Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

ESPN uses World Cup as living room guinea pig

ESPN (and its parent company Walt Disney) is operating a special laboratory in Austin, TX, where researchers are analyzing user response to the 3-D channel and its ads. The data will be used to enhance and shape future 3-D broadcasts. In a controlled living-room setting, scientists measure heart rate and skin conductivity and track the gaze of up to 4000 participants who will be exposed to new ad models over the Internet, mobile devices and TV screens.

After the World Cup ends, ESPN plans 3-D broadcasts of the MLB Home Run Derby on July 12, the ACC Championship and the BCS National Championship games in college football, and next year’s Big East tournament in college basketball. The network said it expects to carry about 85 3-D broadcasts this year. The rest of the time, the channel goes dark.

Beginning with the World Cup tournament, ESPN has required all commercials for the new channel to be produced in 3-D. As a result, it was estimated that the cost of 3-D commercials increased by 30 to 40 percent. Sony, Pixar, Gillette and Proctor & Gamble were the first to advertise with 3-D spots. The channel also aired a new 3-D “This is SportsCenter” spot, which showed anchor Stan Verrett demonstrating 3-D to Los Angeles Dodger Andre Ethier who accidentally breaks a 3-D camera with a baseball bat.

So far, there aren’t that many 3-D TV set owners to watch ESPN’s broadcasts in their homes. Certain ESPN restaurants are carrying the programming, as are participating 3D movie theaters, and Sony, a sponsor of the channel’s launch, supplied a number of its new 3-D LCD sets to “ESPN Wide World of Sports” facility in Orlando, FL, where ESPN hosted a viewing party for fans.

Niclas Ericson, TV director for FIFA, told Wired magazine that he expected an audience of “at least a few hundred thousand per match” worldwide to watch the games in 3-D. That’s an inconsequential number compared to the more than 26 billion cumulative viewers estimated to be tuning in to the regular HD broadcasts, but that is expected given the cost and other hurdles consumers must overcome.


86 Tons of Equipment needed for 3D FIFA broadcasts


A key piece of gear during the first tests was Sony’s new MPE200 image processor, which was being designed to handle a number of stereo acquisition tasks, including correcting slight mechanical misalignments, as well as making color correction match between the two cameras. This is accomplished in real time, enabling the live broadcast.

After some testing, the team was confident in the Sony image processor. They next selected Element Technica’s Quasar 3D rigs, with Sony’s HDC-1500 HD broadcast cameras and Canon HJ 22ex zoom lenses to shoot the tournament.

HBS, Humphreys, Element Technica and Canon essentially co-developed the image processor box with Sony, Bush said, adding, “It needed to integrate successfully with all of the components.”

Canon was also advancing its developments, in particularly a model FPB-10 serial divider box. This technology enables the simultaneous operation of two lenses on a stereo rig, using one standard zoom demand and one standard focus demand. “There were a lot of tests done to see how well they tracked,” said Canon national marketing executive Larry Thorpe. “That apparently worked out very well primarily because our digital drivers are 16-bit precision for zoom and focus, so that allowed accurate tracking.”

“The big advantage was that we didn’t have to start making special lenses, because of the inherent precision of the standard digital drive units on both lenses,” he said, adding that the FPB-10 would now be available as a product through Canon.

Explained Element Technica co-founder Stephen Pizzo: “We worked with Sony to integrate its box into our system. The Quasar is now controllable by the Sony box, and this project accelerated our work to open up our system.”

Belgian company EVS to manage World Cup 3D ingest

Broadcast Engineering details the massive amount of data to be captured and ingested during the World Cup Soccer event in South Africa using both tape and tapeless technologies.

“Recording is done on Sony HDCAM SR dual-stream VTRs (SRW5800) on-site and at the international broadcast center, as well as on EVS servers and will be managed in DVCProHD.”

EVS Hardware is capable of instant replay, loop recording, live clipping, playlist management, live slow motion, cuing and highlight editing”


U.S. audiences will be able to watch selected matches in 3D on ESPN using a 720p, 60fps side-by-side format for its World Cup coverage.

UK News Rag To Publish In 3D, Playboy to follow

UPDATE: 5.13.10

The June issue of Playboy  will offer its own eye-popping spread featuring 3D centerfold Hope Dworaczyk.  This according to UK’s Hardware blog. Like the news publications, Playboy has seen a dwindling subscription base. HBO will be footing the bill to promote their show “True Blood” with logos emblazoned on the glasses.


One of Rupert Murdoch’s crown jewel daily publications announced that they will be putting out a special 3D edition on June 5th. This ties in nicely with News Corp’s other major outlet BSkyB Sports broadcasting and thus we shall see a major push for the FIFA World Cup Soccer transmissions in 3D.

Ad rates are expected to be through the roof on this one and there has been no mention of the production costs.

