Ski Jumping in 3D: A Comprehensive Test of Bayerischer Rundfunk

The second event of the Four Hills Tournament always takes place on New Year's Day in Partenkirchen

For the first time in history of the Four Hills Tournament all four jumping events in Oberstdorf, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Innsbruck and Bischofshofen were produced by the host broadcasters ARD, ORF and ZDF in High Definition: Spectators could see the world’s best ski jumpers in unprecedented brilliance and resolution on the their TV screens at home.

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The 3D Set-Up

And during the New Year’s ski jumping event in Garmisch-Partenkirchen – the second stage of the Four Hills Tournament – another world’s first was happening: Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR) carried out intensive tests together with Sony and the support of TopVision to find out how to cover ski jumping in 3D in the very best way.

The 3D camera was positioned on top of the referee tower close to the main camera for the HD production. The 3D test installation consisted of two Sony HDC-1500 cameras with Canon lenses sitting on an Element Technica Quasar side-by-side rig which was mounted onto a Vinten tripod. The left and the right eye camera signals were fed into Sony’s fiber optic video transceiver HDFA-200 and send via one optical fiber cable over a distance of more than 400 meters to Sony’s MPE-200 production processor in the 3D control room. Via a router in the control room the 3D team could select one of 16 HD cameras and convert the 2D signal via a second MPE-200 box to 3D and mix it with the native 3D camera signal. The final 3D signal then was recorded onto a SRW-5800 HDCAM SR VTR and in parallel send to 3D displays in the VIP area and the press center.

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The 3D camera was positioned on top of the referee tower close to the main camera for the HD production. The 3D test installation consisted of two Sony HDC-1500 cameras with Canon lenses sitting on an Element Technica Quasar side-by-side rig which was mounted onto a Vinten tripod. The left and the right eye camera signals were fed into Sony’s fiber optic video transceiver HDFA-200 and send via one optical fiber cable over a distance of more than 400 meters to Sony’s MPE-200 production processor in the 3D control room. Via a router in the control room the 3D team could select one of 16 HD cameras and convert the 2D signal via a second MPE-200 box to 3D and mix it with the native 3D camera signal. The final 3D signal then was recorded onto a SRW-5800 HDCAM SR VTR and in parallel send to 3D displays in the VIP area and the press center.

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In the VIP area Herbert Tillmann welcomed in particular Minister Siegfried Schneider, Head of the Bavarian Staatskanzlei and Christian Neureuther, winner of six slalom world cup races and impressed his guests with the outstanding quality of the 3D images on the screen. For Tillmann it is quite clear that you have to test new TV production opportunities and not ignore them – only this will enable you to contribute valid comments to the ongoing 3D debate.

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However one aspect already is clear to him: “The EBU has to decide on the 3D transmission format before 3D can fly”. The problem is that 3D television uses twice the data and bandwidth and delivery systems are already at their limit. Therefore a solution is needed that maintains the quality consumers are accustomed to and that works with existing systems. Such a solution has to combine the right and left eye images in such a way that bandwidth isn’t affected. The video can then travel over existing infrastructure. The receiving system simply separates out the two channels ready for viewing. Various solutions are on offer: side-by-side, top-over-bottom, checkerboard and frame sequential.

Finally: What was the learning’s in this 3D test? Besides the dual camera experience, 3D sports camerawork is different in an important way – Sports broadcasts are notable for their quick-cut shots.

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However the cuts on 3D sports have to be slow, much more deliberate. Fast cutting in3D is hard on the senses, it is tricking the brain and the faster you go, the more the brain will say, “Hey, what’s going on here?” Therefore 3D requires a separate crew including producer including producer and director and in addition a new set of on-air talent: the stereoscopers and the convergence engineers. The 3D test at the Four Hills Tournament similar to the 3D production of the FIFA world cup, the rugby Six Nations, the PGA golf tournament, the Roland Garros tennis matches, the UEFA Champions League final and many more is merely the beginning of 3D, but 3D is leading us to even more advanced TV production skills. And like all things in sports, advancements in technology are welcome only if they look and feel authentic.

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About Bayerischer Rundfunk

BR is a broadcaster for the general public. Its functions are determined by a legal foundation, which creates the broadcaster's principles and its internal organization. These regulations are contained in the Bavarian Broadcasting Law (Bayerisches Rundfunkgesetz), originally passed in 1948, and updated in 1993. At that time, it was comprehensively amended to make it relevant current media and political needs. This broadcast law is supplemented by the so-called Broadcast State Contract (Rundfunkstaatsvertrag), a multilateral agreement between all 16 German Länder which regulates the relationship of public and private broadcast in the dual broadcast system and which contains fundamental regulations particularly for financing. Just as important for the work of Bavarian Broadcasting is the cooperation of the ARD consortium, consisting of nine other regional broadcasting corporates as well as Deutsche Welle. The broadcasting service is further backed by the relevant European legal bases as well as the media service convention, which contain regulations for the on-line offerings of Bavarian Broadcasting.

Bayerischer Rundfunk

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