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A 3D World Cup? Don’t Bet Your House On It…

by David Mercer | 11月 12, 2009

I was preparing a comment on plans for 3D at next year’s World Cup finals in South Africa. Then this article was published by respected broadcast journalist Adrian Pennington in TVB Europe. The article’s headline “World Cup 2010 to be broadcast in 3D” certainly gets the attention. The report indicates that up to half of the games could be broadcast in 3D. Given that today there are hardly any commercial 3D broadcast services anywhere in the world, barely six months before South Africa kick off in the first game, it would seem to require gargantuan efforts on the part of broadcasters, consumer device manufacturers, and broadcast equipment vendors if 3D broadcasts really were going to be available. Unfortunately for TVB Europe’s headline writers, the truth behind the story is perhaps not as exciting as it makes out. Sony is, correctly, cited as a key player in the 3D World Cup story, as a major sponsor and supplier of cameras and other equipment at the event. But my own discussions with senior Sony managers who are familiar with the FIFA discussions left me with the clear impression that, while negotiations are certainly taking place around 3D, there is nothing certain at this stage about production or distribution of games in that format. The obstacles are considerable and numerous. Apart from the fact that at the production and distribution levels 3D is still largely unexplored territory, even where sports events have been recorded in 3D this has largely been experimental. The creative community is very clear: they are at the beginning of the learning curve as far as 3D production in general, and sports in particular, is concerned. As Sky and other producers have demonstrated with their early productions, issues such as camera positioning and application are far from trivial if high quality 3D footage is to be achieved. But the biggest challenge of all regarding the FIFA World Cup is that 3D content rights have not yet been established. They were never included in the original broadcast deals because 3D broadcasting wasn’t even on the horizon at the time. So unless those agreements can be developed in the limited time available, and sold at a price that reflects the considerable additional costs of 3D production and transmission, it would be premature to assume that very much 3D broadcasting will emanate from South Africa’s football stadiums next summer. My own bet is that we will see a small number of the 64 games produced in 3D and a selection of those actually transmitted live. That is likely to include a few selected venues in the host country, where followers without tickets to the actual games will be gathering in their thousands, and possibly via broadcast networks to public venues in other countries such as cinemas. 3D TV has great potential, and I have already highlighted the wow factor which comes from seeing great 3D sports productions. But I’ll be surprised if more than a tiny minority of football fans get to see next year’s World Cup in this format. The London Olympics in 2012 look like a better bet, but that’s another story. Client Reading: Digital Media Devices Global Market Report Add to Technorati Favorites
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