There is much anticipation regarding the “Page 3″ girls as they intend to poke your eye out.

First Soccer, Golf, Ice Hockey in 3D… now what?

I think Tennis lends itself to great stereo images as the cameras can get low and close in on the action,  The green backgrounds are pleasing and not distracting and the yellow ball really pops!

“No 3D Cheese Please”, sez former Mouse House Katz

“If you are asking people to pay a premium price, you better deliver” said Jeffrey Katzenberg in his hastily arranged address to the National Association of Broadcasters at their annual convention in Las Vegas.  The consensus among blogsters is that 3D has arrived (or rather returned after a very long hiatus) thanks to the tireless efforts of Mr. Katzenberg.  But he reminded the industry that this is not necessarily a done deal.

In earlier comments, Katzenberg has been highly critical of cheap 2D to 3D conversions such as the recent release of Clash of the Titans, which took 8 to 10 weeks to quickly deliver.

Katzenberg noted that  a successful conversion done the right way may take up to 18 months and cost a minimum of $20 million. “Not everyone is going to have the resources to do it right.”

Sports and gaming will be the early drivers in the home” said Katzenberg suggesting that TV audiences are more forgiving when it comes to quality.

3D Digital Summit Day 2

Digital Cinema (including 3D) Roll-out:  A Status Report

Moderator, Michael Karagosian (MKPE Consulting) reports we are in year 11 in digital cinema rollout.  This year 33 titles will be in 3D.  All current growth in screens in the U.S.  is currently fueled by 3D.  But Asia and Europe are seeing the most expansion of 3D screens. Michael Lewis (RealD) warned that “Bad 3D” could really slow down the movement.  AMC, Cinemark and Regal Cinemas have formed a consortium (DCIP) and raised $660 million towards the deployment of 16,000 new 3D screens. Oleg Berezin (Neva Film) described the Russian exhibition paradigm where less than half the Russian films released on 35mm did not recoup their P & A while digital and 3d releases are considered  the golden goose. Peter Wilison of the European Digital Cinema Forum (EDCF)  portrayed the European theatrical system as healthy and growing, despite the fractious nature of the EU community.  There are 31,00 screens across Europe (excluding Russia and Ukraine) of which 8,000 are 3d equipped.

Technical Issues for 3D Digital Cinema

Richard Welsh of Dolby Labs talked about the essential nature of metadata particularly when cueing subtitles, although they must be rendered or baked into the picture.  Subtitles should to be placed in front of the action so as not to clash with the action plane.  However when there is a dynamic move as shown in the Alice in Wonderland segment with the Cheshire Cat floating towards the audience, so too must the subtitles shift to match the plane. Clearly reading subtitles are going to be a son of a bitch in 3D, however the two multi-depth credit cards looked really hot in the Alice trailer.

Production and Projection Techniques for Immersive Media

Siegfried Foessel talked about panoramic cinema featuring about to 12 x 2K cameras shooting in a half circle.  He also showed one of the most stunning short clips featuring a Peregrine attack above the city of London and co-produced by the BBC.

The Keynote Speaker, John Honeycutt (Discovery Channel) was the high point of the day as he unveiled Sony’s new 3D camera which I am sure will cause a sensation on the floor of the convention this week.  Some of the specs were outlined such as 3-inch CMOS sensors per eye, Full HD (1920×1080), interchangeable lenses, convergence control and full metadata support. Discovery will be conducting field tests of  the “Concept” prototype this July. The reaction from the house was palpable.

Can there (ever) be a Common Worldwide 3D-TV Broadcast Standard?
When the SMPTE engineers came out after lunch to repeat everything we had been hearing for the last two days, I started to nod off. So I will leave it to Debra Kaufman to fill us in on the details.

3D Digital Summit Day 1

Eye strain goes with the territory when sitting in a darkened conference room and donning the RealD glasses every half hour for  most of the  day.  But the footage was worth it!  We looked at U2, Dave Matthews, NFL football, Alice in Wonderland and Clash of the Titans, as well as a Praying Mantis eating the head off a fly.  Much of the material was breathtaking, but why do they have to play the music at 100+ decibels?  Do they think it makes the images look better?

Morning Session

I’m a morning person but they managed to run out of coffee by 8:30am (ouch!) when the session was due to start.  Strangely, the organizers had not anticipated such a huge turnout as many were left standing without enough chairs, but not having caffeine in the morning was a cruel hoax, courtesy of  Sony and NAB.

Understanding Stereopsis and 3D Image Capture

Peter Lude’ and Steve Schklair kicked off with an illuminating and sweeping explanation of Stereopsis.  We began to grasp the concepts of divergence, floating windows, edge violations,vertical alignment and the “wow” factor.  We also began to appreciate the difference between side by side cameras and beam splitters.

