With sports fans still getting used to their high-definition television sets, the National Football League is already thinking ahead to the next potential upgrade: 3-D.
On Dec. 4, a game between the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego 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 several hundred guests at the three participating theaters Dec. 4 will include representatives from the NFL's broadcasting partners and from consumer-electronics companies.
Burbank, Calif.-based 3ality Digital LLC will shoot the game with special cameras and transmit it to a satellite. Thomson SA's Technicolor Digital Cinema is providing the satellite services and digital downlink to each theater, and Real D 3D Inc. will power the display in the theaters.
This isn't the first time the NFL has participated in a 3-D experiment. In 2004, a predecessor company to 3ality filmed the Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers.
When Sandy Climan, 3ality's chief executive officer, shows the footage, "people crouch down to catch the ball," he says. "It's as if the ball is coming into your arms."