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Inside the game: Wimbledon 3D update

Can is using NEP Visions’ twinned Gemini I and II trucks to cover Wimbledon in 3D

Plans for this year’s week-long filming of Wimbledon Centre Court matches in stereo 3D took a step closer with last Friday’s successful trial run at the All England Club. Andy Stout talked to Can Communicate’s Creative Director, Duncan Humphreys, about the tests, the future, and installing a Quantel Pablo in an OB truck.

“All we’re doing is installing it as a standalone device and there’s plenty of space for it – it’ll sit in the truck’s air-conditioned racking and all we need to do then is play in the left- and right-eyes and clip as we go,” says Humphreys of the Pablo. “The place we’ll be in might be slightly smaller than the space you might traditionally reserve for a Quantel suite, but it was felt that it was better to have everything on site rather than be biking tapes here there and everywhere.”

Backing up a bit, the reason Can Communicate is installing a machine more normally associated with hero suites in a truck at all is all down to its three-year deal to capture the Championships in stereo 3D with Wimbledon and Sony. Sony is understandably very much planning on maximising its investment and plans to use the captured footage as a marketing tool. Hence the requirement to produce daily three-minute highlights packages from the day’s play for its network of stores to help shift 3DTVs, and hence the need for Can to hire a Quantel Pablo/Max/Genetic Engineering set-up while Can’s own system stays back in the office working away on the impressive raft of other projects on its current slate.


“We could rough edit via EVS from the actual truck itself, but it was felt that the workflow that we had in place at last year’s World Cup in South Africa, where we used Quantel to do any last minute fixes and grades, was a preferred option. So, the decision was made to install the Quantel Pablo into the truck – which is one of the reasons why we’ve got such a big one!”

Humphreys says that he’s fairly agnostic with kit, but three years of experience and a proactive involvement from the manufacturer means that they’re in a happy ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ relationship with the kit. And despite his avowed agnosticism he’s impressed by the way it archives projects.

“We’ll archive the entire project to LTO tapes and if we want to import it and do anything with it at a future date, we can just load it into our system and it will see the material as a whole project, not just as a series of pictures. Anything you’ve done to that project will be stamped within that archive, so once it’s loaded it’s just like switching the machine on again.”


Expanding trucks and future

Can is using NEP Visions’ twinned Gemini I and II trucks. “There’s a dual production area that may or may not get used in year one of this three year deal that we have with Sony and Wimbledon, but going ahead to year three it’s almost certainly going to be used,” Humphreys says.

So, while nothing officially has been mentioned about expanding the 3D coverage to include the whole tournament in future years, it’s no surprise to find that people are planning for it.

“It’s a very big truck – one of the most sophisticated 3G trucks available – and it finishes the Champions League Final on Saturday and then we spend the next while converting it to work seamlessly in 3D,” Humphreys continues. “One of thing things about Wimbledon is that all trucks have to be in place the week before the tournament starts. We’re only working there the last week but the truck actually goes in on the 13th of June to get cabled and powered.”

As to last Friday’s run through at the All England Club, he says it went very well. “We all came away with the opinion that w’ve got something very special on our hands in 3D. Some camera positions needed tweaking, but nothing that we didn’t expect – we weren’t moving them to another part of the court, we were moving them a foot right or a foot left. There were one or two small technical issues we identified – there was a software discrepancy on one particular camera which caused a couple of problems – but really and truly it was a very smooth test in a much smaller truck than we will be using.


“We did Roland Garros last year and though it’s great event, Wimbledon will look better,” he concludes. “Everything’s in the right place in Wimbledon – all the infrastructure around the court means that people are very close, all the colours are fantastic…it just looks really good. I’m very confident that it will be a really good production.”