Starting with Blu-ray playback, using a supplied disc of Monsters Vs Aliens mastered with the new Full HD Blu-ray format, my early impressions of 3D on the UE55C8000 are largely but certainly not completely positive.
On the plus side, the impact of the 3D effect is immediate and profound. The flat image we’re used to seeing with the 2D Blu-ray version of this film suddenly gains depth, to a sometimes startling degree, as well as generating a sense of layering that profoundly changes the way you relate to the image.
In fact, the change is so profound that, as noted in my recent 3D TV: First Impressions feature, initially your brain and eyes really struggle to process the third dimension of the image. This leaves your eyes feeling strained and tired as they forever shift around the image looking for an object or 'draw distance' to settle on.
Eventually, though, you start to relax into it, sort of settling on the ‘front’ of the image and soaking in the depth as engaging ambient information - except for when something further back clamours for your attention.
What’s key about the new 3D experience for 2010 is that an extensive depth of field is now combined with images that are still blatantly Full HD. And this combination of depth with true HD sharpness makes the Monsters Vs Aliens into more of a spectacle, and gives the film a much more dynamic feeling.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that 3D in this animated kid's cartoon instance made me feel totally immersed in what I was watching! But I could certainly imagine greater immersion taking place when 3D is applied to more realistic film content.
There is, however, one big problem with my 3D movie experience on the UE55C8000: crosstalk interference. This appears as a sort of ghosting phenomenon around some objects in a 3D image - especially distant, very bright or quite thin objects.
For instance, during the scene on the Golden Gate Bridge in Monsters Vs Aliens, the suspension cables holding the bridge up appear with ghostly echoes of themselves to either side of the ‘real’ ones.
It’s still too early in 3D’s life to be able to say how much of this is down to the TV, the way the content is shot or processed or if it's innate to the 3D experience. But sometimes, when it effects key parts of a picture, it’s certainly distracting.
This is especially true when you first switch the UE55C8000 on! For while this might sound like a bizarre thing to say about arguably the most cutting edge TV we’ve seen for years, the UE55C8000 has to warm up before it looks its best with 3D sources. We found its problems with crosstalk reduced markedly after the set had been on for roughly an hour.
As you retrain your viewing approach to deal with 3D material, you actually start to notice crosstalk problems less; somehow your eye isn’t drawn to the ghosting parts of the picture as much. But at the same time, I never reached a point where I fully ‘processed’ the crosstalk out, leaving me feeling, at least sometimes, as if I might rather be watching a film in a normal, pristine 2D HD version.
Only time and more film sources will tell if this crosstalk-inspired feeling with 3D films continues or fades.