Posted on: January 9, 2009 12:22 am
Edited on: January 9, 2009 10:37 am

3D no substitute for being at BCS title game

Did you know that Thursday night's BCS title game marked the first time in history a live sporting event was made available in 3D to the general public?

Now some of you might recall that the NFL experiemented with the technology during a Raiders-Chargers game in early December, but that game was only shown in theaters in New York, Boston and Los Angeles.

The BCS title game in 3D was availabe in 82 theaters across the country and I was one of a few hundred to witness this history-making night at a theater in Port Saint Lucie, Fla., a couple hours north of where the actual championship game was being played.

I wanted to be wowwed. I wanted it to be the next best thing to being at the stadium. It's definitely cost effective at $25 vs. hundreds for a nosebleed seat at Dolphin Stadium.

Unfortuantely it didn't come close to meeting my, perhaps too high, expectations. I'm not even sure it was much better than watching it on my big screen at home.

I had recently viewed Bolt in 3D with my son at the theather a few weeks back and had come away impressed. Prior to that experience, whenever I had watched any 3D movies, usually at the theme parks, I saw double. I wasn't seeing true 3D.

But Bolt was a different story. It was the best 3D I had ever seen. Which was why I such high hopes for championship game in 3D. I was certain that I was going to witness the wave of the future.

Now I'm not so sure about that.

For starters, and I don't know if this was just my particular theater on this night, the clarity wasn't quite there. I expected it to appear as if I was looking through a window. But it didn't quite reach that lofty standard.

Close ups looked best, nice and sharp. But the further away the camera pulled away from the action, the less sharp it looked. I also had a problem of feeling cross-eyed at times, especially when viewing a group of the red-jersey clad Sooners. Others complained of the same problem. About three hours into the game, my eyes couldn't take much more.

More easily correctable are issues with direction.

The video feed is not the same as that sent out to the Fox TV audience. Totally different cameras and camera angles. Most of the 3D cameras were situated on the Gators side of the field and angled low, I'm guessing to give the audience a sense that they're on the field with the players.

Which isn't bad when there's a timeout or teams are huddled up. But when it's a live play, perspective is lost.

One particulary poor angle the director used a lot came from behind the Gators bench. But players blocked your view so that you couldn't see the sidelines to gauge whether a player was inbounds or out of bounds. There were also cameras positioned behind the defense or offense. But again, the perspective was such that you couldn't tell how many yards were gained on a play.

Also, unlike what you see on network TV, there was no permanent graphical score, clock, down and distance on the screen. They'd flash down and distance and then it would go away so that the whole screen would be taken up by the action. But you never knew how much time was left in the quarter unless the announcers, Kenny Albert and Tim Ryan in this case, mentioned it, which they rarely did.

Albert was too busy making silly references to the 3D. When they were chatting about a player's speed, Albert wondered if he'd be faster in 3D. Did a player's tatoo look better in 3D? Is the crowd louder in 3D? So on and so forth. Ugh.

Overall, I'd give the experience a C. There's definitely room for improvement.

If you want to judge for yourself, you might want to check out the NBA All-Star Saturday night events (dunk contest, etc., not the actual game) in 3D, which, like the BCS title game, will be shown in theaters across the country in February.

Category: NCAAF
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