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NFL Takes 3D HD Leap

The National Football League (NFL) announced Monday that it will trial high-definition 3D production and presentation technology next week by broadcasting Thursday night’s game between the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders in 3D HD to movie theaters in Boston, Los Angeles and New York.

The NFL would be the second major American sports league to experiment with 3D HD technology for live broadcasts, following the National Basketball Association (NBA). The

NBA first produced the 2007 All-Star Game in 3D HD

, and subsequently several teams have held 3D HD viewing parties of games delivered via both fiber and satellite.

The Dec. 4 game will be produced and transmitted in 3D HD by specialist firm 3ality Digital of Burbank, Calif., which shot the “U2 3D” concert film and also transmitted a

live 3D HD interview with Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg

to Amsterdam during the IBC show in September. The Chargers-Raiders contest will be shown to invited guests at theaters in Boston, Hollywood and New York City which are equipped with RealD’s 3D projection systems. Technicolor Digital Cinema is providing the satellite transponder time and digital downlink services to each theater.

“The NFL has played an important role in the evolution of media and consumer acceptance of emerging technologies and we’re pleased to work with 3ality Digital and RealD to glimpse into the future,” said Howard Katz, the NFL’s senior VP of broadcasting and media operations, in a statement. “This broadcast will be an exciting test of how 3D could affect fans’ experience in the future.”

Beverly Hills, Calif.-based RealD, which has deals with 100 exhibition partners and claims to hold over 90% of the current 3D HD theater market, will also be contributing 3D-capable television monitors to simulate what the company calls “the television viewing experience of the future.” Theater partners for the NFL event are Clearview Cinemas, Mann Theatres and National Amusements, which collectively have over 160 RealD theatre locations.