In 1939, TV sports pioneers broadcast baseball and football games on an experimental basis, even though sets in New York numbered in the hundreds.
The evolution of 3D-compatible sets for home use is at a comparably primitive stage today, but that is not stopping MSG from a historical 21st century experiment.
Wednesday, the network plans to televise the Islanders-Rangers game in 3D – the first hockey game ever shot with the technology and the first live 3D sports event sent directly to homes.
“It’s an enormous learning experience for us,’’ said Mike Bair, president of MSG Media. “We wanted to get in front of this.’’
The telecast, which also will be shown to a paying audience at the Theater at the Garden, will require an entirely separate production using five specially designed 3D cameras. (Kenny Albert and Dave Maloney will call the action.)
Those cameras will be placed at lower angles than for a traditional telecast, because the 3D impact is greatly enhanced from at or near ground level, where there is depth of field and figures in the foreground can stand out.
The effect is severely limited from a traditional high press-box-level angle.
The director also will hold shots longer than usual because the 3D effect can be “a little disorienting until you get used to it,’’ Bair said.
Hockey presents special challenges, including shooting through the glass above the boards. No one wants smudges in 3D.
“We’ll have squeegee folks cleaning the glass during the game,’’ Bair said.
The platforms required for the cameras will displace a couple of hundred fans who will be otherwise accommodated.
The game only will be seen on Cablevision for now, but MSG has offered it to other TV providers. (Cablevision owns Newsday.)
Other 3D sports events sent to homes are coming soon, including the Masters and the World Cup soccer tournament.
Wednesday’s event is the only one on MSG’s schedule for now, but Bair said he hopes to add events for Knicks, Rangers, Islanders and Devils games next winter.
That's it for this week. Enjoy the Cornell game Sunday.