The 3D showing of the Bowl Championship Series title game last night at the Marquee Wakefield 12 theater in Raleigh was pretty cool though perhaps not for the reasons you might expect.
As far as footballs coming out of the screen and audience members flinching at linebackers charging straight at them, there were few of those "whoa" moments during Florida's 24-14 victory over Oklahoma for the championship of college football.
Jerry Steinburg, a FOX Sports, vice president, had said that the camera and production crews would try to find a balance between the "really exciting 3D stuff" and a broad enough view of the action so that viewers would not lose track of what was happening in the game. The telecast certainly did that, and there were no major technical glitches. Three or four times, fast camera pans to follow a pass from the quarterback to a receiver caused some blurriness.
The broader the view — in other words, the longer the camera shot — the less pronounced the 3D effect was. So, any typical shot of a play from above that allowed you to see all the players on the field really didn't take advantage of the 3D technology.
The closer the shots from field level, however, the more that three-dimensional depth jumped out at you. The crew was obviously learning as the game progressed, and it seemed to me there were more really good 3D shots in the second half.
That said, the 3D showing, which cost me $20, offered three big advantages over watching the game at home or at a sports bar:
1. It was the ultimate big screen, even though the broadcast used maybe two-thirds to three-quarters of the movie screen at Wakefield 12.
2. The picture was incredibly crisp and detailed.
3. Instead of commercials, we got 3D surfing and extreme sports videos — those sports are really well suited to the technology, with spraying water and snow visually dropping into our laps.
Some of the best 3D moments of the football game came between plays with closeups of players, cheerleaders, coaches, refs and any stationary object, like goalposts, that gave the cameraman something in the foreground. My recommendation would be that future 3D broadcast crews take a chance on viewers missing the broader view in favor of that sense of a running back coming straight you. If you need to go back to a broader view to explain the play, that's what replay is for.
The graphic elements, like stats on Florida's Tim Tebow, jumped off the screen in front of us, but we rarely, if ever, saw a game clock or play clock, which actually added to the sense that we were standing at the edge of the field.
In another post, I'll provide a few comments from others who were there, although the theater never got that big walk-up crowd it was hoping for. I'd say there were 50 people, at most, in a theater that holds 284. But those fans mostly loved it.
Ultimately, I think it was a great ticket if you had a dog in the fight, and almost all of the fans there were coming strong for the Gators or the Sooners. And no, it wasn't silent in there. The more comfortable they got, the louder they got.