3-D veterans Cameron/Pace take the stage at Grass Valley

At the Grass Valley press conference at the IBC2011 show, amid a number of new product announcements, the biggest news came from 3-D production veteran Vince Pace when he walked on stage and said he remained committed to making 3-D production as cost-effective and technically sophisticated as today’s multi-camera 2D HD telecasts.

Pace was joined on stage by film director James Cameron, with whom Pace has formed a production services company called the CAMERON | PACE Group, to announce a technology partnership with Grass Valley in which Grass Valley will develop new features and functionality for its production switchers and servers that will allow a 2D/3-D simulcast — or, as Pace called it, a “5D” production — that will only require a single crew to produce.

“It’s so critical to the industry that we integrate the solutions and come up with a very clean and determined business plan that makes sense to the industry to increase the amount of 3-D productions,” Pace said. “So, this business of saying we have fewer cameras or we don’t tell the whole story is going to go away.”

Initially, CAMERON | PACE Group will incorporate Grass Valley production technologies, including the Kayenne Video Production Center switcher, K2 Production Clients, and K2 Dyno Replay Controllers into their most current, state-of-the art, 3-D production truck.

“This alliance is exactly what the industry needs,” said Alain Andreoli, President and CEO of Grass Valley. “Since the introduction of practical 3-D production systems for broadcast, the main sticking-point has been the unnecessary costs and workflow issues associated with producing an event for both the traditional 2D audience and the emerging 3-D audience. Grass Valley, in its alliance with CAMERON | PACE Group, will be able to silence the critics by making the business case for dual production practical while delivering the best pictures to both audiences.”

Pace said the on-going goal is to reduce crew sizes on live production projects by utilizing integrated solutions that enable a single camera operator to shoot for both the 2D and 3-D audiences. The company covered last week’s US Open Tennis Tournament in New York in 3-D using 14 camera systems, nine of which were Pace’s “Shadow 5D” rigs. They covered two courts in 3-D, with one court totally automated and driven by the 2D production.

“It’s the perfect 2D/3-D solution,” he said, adding that the Shadow 5D rig uses the telemetry of the 2D operator’s lens, thereby allowing the deliverable to 2D to be very independent in frame size of the 3-D production. “But, the similarity is the point of interest. We all want to see the same story.

“It’s a 2D operator, a 2D backbone and by the way we’re delivering a 2D and 3-D signal at the same time,” Pace continued. “Often times, this is referred to as a 5D production. We’re not going to increase your crew size and we’re going to manage those costs so that when you compare them to a revenue delta, they make sense to you. That is good business for our industry.”

At the press conference, Grass Valley detailed a number of products, including its LDK series HD cameras, K2 Summit servers, with newly enhanced features as well as a new mid-level production switcher called Karerra that can be used for 3-D projects.

“We’re on a relentless path to grow the 3-D business,” said Cameron. “We’ve been in the 3-D game for 12 years now. We are so excited about what’s happening right now [with 3-D] but it’s a little bit daunting staying ahead of the rapid rate of technology change, so we have to have powerful alliances with people that are major players in broadcast who will be able to fulfill this future and supply the kind of quality 3-D that people enjoy.”

Pace told the audience that his company has been involved in shooting 140 sports events and 27 feature films.

“The goal [of the Grass Valley alliance] is to develop cost-effective solutions so we can increase the volume of 3-D production and change this dilemma that there’s not enough content or not enough TV screens [in homes]. This will really start to move 3-D in a business direction, where it makes sense.”

Of note, the agreement did not mention the exclusive use of Grass Valley cameras, as Pace has been using mostly Sony HD cameras for his work up to now.

Rob Willox, Director of Sony 3-D content creation group, said he expects Sony to forge a similar agreement with the CAMERON | PACE Group to co-develop ever smaller camera systems and other products that will facilitate lighter, easier-to-manage rigs.