Behind the first live 3D bowl game at CES

Some CES attendees who had the opportunity to watch the Oklahoma Sooners get creamed during a BCS game Thursday -- always a glorious experience (though not for Scott) -- were also the first to watch a live 3D college football game.

But live 3D sports has been promised since 2004, and has been trickling in since then.

In 2004, a company called 3ality filmed the Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers. While that wasn't live, it showed the promise of the technology. "People crouch down to catch the ball," said Sandy Climan, chief executive officer of 3ality Digital LLC, a Burbank, Calif.-based company that films sporting events in 3D. "It's as if the ball is coming into your arms."

RealD, which provided the technology for showing the Sooners game, first demonstrated live 3D (a concert of the Blue Man Group) at ShowEast, a movie industry trade show, in October 2006 in Orlando. Then, participants were promised that live sporting events could start happening as early as that summer, with possibilities raised such as the NCAA men's basketball Final Four, Super Bowl, or NASCAR championships.

Michael Lewis, chairman of RealD, said at the time that the challenge wasn't technological but rather a question of selling the idea to promoters and league owners, according to an article in the Hollywood Reporter. "The biggest challenges are the rights issues -- making the sports leagues understand that the theater base audience for these events is not going to drag people away from their televisions," he said. "It's like early Hollywood, where no one feels certain about exactly what's going to happen."

Apparently convincing them took a while, but on December 4, a pro football game was aired live in 3D in three cities, according to The Wall Street Journal. A game between the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders was broadcast live in 3D to theaters in Los Angeles, New York, and Boston as a "proof of concept," said Howard Katz, NFL senior vice president of broadcasting and media operations.

Those broadcasts, which were closed to the public, were shown to representatives from the NFL's broadcasting partners and from consumer-electronics companies. It was displayed by RealD and filmed by 3ality.

This week's Sooners game was broadcast using 3D technology from Sensio, a Montreal firm, which said it also broadcast the game in 80 other theaters in the US but didn't specify where.

Dashing the hopes of wives everywhere, Sensio is also planning to show a live 3D broadcast of an NBA basketball game on up to 160 screens in 35 states -- on February 14. (Dudes. Seriously. You couldn't pick a different day?)

Of course, some sports are more suited to 3D than others. Boxing in 3-D, particularly "raises your blood pressure," Climan told the Journal.

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