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SBD/Issue 134/Sports Media
MSG Net Earns Strong Reviews For 3D Showing Of Islanders-Rangers
Published March 25, 2010
|Islanders-Rangers Game At MSG Marks First
In-Home 3D Deployment Of Live Sporting Event
MSG and the NHL Rangers last night held what appeared to be a successful test of hockey in 3D, with the Islanders-Rangers game that also marked the first in-home 3D deployment of a live sporting event. It is not known how many viewers were actually able to see the enhanced feed, but the game was distributed throughout the Cablevision system. The final number of 3D viewers will depend in part on the number of N.Y.-area consumers who were among the first to buy 3D-enabled televisions that recently began retail availability in the U.S. As for last night's game, the 3D feed appeared noticeably crisper and more polished than other recent 3D productions of live sporting events. But like prior efforts in football and basketball, MSG producers were at times struggling to find the proper creative direction and mix of shots and camera angles to best tell the story of the game in 3D. Wide-angle shots provided a more sweeping view of the action, but more closely resembled 2D TV and did not provide much pop from the additional dimension. Close low shots in the corners, meanwhile, did provide significant depth, but also struggled with interference from the metal posts supporting the glass boards. Six cameras were used for the production. "This is all still a test," said Steve Schklair, CEO for 3ality Digital Systems, which along with RealD, Samsung and Harris Corp. assisted MSG with the production. "This is a test of all the camera angles, replays, graphics and so forth. What we do know is that 3D does work very well for hockey. So we're down to the creative positions." MSG Media President Mike Bair added, "This is definitely an experiment. But we're very excited. We think this is absolutely phenomenal for hockey" (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).
TAKING A CLOSER LOOK: In N.Y., Richard Sandomir writes the camera at center ice produced a "crisp, clear picture that felt more like 2.5-D," while the cameras at the blue lines produced the "extra effect, but only when they zoomed in." On monitors set up for media inside MSG's Club Bar & Grill, the "impact of hockey in 3-D was clear and made the strongest argument for what the game looked like at home to those few early adopters with 3-D television sets." On "companion monitors, MSG’s high-definition broadcast looked flat, underlit and distant." Sandomir notes on "3-D long shots, the fans nearly popped out of the screen, as if they had plopped on your lap." As shots "got tighter and the action cut to the corners with the 3-D cameras, the technology’s promise was on its way to being fulfilled." At those points, the pictures "were exquisite; the closer a player or official came to the camera, the more defined they became" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/25). The telecast featured "smoother cuts from one angle to the next, but less graphics and animation, which can be disorienting in 3-D" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 3/25).
|Messier (r) Says 3D Technology Might
Revolutionize Hockey Telecasts
OF A REVOLUTION? Hockey HOFer Mark Messier attended the 3D viewing and said of the technology, "It might revolutionize the way games are telecast. Obviously, from an interest standpoint, it might be what we're looking for to sell our sport." Jets OT D'Brickashaw Ferguson, also at the viewing party, said, "It's like you're in the stands. It magnifies the fights and when they get hit into the glass" (N.Y. POST, 3/25). FANHOUSE.com's Chris Botta wrote the "debut of hockey in 3D was a success," as the coverage looked "really, really good." MSG Network "went for a broadcast to satisfy the techies and the hockey purists" both, and "by that measure they succeeded." Islanders Owner Charles Wang: "It looks spectacular. Hockey stands to benefit from the technology ... maybe more than any sport" (FANHOUSE.com, 3/24). In N.Y., Michael Obernauer writes the 3D "really looked good." The main camera angle -- atop the "first section of seats, on the red line -- truly does give you a view as if you had center-ice seats about 15 rows off the glass." There were "some events off the puck that might be missed, and some glare off the glass that is a problem at the angle the 3D cameras filmed from," but on a whole it was a "pretty neat show" (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 3/25). On Long Island, Neil Best notes "several times when a player was checked into the boards, it appeared as if he were headed for the audience's laps." The impact of 3D "became less dramatic at the slightly elevated angles used closer to center ice" (NEWSDAY, 3/25).
GARDEN PARTY: Unlike many other 3D tests of live sporting events that were tied to movie theaters or reserved for VIP and industry crowds, MSG sold tickets to last night's production and showed it in the Theatre at MSG, also located within the arena complex. Last night's crowd, predictably partisan to the Rangers, was about 2,600, with 1,550 of those tickets sold to the general public at $20 each. Sports industry figures present included Wang, MSG Chair James Dolan, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and COO John Collins, and NBA Entertainment Exec VP/Operations & Technology Steve Hellmuth. Other celebrities in attendance included Ferguson, Knicks F David Lee, Kiss drummer Peter Criss and actress Chloe Sevigny. Said Bettman, "This is spectacular, and MSG deserves a ton of credit for making this happen. I see great potential for this." However, the NHL has not yet determined specific future plans for 3D. When told the 3D view on TVs in a MSG VIP room was thought to be superior to the larger, cinema-sized screen in the theater, Bettman said, "That makes sense. There is something sort of off-putting about watching live events on a screen that size. People aren't used to it" (Fisher). In New Jersey, Tara Sullivan writes for "one night, the game in 3-D was a New York City event." The Knicks' Lee said, "This, I think, definitely gives a better perspective of the game as if you're watching it live" (Bergen RECORD, 3/25).