Australia's getting its first 3D at home OTA, as Channel Nine will have a free-to-air broadcast of three New South Wales Rugby League (rugby is all about the 3D) matches May 26. This is the first we've heard of anyone sending HD 3D over radio waves, and to accommodate things the government has apparently provided additional spectrum in the form of two bonded channels for the one-time event. Nine is looking into technology to transmit a 3D signal that's backwards compatible with 2D televisions so it doesn't need the additional bandwidth, but for now early adopters will have to retune their TVs to catch the channel when the time comes. The short term future of 3D could continue to be terrestrial only as cable and satellite providers on the continent haven't announced any tests for this year, but we'll be waiting anxiously to hear how well it works -- watching Glee in 2D just doesn't satisfy anymore.

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State of Origin in 3D
Channel 9 Media Release
28/04/2010 9:18:07 AM

Channel Nine, Harvey Norman and Rugby League have united in a world first for Australian viewers – the Nine Network's coverage of this year's Harvey Norman State of Origin Series will be the first sporting event ever to be broadcast live in 3D on free-to-air television.

The Nine Network's broadcasting first will see the 2010 Harvey Norman State of Origin Series kick one of sports broadcasting's biggest goals, ahead of the FIFA World Cup which had been widely tipped to become the first 3D terrestrial broadcast.

All three Harvey Norman State of Origin matches between NSW and Queensland – beginning with Game One at ANZ Stadium, Sydney, on May 26 – will employ the latest enhancements and technology in 3D production.

Nine CEO, David Gyngell, said the project was an enormous undertaking achieved through a collaborative effort with Gerry Harvey of long-term Rugby League partner Harvey Norman, with the support of David Gallop, the NRL and the ARL, together with vital assistance from the Federal Government through Communications Minister Stephen Conroy.

"It's early days of course because the technology is still developing, and its availability to consumers right now is limited. But 3D is about to arrive with a bang across the world, and the Nine Network and Harvey Norman want to pioneer the revolution in Australia," Mr Gyngell said.

"Capturing an event in 3D involves different camera positions and viewing angles. Because 3D carries a level of emotion and involvement beyond regular HD, it can literally put you in the best seat in the house. Our experienced Wide World of Sports producers and directors will be working to harness this new technology and develop the coverage leadership for which they are renowned."

Gerry Harvey, Chairman of Harvey Norman, said: "This is the most exciting television viewing experience I've ever seen. Entertainment in the home is about to take a huge leap forward."

NRL Chief Executive, David Gallop, said: "3DTV is a really exciting opportunity for Rugby League fans.
It will bring a new level of the toughness, excitement, speed and skill of Rugby League into the homes of viewers through one of our game's showcase series."

Senator Stephen Conroy said: "I welcome this initiative to provide to Australian viewers the first glimpse of 3D television. This trial broadcast will demonstrate the potential of 3D TV and the enhancements enabled by digital technology."

Mr Gyngell said Nine would work alongside experienced 3D event companies to deliver the most compelling 3D viewing experience.

A trial broadcast licence using spectrum temporarily allocated by the Federal Government will be established to allow consumers, retailers and manufacturers to experience live sporting events and other material. Nine is working with the Australian Communications and Media Authority and transmission service providers to extend this broadcast beyond Sydney into other capital city markets.

Consumers will be encouraged to use wireless-enabled, active shutter glasses to watch 3DTV, which most TV manufacturers consider optimum for domestic use. The circular polarised glasses currently used in cinemas are not suited to the home environment and active glasses offer a number of enhancements to the viewing experience, such as brighter colours, a wider viewing angle and sharper contrast. The Nine trial will support both forms of display, and allow viewers to experience the different options for themselves.

Future developments in 3D encoding and video compression may allow 3DTV events to coexist as an enhancement to regular HDTV broadcasts. Whilst the current trial requires additional temporary spectrum, the future may yield new solutions for 3D encoding that is backwards compatible.

Nine is investigating high-quality proprietary encoding formats from companies such as 3-ality, Real D and Sensio to assess the best system for operation in cinema venues and free-to-air terrestrial broadcast. These formats can substantially improve the resolution of the decoded 3D images.

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Australia's initial 3DTV broadcast will be delivered OTA