SVG Sessions: Sony Open in 3D Was an Immersive Golfing Experience

Mel Lambert, of content creators, reports from the NAB Show.

As David Dukes, senior director of technical operations for PGA Tour Entertainment sees it, “3D brought a greater sense of really being there at the Wailea course, with its elevations and undulations. That all gets flattened in 2D. Also, 3D puts the TV audience into very close contact with the players, which is a major attraction for golf fans. 3D must be about the event; we needed to let the golf convey itself.”

Dukes was reflecting on the huge success last January of the 2011 Sony Open in Hawaii, a joint 3D production by Golf Channel, PGA Tour, Element Technica, and Sony Electronics, during yesterday’s panel discussion in the Content Theater at the NAB Convention. The session was organized by the Sports Video Group and moderated by Editorial Director Ken Kerschbaumer.

“We chose to concentrate our 3D coverage on the second, third, and fourth holes [for the first program segment] and then the 16th, 17th, and 18th holes,” reported Steve Beim, director of the Sony Open. “After all, we were showcasing the golf course — for which these holes offered the most interesting [topologies] — and not just game.” The Golf Channel production used six 3D rigs, including two jibs, Steadicams, and handhelds, moving them from the front trio to the back three holes.

“Because all of our other 3D trucks were in use,” said Glen Levine, VP of mobile unit engineering with NEP Supershooters, “for the Open, we converted one of our regular 2D trucks to 3D.” And because of the shipping distances involved, “you do not want to forget anything!”

In terms of how to shoot 3D, Michael Rintoul, senior integration specialist for Element Technica, stressed that “you need to keep the action behind the screen plane and put the bugs in front. It was the first time we had used the [remote-controllable] Pulsar 3D rig in a broadcast environment, but it was flexible for use on the jibs, where size and weight were major considerations, plus the handhelds and Steadicams.”

“Since 3D is always shot 16:9,” Beim said, “we take the graphics to the edges [to avoid conflicts] and advise the cameramen to hold a 4:3 [safe area]. That strategy seems to produce the most consistent results.

“And it’s worth remembering,” he continued, “that not everything has to move all of the time [to take advantage of 3D]. Every now and again, I went for a wide shot, just to let the viewer’s eyes rest themselves.”