X Games Live: ESPN Kicks “5D” Approach Up a Notch

X Games has always been known as a breeding ground for technology and innovation, so it comes as no surprise that that the 17th incarnation of Summer X will serve as the most unique, grand-scale production yet for ESPN 3D. The network is taking its “5D” approach (2D-3D unilateral production using a single mobile unit) to the next level, producing all events at the Staples Center using a 3D truck and 3D rigs that supply the left eye feed for the 2D telecast.

“We’re doing the 5D coverage for everything at Staples Center, meaning there are basically no 2D cameras at all,” says ESPN 3D and X Games Coordinating Producer Phil Orlins. “In our 3D world right now, everything is firing appropriately, which is all we can ask for.”

In addition to Staples, ESPN 3D will cover several events at all three venues of the other venues at X Games – the Nokia Theater, the Street & Park Event Deck, and Lot 7. ESPN 3D is deploying 18 3D rigs to produce 21 hours of live coverage, making it the largest and most comprehensive event to date for the one-year-old network.

All 3D coverage –regardless of the venue – is running out of NEP Super Shooter 32, which has been ESPN’s 3D truck over the past 12-plus months.

A total of 12 3D rigs are on hand at the Staples center to cover the Moto X competitions, including an RF handheld, a jib, a FlyCam, and an Ultra slo-mo.

Six 3D rigs are rotating between the Big Air Ramp and the Park, Street, and Vert events, including a 3D PoleCam above the start of the Big Air Ramp and a 40-foot jib above the Big Air Quarter pipe and a 50-foot TechnoCrane at the Park Course.

On Thursday night, ESPN 3D provided coverage from three different venues in a matter of hours, a programming slate that Orlins calls “truly unprecedented.” The coverage consisted of the Moto X events at the Staples Center, the Skateboard Park at the Event Deck, and the BMX Big Air in Lot 7.

“3D takes us back to the days when ESPN first started, trying to figure out how to get by on a wing and a prayer,” says VP of Event Production Jamie Reynolds. “You’re not necessarily making it up as you go, but you are making educated decision on the fly when making 3D coverage decisions. How can you make the 2D and 3D coverage scenarios co-exist.”

The only event ESPN 3D will not cover is the races on the Rally Course that runs through the streets of downtown L.A.

“Location-wise Rally Car was tough for 3D,” says Reynolds. “The number of cameras out there and the fiber runs for the road course are pretty extensive. So it was just impractical for us to do that event.”

Check out more of SVG’s comprehensive live X Games 17 coverage from Los Angeles by CLICKING HERE.