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At 3ality Digital, we’ve long been evangelists for 3D to the home.  We’ve also been convinced that sports will be a key driver for this new medium — and it looks like we now have a very significant flock of believers.

In action at the Sony press event.

Earlier this year, Sony announced their commitment to 3D in a big way, and we were delighted to participate in their press event yesterday, where our 3D camera and image processing platforms were used to shoot a live performance of the lovely and talented Taylor Swift singing “Romeo” (our personal favorite of her repertoire).   In addition to rolling out their new line of 3D-enabled Bravia televisions, Sony also announced the expansion of the Playstation network – which will carry 3D content — a groudbreaking partnership with Discovery Channel and Imax to produce a 3D channel, and last, but not least, a year-long sponsorship of ESPN’s new 3D sports channel.

We were also lucky enough to be present at Panasonic’s press conference, where they not only showed off their new 3D TV line (the amazing 152-inch screen was not in the room, sadly), but also announced their partnership with DirecTV on that company’s 3 new 3D channels.  A slew of networks are also joining the party, including Turner, CBS and NBC (we’re hoping they show off the digital 3D version of “Chuck vs. the Third Dimension,” which we shot for them.)

Taylor Swift in 3D

Although not out on the show floor (they’re in a private suite),  our partner Nagravision will be demonstrating  the 3D TV user interface we helped them develop using knowledge gleaned from our 3play™ image optimization technology.   You may just see this on your cable or satellite set top box in time for this summer’s World Cup in 3D.

If you’re at the show, please come see our newest camera platform (under glass in the Sony booth!), or keep an eye out for our footage on Sony, Samsung, LG and Mitsubishi televisions, or in the Broadcom booth.  We also may pop up in a keynote.  We’re just sayin’.

Photos from Engadget.

The 2009 BCS Championship was the first 3D sports broadcast open to consumers.

No form of entertainment will do more to feed home viewers’ appetite for 3D than sports. Sports are compelling, dynamic, and downright pulse-pounding. And fans are, well, fanatical.

But they are also fickle, which creates a challenge for 3D sports broadcasters. All the action that makes a sporting event so exciting to watch also makes it incredibly difficult to produce pristinely. With no second takes and no marks for the “actors” to hit, there’s little room for error in image capture and transmission.  Shooting and broadcasting in 3D requires systems with rock-solid reliability, easily repeatable configurations, and a high degree of automation.   After all, if you screw up the “money shot” in a sports broadcast, you don’t get a second chance, and you certainly can’t “fix it in post.”

That new third dimension also presents challenges that were solved long ago for 2D broadcasts:  Where do you place the graphics?  How do you handle quick cuts from one hot spot to another?  How do you generate instant replays in slow-mo?  The flexibility and adaptability provided by camera rigs integrated with software-based 3D image processing become key.  Using mechanical 3D rigs that require manual settings won’t get you to the goal line:  it’s like playing the game with your third-string QB.

Given all the interest in 3D sports broadcasting being generated by the upcoming Winter Olympics, World Cup soccer events and the 2010 launch of Sky’s 3D channel with its heavy emphasis on sports, this is a critical moment for the medium.

The industry needs to deliver a state-of-the-art experience to the fans of global sporting events. If it does, game over: 3D is a bona fide hit with home viewers. If it doesn’t, even the medium’s most ardent supporters will be left with a (literal) headache and the disappointment of a pivotal opportunity lost.

Sky Trials 3D Broadcasts at the O2
World Cup Games To Be Filmed in 3D
Sports in a new dimension

I'll take them in tortoiseshell, please.

I gotta wear shades.  3D shades, as a matter of fact.   The geniuses at Microvision Optical have been working away on special polarized lenses that work with passive-glasses 3D displays (see our friends at RealD for the most popular in-cinema system).  Bonus feature:  they also double as sunglasses.  And they’re stylish, to boot, as you can see from the photo of our newly-acquired tortoiseshell pair, above.

We hear that the folks at Microvision may not even get a holiday break, they’re so busy working on special versions of the glasses for companies like Fox and Coca-Cola.  And lest you think the glasses are only good for movie theaters, please be advised that they work with the new polarized 3D TV’s from JVC and Hyundai — and are also useful for those giant LED displays from the busy bees at Sony.    Meet me in Times Square — and bring your 3D shades.

3ality Digital camera rig on field in San Diego

3ality Digital camera rig on field in San Diego

You may have heard the news — on December 4th, 3ality Digital partnered with the NFL to deliver the first live 3D broadcast of an NFL game.  The game was shown to invited guests at three RealD-enabled theaters in LA, NYC and Boston.  The reaction?  Enthusiastic kudos from both the NFL and viewers, and accolades like “a transformative moment in our culture” and “groundbreaking” from the press.

We’re delighted to announce that once was not enough.  3ality Digital has partnered with Fox Sports, Sony and Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp. for a live 3D broadcast of the FedEx BCS Championship Game to 80 theaters across 35 states on January 8th.  This marks the first time that a live 3D broadcast will be available to consumers across the country, and we’re thrilled to be able to bring it to you.   We’ve got 10 years of development behind our pixel-perfect image capture, processing and transmission technologies, and we expect the game experience to be incredible.

We announced the partnership this morning in NYC at the Sports Video Group League Technology Conference.  To see the press release, click here.

And for a list of theaters where the broadcast will be available, click here.  Hopefully there’s one in your neighborhood. (And in this case, “your neighborhood” could include anything within 200 miles — football in 3D is that good!)