Ever since The Matrix came out in 1999, networks have tried to recreate the now-famous 360-degree bullet-dodging effect that wowed audiences.
CBS tried the much-hyped “EyeVision” in Super Bowl XXXV in 2001 and again at various NCAA Final Fours. It eventually was dropped.
ESPN tried it in their NHL on ABC coverage in the early aughts. NBC installed cameras at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX in 2013 in an attempt to provide The Matrix effect. Known as “freeD technology,” cameras were also installed at Yankee Stadium in New York as you can see here:
Having taken care of its on-air talent including Al Michaels, Marv Albert and Sugar Ray Leonard, NBC is now looking at the technical side in hopes of bringing eyeballs to boxing on network television.
NBC Sports Executive Producer Sam Flood told Yahoo that “Round-a-Bout” will consist of 32 cameras that will be mounted above the ring which will allow viewers to see jabs and hooks from all angles.
“The cool thing about this is being able to look at a punch from all different angles,” Flood said. “To be able to zoom around in that Matrix-top style, it’s going to make a huge difference for the viewer because you’re going to see from behind the fighter and then where the punch is landing.
“It’ll spin around with real clarity, and so it’s going to explain a lot of things. Shots that you think might not have made it, or did make it, well, we’ll have no question what’s happened, because there will be this single image without cutting between cameras. You’re going to nail it.”
Flood tells Yahoo that “Round-a-Bout” will first be used in replays, but will be seen live as he gets more comfortable with the angle.
NBC’s boxing series, “PBC on NBC” for the Premier Boxing Champions series debuts on March 7 in primetime with an additional 19 bouts divided between NBC and NBCSN during the year.
We’ll see if the “Round-a-Bout” and “ref cam” are hits with viewers.