NBA presents All-Stars in 3-D

Fans in Las Vegas who couldn't get tickets to the actual game at the Thomas & Mack Center last weekend were treated to a special 3-D presentation of the 56th annual NBA All-Star Game at the Mandalay Bay Hotel. The NBA — working with Vincent Pace (and his Fusion 3D system), Bexel, Sony and Read-D — used the league's recent spectacle to captivate two packed ballrooms with a 3-D, HD production of the live event.

Inside the Thomas & Mack Center arena, six customized HD camera systems (each made up of two modified Sony HDC-F950 cameras with Canon HD lenses, set up side by side) were set up at different positions to capture the game action — some were handheld. These unique camera rigs were manned by two operators, one focusing on the typical game action, while the other provided depth of field coverage. These camera feeds were distributed via fiber to a portable HD fly-pack system (provided by Bexel) in the arena that included a Sony MVS 8000A switcher and an EVS XT[2] server.

The Sony switcher includes a feature that allowed the director to aggregate multiple camera feeds and lock them together. The director then switched the multicamera production as he would a typical game broadcast; but, to get the full 3-D effect, he often held on shots longer than usual. Instant replays and graphics were also presented in 3-D, using the EVS server.

The output of the switcher (two uncompressed HD signals at about 3Gb/s) was sent to the Mandalay Bay ballrooms via fiber cabling. The larger ballroom was set up in a stadium-seating configuration, on risers to give the full effect. The smaller space was standing room only. Images were displayed with two stacked Sony SXRD 4K projectors in each room on 47ft and 30ft screens. The projectors were fitted with a special polarizing filter supplied by 3-D specialists Real D. Audience members wore special polarizing glasses to get the full 3-D effect.

The Sony/Fusion 3D camera system is the same one developed for director James Cameron, who is currently using it to shoot "Journey to the Center of the Earth," opening in theaters in 2008. Pace is now migrating the Fusion 3D camera system to include two of Sony's newer HDC-1500 HD cameras.

Following the successful demonstration, the NBA is exploring using the technology to expand its reach and offer away team fans a better viewing experience inside home arenas. Pay-per-view events of other sports, such as boxing, are also being considered.