BBC to test 3-D HD in stadium for rugby matches

The BBC will use test HD 3-D technology on March 8 for its upcoming 6 Nations rugby telecast between England and Scotland. The game will be shown in a 3-D stereoscopic projected screen to an invited audience at the West London Riverside Studios in Hammersmith.

The trial is a joint venture between BBC Sport and the 3DFirm, which is made up of Can Communicate, a production company; Inition, a specialist in 3-D production and technology; and Axis Films, a production and post-production equipment rental company.

Aashish Chandarana, an executive with BBC Sports, said that with Philips and Samsung producing plasma screens for the format, and with NHK in Japan having done some transmission tests with it, the BBC sees its potential for live sports and other major live events.

Can Communicate has been developing 3-D production and display techniques since 2005, when it worked on an experimental film for Coca-Cola that was used for the FIFA 2006 World Cup Trophy Tour. David Wooster, a partner in Can Communicate, said 3-D coverage works best as a live, close-up experience, not at a major multicamera event.

For 3-D coverage, three pairs of Sony HDC950 cameras are being supplied by Axis Films. One set of cameras will be located high up in Edinburgh's Murrayfield Stadium for wide shots, with the other two rigs at ground level.

The signals produced by each pair of cameras are genlocked together — a critical process because any differences will damage the 3-D effect. A Sony MVS-8000 HD production switcher will be used to mix the signals in sync, and then the two multiplexed HD signals will be uplinked over satellite to Riverside Studios. Once there, the signals will be decoded as an HD-SDI output and fed to two projectors for the screening with surround sound.

The audience will be wearing special glasses, however, a decision on which 3-D system to use, either polarized or color spectrum, had not yet been announced.