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FIFA plans 500 cinema 3-D experiences

Cinema chains in Brazil, Mexico, the United States, Italy, Belgium, the UK, France and Spain have signed up to receive the live 3-D broadcast of the 2010 World Cup, with Korea and China also likely, according to Sensio, the Montreal-based technology company engaged by FIFA to help deliver the broadcast. In total, eight matches from the quarter finals onward, beginning July 2 and 3, will be broadcast live to large screens.

The exhibitors include Gaumont and Europalace in France; Kineopolis in Belgium; Movieplex and Cine Cite in Italy; and Digital Cinema Media in the UK, which has signed a deal with SuperVision Media to show three of the quarter finals, both semifinals and the final in 40 screens across the Odeon, Cineworld, Vue and Empire chains.

In the United States, Sensio is working with digital cinema delivery group Cinedigm.

Aruna Media originally contracted Sensio to deliver the feed, but Sensio is now working directly with FIFA.

“We’ve had a very short time to piece this together, but we still have time to finalize everything since we are only targeting the last few games,” said Richard LaBerge, executive vice president of Sensio.

The HBS-produced dual 3-D signals are compressed at the international broadcast center in South Africa into a single 1080i50 stream using Sensio’s compression technology.

“Whereas most broadcasters worldwide are compressing using a side-by-side system, which can mean that half of the resolution is lost, our algorithm increases the quality to 90 percent of the original image resolution,” LaBerge said.

The signal is routed to London, the site of FIFA’s distribution partner GlobeCast, and from there to signal providers such as Eutelsat for transmission to cinemas across Europe.

“Some cinema’s are (downconverting) to 720p60 because of limitations in the digital projector at some theater chains,” LaBerge said.

Sensio has worked with signal providers to support local digital cinema integrators for the system design, testing and implementation of the live 3-D broadcast network.

LaBerge said the company is in discussion with TV set manufacturers to incorporate its decoder within new generations of 3-D TVs to enable broadcasters to transmit 3-D programming using the format.

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