This weekend’s Heritage Classic in Calgary between the Montreal Canadiens and Calgary Flames will be the third NHL game of the season to be broadcast in 3D.  Already a Hockey Night In Canada game between Montreal and Toronto and the Pittsburgh / Washington Winter Classic have had the treatment.

Panasonic is, once again, sponsoring the event with 7 cameras and an entire separate produciton unit on site for the game.

Jeff Johnson is the director of the 3D Broadcast that not only has it’s own camera and production crew, but will have a separate play-by-play team describing the action.  3D sports needs to linger a little longer with each shot, Johnson explained to me on a rehearsal day at McMahon Stadium.

If you do a lot of jump cuts with quick action, the effect of the 3D will start to lose its effect.  Your brain needs some time to sink in to the experience and rapid angles just don’t let that happen.

He says a traditional 2D broadcast gives you the game experience, the 3D broadcast gives you the being at the game experince.  Instead of shots, he talks about scenes where the camera behind the net will have the goalie sitting at screen depth and any action behind the net moving right into your living room.  A high and wide point shot on the power play will have you ducking, he beams.

20110219 heritage classic - 25You’ll also notice the cameras will feature more down low action.  A long, wide shot doesnt do much in 3D, a tight shot of a player on the bench doesn’t do anything either.  But a mid range shot from the corner, behind the net or just above center ice gives a much better perspective of what it’s like to be one of those bankers that can afford the club seats.

Because of the down low action, marks on the glass are now very distracting for the broadcast.  Once that shot goes high and wide, the scuff stays on the glass and floats in front of the screen.  Wipers head out at each stoppage to clean the glass in front of the cameras.  On the rehearsal day, they were blocking the angles the corner camera could use without getting the stansion into frame.  On a regular 2D broadcast, that glass separator would just float by.  In 3D, it’s like a guy with a big hat sitting right in front of you.

2 new jobs have been created for the 3D crew.  In addition to measuring and balancing all the cameras for colour and light, there are now convergence operators who determine exactly where that depth of field in 3D will be for each camera.  During the course of gameplay, they’re responsible for keeping everything at the same depth so switching between cameras keeps a consistent experience for the viewer.

The 3D broadcast of the Heritage Classic is available right across the country on all cable providers.  If you already have an HD box (and a 3D set) just scroll up to the higher channels on your guide to find the listing of the feed.  Even if you just have an HD or standard def set, you can pop in to the broadcast but it will look very fuzzy and even glasses won’t fix it.

catch the buzz … pass it on.

buzz bishop future shop tech blogThis post was originally published at The Future Shop Tech Blog.

**There was to be a second part to this piece, a review of a Panasonic 50″ Plasma 3D TV.  5 minutes after plugging it in, my son threw a wand of lego at the screen and it died.  I can only say, it looked beautiful and plasma sets are not lego proof.**

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