Masters 3D Coverage to Feature 12 Cameras at Amen Corner

In January the 2010 Sony Open in Hawaii became the first PGA Tournament to be shot in 3D and now Sony, ESPN, and NEP Broadcasting will put lessons from that production to good use for the 2010 Masters Tournament, held in Augusta, GA, from April 7-11.

Conventional wisdom was that golf in 3D would be one of the last events to make the leap because of the sheer number of cameras and cabling required for a TV production. But the production in Augusta is flipping that conceit on its head as golf will, in fact, become the first sporting event to reach consumer homes in 3D.

“Golf is pretty challenging, there is no question about it,” says Alec Shapiro, Sony Broadcast and Production Systems, senior vice president, Sales and Marketing. “It’s probably as challenging, if not more so, than a Super Bowl.”

ESPN will produce the 3D event with 12 camera positions covering the 11th, 12th, and 13th holes, collectively known as “Amen Corner.” NEP’s 3D truck will be used to produce the event and Vince Pace, founder of Pace and 3D expert, will also be involved with the production.

“We have a collaborative relationship with ESPN and they’ve done the lion’s share of the field testing,” says Shapiro.

Rob Willox, director in Sony’s Content Creation Division, says a combination of Sony HDC-1500 and HDCP1 cameras will be used. “The P1 is a lighter camera and can be used in over-under rigs wher as the 1500 is used in the side-by-side rigs,” he explains.

Willox says one of the keys to producing a 3D golf event is to get the angle of view down to the player level instead of above the course in a tower.

“You need more intimate coverage and a player’s perspective in order to show the undulation of the greens,” he explains.

Of course the big question for consumers is where will they be able to see the coverage in 3D? While Comcast subscribers will have the option to step out and buy a $3,000 3D set the remainder of the population will need to find a Sony Style Store that is within a Comcast viewing area.

“The interest is high in the consumer marketplace and content producers are reacting to that interest,” says Shaprio. “The industry is moving as quickly as we can to refine the production techniques and we’re still learning as we go. In many ways these are still experimental events.”

The goal, for all involved, is simple: “There is no government mandate for 3D,” says Willox. “So it has to be fantastic.”