First impressions of the third dimension in sports TV

In Friday’s editions (linked here), we’ll get into a deeper explanation of the 3D presentation of the Raiders-Chargers contest we saw at the Mann Chinese Theatre in Hollywood tonight, as we’re trying to see the big picture here.

But as for whether it was love at first sight … we could think of other sports that might benefit better than football.

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==Sandy Climan, the president and CEO of 3ality Digital LLC, on how he viewed the test, which had two satellite glitches in the first half that stopped coverage for about five minutes each time: “My issue is not to raise expectations beyond where they should be. It’s still a test, a still-developing business that, piece by piece, has many things to come. But it’s still very exciting.”

==Ron Pitts and Billy Ray Smith did the play-by-play and analysis of the closed-circuit broadcast, but we noticed them more when they weren’t talking. It was a far beter experience to just allow the Dolby surround sound to pick up all the field noise. At one stretch, following the first delay because of the satellite problem, the game resumed and had just natural sounds for a few minutes, making feel more like a movie experience. Pitts and Smith returned, making it more of a giant TV presentation.

==Graphics at several points in the telecast asked viewers to text message comments into a phone number provided.
Pitts noted that the first request was: Show more shots of cheerleaders.

==Of the eight cameras used on the telecast, six of them were dual Sony HDC-1500 models with Fujinon 22x lenses. Most important was probably the one on the sideline cart. One camera was also up high at midfield, and another hand-held camera, a Sony HDC-950, was also implimented.

==Part of the presentation included new 3D television sets that beamed the game to viewers. How far in the future are those coming to homes that are still in the process of moving from the old square picture tubes to flat-screen high-def models?
“The technology is there, but like most things, it’s now figuring out the business issues,” said Michael Lewis of Beverly Hills-based RealD. “It’ll be a few years, but it’s going to get there.”

==Although Howard Katz, the NFL’s senior VP of broadcasting and media, says that it’s not in the league’s immediate plans, Lewis envisions new 3D sports presentations to be a flashback to the days when major pay-per-view boxing events were televised in movie theatres. “We’re kind of honoring that idea with a 21st century spin,” said Lewis of tonight’s event. “It is a way from the cinema perspective to re-think the business. It’s not just a place to see movies, it’s moving toward being an entertainment venue where you can be taken to places you otherwise couldn’t go, from sporting events to concerts to the opera. It opens a lot of options.”

==Lewis also knows the learning curve is important in getting everyone on board.
“I’ve read some of the press and heard some ESPN people talking about it, those who really haven’t seen the new 3D, and it seems a number of them were kind of dismissive,” said Lewis. “That’s about to change.”

==From the Associated Press version of how it all went down, a quote from Chad Ahrendt, a 35-year-old writer from L.A.: “It’s amazing. Technically they obviously have a little ways to go, but once they work out all the kinks, it’s definitely the new era of television.”
Also, John Modell, the son of former Browns and Ravens owner Art Modell and co-founder of 3ality Digital, said the team owners viewing in New York and Boston had told him they were pleased.
“They’re all knocked out,” he said.
Is that a good thing?

==A review of the New York screening from Newsday’s Neil Best (linked here) under the headline “As it turns out, the Oakland Raiders stink in 3D, also,” who agrees with out a lot of our thoughts — best stuff is when it comes right at you.

==The NBA’s experiments with 3D go back to the 2007 All-Star game in Las Vegas, and Game 2 of the 2007 NBA Finals between Cleveland and San Antonio (pictured below). More than 14,000 fans showed up in the Cavs’ home arena to watch it. Last season, the NBA worked with Mark Cuban and the Mavericks to feature the first-ever regular season game in 3D HD, shown in Dallas at one of Cuban’s theaters.

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