DIRECTV Bucks PBR Into Third Dimension on n3D

This Sunday, the most intense eight seconds in sports will be produced in 3D for the first time. DIRECTV and the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) will offer the conclusion of the PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals on DIRECTV’s n3D channel.

“We’re very excited because we believe [bull riding] really lends itself to 3D,” says DIRECTV 3D Executive Producer Bart Peters. “Typical camera positions [for bull riding] are up close and extremely conducive to 3D. We can get right next to the bull down in the pen with a 3D camera. It is an intense eight seconds, and we have positions that are [unblocked] and perfect for 3D.”

The two hours of coverage from Las Vegas, which begins at 4 p.m. ET, will deploy 10 Element Technica 3D rigs fitted with Sony HDC-P1 cameras. No 2D position from the NBC Sports Group production will be used or upconverted for the 3D show. The show will be produced out of NEP’s Supershooter 31, as nearly every n3D live production has been.

For the five-day event, the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas has been split into bucking positions A and B, with six chutes apiece at opposite ends of the arena. In the middle of the arena is the “shark cage,” a barred enclosure that houses one of the 3D camera rigs.

“It provides that nice low angle so, as they are coming out of the chutes, we will be shooting right at [them],” says Peters. “As soon as that gate opens, we will have that camera right on the bull as it comes out straight on and feels like it’s coming right at [the viewer].”

DIRECTV also has laid out a slash position and jibs over several of the chutes to capture the bull charging out onto the dirt. In addition, Peters & company will rotate four handheld rigs — two at each end — between the chutes to cover each rider’s preparation just before the gate opens.

“Those allow us to get those nice angles of the bull rider getting on, wrapping the rope around his hand, and getting ready for the chute to open,” Peters points out.

In terms of graphics, DIRECTV has elected to keep it minimal, as has been the case for the majority of 3D sports productions thus far. The eight-second clock will be in the top-left corner. In addition, DIRECTV has created basic full-screen graphics and lower thirds to display riders’ and bulls’ stats as well as standings.

“There won’t be anything flying in and out like you would [have] for a 2D [bull-riding] show,” says Peters. “We’ll just have the full screen, lower thirds, and clock, plus basic transitions like wipes in and out of replays.”

Director Steve Beim and long-time PBR producer Dave Osborne will be at the front bench in the truck. Beim is already a 3D vet, having directed a variety of events in 3D, including the Sony Open in Hawaii, the 2010 Giants-Patriots preseason NFL game, the Old School Challenge tennis tournament, DIRECTV’s Celebrity Beach Bowl, international cricket, and drifting competitions.

Although the telecast will use NBC Sports Group’s play-by-play — with Craig Hummer, Ty Murray, and Marty Snider in the booth — two of n3D’s own sideline reporters will be interviewing riders backstage after their rides.

The 3D broadcast of the 2011 PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals will air on Sunday Oct. 30 at 4 p.m. ET on DIRECTV’s 3D channel, n3D (channel 103).