The NBA broadcast the entire game using 3D video technology, which displays the players in 3D in real time.

Why is it important: As companies continue to struggle to get to the ground floor of the metaverse, we see even non-tech players buying into the concept. While the NBA hasn’t announced plans to stream virtual games in the metaverse, its “Netaverse” tech definitely indicates it might be thinking about it.

Last night, the NBA became the first organization to stream the entire game in what it called “NBA CourtView” or “Netaverse.” The last moniker is a play on the term metaverse because it delivers content in a virtual 3D environment, but is technically called 3D video. The technology used is not new. It had previously been used to allow commentators to outline and explain individual replays, but this was the first time the NBA had used it to broadcast an entire game.

Called Free-Viewpoint Video, the technology was developed by image processing pioneer Cannon. It uses 110 cameras located around the basketball court to capture the movements of the players. The computer uses the data collected from the cameras to create real-time 3D renderings of the players and the court. This method allows the operator to change angles on the fly. It also allows the camera to seemingly move 360 ​​degrees freely, as if it were a drone flying around the stadium.

Imaging technology is not perfect. Glitches, video artifacts, and stutters give away the illusion. Even without video artifacts, the action teeters on the edge of the uncanny valley. It looks like the real thing, but the lack of shadows and reflections lets the mind know that something isn’t quite right – like you’re watching someone play an old NBA video game or something. The tweets above give you an idea.

The NBA did not broadcast the game using 3D video on network station ESPN, but viewers could watch it on ESPNews or ESPN+. Interestingly, this technology may be suitable for watching live games in the metaverse as if you were there, but the NBA, ESPN and Cannon have not confirmed that they are going in this direction.

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