Hockey Night in Canada to experiment with 3D technology

 

 
 
 

Here's maybe the most disappointing thing about Hockey Night In Canada's historic 3D broadcast on Saturday: Viewers won't need 3D-ready glasses for Coach's Corner.

That segment of the show will not be shot with the new technology. And no, it has nothing to with the effect Don Cherry's loud sports jackets could have on one's eyes. It's just that the first intermission tradition is now shot in studio and not at the Air Canada Centre.

Canadians can bear witness to the country's first 3D hockey game during CBC's broadcast of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens. And with a price tag around $300,000 per game, it may be the second last ever.

CBC and Panasonic have already committed to showing the Heritage Classic between the Canadiens and Calgary Flames at McMahon Stadium on Feb. 20. Yet for all the partners know, the concept could go the way of the glow puck, last used in Fox's broadcast of the 1998 Stanley Cup final.

It's truly an unknown, how hockey will translate to the latest buzz in television technology.

"I don't think this is a gimmick," said analyst Kelly Hrudey, who will be working the 3D broadcast. "I do know that it's a bit of an experiment to see what the positives and negatives are — I must admit, I watched golf in 3D one time and didn't like it. It would have been nice if they had the red ball or the flaming ball because with the distance and the 3D it made it very hard to follow. But with hockey and the size of the players and the hitting, like the soccer match I saw and just loved, it should be pretty cool."

Either way, it's amazing how far sports on TV has come. CBC had just made the switch from black and white to colour when Steve Armitage began his broadcasting career in 1965. There was no such thing as a hand-held camera never mind remote frequency microphones.

"Every time something changes I shake my head and marvel at the way they've come about," said Armitage, who worked for Hockey Night in Canada from 1978-2008. "I don't think the way that we cover hockey has changed all that much, but the equipment we have to cover the game with has dramatically."

Makes you wonder what Foster Hewitt and Danny Gallivan would think of all this?

"Wow, eh — could you imagine," said Sherali Najak, senior producer of HNIC. "No matter what gizmos and technology you have access to, don't make the show bigger than the game is what I believe would be their advice."

While Najak couldn't think of one negative to come from what he fondly refers to as a "science project," one former NHL goalie certainly can.

"The only thing with us aging broadcasters, I don't know if the viewers will be able to tell how far our bellies are sticking out," said Hrudey. "That's the only downside to it as far as I see."

Well, don't forget Don's jackets.

Vancouver Sun

iwalker@vancouversun.com

Twitter.com/WalkerBigTalker

 
 
 
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