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Exclusive: a look around ESPN's 3D Master Control room

Darren Murph

Not sure if you knew, but today marks the launch of ESPN's first dedicated 3D channel, predictably titled ESPN 3D. For now, the channel will only be active whenever 3D sporting events are being aired, starting with a full 25 FIFA World Cup matches from the Republic of South Africa. It's a pretty monumental launch for the world leader in broadcast sports, and it's obviously taking a pretty big leap with only a smattering of 3D sets available and an obviously limited amount of content at its disposal. That said, there's hardly a better way to enjoy 3D content than to see sports in the third dimension, which makes the appeal of this new station that much stronger. We're here live at the company's kickoff event in Bristol, Connecticut, and we'll be bringing you lots of coverage from behind the scenes.

One important piece that has yet to be revealed to the public is exactly how this material is getting from the field to the consumer, with Comcast, DirecTV and AT&T (U-verse) signed on from day one. During our shooting for The Engadget Show (don't worry -- we'll be cutting it up and getting it live as soon as possible!) we were able to stop by ESPN's 3D Master Control room, a box no larger than the average American kitchen but infinitely important in the grand scheme of things. Amazingly enough, the room pictured in the gallery below didn't exist six weeks ago, and in an insanely short period of time ESPN has managed to create a control room that sucks feeds in from all over the world, adds graphics (along with a specialized ESPN 3D "bug"), ensures that everything is aligned properly and then pipes it out to the aforesaid carriers.

Gallery: A look inside ESPN's 3D Master Control room | 12 Photos

We sat a spell in the room, which mainly consisted of a few computers to handle the processing, a monitor that displayed the left and right feeds individually and a 3D display for sampling what's going out to the glasses-equipped world. What struck us as most incredible was just how much magic was happening in this single room. We're confident that ESPN's 3D control room(s) will grow in size as more and more events are shot in 3D, and if our initial impressions of its fantastic handling of a feed that wasn't even shot by ESPN (all of the 3D World Cup matches are fed in by HBS, in a European format to boot), we doubt it'll be long before that uncontrollable expansion begins.

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