By Howard Postley, CTO, 3ality Technica
Here’s why live sports, the most popular 3-D shows, are the hardest to produce
If you’re one of the 24 million or so people around the world who purchased a 3-D television in 2011—or the 42 million doing so this year—you might know what it takes to watch 3-D on your home television: a pair of 3-D glasses. But you likely haven’t thought much about what it takes to produce the 3-D spectacle that comes to life in your living room. More cameras, or at least more lenses, you might think, and that’s probably about it.
In fact, that’s not it—particularly when it comes to producing the kind of 3-D show that people watch more than anything else: a live sports broadcast. Making a 3-D program work well—especially when it’s happening live—is one of the greatest and most interesting technological challenges facing TV production at the moment.
The biggest difference introduced by 3-D involves the viewer’s relationship to a shot. With 2-D, the viewer sees what’s happening but feels separated from it. A 3-D image can blur the line between the “audience space” (where you are) and “scene space” (what the cameras see). Instead of looking through a window, you feel as though you’re standing on a sideline. That means that when a 100-kilogram athlete speeds toward you, you are likely to duck.
And producers want you to duck: The point of 3-D TV is to make you forget you’re in your living room. When it works well, it’s amazing, but any little mistake that breaks the illusion ends up being not just a minor annoyance but an extreme disruption that can literally give you a headache.
These days, most of us who produce 3-D sports usually do it well, but not always, and we’ve had to learn a lot in the past few years. I’m going to take you behind the scenes and show you what we’ve learned and what we have yet to figure out. So the next time you watch 3-D sports on TV, you’ll see what the producers of that broadcast do right, understand some of the choices they make during the broadcast, and maybe even spot a few errors. [more…]
Source: IEEE Spectrum