NFL’s First 3D Game Has Adamo Ready For More

By Ken Kerschbaumer

Last night’s NFL Network broadcast of the San Diego Chargers/Oakland Raiders game in 3D HD may have been more of an experiment than a finished product, but, for Glenn Adamo, NFL VP, Media Operations and Broadcasting, it was a success that has him ready to give it another shot. “I was so pleased to be part of it and help lead the parade,” he says, “so now we’re going to figure out our next step and go from there.”

Adamo, who helped produce the game inside the Crosscreek Voyager 8 production truck alongside Director Bob Levy and Producer Steve Beim, says that next-generation improvements, like going from 720p to 1080p, will help deliver a higher-quality product that will wow viewers even more.

Inside the truck, the traditional monitor wall displayed the 2D feed from the left camera, and a 40-inch 3D monitor was located on the front bench to allow for monitoring of the 3D action. “The visual and audio experience of the game was phenomenal,” says Adamo. “And as the camera technology evolves, this will only get better,” he says of the Beam-splitting camera system and side-by-side rigs used during the telecast.

The broadcast, shot and produced by the NFL Network and 3ality Digital (David Modell, son of former Cleveland Browns/Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell owns part of the company and was instrumental in the production), was broadcast to three movie theaters in Boston, Los Angeles, and New York. Two transmission glitches at a Technicolor facility in Salt Lake City led to two outages on the screens during the first half, and, along with nailing down those issues, Adamo is ready for some production tweaks. End-zone cameras, for example, would be up a little higher off the playing field to give more perspective.

Adamo explains that the nature of 3D, which is all about creating a sense of space between objects, requires more of a north/south style football production, with players running toward and away from the camera rather than the typical east/west 2D broadcast, where cameras follow the action up and down the sidelines.

“3D needs a different presentation, and it’s more long-form with less camera cuts,” says Adamo. “It will also allow the novice to understand the game better as they can watch plays develop. When LT [San Diego running back LaDanian Tomlinson] ran in the first touchdown and was running towards the camera, you could see the seam open up, which was remarkable. The longer you stay with the shots, the more visual eye candy there is.”

The directing style wasn’t the only thing that changes as cameramen also have to get used to a new language. The first four minutes of the game were about letting the cameramen get comfortable with shooting in 3D. “We had four of the best cameramen from NFL Films, and they carry the day in terms of quality,” says Adamo.

As for audio, it benefitted from not going out over the public airwaves. Without the fear of FCC reprisals, the production staff could take a bit more risks with sending live audio from the referee mics to the theaters. During one series, Adamo called for the announcers to be left out of the mic, allowing viewers in the theaters to feel as if they were truly on the field.

“Ultimately, this experience is going to be in the home,” says Adamo. “It will begin in the theater, but, as more sets get made, it’s possible we could see something like the Super Bowl in 3D.”

For now, Adamo and the rest of the crew involved in the production are still riding high, basking in the glow of a production that proved it’s possible to make fans feel closer than ever to the action.