Is 3D or Ultra HD the future of F1 broadcasting?

Debates and polls

Start, Circuit of the Americas, 2012Sky broke new ground yesterday by offering the first ever live F1 broadcast in 3D, of the F1 test session at the Circuit de Catalunya.

F1’s adoption of high definition broadcasts took a long time to arrive. For several years, fans asked when F1 would go HD, only to be disappointed.

Is there a similar appetite developing for F1 coverage in 3D? Or is the next stage in high definition coverage the real future of F1 broadcasting?


Digital 3D films have been on show in cinemas for several years. And there are subscription television services, such as Sky in the UK, which offer 3D broadcasts.

But the technology has struggled to win mainstream popularity. Sales of 3D television sets have disappointed as consumers have been unimpressed by the picture quality and by the need to wear special glasses to view it.

I had a chance to watch some of Sky’s footage today. While the 3D worked well for close-ups of cars in the pit lane and some other angles, it added less to shots of the cars in motion.

Ultra HD

The next step in high definition broadcasts is Ultra HD. While 1080p HD – the current standard – provides a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, the Ultra HD format defined in October promises resolutions from 3,840 x 2,160 (4K) to 7,680 ? 4,320 (8K).

These will offer vastly more detailed, colourful and realistic images. But the technology is still in its early stages: the first Ultra HD television sets have price tags which look like they belong on cars and finding the bandwidth to supply the vast amount of data needed is a major challenge.

However Ultra HD is making its first steps towards the living rooms of the world. Japan has revealed plans to broadcast some of the 2014 World Cup, which takes place in Brazil, in 4K resolution via satellite.

Over to you

One technology is available now, the other is some way off. But which broadcasting format are you most interested in for Formula One coverage?

Have you watched any of the current F1 test broadcasts in 3D? Is there any need to improve on current HD broadcasts?

Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Which broadcasting technology are you most interested in for F1?

  • 3D (5%)
  • Ultra HD (79%)
  • Neither (17%)

Total Voters: 230

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90 comments on Is 3D or Ultra HD the future of F1 broadcasting?

  1. Fixy (@fixy) said on 1st March 2013, 19:22

    I haven’t seen F1 in 3D but the films I have seen with the technology have disappointed me to the point where I’d have rather seen them in 2D. I love HD and Ultra HD would be fantastic! Although it’s early considering the technology is new and the prices are crazy, I’d like that when it finall is accessible F1 will quickly adopt it.
    I have a TV bought a few years ago, maybe five, which says “HD ready” on it. When Italy switched to digital broadcasting a couple of years ago the first HD channels started to appear, but to my disappointment I can only hear them while the screen is black.

  2. Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 1st March 2013, 19:39

    I have so far missed out on HD broadcasting of F1, but I know the huge difference HD can make. I had my Xbox connected to the normal RCA connecter for some time when I decided to buy an HDMI lead, and the picture clarity vastly improves. Ultra HD therefore sounds as if it will be immensely clear, truly revealing every little detail (who knows, maybe we’ll be able to see individual water droplets from the tyre spray)!

    3D on the other hand lacks the crispness and clarity that HD offers, and it is more of a novelty that a genuinely good way to view F1. 3D is not quite as realistic as it would appear, and the motion blur also looks to be a major issue in panning shots or close ups. So Ultra HD is the way forward I think, which seems to be reflected in the polls!

  3. Bullfrog (@bullfrog) said on 1st March 2013, 20:32

    I’d just like to be able to watch every race free.

  4. Joe Papp (@joepa) said on 1st March 2013, 21:43

    I’d settle just for regular HD coverage of all race weekends w/ commentary quality equal to that of or better than the BBC or SKY. Last year’s SPEEDTV F1 coverage in America was perhaps the worst yet and I preferred to wait and download HD files of the events to watch on my computer than view it live on Speed. NBC won’t be any better. I’d pay for SKY if there was some way to have it here in USA like you lucky Brits! You don’t realize how could you have it!!!!

  5. moshbeard (@moshbeard) said on 1st March 2013, 22:46

    I care most about image quality and 3D looks significantly worse than a good quality HD image. I absolutely hate 3D and I don’t feel it adds anything to sports coverage. I don’t even like it in the cinema since the screen is so much dimmer and the picture is worse.

  6. Eamon (@eamon) said on 1st March 2013, 23:54

    I’d just like to be able to enjoy the current generation HD technology. In Australia they broadcast the races on a standard definition channel so the HD footage goes to waste! It’s ludicrous.

  7. GuiCosac said on 2nd March 2013, 6:08

    4K: 3840 pixels × 2160 pixels and 8K: 7680 pixels × 4320 pixels

  8. dagz (@dagz) said on 2nd March 2013, 15:32

    Not got an 3D TV so not seen any of the test in 3D, just happy there is some coverage at all .

    4K is a long way off and if they can find bandwidth for it can we not get better HD first!

    Both Sky and the BBC broadcast at 1080 but the bitrate is important too, the BBC broadcast around 10Mb , sky are better at 15 to 20Mb . I think sky broadcast the race at a higher rate the the pre and post race shows. But I am lead to believe that sky share bandwidth between all HD sports channels so it can very depending on what else is on,

    But a blue ray disc is read at 36 Mb so F1 HD could be better !

  9. Jared H (@thejaredhuang) said on 2nd March 2013, 19:30

    I’d like to see HD onboard before we talk about 3D or UHD. Heck I’d even settle for true 1080p on TV before UHD.

  10. JackySteeg (@jackysteeg) said on 3rd March 2013, 11:22

    Both pointless.

    At the end of the day, I watch F1 to enjoy the racing, not to be blown over by how highly defined the cars are. But then my gripe is with HD/3D in general rather than F1 in HD.

  11. davidhunter13 (@davidhunter13) said on 3rd March 2013, 15:48

    Having seen the trial in 8K of the Olympics footage last year I think F1 would look amazing on this. Admittedly it’s a decade away from real world use, and yes the only way to watch 8K, or 4K footage, is on a massive screen, but that’s kinda the point. It’s like a window into the action, a literal window. Some of the Olympics footage, from the right angles, really did make you feel like you were there. 8K especially, on a big screen would make you feel like you were there trackside, the detail is really that extreme and it makes that much of a difference, it’s hard to explain until you actually see it. Also, the UHD standards I’m pretty sure also bring a higher framerate into play as standard, I think it’s 60fps… this also makes a huge difference and is crucial, without it all of that extra detail you get would be wiped out with motion blur. It also makes it feel even more real. As I say, you need to see it, I hope one day we can get local cinemas like my Cineworld in Glasgow, which from time to time offer sporting events live. One day the key F1 races down at my local cinema in 8K.. YES PLEASE :) Inevitably 3D could be combined with this ultra HD stuff, and I think that’s where 3D will really belong and come alive.

  12. Trancedany said on 14th April 2013, 22:44

    Those who have seen 4k tvs in action say that it looks pretty sharp and with eye popping colors, and that’s because those tvs had the sharpness and color settings at max. I bet that if you see one of those with a calibrated picture you wouldn’t be that surprised about the picture quality.

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