the green to allow that green’s main 3D camera to follow the putt’s ‘trajectory’ in a truly informative way.

Actually, throughout the coverage we became aware as we switched between the HD and 3D footage that 3D appeared to have marginally fewer cameras/camera angles to work with than the HD service. This was particularly evident during the post-victory scenes (We won! Yay!)

However, to be fair this might be a deliberate choice from Sky rather than just a financially motivated decision. For the 3D channel’s extended distance shots of the massed crowds intermingled with hand-held camera material shot right down there amid the post-victory scrum both proved extremely effective, leaving more frenetic cutting between more cameras feeling unnecessary.

We have three gripes about the 3D Ryder Cup coverage from a technical point of view.

First, the 3D effect went badly wrong whenever a person happened to stroll right in front of a 3D camera filming a mid to long distance shot. The person doing this appears on screen with large amounts of double imaging around them, immediately throwing you out of what you’re watching. Sky actually did a very good job of minimising such moments thanks to its ultra-careful camera positioning and rapid cutting away to another camera whenever such distortions cropped up, but they still served as a poignant reminder of the considerable filming technique limitations effective 3D imposes.

Our second issue with the coverage is something best described as layering. For while the depth of field produced with fairway shots is prodigious, it sometimes looked a little like a series of distinct ‘planes’ stuck together rather than a completely fluid, natural sense of space.

Finally, when watching the coverage on any 3D TV, but especially a very large one like Panasonic’s P65VT20, there was no denying that the footage looked markedly less sharp and detailed than images from a full HD 3D Blu-ray - and also markedly less sharp and detailed than Sky’s HD Ryder Cup footage.

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