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Monthly Archives: February 2010

Yes, we know we said our next blog post would be our answers to Questions for Your 3D Tech Provider.  Consider this a warm-up, because we felt that these issues were so important that we needed to address them right away.

In many emerging markets, folks often start offering products and expertise before they’re fully-baked.   There’s a bit of that going on in terms of 3D technology right now, and we thought that pointing out the following facts might be helpful to people who are interested in mounting world-class 3D sports productions.

If you’re planning to shoot and broadcast live sports in 3D, the 3D system you use absolutely MUST HAVE the following capabilities.  Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for disaster.  Granted, you may consider “disaster” an extreme sport, but if you don’t, look for these things:

1) Zooms. And not just any old kind of zooms:  automatic, repeatable, perfectly-aligned zooms that can be done remotely.  Picture this:  Tracy Porter has just snagged an interception 80 yards away and is hoofing it down the field.  Your cameraman has Porter squarely in his sights.  Would you prefer to wait for someone to adjust the zoom by hand, and adjust it again and again during Porter’s mad dash, stopping to check alignment all the while and trying to ignore the fact that the lenses don’t match — or would you just prefer it to WORK, as it does in a 2D shoot?  We thought so.  (3ality Digital’s systems feature motorized, sub-pixel-accurate and repeatable zooms.)

2) Fast set-up – that stays set up. Unlike feature film production, sports is an every day business.  Hoops playoff this day, baseball all-stars the next.  You need to bring in your gear, set it up, and conduct a perfect shoot.  The fact that you’re shooting in 3D shouldn’t have an impact on your schedule.  You should be able to move fast and not worry about whether or not your cameras are working in concert, just as in a 2D shoot.  And you should be able to do it all yourself — no 3D “middleman” telling you it’s all very seriously complicated and only he can do it for you — right before he takes eight hours to set up.  Yup, you just missed Van der Sar’s first big save, while you were waiting.  (3ality Digital gear can be up and running in about an hour, and that includes alignment time.  Once aligned, the system stays aligned.  If something untoward happens — say that midfielder turns out of bounds and crashes your rig — settings are recorded and repeatable, quickly and easily.  And we train you how to use our systems, so you can do it without us.)

3) Perfectly aligned images, right out of the camera. Sports fans like graphics with their games.  Graphics help them keep track of what’s going on.  Unfortunately, graphics must be generated on the fly and placed dynamically.  (If we all knew what was going to happen during each game, we’d be in Vegas right now, wouldn’t we?)  If the images are not aligned, those beloved graphics are going to give sports fans a headache and maybe even make them a bit ill.   Not the general reaction we’re expecting to a front-row POV at a Lakers game.  (3ality Digital’s systems let you track and adjust alignment on the fly, down to the sub-pixel.)

4) Metadata feeds for graphics. Unfortunately, it’s just not enough to generate perfectly-aligned images for the guys who do the graphics.  They also need to know where to place the graphics in 3-space.  Another picture for you:  Manny Ramirez has just pounded a big fly ball, and is on his way to first base … running right through the stats box.   By providing a constant stream of detailed metadata on things like inter-axial distance between lenses, convergence, and depth parameters, you help your graphics guys know exactly where to place their boxes, every time.  (3ality Digital’s systems constantly provide dynamically-generated metadata that can be passed along to all parts of the workflow.)

5) Consistency in depth, especially between edits. Your EVS guys work hard for you:  cutting together games, creating instant replays, throwing in a little slo-mo for dramatic effect.  Meanwhile, in 3D, if depth parameters jump around from shot to shot, your EVS guys are going to generate a hodge-podge of clips that run the risk of making your audience feel woozy and perhaps abandon the game for reruns of “Two and a Half Men.” (3ality Digital’s systems let you set depth parameters, and automatically adjust settings when those parameters are about the be violated.)

So, there it is.  The five essentials for shooting sports in 3D.  Don’t believe us?  Take a look at our resumé.  We’d be happy to provide references, as well.


At 3ality Digital, we’ve made it pretty clear that our whole reason for being is to enable everyone to create great 3D entertainment.  Where’s the joy in keeping it to ourselves?  We’ve designed our systems to work with existing infrastructure, to use familiar controls, and to produce super-accurate imagery right from the camera.  (We love our post-production friends, but “fixing it in post” is not really an option we believe in — use your post time for fun stuff.)   We also know that you have no time for a middleman — we’ll train you how you use our gear, so you can do it yourself.  No need to hire us and a custom truck for every single job.  We put you in charge of your own shows.  Don’t believe us?  Why not ask Sky? Or the NHL?  Or Fox Sports?

However, we know you have to do your due diligence.  So we’ve designed a set of questions you should ask any potential 3D technology provider.  We’ve even uploaded them as a PDF, so you can print them out and take them with you.  Just click here:  3D tech provider questions.   And the next blog post will feature our answers to those questions, so you’ll have the very best of benchmarks to use for comparison.  If we don’t have significantly more, er … dimension … than anyone else, we’ll eat our figurative three-dimensional hats.

Bloomberg Television came to see us last fall and shot this segment.  Not only is it an excellent primer on the 3D marketplace (albeit before DirecTV, Discovery & ESPN announced 3D TV broadcasts), it puts us in illustrious company — we’re happy to be mentioned in the same breath as our friends at DreamWorks Animation any day.