Given the 3D-steeped backgrounds of its partners, 3net launched in February to high expectations, and based on my initial viewing it’s off to a good start, offering 3D programming that had consistently better 3D image quality than what we saw on n|3D.
Clearly, 3net benefits from its relationship with IMAX, evident in Deep Sea 3D and Into the Deep 3D, two undersea adventures originally shot for presentation in IMAX theaters. Into the Deep kept my attention with some captivating underwater 3D shots of the creatures that make their homes in the kelp beds off the coast of California. Deep Sea 3D blends a compelling narrative about undersea creatures with very effective use of 3D. Long, meandering shots along a coral reef show not just size and depth, but the diversity of local sea life, while the extra dimension provides perspective on the relative size and speed of the various creatures — when a 10-inch shrimp attacks a mussel, we can feel the lightning speed of the attack, and when it subsequently defends its home turf against a much larger encroaching octopus, we get a palpable sense of the mismatch.
In addition to the IMAX fare, 3net offers several original episodic series, including High Octane, Building the Brand, and Bullproof. There’s also an hour-long hosted variety show, called In the Qube 3D, a mix of interviews, reviews of new 3D gear and games, and 3D movie trailers. A promo showed clips of Kung Fu Panda and Pirates of the Caribbean, plus footage of Avril Lavigne talking about how cool it will be to see her stage diving toward your TV in 3D.
I hadn't been anticipating Building the Brand, which takes an inside look at the manufacturing processes behind some well-known companies, but as a guitar player and collector, I had to tune in when I saw that Gibson, the famous guitar company, was featured. The episode — which demonstrated the production process of making a legendary Gibson Les Paul, from blocks of wood to the finished product — was very engaging. There were no dramatic effects, but the 3D helped bring the shop to life. Seeing the band saw operator deftly maneuvering the wood under a moving blade, I found myself counting his fingers to see if mistakes had been made. I’d check out other episodes, such as segments on Trek bikes and Rolls Royce cars.
Not everything is so successful, of course. The travelogue China Revealed (about the Great Wall), relied on drawn-out shots that offered little benefit over still photos. On the other hand, the 3D perspective did give you a better idea of not just the wall’s incredible size and scale, but of the undulating construction required to bridge the various terrains and elevations. Some foreground material seemed pushed forward unnaturally, and objects were often presented too far into the room.
Overall, I was impressed with 3net’s programming. I’m looking forward to seeing how the network does with its planned four-part original 3D series about the Civil War, slated to air in the fall.
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