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3-D World Cup plans come into focus

Element Technica is in a prime position to supply rigs for the Host Broadcast Services (HBS) production of select World Cup matches in 3-D. The Los Angeles-based camera kit specialist has been testing its Quasar rigs with HBS in South Africa. Quasars can be configured either as a beam-splitter (mirror) system for close work with wide lenses or, as is most likely for sports, as a side-by-side system for use with extreme focal lengths.

As many as 30 rigs may be required if FIFA’s goal of 25 matches is to be achieved. The HBS production is being led by Peter Angell, HBS head of production and programming, and is an entirely separate operation from HBS’ production of the multilateral host feed. Sony’s press announcement last December was somewhat misleading about the company’s involvement in the 3-D broadcasts. It stated that the matches would be produced “using Sony’s 3-D professional cameras,” whereas it is not clear whether Sony’s new 2/3in HDC-P1 box-style camera will be used. Sony’s HDC1500s may be paired in the Quasar rigs, but these are, of course, conventional 2-D OB cameras. It is also not clear whether the company’s 3D Processor Box for lens alignment correction will be ready in time.

Sony maintains that its “expertise and technology will be used to help produce” the 3-D matches, and it is possible that new, dedicated 3-D trucks it has helped build will be used. Sony Pictures Entertainment will produce and distribute an official 3-D film of the 2010 World Cup, but Sony does not hold the live 3-D rights to broadcast the matches. “HBS will be supported by Sony, and we are working to deliver a Sony technology solution for the production,” confirmed Mark Grinyer, Sony’s head of sports business development. “Sony has got the rights it wanted, and other rights, including the live rights, are available to third parties.”

3-D highlights of matches will be shown on up to 10 Bravia 3-D TVs at six official “fan fests” or public viewing arenas in cities including Mexico City, Berlin, Paris, Sydney and Rio de Janeiro. The highlights package is also likely to be relayed in Sony’s retail centers. ESPN America has stated that it will air the 3-D transmissions to coincide with the launch of its dedicated 3-D channel in June. It is also possible that the number of matches to be captured in 3-D may be lower than the original target of 25; sources indicate that 20 or 16 matches may in the end be recorded in 3-D.

One issue is finding positions for the larger 3-D rigs in stadiums where seating is at a premium, and tickets were sold long before a decision was made to include the extra rigs. Sony is scheduled to lift the veil on its involvement at a press conference April 7.

Adrian Pennington
Adrian Pennington

Adrian Pennington is a journalist specialising in film and TV production. His work has appeared in The Guardian, RTS Television, Variety, British Cinematographer, Premiere and The Hollywood Reporter. Adrian has edited several publications, co-written a book on stereoscopic 3D and is copywriter of marketing materials for the industry. Follow him @pennington1