Verizon Produces Giants-Pats Game in 3D for Customers in New York, Boston

The NFL took another step into the realm of 3D production on Thursday night. Verizon sponsored a 3D broadcast that was available to Verizon customers in New York and Boston markets as well as to fans and Verizon executives in New Meadowlands Stadium. The game between the Giants and the Patriots was the first NFL contest to be broadcast to homes in 3D, and it also was the first time 3ality Digital used a new wireless 3D camera system that will be of comfort to production crews used to current workflows.

“The goal is to build 3D tools that are more and more like the tools that sports-production crews are used to for 2D,” says Steve Schklair, founder/CEO of 3ality Digital. “Dragging a [cable] tether behind a camera on a sideline is not a good idea, so this allows us to get more traditional coverage.”

Known as TS-5, the system does everything a big beamsplitter rig can do, but the camera options are limited to small box-style cameras. The system uses bidirectional wireless transmission of picture and metadata from the rig to the production truck and then a return feed of metadata corrections for camera positions to ensure that images are centered.

“We’re also building a new module that will allow the signal on the rig to send one multiplexed channel out,” adds Schklair. “The module will also reduce the size of the package so that the backpack goes away, with the exception of the transmitter.”

The wireless cameras are just two of six cameras used for the production. The others are a 3ality Digital TS-4 side-by-side rig located at the 50-yard line, two TS-2 beamsplitter rigs at the slash position, and a third TS-2 rig on a sideline cart.

NEP’s Supershooter 24 production unit was used for the production, complete with a Sony production switcher and cameras, Canon lenses, and EVS replay systems. Chyron Lyric PRO 8 graphics gear also played a role in the production, alongside a complement of prebuilt graphics packages designed in conjunction with the Verizon FIOS1 production crew. Those graphics were created using Adobe After Effects by John Christopher Burns Design, based in Atlanta.

Orlando Martinez, director of local sports programming for Verizon, oversaw the production for the telecommunications giant.

“Verizon wants to take a lead in 3D productions and in 3D in general,” he says. “And one of the things we want to try is producing 3D ourselves.”

The 3D production was given the green light courtesy of the company’s relationships with the NFL, New York Giants, and New England Patriots (as well as with the stadium, where Verizon is one of four major sponsors).

“Working in 3D is still a big, complicated process, and it can be a little on the temperamental side,” says Martinez. “But the more we do, the more those issues will get knocked out.”

For Martinez, success means keeping Verizon executives happy with the effort, because the number of at-home 3D viewers is still very small.

“We will produce events in 3D when we see fit,” he says of future commitments to 3D programming. “And when we get good events, we will gravitate towards 3D. [3D will be] just like HD: expensive in the beginning but then the costs went down.”