Comcast debuts 3D test footage in N.Y.

Reporters treated to Masters 3D tease

At a Wednesday AM presser in Gotham, Comcast wowed reporters with test footage of its upcoming live 3D broadcast of the Masters.

Running April 7-11, the tourney is set to be the first-ever linear broadcast of a live 3D event, is produced by the Augusta National Golf Club and will be delivered by Comcast to subscribers and other cable providers (Cox, Time Warner, and Cablevision). The games will be simulcast online.

Shown at the Sports New York offices, test footage had rough patches (lens flare seemed odd) but the sport appeared to be a good fit for the tech itself. Long, slow shots of the trees and turf showed off the variations in the green that result in a bad bounce or a strange roll, and gave viewer eyes a chance to get used to the images. Asked how 3D would work on a faster-paced sport, execs responded that editors putting together football footage (for example) would have a steeper learning curve than their golfing counterparts.

Press reps expressed surprise at the event’s robust attendance. Venue was packed with reporters scoping out footage on a recent Sony model (with the company’s battery-operated active specs), as well as a 3D-enabled laptop and an imported LG television that both use the same passive RealD glasses familiar to viewers of “Avatar” or “How to Train Your Dragon.”

Exec Mark Francisco explained some of the ins and outs of the technology – rigs designed by “Avatar” DP Vince Pace will shoot the live footage, which is uploaded via NEP satellite trucks to the cable provider’s media center in Denver, where it’s multiplexed and disseminated in the 1080i side-by-side format.

Spokesmen stressed that no software upgrades to set-top boxes or new hardware were necessary – if a set is 3D capable, it can receive the live broadcast.

Streaming video on computers will be delivered at an optimal rate of 4.5 megabits per second (with lower bitrate available for slower computers).

Event is sponsored by Sony.