Sony 3D Processor Box makes high-profile debut

For 3-D production of the 2010 World Cup, Sony has developed a 3-D platform that combines processor, switcher, lenses and camera rigs. The company is fitting what it calls a 3-D layer onto an existing HD truck from UK outside broadcast supplier Telegenic as well as building an entirely new truck for French OB firm AMP; both units will be shipped directly to South Africa. “We’ve designed a fully integrated camera chain for the World Cup operation,” said Mark Grinyer, head of sports Business for Sony Professional. “The key is passing the lens metadata throughout the chain … We are inserting the 3-D camera chain into a 2-D HD truck so both modes can be operated from the same vehicle.”

The 3-D layer includes a network to carry data between the CCU and 3D Processor Box, a Canon digital-servo broadcast lenses and Canon digital lens controllers, which enable control over a camera pair and monitoring equipment to enable the convergence pullers and stereographers to view 3-D.

Sony’s HDC 1500s will be fitted with Canon lenses on Element Technica rigs. “We’re able to zoom on the system, which is a must for football,” Grinyer said. “Using data from both lenses, the 3-D box can correct lens misalignment and drive some aspects of the rig, including the interaxial.”

The 3-D boxes are product ready, according to Grinyer, but software development continues based out of Sony’s Basingstoke, UK, headquarters. “We are using advanced software before the next release. The plan is to release Version 1.1 just before the World Cup. We’ll continue developing it around aspects of rig control and feeing lens metadata into the box.” Despite the 3D Processor Box adding a couple of frames onto the playout time, “We haven’t experienced any significant lag in operation on the tests we’ve been doing,” Grinyer said.

“We are seeing a number of requests coming in across Europe from OB firms for 3-D layers. There is a point where a truck too old, so there’s no point adding a 3-D layer,” Grinyer said. “But if you have a newer generation HD-capable and there is real demand in the country, then it’s sensible for suppliers to explore it.”

A number of rental companies have ordered the 3D Processor Boxes, Grinyer said, “which is always a good sign that the market is there.”

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