The first question to ask here is if we’ve actually enjoyed our two weeks with Sky’s 3D channel. And the answer is... sometimes. By which we mean our level of enjoyment was totally dependent on the type of footage being shown, and the screens we were watching it on.
Undoubted 3D success in content terms were the golf, tennis, rugby and football coverage. With these the 3D footage actually enhanced our understanding and appreciation of the games being played. They also showed for the most part an impressive early understanding by Sky of what works and what doesn’t in terms of 3D filming techniques, with our enjoyment of these impressive showpieces only crumbling with TVs that suffer crosstalk noise. Though this is hardly Sky’s fault.
The nature documentary and dance material was also enjoyable in 3D, even though we didn’t actually feel as if our understanding of anything was actually improved by the 3D experience. On balance, though, we probably would still reach for our glasses if we had a choice between a 3D documentary or dance performance and an HD 2D one.
However, some material we watched - the darts, the Keane concert, Are You Smarter than a 10 Year Old in particular - didn’t really benefit from being in 3D in any significant way, so far as we could tell. Which means we can’t imagine ourselves going to the trouble of donning our glasses especially to watch them in 3D rather than HD.
Perhaps more concerningly, the jury remains out with us concerning 3D films. As with the Blu-ray 3D scene, films are being seen as a major driving force for 3D. But we still don’t feel 100% convinced that we would consistently choose to watch a film in 3D rather than great-quality HD.
This is especially true when you’re talking about Sky’s 3D broadcasting system, which unlike Blu-rays reduces resolution noticeably from what you’d expect from a straight HD film broadcast.
Elsewhere, it’s fair to say that we’re looking forward to Sky ramping up its amount of original 3D content as soon as possible, as there are only so many repeats we can tolerate. If 3D is going to become a long-term part of AV life rather than a short-lived, quickly forgotten gimmick, it needs to have plenty of relevant new content quickly to keep us keen.
We guess you could say it’s hardly fair to to criticise Sky’s 3D channel along content lines like we just have, given that actually it’s one of the very first 3D broadcast platforms in the world; has only been running two weeks; and has arrived impressively early in 3D’s life. But with 3D Blu-ray titles appearing much less quickly than expected, and many of those that are out being stupidly sewn up by exclusive package deals with 3D Blu-ray players, Sky’s 3D channel looks increasing critical to 3D’s potential success - placing a burden of expectation on it that the whole electronics industry will be praying it manages to meet.