CES: The Game's the Thing


Las Vegas — Let’s say it: The title game of the Bowl Championship Series for college football was a humongous, raging dud.

ESPN screened the LSU-Alabama snoozefest here in glorious 3D, at the Las Vegas Hotel & Casino (née the “Las Vegas Hilton”… though all the stuff in the rooms still says “Hilton” on it).

The 3D was good (the same feed, I’m told, that was sent to Bristol). The food was good. The game was horrible.

The Crimson Tide’s defense absolutely shamed the LSU Tigers on Monday night, shutting them out with a final score of 21-0. ‘Bama had five field goals, a TD and a missed extra point.

ESPN says that with the 3D telecasts it “strives to bring fans the closest thing to a real-life experience ever televised.” At the LSU-Alabama game, the network had 11 3D cameras, including the SkyCam that carried both 3D and 2D cameras, and a 3D “Ultra Slo Motion” camera on a cart that moved along the sideline developed by Fletcher Chicago (with technology and cameras from I-Movix using Vision Research cameras).

The ESPN 3D telecast — beamed into the LVH using two Christie Digital projectors — also has 3D cameras on each goalpost and three miniaturized, 24-pound handheld cameras (rigs designed and developed by Cameron Pace Group, cameras are Sony PMD10s).

But so what if it’s in 3D? The game sucked.

I will say that certain shots were spectacular in 3D — chiefly, a field-level shot of the punt return by Alabama’s Marquis Maze in the first quarter, which set up the Tide’s first field goal. You felt like you were right there.

The larger point is: 3D is an effect. Yes, it enhances the “viewing experience.” It’s cool to see the depth on the field, and the ball spiraling toward the sidelines. But while Hollywood can (sometimes) obscure a weak storyline with razzle-dazzle 3D effects, with live TV you’re beholden to what’s going on right now.

Don’t get me wrong: I do think 3D has a place in the TV lineup. But are you tuning in because it’s in 3D? Not really. First, the story has to be good. Or, in the case of LSU-Alabama on Monday night, it has to have the promise of being good.


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