3D Production – Wimbledon 2011
On behalf of AELTC, Sony produced the 3D coverage of the 125th Wimbledon Championships. Whilst Sony has taken the role of producer it has contracted Can Communicate as the production company responsible for the project and Can Communicate have contracted NEP Visions as the facilities provider. The operational production team will be created using staff from Sony, Can Communicate and NEP Visions. For both Sony and AELTC the quality of the 3D output was a critical factor for success because the project needed to provide a World class 3D experience, both in terms of 3D but also in terms of production. To ensure this is achieved Sony has enlisted the support of Peter Angell from HBS (Host Broadcast Services for the FIFA World Cups) to act as executive producer.
Two main outputs for the four matches were created: one for live cinema and one for live broadcast distribution. Back haul/uplinking from site was performed by Arqiva (for cinema) and Globlecast (for broadcasters).
The international 3D broadcast rights (owned by ALETC) were sold to the market by IMG. The 3D signal was distributed internationally to about 10 3D broadcasters.
The live cinema distribution rights are owned by Sony Professional and were sold to about 200 cinemas across the World by Supervision.
In addition the Host Broadcaster (BBC Sport) also accessed a broadcast feed directly for the distribution of the two finals in 3D in the UK via Satellite and Freeview – which was another first.
The 3D coverage was produced by a separate and dedicated team with its owncameras, outside broadcast units (Gemini 1&2 from NEP Visions), and production crew. The production unit had access to specific 2D camera feeds provided by the host broadcaster for conversion into 3D via Sony MPE-200’s.
The 3D Production Concept
A dedicated 3D production concept was developed to provide an “in venue” experience for viewers, utilizing the same perfect window 3D production style that was used for the FIFA 2010 World Cup in South Africa. In Wimbledon the production was based on 6 fully dynamic 3D camera rigs from Element Technica. Additional content was supplemented by converted feeds from the 2D host broadcast production, including specialist cameras like Steadicams. However to ensure a quality experience for the viewers the majority of the coverage was from the full 3D camera positions. The camera positions have been limited by the existing venue infrastructure and by the locations of existing 2D positions. In principle the placement of the 3D cameras was slightly lower than the traditional 2D camera positions. This has been done to provide an enhanced 3D effect. The live coverage was further enhanced by 3D replays, 3D Hawk Eye, 3D graphicsand a 3D replay wipe.
The 3D production concept was based on the following guidelines:
• Longer duration shots
• Longer duration replays
• Fewer cuts
• Fewer replays
• The Z axis was used to choose replay angles and live shots
• Lateral movement has to be avoided • Zooming has to be avoided
• The cut has not be forced
• Shots have to be composed to include foreground and background layers to provide depth.
With this in mind the cameras framed wider to avoid forcing cut, panning, and zooming. Also less replays were used during the matches. The replay wipe was longer than normal and the replays lasted longer and started earlier compered to the 2D coverage.
The Camera Positions
There were six 3D cameras used to cover the centre court. All the cameras were Sony HDC-P1 camera bodies combined with Element Technica 3D rigs. This combination provided fully dynamic 3D rigs in a small package, limiting the impact of the 3D rigs on the environment at center court but still enabling direct control of convergence and other essential 3D parameters.
All cameras had 22:1 lenses with the exception of Camera 5 (18:1), and all were in mirror rig configuration with the exception of camera 6 which was in side-by-side configuration. The mirror rig enabled the team to place the lenses over each other avoiding one lens seeing a close at hand object that the other lens cannot.
Camera 3D-1 was positioned at the North end on a platform poking over the wall at the end of the court. This camera provided replays of points that were concluded towards or away from the position It was much closer and lower than its 2D equivalent. It had to frame wide to contain the players and to avoid panning.
Camera 3D-2 was positioned in between the North end Service Court judge and the North end baseline in a pit on the West side of the court. This camera principally provided live shots of the player in its end of the court in addition to replays of that player. It also provided coverage of the players’ box, scoreboard and fans.
Camera 3D-3 was positioned in between the South end Service Court judge and the South end baseline in a pit on the West side of the court. This camera provided live shots of the player in its end of the court including replays of that player. It also provided coverage of the players’ box, the scoreboard and fans and it was used to bring the players onto the court.
