3-D Football Game Closes In on Gator-Sooner Fans

Thousands of football fans who couldn't make it to Miami's Dolphin Stadium Thursday night for college football's Bowl Championship Series game still managed to score seats with a ground-level view -- a virtual one.

In a first major test of the technology, Fox Sports broadcast the game live in 3-D to 82 movie theaters in 30 states. For $20 to $25, depending on the theater, fans could sport a pair of plastic glasses and watch the Gators-Sooners game in three dimensions.

But sports fans and novelty-seekers flocking to theaters for this unprecedented broadcast weren't the only ones "tuning in" to Thursday night's game, which Oklahoma lost to Florida, 24-14.

At this year's annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where several companies are showcasing 3-D home televisions, industry watchers are buzzing that 3-D technology is the next digital frontier.

Reaction to this broadcast could be an indicator of the technology's commercial viability.

Replicating the Stadium Feel

"It felt like I was on the field," said Aaron Coldiron, 34, who watched the game from a Rave Motion Picture Theater in Las Vegas.

He said that surround sound even added to the sensation of being encased by crowds in a stadium.

Decked out in maroon-and-orange fan gear, a full audience at the Rave donned the updated, but still unmistakable, 3-D glasses with polarized lenses to watch the game unfold. To mirror the stadium experience, the theater had servers travel the room selling beer and snacks.

Brendan Berglund, 19, an art institute student, was impressed.

Though he said he'd still prefer a real game to 3-D version, he added that it was worth the $25 and a great experience.

"I'd definitely do it again," he said.

As they left the theater, the 3-D "guinea pigs" for the night told ABCNews.com that although a few glitches made it clear that the technology is still in development, they looked forward to more 3-D programming.

Sports fans in Las Vegas not watching from the theater said they were blown away by news of the 3-D broadcast.

The 'Team 3-D'

"It was mind-boggling when high definition was just beginning," Rob Wilt, 44, a Sooners fan from Pittsburgh, told ABCNews.com. "Now that it's real, it would be unbelievable if this takes off."

While fans cheered for their respective teams, executives at the Burbank, Calif.-based 3ality Digital said they were rooting for "team 3-D."

3ality is one of the major innovators behind Thursday night's broadcast. Its camera crew, which matches people with experience shooting sporting events with those comfortable shooting in three dimensions, shot the game with Sony cameras and 3ality's 3-D image capture and processing technology provided edits, transitions and graphics.

In addition to partnering with Fox Sports and Sony, 3ality worked with Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp. to distribute the game to the theaters via satellite.

The Beverly Hills, Calif.-based RealD supplied the black-rimmed plastic glasses with gray polarized lenses and equips theaters with 3-D technology. According to 3ality, RealD's technology has attracted more than 90 percent of the global market for 3-D cinema, with more than 5,500 screens around the world committed to installing RealD's technology.

Next to the Action

"Your proximity is the sideline. You think you are there standing next to the action vs. being in the last row of the upper deck," said David Modell, 3ality's chairman of the board and former president and CEO of the Baltimore Ravens.

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