Stereography gets sporty


SCREEN AFRICA reports from IBC, the premier broadcast technology trade show in Amsterdam.

Part of the sports broadcasting focus on day three of the IBC Conference included a session on the future of stereographic 3D in sports. Not surprisingly, this session heavily referenced the recent broadcast of 25 matches of the recent FIFA World Cup South Africa in 3D.

It was at last year’s IBC that FIFA-appointed Host Broadcast Services (HBS) came up the idea of broadcasting some of the 2010 tournament in stereographic 3D. Said HBS head of Production and Programming Distribution Peter Angell: “We then entered into discussions with FIFA and Sony and officially launched the 3D project on 11 January this year, a mere five months before the opening match of the tournament. On the 12th of January we met with Sony in Basingstoke, UK, to see their “3D box’. The sports broadcaster ESPN became another partner in our 3D project.

“We conducted several tests, the last of which took place on 21 May in France.
Then we loaded the 3D-rig and equipment into an Antonov plane and flew it to South Africa. HBS wanted this to be a risk free operation and we had to fit the 3D production plan into an already comprehensive 2D plan, which had been finalised two years prior. We wanted to insert a 3D layer into our 2D HD basic infrastructure.’

The next step was to develop a whole new department within HBS devoted to stereography, which Angell defined as “controlling in real time the 3D parameters of the stereoscopic video image’. Another important step was finding stereographers to train.

HBS’ 3D kit consisted of: Sony MPE-200 Multi Image Processor (ie. the “3D box’); Element Technica Quasar Active 3D rig; Canon J22 lenses; Sony 3D broadcast monitors; Sony Dual-Control RCPs, and EVS servers. According to Angell, the biggest challenge in the whole 3D project was getting all this equipment “to talk to each other’.

Key suppliers for the 3D project were AMP, Cancommunicate, Canon, Delta Tre, Element Technica, Globecast and Telegenic.

The 3D production plan was 25 matches spread over five stadia, with eight 3D cameras per match, full graphics and 5.1 Surround Sound. Some converted 2D footage was used in each match.

For more on the future of 3D in sports broadcasting and how 2D coverage differs from 3D coverage read the October issue of Screen Africa.


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