Small station to debut 3-D newscasts
A small television station in Missouri has announced it will debut the world’s first 3-D newscasts today, though it’s not clear how many viewers will be able to enjoy them.
The station, WMO-TV, will also change its call signs to W3D as of 6 a.m. this morning and change its newscasts branding to “NewsChannel 3-D.”
“Now that the craze to switch to HD news has died down, we felt it was the perfect time to launch the next big thing,” said April F. Uhl, general manager and president of the station.
The move, which was in the planning process for months, has been a closely guarded secret at the station. Most staffers were told the station was upgrading to HD-compatible equipment in preparation for high def newscasts to debut sometime in the future, leaving only a select few knowing the true nature of the switch.
Some staffers found out the truth a day ago, but were forced to stay in a hotel and not allowed access to their friends, family, phones or Internet, according to an insider who asked not to be named.
Despite the excitement surrounding the launch, it’s not clear how many viewers, if any, will be able to view the newscasts in 3-D.
In order to view the 3-D newscasts, viewers are required to have a special television. According to the station’s research, no such units exist within its viewing area, but it is working with local electronics stores to offer special discounts on them.
The station will also run several contests to give away free 3D televisions. These contests will require viewers to call in after solving an insanely easy puzzle with the goal of being the third caller — as in “3”-D.
In addition, anchors will sport old-style 3-D glasses during certain segments to help promote the new offering. “We won’t allow them to wear the glasses during the really important stories,” said Uhl.
According to insiders, the station isn’t particularly concerned about people actually being able to see the 3-D newscasts and is mainly concerned about just having the bragging rights to say it’s producing newscasts in 3-D
The station has already done extensive testing of its 3-D newscasts with a select group of viewers.
“The overall response has been very positive,” said Uhl.
A few adjustments were made, however, after the initial tests, such as changing opening animation to be a little less dramatic after a member of the focus group suffered minor injuries ducking from what she perceived to be large letters flying directly at her.
Another source revealed the 3-D rain effect on the weather maps had to be toned down as well since it caused some viewers to wet themselves during the testing sessions.
When the 3-D newscasts debut, the station will acquire all local footage in 3D. The station also plans to offer advertisers the opportunity to air their spots in 3-D.
In addition to extensive behind-the-scenes equipment upgrades, the station also installed a 3-D ready set in its main news facility, now christened “Studio 3-D.”
The new set takes advantage of the 3-D technology and embraces the 3-D theme to its fullest, using cubes and spheres design elements to add an extra sense of dimension to the broadcasts. There are also elements that can pop out of the wall and seemingly float in mid-air.
Uhl also told viewers to be on the lookout for something very special on tonight’s debut newscast.
“We specially commissioned a new 3-D version of the water-skiing squirrel.”