Florida State Continues To See 3D Differently

In the ultra-competitive college-football landscape, it’s no secret that head coaches will look for a competitive advantage almost any way they can get it. Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher may have the most innovative edge in the game, and it’s hard to argue with the results: the Seminoles are 7-1 and ranked No. 11 in the latest AP Poll.

The secret? Years of work and research in 3D.

In sports, 3D is typically judged for its value as an entertainment medium. However, Mark Rodin, director of FSU’s Seminole Productions, has helped the Seminoles to a research and scouting weapon.

Mark Rodin, director of Seminole Productions, shoots with Panasonic’s AG-3DA1 during a Florida State football game this season.

Two years ago, FSU Athletics purchased a Panasonic AG-3DA1. Since then, Rodin and his team have worked to perfect everything, including ideal shooting angles when working in 3D.

“The biggest thing we’ve had to learn is, we have to be away from anyone else to not get people in our shot,” says Rodin. “We experimented with sideline and different angles, and it turns out, literally, the end zone or corner of the end zone seems to be the best angle when you’re doing single-camera shooting so you don’t get people running in your way.”

Even though coaches typically like their game film to be from high up, 3D scouting videos are best at low angles, letting coaches analyze the depth of the play. In 3D, the lower the angle, the better the 3D looks, says Rodin, who typically shoots either field level from the end zone or slightly elevated to simulate the quarterback’s point of view.

“One of the things Coach Fisher said was, in 3D, you can really see foot movement [and] arm rotation of the quarterback. He said you can see stuff like that that you can’t see in 2D,” says Rodin, who has worked at FSU for more than two decades. He notes something else that Fisher has pointed out: “For instance, there’s a running back doing a sweep. In 2D, you see that the defensive end should have caught him if you’re looking from a defensive standpoint. Then you look at it in 3D, and you see that there was too much space between them and that he never could have caught him. Those are things that you can see in 3D that you just can’t see in 2D, things I would have never thought.”

The technology is also being tested to help players. Rodin and the Seminoles coaching staff are working closely with a sports psychologist who has developed a method for viewing 3D imaging and reading where a player’s eye movement goes. Rodin records practices from the quarterback’s point of view. Then they bring the quarterback into the projection room and put a device on his head that monitors eye movement.

Also working closely on the project is the athletic department’s resident optometrist. He has become such an advocate of the program that he approached Rodin to begin using the technology with the university’s baseball team.

For baseball, the camera is positioned where the home-plate umpire would be. “The big thing you can see in 3D that you can’t in 2D is the true speed of a pitch,” explains Rodin. “Speed is just not conveyed accurately in 2D because it’s a flat image.”

Baseball tests began just a week ago and are still in the very early stages.

Having built a 3D theater on campus, Florida State purchased 175 pairs of active glasses.

Florida State is continuing its commitment to 3D, completing construction of a 3D theater this past summer and bringing 3D to the classroom.

The school invested in Panasonic Full HD 3D projectors, one for the 3D theater in the football projection center and another to take on the road for presentations to booster groups. With that came the additional investment in 175 pairs of active glasses.

Simultaneously, Rodin has led the charge on the school’s Intro to 3D Production course for undergrad students.

With a number of Panasonic’s HDC-Z100000 twin-lens 2D/3D camcorders, students are learning how to shoot in 3D, understand the math behind it, and how to edit and create programming. A graduate program is working with RealD on research to help provide 3D footage that can be used for scientific studies and audience focus groups.

Through its Panasonic gear, Florida State is rapidly earning the title of 3D-U.

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