Inside the game: Italian Champions League action in 3D

The first live 3D sports production in Italy was realised by Italian satellite broadcaster SKY during the UEFA Champions League match between Napoli and Bayern in October last year. Roberto Landini looks back on it.

All images were used to create the satellite link bound to Sky subscribers of the newly born channel Sky 3D and also to “sister” TV platforms Sky Germany and Sky UK (BSkyB), the latter being definitely more used to S3D live broadcasts of great events. And following this deeper knowledge gathered by the British broadcaster, Robin Broomfield, S3D Development Manager at BSkyB was called to advise and give precious suggestions on this matter.

Vincenzo Flores, responsible for Sky Italy TV productions concerning the Olympic Games and S3D, in a brief interview on that occasion explained: “The Napoli-Bayern match represents only the debut of Sky Italia in the field of TV live production in three dimensions. Actually exploiting this new technology we are already planning to produce further live events involved with Champions Leauge 2011-2012. The same interest is towards producing not only other sports events but also talent shows like X-Factor (starting 5th January 2012) and we are definitely interested in S3D live producing also some other matches like the National Football Championship, but in this case the production company involved is Milan based Infront Facility which hold the rights for such events, and whom we are already being dealing with.”

Back to the tech side of the Naples event, the two renowned Italian Companies SBP and DBW Communications were chosen by Sky Italia to supply all S3D images; with SBP also in charge of all 2D-HD shootings. For the Naples event seven couples of performing Sony cameras were used, some twins placed on orthogonal mirror stereoscopic rigs, some others on parallel side-by-side rigs and one final couple on a steady-cam. All cameras were linked via a fibre optical connection to the brand new stereoscopic OB-Van property of SBP, S3D-HD Control Unit 2 which can be interfaced to any other HD-S3D ready mobile studio from SBP.

The S3D-HD Control Unit 2 relies on a huge number of S3D-HD stereoscopic processors, among which some 6 MPE-200 by Sony and a human team of 8 stereographers -and a Director of Stereography. Workflow is structured in the truck so that different responsibilities devolve to different posts: the 3D Rig Technicians who take care of all rigs, the Convergence Pullers who operate on each stereo processor through joysticks in order shootings to be corrected in real time, trying to reproduce the “subjective” view of the typical viewer, the 3D Tech Manager who verifies all information in compliance with the Convergence Pullers experts and lastly the 3D Tech Manager who acts in accordance with the Tech Director on the central mobile OB-Van to verify all signals are handled correctly.

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