Reynolds Rap

Masterful 3D Views

3/31/2010 3:34 PM

The azaleas weren’t in bloom, but one didn’t need the flowers to see how particularly pretty Augusta National is cast in 3D.

Comcast, which is delivering ESPN’s 3D production of The Masters to its subscribers and such other providers as Time Warner Cable, Cox, Cablevision and Shaw, showcased footage, shot at Augusta about month ago, at a demonstration this morning at SNY studios in New York.

The results, even though the players knocking it around didn’t bear names like Tiger, Phil, Hootie, Martha, Brian or Sir Howard, were nonetheless quite impressive to these untrained 3D eyes.

The club pros put on a fine display blasting out of the traps — the sand splaying and then landing on the green — was splendid. The image, framed by a caddy in the background behind the golfer, adding a deft, dimensional touch.

The sinking of a long putt looked even more wonderful, with the pro in the foreground and the stroke winding its way to the hole on the tiered green, lapped by water.

Another vista focused on a lone tree overlooking a green, where two players could be distinctly discerned near the pin. The declination was amplified through a wide lens, emitting a wide panorama.

The famed course, though, was the true star of the Sony cameras. A long shot through a tunnel of trees provided a vicarious look at what it would be to stand at an Augusta tee box.

A tight shot of a pin, topped by The Masters flag, waved in the breeze, as the blue water rippled to brilliant effect behind it.

A shot of Rae’s Creek illuminated its surrounding greenery, its slope and the rocks and the drink where you wouldn’t want your ball to be swallowed.

As Comcast senior vice president/advanced business and technology development Mark Hess, who has played a round at the site of the sports’ first Grand Slam event, said unless you’ve been there, one doesn’t get a sense for the different elevations and dramatic contours of Bobby Jones’s design. High-definition, much less the standard format, doesn’t provide that feel. From what I saw, the 3D look does to a large extent.

So for the multitudes who will never be patrons of Augusta National, the live 3D coverage from the Par 3 Tournament on April 7 and the action from the back nine on April 8-11 — Comcast officials said it would center on Amen Corner, as well as Nos. 16, 17 and 18 — is about as good as it’s going to get.

Until, the number of HD-capable sets — viewing for the inaugural 3D coverage of The Masters figures only to be in the thousands — and the technology improves again in the years immediately ahead. Fore!