Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Mark Cuban Wants to Know if You’re Ready for Some Football in 3-D

One of the biggest themes at the Consumer Electronics Show this year (besides the fact that the town is comparatively empty) is 3-D. A host of hardware and software companies insists that a new version of the technology is ready for prime time, and that it won’t be a “Creature from the Black Lagoon” novelty: The glasses are better, the images will burst off the screen and into your lap, etc.

At Sony’s keynote presentation yesterday, CEO Howard Stringer devoted a good chunk of his presentation to the wonders of the technology and showed off a 3-D short from Disney’s (DIS) Pixar. And last night a few hundred of us got another demo–a broadcast of the Florida/Oklahoma BCS championship game, on a giant screen, live, in 3-D.

This sounded great in theory. A brace of companies, including Cinedigm, 3ality, Carmike Cinemas (CKEC), News Corp.’s (NWS) Fox and Sony (SNE), partnered up to create a special 3-D broadcast that went out to a handful of movie theaters across the U.S. (News Corp. is the owner of Dow Jones and this Web site.) And they’d like to replicate this a dozen times a year for other special occasions: Other big sports events, concerts and the like.

This stuff is still a bit rough around the edges. The 3-D cameras seem to have a hard time keeping up with high-speed action like a pass, some images didn’t seem to focus that well, and the broadcast, which was created separately from the show everyone else in the country saw, seemed to be several cameras short–not enough overhead shots of the action, etc. But that’s OK: CES is usually stuffed with vaporware that never makes it to market, so we’re willing to cut an actual product some slack.

The bigger question is whether the 3-D experience will be amazing enough to convince people to pay money to watch a big game at a theater instead of their living rooms or at a sports bar. I’m not convinced, but I’m willing to give it another shot.

Here’s some video footage from the event; I can’t show you what the broadcast looked like because my not-so trusty Flip Mino doesn’t have any kind of flash. And there’s not much point in watching a clip of a 3-D broadcast in 2-D anyway, right? Instead, I chatted with Cinedigm CEO Bud Mayo, recent Carmike investor Mark Cuban (more from him later), and Nate Westheimer, a New York-based tech guy around town who filled in as my volunteer cameraman and one-man focus group.

[Image Credit: Life/Google]

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik