World Cup 2010: Element Technica Quasar Rigs Utilized for 3D Telecasts

Element Technica’s Quasar 3D rigs will be used exclusively for the 3D telecasts of the 2010 FIFA World Cup from South Africa this summer.

A total of 22 Element Technica (ET) Quasar rigs will be used to provide up to eight 3D camera positions in the Ellis Park and Soccer City stadiums in Johannesburg, as well as stadiums in Durban, Cape Town, and Port Elizabeth. In all, 25 soccer matches will be delivered in 3D to viewers around the world. Sony HDC-1500 cameras with Canon HJ22ex7.6B lenses will be mounted on the Quasars. At each stadium, four Quasars positioned back from field action will be configured in side-by-side mode, while the rest, located near the field, will be mounted in the under/thru beam-splitter mode.

The Quasar rigs, which were introduced at the 2009 International Broadcasting Commission (IBC) convention in September, began tests during actual soccer matches in February to prove its ability to interoperate with the Sony MPE200 3D Processor.

“In addition to satisfying all the opto-mechanical performance criteria, the Quasar proved its compatibility with Sony’s stereoscopic processing,” says Duncan Humphreys, partner in UK-based 3D production specialist Can Communicate and a 3D consultant to Host Broadcast Services (HBS), host broadcasters for the international event.

Concurrent with these soccer match tests, ET’s Quasar 3D rigs were being used to produce 3D telecasts of other live sports events, including Europe’s Six Nations Rugby Championship in February and the recently concluded French Open tennis championship.

Element Technica co-founder Stephen Pizzo notes that because 3D production equipment, including the Quasar rigs, cameras, and lenses must be moved among the five soccer venues in South Africa, the ET rigs’ ability to quickly and easily be reassembled and calibrated is critical. “Eight rigs had to be struck from the site of the opening match at Johannesburg’s Soccer City stadium, transported across town and reassembled at the city’s Ellis Park stadium in four hours for the next day’s match,” he says. “With the Quasar’s simplicity of assembly and calibration, the operation was completed with time to spare.”

ET co-found Hector Ortega said this comes down to a dollars and cents issue: “We’ve been told that because our competitors’ 3D rigs would not have been able to complete such a fast turnaround, that rental of an additional complement of eight rigs, with additional cameras and lenses, would have to have been necessary.”

Humphreys points to an additional advantage the Quasar 3D rigs provide to in-stadium sports coverage: its ability to be operated in the Element Technica rig’s Broadcast Mode. Most beam-splitter 3D rigs mount the mirrored camera above the rig, which does not allow conventional placement of the operator’s viewfinder monitor and can block spectators’ views of the event. “The under/thru configuration is not as high, which cuts down on the need to eliminate spectator seating,” he said. “It also allows use of a full monitor and operator controls in the back, which provides a familiar look and feel to a camera operator new to 3D production.”

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