NBA to Screen All-Star Game in HD Theater

The NBA holds its all-star contest this weekend in Las Vegas and although it will not be held on the southern end of The Strip at the Mandalay Bay Hotel, invited guests of the basketball league may have some of the best seats in the house anyway. The lucky group will view the game live on a theater-sized screen in what the NBA is calling "3-D HDTV."

The event is being viewed as a way to both expand the NBA's reach, and (eventually) to help movie theater chains that want to fill as many seats as possible. In some markets such as San Antonio, habitual sell-out home games and high TV ratings for the NBA Spurs subsequently keep potential moviegoers out of theaters on game nights by as much as 60 percent, according to The Wall Street Journal this week. The NBA wants to make its June playoffs available in theaters in markets hosting the games.

Vince Pace, a longtime collaborator of James Cameron, the Oscar-winning director of the digitally enhanced motion picture "Titanic," developed the HD technology being used. Although not truly three-dimensional, the technology can produce a greater depth-of-field than the typical, smaller flatscreen set, according to some observers who have seen it. Specials glasses will be used at the NBA event.

"Pace uses true stereoscopic technology," veteran engineer, author, and broadcast industry consultant Mark Schubin told HD Notebook. Schubin has seen some demos of the Pace technology.

Viewing live (and recorded) televised events in commercial movie theaters has already proven successful in recent months. At the Met Opera (where Schubin has been broadcast engineer-in-charge for nearly 30 years), "The Magic Flute" from Lincoln Center in New York was recently televised in HD to about 60 U.S. theaters where an average of 91 percent of all seats were reportedly sold.