FIFA encouraged by 3-D experience

This summer's FIFA World Cup tournament provided a great test bed for getting 3-D TV into theaters (and limited consumer households). The organization that puts on the world's most watched sporting event said the experience was so positive, there will be more of it in 2014 (in Brazil).

At the recent IBC show in Amsterdam, Niclas Ericson, director of the TV Division at FIFA, said the organization knew it was taking some risks in presenting a technology that has not yet fully matured, but the demand from several broadcast organizations (including ESPN in the U.S.) swayed it to pursue it.

"We knew that is was a risky project," Ericson said, "but with the partners involved, we felt ready. In view of the results, we are very happy."

He said live matches in 3-D were shown in more than 600 theaters worldwide and there were nine TV channels distributed during the month-long soccer event, which was played in 10 stadiums in nine South African cities.

Swizerland's Host Broadcast Services (HBS), the official host broadcaster, produced nearly all of the HD coverage and provided unilateral HD production, transmission, commentary facilities and associated services for world broadcasters. HBS produced 15 distinct feeds, generating a total of 2200 hours of 3-D and 2-D HD coverage combined.

More than 30 HD cameras were used per game for the 2-D production (only 25 cameras were used in the 2006 World Cup).

For most of the 3-D coverage, HBS contracted with 3-D production specialists Can Communicate, which deployed dozens of Sony 1500 HD cameras and a total of 32 Canon HJ22ex7.6B portable HD ENG lenses mounted on Element Technica 3-D rigs. Sony 3-D processors were also used to converge the dual-camera (left-eye/right-eye) images.

Can Communicate used at least seven 3-D cameras for each match, supported by production trucks from Telegenic (UK) and AMP VisualTV (France) that were airlifted to South Africa.

Two redundant 3-D signals were sent via satellite to European theaters and homes via London using eight International Datacasting encoders (two at each of four venues) with integrated Sensio Technologies 3-D processing. These rigs were placed within strategic venues, including the newly renovated Orlando Stadium, in Johannesburg, where the opening ceremonies were held.

Ericson said FIFA was evaluating how much 3-D will be produced at the 2014 games, but there will certainly be more than this year.