OXNARD, Calif. NBC Sports and the Dallas Cowboys announced that they will work with Replay Technologies Inc. to provide a unique, new 360-degree “FreeD” look at red-zone plays for viewers watching NBC football telecasts and fans at the game in AT&T Stadium.
“FreeD” (free dimensional video) will debut during the Sept. 8 Sunday Night Football New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys opener. In addition, NBC Sports will use the system for the October 5 Notre Dame-Arizona State game, and the October 13 Redskins-Cowboys SNF game (in addition to any Cowboys home games flexed into primetime) at AT&T Stadium. Fans in the stadium will also see “FreeD” replays on the scoreboard at all home games, as well as on Cowboys local programming during the season.
The “FreeD” system will utilize 24 high-speed cameras mounted in the stadium — 12 in each red zone placed on both sides of the field from the 20-yard line to the goal line and in the back of each end zone — to provide replays of key red-zone plays from a 360-degree perspective, enabling fans to see the action seamlessly.
“We are excited to partner with NBC Sports to bring a new look at replays to our fans,” said Charlotte Anderson, Dallas Cowboys executive vice president. “We are always striving to be on the cutting edge of technology and innovation. Just as our center hung video board has changed the way our fans view the game, we believe that this ‘FreeD’ technology will add a unique viewing dimension for our fans at every game.”
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“The Cowboys are the perfect partner, because AT&T Stadium is the most technologically advanced stadium in the world, and the organization is constantly striving to provide the best entertainment experience for their fans,” said Fred Gaudelli, coordinating producer of Sunday Night Football. “Being able to seamlessly move from side to side and around an entire play without switching shots will entertain and inform the fans at the stadium and watching our telecast. Fans will think they are playing a video game or watching a Sci-fi movie, but they’ll actually be viewing football as never presented before.”
RELATED: ‘FreeD’ brings 360-degree camera views to NBC football this fall
Sure, the Palace in Dallas, newly rechristened AT&T Stadium in a naming rights deal worth upwards of $19 million a year, may be a $1.2 billion monument to excess to Texas-style size and excess. But that doesn’t doesn’t mean the high-end gadgetry inside can’t be put to good use.
This season, in conjunction with Replay Technologies Inc., the Dallas Cowboys and NBC Sports will introduce 360-degree, “FreeD” replay views for red-zone action (from the 20-yard line to the end zone), available for viewers watching NBC’s football broadcasts, local Cowboys broadcasts in Dallas, and those inside the stadium staring up at 23,040 square feet of center-hung LED Diamond Vision display. Twenty four cameras – 12 on each side of the field – placed strategically allow depth and color to be calculated for every pixel within visible coverage. The information is then built into 3D models enabling fully orbiting views without switching cameras. The effect is like a combination of The Matrix-style “bullet time” and the latest Google Maps animations, with any moment of action viewable from almost any conceivable angle.
The system makes its maiden NFL voyage on Sept. 8, when the Dallas Cowboys host the New York Giants and will be used again on October 13th when Dallas hosts Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins. Fans of college football will also get a taste of FreeD when Notre Dame plays Arizona State on the 5th of October, at AT&T Stadium as part of this year’s “Shamrock Series.”
Fred Gaudelli, producer of “Sunday Night Football” for NBC, told the Television Critics Association Sunday the decision to place the system in Dallas was no accident. “It literally takes a month to install this system,” he said. “Obviously, we’re doing games every single week. So there’s only one system in the world. We basically had to put it in a stadium we knew we were going to be at least twice. Pray for three times.”
No sport has a larger, more dedicated television watching audience than the NFL. FreeD promises fresh views of a football game’s most critical moments. (Including potentially soul crushing, late game mistakes). The upcoming NFL season contains a nearly endless array of compelling questions. If, for you, one happens to be “If Tony Romo and The Matrix had a baby, what would it look like?”
Your answer is coming.