Camera 3D-4 was positioned at the radio commentary position at the South West corner of the court, above the players’ first sight of the court as they enter. This camera provided replays of points that were concluded towards or away from the position: ie at the South end action that was resolved in the South West corner, and at the North end action that was resolved in the North East corner to avoid excess panning.
Camera 3D-5 was positioned on a platform at the South end of the court poking over the wall much in the same way as Camera 1 but at the opposite end. During the intensive trials prior to the live transmissions this position has become the main coverage camera. In addition it provided replays of points that were concluded towards or away from the position. The camera also provided coverage of players at either end of the court in between points and coverage of the umpire.
Camera 3D-6 covered the beauty shots. Its positioning was to the right of the scoreboard North West end above the small commentary hut.
All cameras were configured in the same way at each location: Rigs: Element Technica Pulsar (mirror rigs with the exception of D3-6 which was a side-by-side rig) - Cameras: Sony P1 Cameras with CCU/RCP-1500/HDFA fibered to OB Truck - Lenses: 2 x Canon Clutchless HJ14ex 4,3mm IASE-C (with 3D Software) - Focus Demand: Model FDJ-P01 - Zoom Demand: Model ZDJ-P01 - Convergence: convergence was pulled in the truck - Mount: Vinten Vector (Head & Legs) on scaffold platform.
The 3D was created with the following stereoscopic alignment: The main subjectwas within a depth budget of 2% operating within the following limits
• Positive disparity or image separation at distant points (into the screen) should not exceed 2.5% for the majority of shots
• Negative disparity or image separation at close points (out of screen) shouldbe used with care and not exceed 0.5% for the majority of shots
• Care was taken to avoid edge violations
The Venue Production Team
The 3D production consisted of the following personal: the Head of Production, the director/producer, the vision mixer/director, an assistant producer, a production assistant, a production manager, a graphics operator, the HawkEye operator, six EVS operators, five camera operators, a stereographer, a stereo engineer, five convergence operators, two rig technicians, a sound supervisor, a sound assistant, a commentator, a co-commentator, an editor, an edit producer and a runner.
IDS provided full graphics coverage replicating the content and style of the 2Dcoverage with specifically designed 3D graphics. Each graphic had been made into a 3D object and was animated within the 3D space, whilst respecting the defined depth budget. In addition, full page graphics had a slight and gentle tilt and rotation to create a greater depth perception.
Hawkeye, which is now a Sony company, provided their normal service for the 2Doperation. The 3D operation mirrored this operation. There were two HawkEye inputsinto the production: the official system that is now part of the game, and an analyticalsystem. For the 3D operation HawkEye provided a dual stream HD SDI (left & right) output which was generated with by the use of the signals of the 10 fixed cameras (five on each side of the court). The HawkEye 3D analysis was included to inform the coverage during breaks in live action. HawEye showed telling patterns that explained the performances of the players.
In addition VT inserts were produced to supplement the coverage during breaks in play, in between matches and during warm-ups. These included stories of the Wimbledon Championships, the road to the semi-finals and finals and other notable events. Also produced were opening and closing title sequences specific to each match.
Prior to the start of each broadcast a specific 3D Test sequence was replayed to enable the cinemas to confirm their configuration was correct and that both left and right signals were in sync.
The Wimbledon logo was adopted as the replay transition between live actionand recorded action. The logo was turned into a 3D object and was manipulated in Z space alone. The 3D production used a three frame mix behind the transisition, relying on the eye being drawn towards the logo rather than the picture change in the background.
Prize giving ceremonies were hard to cover in 3D as there was no space for a 3D Steadicam on the court. Therefore the signal from the 2D Steadicam was converted into 3D and mixed with the signals from the 3D camera positions.
The audio output was 5.1 surround sound with a dedicated 3D commentary. The audio signal was produced in the 3D OB unit. Effects came from the host broadcaster mics around the court to minimize the number of mics on show.
All of the production was recorded clean and dirty on SRW machines and the tapes are now available at AELTC’s archive library. In addition to the recording on HDCAM SR tape the whole 3D coverage was recorded on Sony’s new SRMASTER storage unit SR-R1000.
