Saran Media brings 3D sport to Turkey via SterGen

Istanbul-based sports broadcast and entertainment rights distributor Saran Media has signed an agreement to use SterGen’s patented real-time stereo 3D conversion platform to make 3D sports programming available to Turkish broadcasters and mobile carriers.

SterGen’s technology enables realtime conversion of camera feeds and footage into true stereoscopic 3D, and according to the company this realtime 3D image processing gives producers a high quality, yet cost-effective alternative to the expense of native 3D productions. And it works because it concentrates on arena-based sport. “If you want to do 2D to 3D conversion outside you have to do it manually because you don’t have any hints regarding whether the blue thing is the sky, whether this building is in front of that thing, etcetera. However, with sports you have a pre-defined set up which helps you solve the algorithms,” says Ofer Wolf, CEO of SterGen.

As far as Saran is concerned, SterGen’s software will be used for both live sports events as well as to add 3D visualisation to previously recorded sports programming.

Wolf splits the European 3D market up into Tier One (the UK and Germany, basically, with the rights to the EPL and Bundesliga) and, essentially, everyone else. “It’s the Tier Two broadcasters that are leading this at the moment,” he says. “The vicious circle of 3D is that it’s so expensive to cover a game and therefore start a channel, but we are changing the business model of 3D production. The problem with the industry is content, and we provide that content.”

According to Wolf, the company is also attracting interest in its hybrid system from even the Tier One players, the system seeing low-level 3D caught using native cameras, while its image processing algorithms are applied to the high, Camera One shots. “These occupy 75% of screen time with football,” he says, “but the 20cm distance between lenses over 100m doesn’t provide you with any 3D effect whatsoever. And when you compare our 3D to the native 3D from the high cameras, ours is better.”

“Stereo 3DTV greatly enhances the viewing experience, especially for live sports telecasts. For this reason, we’re extremely pleased to be able to leverage SterGen’s powerful technology to provide high-profile 3DTV sports to broadcasters and other carriers in Turkey,” says Selim Usta, Saran Media’s Head of Sports. Saran Media actually holds the rights to a lot of potential 3D content in Turkey, including the Wimbledon Championships and Olympics, but, inevitably, Usta says that football is the key for the company.

But what’s really intriguing is the attention both parties are playing to the nascent mobile 3D market in this deal. Usta says that it’s going to be an increasingly important facet of stereo 3D as the year progresses, while Wolf says that SterGen is ideally situated to take advantage of it. “The bigger the screen the smaller the 3D effect should be and vice versa,” he says. “And since we do 3D with virtual cameras we can produce footage for three or four different formats in realtime.”

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