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Summer of 3D ‘‘ by Bob Pank H aving put 3D to one side for a few months it was very interesting to jump back into the third dimension. With 3D not making the headlines much, if at all, you might be lulled into thinking it has faded away, but that’s not the case. Many events are being shot in 3D, including the Olympics and, although there has been nothing happening that could be called a revolution, there is a great deal of evolution going on. At NAB there was a real change of direction with several manufacturers announcing very new (ie, not available for a while yet) glasses-free 3D screens. Obviously they have realised that glasses are not widely acceptable for home viewing – which makes me wonder why so many ads for 3DTV, and even on the sides of 3D OB trucks themselves (see picture), often depict viewers wearing the unloved eyewear. I think there was a brief period when it was cool to wander around wearing 3D glasses, but it didn’t last long. Back at NAB, it was exhibitors including Sony and a collaborative development between Philips and Dolby, called Dolby 3D, showing autostereoscopic screens. Both of these were very impressive but the Dolby / Philips project potentially has a greater significance as it claims that the technology automatically optimises the content for the specific device and screen size and allows viewers to customise the “3D intensity” to 30 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE their liking. It adds that, unlike existing autostereoscopic screens that offer a number of “narrow sweet spots”, (presumably viewing angles to the screen, or ‘zones’, where the 3D effect is seen), those using Dolby 3D “get the optimum balance of comfort and 3D effect wherever they sit.” This sounds good but we are still very much in the ‘honeymoon’ period so we’ll have to wait and see exactly what the technology can deliver. There was a lot of talk about ‘The Summer of 3D’ and I had the opportunity to see something of what this was about when I visited the Sky Sports OB at the Goodwood Festival of Speed – where I was welcomed with a spectacular display by the Red Arrows! But before heading out into the country I was brought up to date by Mark Grinyer, Head of 3D and Sports Business Development at Sony. I asked if 3D had stalled. He replied, “I’ll be honest, there was a little bit of a lull early in the year. I think that was while everyone was sorting out what the impact of the Olympics would be and what rights packages they might get from that. And then it all ramped up again. Now production has although there has been nothing happening that could be called a revolution, there is a great deal of evolution going on” sucked up all the equipment out of the marketplace. There’s none spare to be had.” Sony’s ‘Summer of 3D’ kicked off with a production in France at Le Mans, but was not to do with the 24-hour race. Then there was the Isle of Wight Festival that was, according to Grinyer, “a massive 3D event”. Next was Goodwood and then Wimbledon. There has also been a lot of studio work with Sky where Sony built a flyaway, owned by Onsite, that can also plug into a studio environment. A fourth Sony 3D truck has been delivered to Telegenic. Sony has also delivered another to TV Mobiles in Ireland. But there is also plenty of interesting activity on the product side, as Grinyer explains. “The big focus this year has been on camcorders that, rather than being used only as stand-alone ENG- style camcorders, can also be used in rigs as well as RF ‘Steadicam’ rigs. These cameras are ideal for particular locations and they save a lot of bulk. For example, at Wimbledon we have