Venue Production Facilities
NEP Visions provided the its 3D OB production unit Gemini. It comprised of two trucks, the Gemini 1 &2. Within the trucks space was allocated for the stereography department. The convergence operators, working under the direction of the stereographer and the stereo engineer, were sitting at either side of the six EVS operators to ensure that replays with poor stereo were not offered to the director. Three of the EVS machines offered replays and images of the Sony picture stitch application for integration into the live signal. A fourth machine was there for editing 3D analysis, openers and closers, while the fifth and sixth machines were across ISO cameras from the 2D production which were converted into 3D before the mixer.
Sony’s picture stich application was tested in 3D. Although already successfully used in football coverage this was the first time the technology had been used for tennis. Three fixed cameras were installed to capture a complete image of the entire court. The three video feeds were recorded on to EVS servers and then routed to an MPE-200 multi image processor running software which was able to combine/stitch them together to create a 6K by 1K image. The software then enabled operators to create virtualized cameras shooting within the stitch image. Capturing the action on court in this way guaranteed that any events on court always were recorded. Once the virtualised camera output was created it could be passed through telestration for the addition into video graphics and then clipped to EVS for use in the main programme content. Due to the design of the stitch platform it was able to offer simultaneous 2D and 3D outputs.
Interface with the 2D Production
ISO cameras were available from the BBC’s host broadcast operation. The signals were available live in the mixer (via 2D to 3D conversion) and as replays via EVS. The live ISOs were preselected.The following signals were available:
• Camera 1 – the master shot- as a back up
• Pit Cameras x2 – for player ISOs and coaches
• Opposite low camera – for players sitting down between points
• Camera 10 – low behind at the Southern End
• Steadicam – for player entry, and on court interviews/presentations
• Hoist – Beauty/cut away
• Clean TX – for alternative cameras and as a back-up
• Superslomotion cameras – for replay as available
• Xmo cameras – for replay as available
• Rail camera – at the north end of the court, low behind
In total 22 MPE-200 were installed in the OB truck to support the convergence engineers and to convert the 2D signals into the 3D space.
Within the Gemini 2 truck was a post-production unit from Quantel to create a series of short promotional films on behalf of SONY. All these short 3D films were produced on a Quantel Pablo at the end of each day.
Worldwide Distribution to Cinemas
The NEP Visions OB units delivered discreet left-eye/right-eye HD-SDI feeds at 1080i/50. These were sent over to an Arqiva SNG vehicle which was also parked at the tennis center. There a RealD encoder generated a Side by Side HD-SDI signal. In a For-A standards converter it was changed to 720/59.94, which is a format that all theaters and projections can handle globally. Also, in the SNG vehicle 3 AC3 audio mixes were generated (English, Spanish, Portuguese) and embed into the video signal. From there the signal was sent to a Tandberg MPEG2 encoder and sent up to the IS-905 KU satellite. Arqiva downlinked the signal from IS-905 at their Winchester facility and turned it around to three satellites for distribution. IS-9 for North & South America andCanada, IS-905 for European distribution and to EB3. The EB3 feed got downlinked by Satlink in Israel and turned around to AsiaSat-5 for Asian distribution. Also in Winchester Arqiva downlinked the BBC HD feed from Astra 2D and took a fibre line of that same BBC HD feed for disaster recovery. All Transmissions were BISS encrypted for security.
• Can Communicate 3D Production Specialist
• NEP Visions Outside Broadcast facilities & 3D equipment supply
• HBS Live Production Specialist & quality control
• Presteigne Charter: Additional 3D equipment supply
• BBC Sport 2D Host Broadcaster, Specialist 2D camera sources and commentary team supply, UK 3D broadcast distribution
• IDS 3D Graphics provision
• Hawk Eye Provider 3D official line call system
• VER - Video Equipment Rentals: HDC-P1 cameras and Element Technica Rigs
• Arqiva Provision of 3D Cinema distribution
• SuperVision 3D Cinema Rights sales
• IMG 3D Broadcast Rights sales (on behalf of AELTC)
• With special thanks to TopVision for the loan of their stock of Canon clutch-less lenses.