NBA Finals Game 3 Puts 3D Projection Tech On The Court In Cleveland

Fans will be treated to one of the weirder spectacles in recent pro-sports history

3D projection mapping for the Cleveland Cavaliers by Quince Imaging

3D projection mapping for the Cleveland Cavaliers by Quince Imaging

Quince Imaging

If scoring tickets to the NBA finals isn’t enough of a thrill, fans of both Cleveland and Golden State will witness one of the weirder spectacles in professional sports tonight at the at the Quicken Loans Arena.

A company called Quince Imaging has tricked out several arenas with state-of-the art 3D projection systems. When the house lights go down, they turn the court into a giant video game. They create a very real—and let’s be honest, insanely fun—impression that the court is shattering like glass, or falling away into a flaming void of hell beneath player’s feet, or undulating like a heaving ocean of wood.

The trick has been used in several other arenas by several teams so far, including the Brooklyn Nets and the Miami Heat (for the 2013 ring ceremony), as well as other sports and mediums entirely: witness the Calgary Flames ice projection last year.

Though the technology is mind-blowing to watch, the driving force is simple. Quince uses several pairs of 26,000-lumen projectors (each two times brighter than a truck’s high beams and hooked to the arena’s rafters) to project recorded animations onto the court.

Using different angles and brightness levels, the system is run different animations across the playing surface. The system only works if the arena is dark enough, so that fans can’t see the actual court. The projectors must also be mounted at an angle to beam the image flat onto the playing surface. In some playoff matchups—it could provide the best two minutes of the night.

Until you have a fatal Windows error projected on the floor.