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TV and film's big bet on 3d

16 March 2010

If you want evidence of the big bet that the TV and film industries are putting on 3d, then a day long European press briefing held by Sony Professional last week provided it.

Sony flew over about 40 journalists from countries such as France, Germany, Sweden and Spain to its Basingstoke HQ to outline its 3d plans and to showcase 3d kit from cameras, OB trucks right through to new Sony Bravia 3d televisions. Senior execs from Sony as well as Sky and OB outfit Telegenic were rolled out to give presentations.

By the end of the day, journalists were left with little doubt that Sony believes that 3d will be a big driver for its business going forward.

Sony will have 3d televisions in stores in Europe in time for this year’s World Cup, where 25 games are due to be filmed in 3d.

The World Cup is expected to give only a modest boost to the consumer take-up of 3d but, crucially, it’s likely that ‘early adopters and status seekers’ will go out and buy the sets ahead of the event.

However, Sony execs believe the real tipping point for mass market 3d TV adoption will come around the time of the 2012 London Olympics.

Sony sets will require proprietary glasses. All manufacturers are looking at creating 3d TV sets that don’t require glasses, but these are long way off yet. “We’re many years away from a really good bright 3d display that doesn’t require glasses,” says Sony Professional’s Paul Cameron.

Tips for shooting in 3d came thick and fast on the day. Key lessons included:

1. It’s much easier on the viewer’s eye if the 3d action takes place behind the screens, rather than leaping out at them.

2. You don’t need as many cameras to shoot 3d sports events. Sky took five 3d cameras to film Usain Bolt’s 100m dash in Manchester last year, but only really needed two.

3. Camera positions are really important. High and wide shots that look down from a long distance in football stadiums, for example, are very disappointing.

4. Rain is a big problem. If you get a drop of rain on one of the camera’s dual lenses, it messes up the image.

5. Cameras shooting a subject at an angle give a great sense of depth, compared to cameras that shoot directly in front or to the side.

6 You can cut 2d and 3d footage together - the interplay between the two does work.

Both Sky and OB outfit Telegenic are clearly betting big on 3d.  Telegenic has already built one 3d OB truck from the ground up. Telegenic’s Eamonn Curtinn said, “We are so confident that 3d is going to work that we have commissioned a second 3d truck to be ready in July.”

The big push by manufactuers, broadcasters and producers into 3d also means that suddenly there’s a huge demand for skilled 3d workers, in particular stereographers. “If anyone knows any or where I can find them, I'm desperate for them,” said Sky Sports director of operations Darren Long.

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