Avatar To NASCAR: 3D Racing Coming Soon?

Mary Jo BuchananSenior Writer IJanuary 12, 2010

While the new 3-D movie Avatar takes the film world by storm, the sports world may soon be experiencing everything from football to yes, even NASCAR, in 3-D. ESPN recently announced its version of the industry's first 3-D network.

The new 3-D network will feature a minimum of 85 live sporting events, starting on June 11 with the 2010 FIFA World Cup match.

"Our first event will feature South Africa versus Mexico," George Bodenheimer, ESPN and ABC Sports President, said.

"ESPN's commitment to 3-D is a win for fans and our business partners," Bodenheimer continued. "ESPN 3-D marries great content with new technology to enhance the fan's viewing experience and puts ESPN at the forefront of the next big advance for TV viewing."

Bodenheimer announced that other events, such as the 2011 BCS National Championship Game, college basketball, football, and World Cup matches will also be added to the 3-D lineup. 

The Summer X games and even NASCAR events could be announced later as the 3-D season launches.

ESPN has been testing the 3-D technology for sporting events for over two years. The network previewed the USC-Ohio State college football game in front of 6,000 fans on the USC campus just to try out the technology with a live audience.

"This is a turning point for 3-D," Gary Shapiro, CEO of Consumer Electronics Association, told USA Today.  "I can see in a couple of years this absolutely REVOLUTIONIZING the way we watch sports. I can't wait."

NASCAR is no stranger to the 3-D movement. Several years ago, NASCAR 3-D: The Imax Experience premiered, showing the history of stock car racing, from moonshine days to the Superbowl of NASCAR, the Daytona 500, all in 3-D.

The movie, narrated by NASCAR fan and 24 star Kiefer Sutherland, provides the sensation of being at the race track utilizing the 3-D technology. 

Director Simon Wincer insisted that the 600-pound, 3-D cameras be rigged to enable the viewer to have the sensation of being right there in the car on the race track.

"Very few people will ever be able to experience what it is like to drive and compete at more than 200 miles per hour with the precision and skill that NASCAR drivers achieve every week,"  Paul Brooks, president of NASCAR Digital Entertainment, said, "3-D brings the thrill and the behind the scenes look at the science of the sport."

With the ESPN launch of their 3-D network, NASCAR may indeed move from a one-time 3-D experience to regular race coverage in 3-D. 

And in that case, Avatar, move over. You may just have some competition.


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