Behind the scenes with Sky 3D TV

The setup used to film the tennis included three 3D rigs, which have been greatly improved in the past few months – not least to make them a little more robust and suitable for outside broadcasts rather then the controlled environments of the movie sets where 3D cameras have more usually been used.

These cameras were backed up by 2D cameras – but transitions between the two were perfectly palatable because the flatter pictures could be processed in real time by a computer chip which created the impression of depth.

Sky filming the atp masters tennis championship

Perhaps the biggest lesson that has been learned, at least from TechRadar's perspective, is subtlety. As the first 15 minutes of Avatar footage showed, overwhelming camera movement and gimmicks such as having things flying into the camera (and towards the viewer) are not helpful – and Sky's Tennis coverage was a study in restraint.

The majority of the action was kept from the traditional camera position behind one player, and although the line judges occasionally felt a little more imposing than is ideal (they are, of course, positioned at the back of the court nearest the camera) this made it much less tiring to watch.

Some issues

Of course, there are still the age old issues with glasses and the occasional jarring transition or, at this still early stage, malfunction that makes it sometimes difficult to watch – but this was the first extended 3D session on a smaller screen that TechRadar had gone through without ending up with a headache.

One of the most enlightening moments actually occurred in the tennis when there was one of the problems with the main camera (camera one in television parlance).

This left us for a few minutes with all the action coming from a 3D camera that was sat half-way down the court on one side looking diagonally across the net.

Sky committed to 3d

It should have been a horrible few minutes, but a wonderful rally and missed drop shot that bounced past the field of vision was genuinely fabulous. Much more visceral than the traditional view and far closer to how it feels watching a tennis match from courtside.

It was a small part of a big day for Sky – but it is becoming increasingly clear that this is not a technology that is going to disappear if the likes of such a major satellite broadcaster are prepared to commit this kind of effort to perfecting it.