3D programming:  Lessons learned

Al Barton, Patrick Devlin (Evergreen), Thomas Edwards (Fox Technical Group) and Jason Goodman (21st Century 3D) each took turns explaining their approach to 3D.  The Fox sports reel was the most annoying and in your face, but Tom brought up an interesting dilemma: where does the ever-present score box go?.  Evergreen’s production of the Dave Matthews concert was most exciting to watch.  Jason Goodman (Call of the Wild) has been tearing apart and re-building the Panasonic DVX cameras and creating lightweight 3D rigs which work great on the steadicam.  Their 3DVX 3.5 444 2.75″ 10 Bit Uncompressed rig warrants further investigation.  The Red dual camera setup looks just plain big and unwieldy.

3D Conversion

Warren Littlefield (formerly NBC) gave the sales pitch for 3D describing when in 1987, Third Rock from the Sun created a special 3D episode as a lead-in for Gulliver’s Travels. As the “yes man” for 3D he was the used car salesman of the day,  advising us that we should go out and stereo retro-fit all original content from the last 20 years. Chris Bond’s story was the most harrowing as he described the 2D/3D conversion of Clash of the Titans during which they had a mere 8 – 10 weeks working on an unlocked picture.  The word on the street is the final product looks like a quickie, but the upside is Prime Focus has developed the know-how to turn around features under a tight deadline.

After lunch, Mark Schubin gave the Keynote address and reinforced many of the concepts we were introduced to earlier.  He described all the 3D technologies past, present and future including the concept of POOT, which is “plain old ordinary TV” which I am starting to miss at this point.  There is always something comforting about the format you know and grew up with.

A Case for Quality in Production and Post-Production

Buzz Hays (Sony Technology Center)  talked about the importance of education and getting the D.P.’s. Directors, Game Developers and Editors on board.  Based on their credits, Sony is clearly an industry leader in 3D and I look forward to dragging my students through their learning center.

After the Capture – What other Tools Exist?

Matthew DeJohn (In Three) described Dimensionalization as the patented process created by his company for 3D conversion. By this time, my eyes are hurting and every demo reel seems to feature converted and original 3D material and quite frankly, I am having trouble telling the difference.

So now it is time to quote, Jeffrey Katzenberg:

“All 3D is not created equal.  It is first and foremost a very, very powerful creative storytelling tool”.

Stereography and Storytelling

I started reading the Bernard Mendiburu book, this morning entitled 3D Movie Making and I my review will post shortly. I enjoyed his rather flip examination of the creative process.  Chuck Comisky (Avatar) is clearly a 3D god and lives and breathes this stuff 24/7.  Phil Streather’s (PLF) reel was gorgeous but uneven.  The bug footage was startling.  Clearly you can shove a 3D camera into a macro nature scene and still achieve great results.  By the time Phil, the indie filmmaker got up to speak, it was the end of the session. I was spent and so was most of the audience.  The scene he showed with the clown in the elevator was painful to watch but this guy is someone we should keep our eye on.  When micro budget filmmakers post their 3D films on youtube, I think this is a game changer.

DirectTV broadcasts the Masters in 2D only

Before leaving for NAB, I went in to my local Best Buy and spoke to the salesman about 3D and mentioned the Masters Golf Tournament. I told him I watched some of it last night on DirecTV and it looked mighty fine in HD.

The grass was lush and green and you could really appreciate all of the fabulous landscaping they have in Augusta.  It looked like Tiger never broke into a sweat.  But where is their 3D broadcast?  The salesman said he was channel surfing on DirecTV last night too, but could find no Masters channel in 3D.  Oh well.  We both shrugged our shoulders. He led me to the Panasonic 3D display and couch (with cup holder, natch).  It took awhile for the active (powered) glasses to kick in.  The demo reel was nice, but kind of static.  It reminded me of the Viewmaster Stereo slide viewer I had during the ’60’s.

OK, I realize it is very early in the game, but I wanted some cool programming to sample on the my first 3D retail encounter.  It feels like a chicken and the egg kind of thing.  Which should come first? Should it be a boatload of displays on sale or endless amounts of 3D filmed entertainment to consume?

Either way, the race is on.

-Scott Arundale

Sony to launch first ever 3D broadcast of the FIFA World Cup

Sony Corp. today unveiled their plans for adding a third dimension to the football viewing experience.

World Cup final among 25 3-D games.

With a total of seven pairs of Sony’s professional HDC cameras on rigs  at each game (model: HDC-1500), using proprietary multi-image processor (model: MPE-200), 3D filming will take place at five out of the 10 FIFA World Cup stadiums: Soccer City and Ellis Park in Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. 25 matches in total will be broadcast in 3D.

What remains unclear at this point is how consumers will actually be able to view these images as 3D sets have not rolled out in any significant numbers.

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