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Day 2 of the Olympics in 3D – Swimming and Men’s Gymnastics

Well, since I’m officially obsessed with 3D Olympics coverage, I thought I’d give some more observations.

NBC started broadcasting again today (Sunday, July 29) right on time at 5 AM. They covered swimming (including Michael Phelps’ stunning loss), as well as men’s gymnastics. While the NBC 3D Schedule is now completely filled out until the closing ceremonies, it’s clear that there’s very little production that went into scheduling these events. You’ll basically see a block of several hours of one event, followed by several hours of another event, a few random rebroadcasts in between, and even some random 3D general interest segments. And of course the same commercials over and over and over again. What the advertisers don’t realize is that after watching the same commercial 50 times in a row, it puts a pretty bad taste in your mouth. Also, I kind of wish that NBC would have given more detail than “you’ll see swimming and gymnastics for 8 hours”, especially since we’re on 24 hour tape delay. But we’ve already covered why they don’t.

Once again the coverage started with no commentary, just the ambient noise from the arena, which I loved. It really made me feel like I was there. I’m also watching a lot of the streaming commentary-less events on the Web, and I’m really struck about how little I miss the commentary. Although I think some of the people at NBC are just realizing that their 3D coverage doesn’t have any commentary, as by the time 3D gymnastics started to be aired they started to superimpose the audio from regular announcers on the 3D footage. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.

The 3D, again, was stunning, adding a whole new dimension (no pun intended…okay pun intended) to the telecast. With swimming, being able to see all the lanes in perspective gave a much, much better feeling of being in the action and a much more precise view of how each swimmer was doing. Here’s a picture of the men on the starting blocks–notice how much difference seeing the perspective makes (again, use the “cross-eyed” method of viewing).

3d olympics swimming

Similarly, the men’s gymnastics really came alive. It seems that they have fewer cameras than the 2D telecast, but they’re placed very strategically so you can see gymnasts from the best angles. On floor exercises, you can see them running right at you.

3d mens gymnastics

It’s funny, taking these screenshots is making me flash back to the 2004 Athens game, when NBC broadcast a special OTA channel of its HD footage, and I was frantically recording and taking screenshots of the amazing HD picture 🙂 Time will tell if eight years from now 3D will be relatively ubiquitous to the point where I’ll look back and think all these screenshots I’m taking are silly 🙂

I wish I could stay home and watch all the 3D footage, but of course I’ve got my day job tomorrow. So I set the Tivo for 13 hours, which should just about fill it up each night. I’ll check in from time to time over the next few weeks.

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