New 3D Programming from Discovery, Imax, Sony

Sony, Imax, and the Discovery Channel have announced new 3D programming for 2011, with three new series, two specials, and the broadcast debut of Open Season in 3D, the first feature-length animated movie from Sony Pictures Animation. The specials include Imax's Space Station narrated by Tom Cruise and a 3D episode of Discovery's Ghost Lab.

All three new series are still in development with working titles. Bullproof will focus on rodeo bullriding and the clowns who distract the beasts when the riders are down, while High Octane will feature motocross, jetskiing, rock climbing, bungee jumping, and other extreme sports. Finally, Making the Brand (a very clever name if you ask me) will reveal how things are made—sort of like How It's Made in 3D.

The Discovery/Sony/Imax 3D TV joint venture was announced a year ago, with Discovery providing the network, sales, tech support, and 3D rights to its content; Sony contributing advertising, corporate sponsorship, and 3D rights to its content; and Imax licensing its current and future 3D films and patented image technology. Ten titles have already been announced, including Into the Deep 3D and Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D form Imax, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Monster House from Sony Pictures Animation, and Attack of the Giant Jellyfish and The Haunted from Discovery as well as several documentaries about different parts of the world.

I'm really looking forward to the Imax titles and global documentaries, but I couldn't care less about extreme sports, ghosts, or bullriding. Still, I'm sure those shows will appeal to many viewers who have opted to buy a 3D TV and have access to 3D broadcasts via DirecTV, Verizon FiOS, Time Warner, or Comcast. And increasing the amount of available 3D broadcast content is critical for the ultimate success of 3D TV.

But what about the inevitable online migration of this content, and how much will the picture quality suffer as a result? Broadcast 3D already cuts the resolution for each eye in half, and further compression for online streaming could make it look pretty bad. Also, much of this content is or will soon be available on 3D Blu-ray with full resolution for each eye and minimal compression, which is how I'd prefer to view it.

So which delivery system will win this 3-way 3D tug of war? My fave is Blu-ray, but I'd love to hear what you think.