Next week, a game between the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders will be broadcast live in 3-D to theaters in Los Angeles, New York and Boston. It is a preliminary step on what is likely a long road to any regular 3-D broadcasts of football games.
The idea is a “proof of concept,” says Howard Katz, NFL senior vice president of broadcasting and media operations. “We want to demonstrate this and let people get excited about it and see what the future holds.”
The company behind this production is 3ality Digital LLC, whose most well-known production to date is probably U2 3D. I saw U2 3D at the local IMAX theater. It made me say “Holy shit!” at least twice, and not in a bad way. Tying in football with that sort of video tech just drips next-level awesomeness — though in this case, there will be a charge for awesomeness.
It would have to involve IMAX, though, because regular movie theaters are generally too closed-shop to consider something as cool as live event broadcasts. Sure, the occasional mom & pop theater will show a game. (I went to such a place three years ago, but back then, they were blowing up a standard-def signal onto a 30-foot screen, which left me cold.) Still, I dig the concept of going to a local dodecaplex to see a football game, and if there were, say, a satellite network for movie houses that broadcast live events at quad-HD resolutions — that’s 3840 by 2160, kids — I’m pretty sure people would show up for it.
Clearly, though, quad-HD is not enough for the National Football League. No. They want you to experience what it’s like when the ball is zooming out of Drew Brees’ hand and headed in a perfect arc right for your lap. If it means more IMAX theaters in my general vicinity, I’ll take it. Hell, if I had the cash, I’d build one myself. People are always looking for escapism in tough times — movie houses were packed during the depression for a reason — and there’s no better escape in America than dodging Joe Flacco’s mouth guard as it flies out of his mouth and toward your head following a James Harrison sack.
Of course, this could be just as awesome for other football codes as well. Imagine getting a 3D view from the behind goal as a Cristiano Ronaldo flies past the keeper, or a view from behind the posts as Buddy Franklin blasts one through. Granted, the AFL can’t afford it right now, but the big soccer organizations? Why not? If this works for the NFL, why couldn’t we see a live IMAX 3D FIFA World Cup in the not-too-distant future?