Romero Details Plans for 3D Coverage of London Olympics, Sees 300 Hours in 3D

Earlier this week, Panasonic and Olympic Broadcast Services (OBS) announced plans to deliver more than 200 hours of 2012 London Olympics coverage in 3D to viewers around the world. But OBS CEO Manolo Romero says the total number of hours could actually exceed 300, making the London Games by far the largest 3D sports production ever.

“Those that are able to watch the Olympics in 3D will feel more like they are part of the action,” he says. “There are two types of events that will be covered: those that must be in the Olympics in 3D, like track and field, and others that will be adapted to 3D.”

Three 3D production units will be used at the different venues, Romero says, adding that OBS expects to know which events will get the 3D treatment by the end of the year. And, while unified 2D/3D productions are a growing trend as a move to cut production costs, he says the focus for the Olympics will be on providing the most compelling 3D experience.

“There is going to be a minimum number of shared cameras,” he explains. “We are going to share the least amount of cameras we can to make it a great 3D experience.”

Already lined up for the 3D treatment are track and field, tennis, and soccer.

“This is, of course, a very important event for the momentum of 3D,” he points out. “The big challenge is, there are some sports that have never been done in 3D.”

The three 3D production units will be complemented by a large number of Panasonic 3D camcorders that use the P2 format. Those units will be in the hands of 15-20 ENG crews, capturing both live action and material that will be edited into 3D packages and highlights.

When the Olympics went HD for the 2004 Athens Olympics, all operations were handled out of a single OB unit. For the 2012 Games, the 3D content will be put together inside the International Broadcast Center.

“There will be a 3D area where we will be preparing the coverage,” says Romero. “We will bring high-quality 3D to the IBC and produce and postproduce content with Full HD quality. Satellite distribution will be compressed and in the side-by-side format.”

Broadcasters will have several options in terms of how 3D content gets delivered to their viewers. There will also be a prepackaged 3D signal via satellite that can be simply passed through to viewers and will feature live content, feature packages, and prerecorded 3D coverage.

Currently, 14 Olympic broadcasters are signed on for the service, and Romero expects that to grow between now and the start of the Olympics next July.

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