Sony Open Set To Prove Out New 3D Workflows

The Sony Open golf tournament in Hawaii is off to a soggy start, but that hasn’t stopped the 3D-production team — comprising staffers from NEP, Sony, Element Technica, VER, and the Golf Channel — from making do in less-than-ideal conditions and laying out a solid plan to cover six holes in 3D this Saturday and Sunday.

NEP’s SS9 will house the production team, the truck having made the trip across the Pacific Ocean in mid December. Setup began in earnest earlier this week, although the rain, which has been steady for nearly two days, made camera setup for a Friday rehearsal more difficult than usual.

“In 2D,” says Glen Levine, VP of mobile unit engineering and operations for NEP Supershooters, “you get the cameras out of the box and into the hands of the utilities, they set them up on platforms, and [the cameras] work. But the need to set up the 3D rigs and outfit them with two cameras and lenses required a small tent to be constructed on-site.”

Golf and 3D fans tuning in can expect six holes of coverage in 3D: holes 2, 3, and 4 and then, later in the day, holes 16, 17, and 18. Cameras will be moved from 2, 3, and 4 to the back nine, with 3D coverage of 16, 17, and 18 delayed by an hour.

At the core of the production are Sony HDC-P1 cameras. That gear will be installed in six Element Technica rigs, a mix of Quasar and Pulsar 3D rigs. The event is one of the first times the Pulsar rigs, designed for midsize cameras, have been used on a remote sports production.

“The rigs are mounted on two jibs, a Spidercam, a Steadicam, a hard camera on a platform, and then a handheld unit,” says Levine. “One of the two jibs is a Technocrane with wheels, so we will just pull it to the back-nine holes while the [other] jib is smaller and can fit in the back of a cart.”

Camera signals will be passed using fiber optics for transport, with single mode on the front nine and SMPTE runs on the back nine. The use of Sony HDFA-200 3G camera adapters, which were not available during the FIFA World Cup last summer, allows co-ax from the camera heads to pass signals through HDFA-200 adapter and then onto the MPE-200 multi-image processor.

The processors make it easier to set up the cameras in the field because the software facilitates alignment of the 3D images coming out of each camera. The processors (nine in all for the Open), coupled with new MPES-3D01 Stereo Image Processing Software, will control the rigs and also provide correction for errors introduced in the camera chain, including image geometry and color matching. And the MPE-200 processors will be tested with one of Sony’s newest developments: MPES-2D3D 2D-to-3D conversion software.

The processors also played a role in some ENG work prior to the start of the tournament. Levine says a cargo van was rented and outfitted with a rack of MPE-200 and CCU gear. Convergence and video areas were also in the van to ensure that camera images were aligned and focused properly.

Equipment-rental company VER has played a big role in the broadcast, helping make the cargo van possible and making the 2D SS9 truck 3D-capable with 3D monitors and additional EVS replay servers. Spare equipment is also on hand because dealing with technical issues in Hawaii can be tricky, given the lack of one-day transport to and from the mainland.

“We’re pleased with the Element Technica rigs and VER with the buildup,” says Levine. “There is no way we can do this in a truck and then get the truck over here in a [timely manner].”

Sony’s MVS-8000G switcher with special 3D software and HDCAM SR decks will be used during the production and for pre-production of scenics for inclusion during the broadcast. Sony 3D LUMA displays will be used for all evaluation monitoring.

Coming soon: Inside the MPE-200.