NHK, Orange collaborate for 3D French Open

By Ken Kerschbaumer

The demonstration of 3D coverage of the French Open by Orange last week pointed to the increased global cooperation to make 3D HD a reality as NHK MT, formerly NHK Technical Services, provided 3D cameras (with two lenses) and production facilities to deliver 3D coverage to a 46-inch 3D HD television set. “Everyone thought it was wonderful,” says Philippe Delbary, Orange director of 3D services. “You enjoy 3D because it is a more natural way of seeing.”

The three cameras were located at the net, in the camera bunker, and behind the baseline for a wide-frame shot. Delbary says the effort proved that live sports could be produced and transmitted in 3D as the signal passed through an Orange HD set-top box. “The message is we are ready to do 3D as soon as the manufacturers launch 3D TV sets in Europe,” he says.

Orange believes that 3D in Europe will arrive in both the theaters and homes simultaneously and the company is already planning to broadcast 3D movies when the time is right. “We also hold the right for the French football league and other sports and it would be easy for us to install 3D cameras on a football pitch and shoot in 3D,” says Delbary. “We could also deliver 3D content by VOD or launch a 3D channel.”

Delbary says NHK was selected as it has long been a partner of Orange (Orange has an R&D laboratory in Tokyo) and because it has a long history of 3D productions, dating back to the 1998 Nagano Olympics.

“For 100,000 years humans were used to seeing in 3D and it is only in the past 150 years that 2D photos and TV has made us thing that 2D is the usual way of seeing,” says Delbary. “But it’s wrong and, in the future, whether it is a photo, TV, or even a mobile device it will be in 3D.”

The viability of 3D, he adds, was proven by the reaction of those who saw the French Open in 3D. “After 20 minutes they were saying it was like watching the French Open through a window,” says Delbary.

Orange has no official plans for a next step in 3D but given the success it is no doubt coming. And with 3D productions increasingly becoming a reality around the globe it appears Orange won’t be alone.