Last night I had the privilege of being part of history. For the first time ever, a live sports event was broadcast to a public forum in Hi-Definition and 3D. It was quite an experience.
This was a joint effort produced by a partnership between 3ality Digital, the Fox network, Sony, Cinedigm Digital and RealD, which provided 3D projectors to Cinedigm’s movie theaters.
It was shown in only 81 theaters nationally, in 35 states. Fortunately, one of the select theaters was only 50 miles from my house.
The Chargers-Raiders game a few weeks ago was used as the very first test platform for this new technology. That game was shown in theaters in New York City, Boston, and Los Angeles, and it was invitation only.
According to a column in the Miami Herald the next day, NFL executives were quite impressed, including Commissioner Roger Goodell, who attended one of the screenings.
“It was fantastic,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said Wednesday. “You could see the passion of the players. There were a number of instances where the ball literally was coming right at you and you want to put up your hands to make a catch. It took the viewing experience to another level.”
The Miami Herald column went on to quote McCarthy as saying the NFL is looking into the 3D movie theater experience as a potential business model for the future, where fans can pay a fee to watch a day’s worth of NFL games in 3D at the local movie theater.
As far as last night’s event, the cameras were mostly at field level, but on occasion we got a slightly elevated view. It really was like being right on the field, but the one minor problem was that you coudn’t see everything, and on occasion the play was hard to follow because of the congestion on the line of scrimmage.
While the depth of the 3D was visible throughout the entire game, it was most visible at times when they panned the sidelines or the referee was expaining a penalty. It was also evident when they showed the cheerleaders, which they did frequently.
The clarity was spectacular and the 3D was very impressive. It wasn’t typical movie 3D where every once in a while something would seem to come off the screen (but the graphics, when displayed and the confetti at the end seemed to jump off the screen). This was more like ViewMaster (remember those??) 3D that moved. And it was the entire game, including the halftime show.
We were subjected to very few commercials, and the ones that we did see all had something to do with 3D, and were in 3D. There were even a couple of 3d Shorts to enjoy during timeouts in play.
It was very different sitting in a movie theater and being able to talk in normal voices and jump up and down and cheer or scream for something to happen. Total bonus that my team won!!! GO GATORS!!!!
Just to make it seem more like we were in the stands, there was someone walking up and down the aisles of the theater selling hot dogs and hoagies (Philly slang for an American sub).
The other cool thing was that the stadium announcer’s voice was heard clearly through all of the theater speakers. Not quite like at the game, but you could easily hear everything that he said. That just added one more nice feature that you just don’t get on “regular” TV.
The only thing that was missing was the obnoxious drunk spilling beer on me.
My only two complaints were that they didn’t show the game info nearly enough (down, yards, game clock), and the announcers (Kenny Albert and Tim Ryan) were annoying.
Overall, a tremendous experience that I was very excited to be part of.