Panasonic knows Olympics 3D

Panasonic knows Olympics 3D

Kudos to Panasonic for saving perhaps its best 3D TV program for its last on the n3D channel that the electronics company created and launched in July 2010 in partnership with DirecTV.

Scott Hettrick
Scott Hettrick

Over the last four years, Panasonic has been showing spectacular 3D footage of the opening ceremonies at the 2008 Games inBeijingin demonstrations, and the company presented some 3D programming to attendees at the 2010 Winter Olympics inVancouver.

But this time Panasonic presented hundreds of hours of 3D coverage of the 2012 Olympics inLondonon the n3D channel, albeit all delayed at least 24-hours, unfortunately diminishing the motivation to watch the live competitions. There were times when the 3D coverage was quite dynamic. Perhaps the most effective was the canoe and kayak events where it was so much easier to see whether the canoe was going through the correct side of the gates. And low angle shots through the rapids were very impressive, making viewers feel as if they were riding tandem.

And there were these moments in competition coverage that were enhanced by 3D:

  • A cool low angle shot of Michael Phelps and the relay team stepping out of the corner of the pool.
  • Gymnastics: very helpful separation of the athletes from the crowd during parallel bars and balance beam, and the 3D made for more a feeling of more intensity in viewing athletes on the balance beam.
  • The long jump competition was more effective in 3D
  • Long distance runners: the 3D was much more effective in close and tighter shots of the runners in groups.

As for the opening ceremonies, the editiorial coverage itself was far less engaging than NBC’s coverage since there was no commentators at all on the 3D broadcast and very few graphics or close-ups during the parade of nations. With 3D, far more low-angle shots are needed to create the desired impact. Also, it was disappointing that the short films pre-recorded by event producer and filmmaker Danny Boyle were not in 3D, especially the one with Daniel Craig as James Bond escorting the queen to the Games.

Panasonic got Bob Costas to record a brief intro to the coverage in 3D from an official-looking network studio set, but it was presented so poorly with double-images that it hurt your eyes to watch, and it really only made sense to show it on the first day of coverage, even though they showed it many times, no doubt trying to get their money’s worth.

The network’s coverage gratefully featured many commercials in 3D, including ads for Panasonic products, of course, and some movie trailers as long as 2 1/2 –minutes each for films including “Paranorman,” “Frankenweenie,” “Hotel Transylvania,” and “Finding Nemo 3D.” There were also approrpriate commercials for Blu-ray 3D releases such “The Avengers.” It was puzzling that the ad for the Blu-ray 3D of “Lorax” was not presented in 3D, especially when the Lorax character kept popping up across the bottom of the screen way too often during regular coverage of the Games, annoyingly and distractingly so during the film of Queen Elizabeth with 007.

All-in-all, for a first ambitious and brave attempt at complete coverage of the Olympics in 3D, Panasonic deserves high praise. All that’s needed for next time are a few technical and presentation tweaks along with going live instead of tape delay. The only question now is who will be providing that coverage since Panasonic is ending its partnership with DirecTV on n3D.

— By Scott Hettrick