Juggling both 2D and 3D productions side by side has become too expensive for ESPN to handle, so much so that they’ve decided to scrape the 2D production altogether. This week ESPN is going to stick to the 3D production of “Friday Night Fights” for its weekly simulcasts, marking its 3D debut on ESPN 3D.
Phil Orlins, Coordinating Producer said that the left camera rig will be used to feed the 2D viewers. All in all, six cameras will be mounted and manned – one using a tripod, three held by hand, one in ultra slow motion and one on a boom. A seventh unmanned camera will remain in a fixed position.
However, not all is hunky dory in the new 3D world for ESPN. There is still of course the problem of commercial insertions and promo adverts, which are of course different for both 2D and 3D viewing. The intricacies of this situation are still being worked out by the producers who spoke to 3DHollywood.net and other media channels.
This cost slashing tactic will continue and has been extended to a college basketball game which is to be simulcast on ESPN3D.
Slight differences will be seen in the broadcast of three boxing matches – a 10 rounder, 4 rounder and 10 rounder, while still using the same 3D camerca techniques to cover simulcast events.
Matt Sandulli, Senior Coordinating Producer explained that in 3D feed, graphics will be rearranged because of the depth that 3D provides. This means that for “Friday Night Fights” the countdown clock and the fighter’s name will appear on the top of the screen as opposed to the bottom. This is because in 3D pre-set depth of the overlays conflicts with the depth of the people and objects.
Other sports that used a clock to show the time left, also noticed this discrepancy and as a result resorted to the same move, especially in football and basketball games.
Owing to the nature of 3D viewing, Orlins said, the number of cuts or switches made to different cameras will be fewer and far in between because of the readjustment it takes for the human eye to focus on 3D image again. Sandulli said they’re going to try a new approach where the handheld camera will zoom in on the boxers and mirror their movements to provide a greater visual impact, so that it feels as real as possible.
Commentary for the sporting events will be provided by 3D announcers Joe Tessitore and Teddy Atlas, coming straight from the ringside. This move, Sandulli said was not based on the 3D element but on the lack of available personnel.
This move was welcomed both by the announcers and producers of “Friday Night Fights”. All these subtle changes, they believe, is what will make boxing benefit the most from the 3D element because of the cameras being right near the action.
Tessitore excitedly goes on to say that everyone at ESPN has been waiting for this moment since ESPN 3D was announced. One may wonder that with all the hype, why was boxing one of the last sports to be introduced to the ESPN 3D channel. The answer all lies in timing, the boxing series began anew last month, and the MLB All Star Game and college football was being experimented with from August onwards.
Orlins went on to say that despite 3D being the best coverage for a sport like boxing, there are a few challenges that are yet to be overcome. For example, if one gets too close to the action, with the 3D camera too close, then the danger of creating a double image arises because the two lenses from the right and left camera cannot converge. They’ve figured out a way to minimise this by using a beam splitter camera rig which straps to the two cameras together and brings them closer. However this would require a bigger set up.
Fewer commercials will be used for the 3D broadcast until they create new 3D ones, until then 2D ones will be substituted. They will also be used to create a market for the ESPN 3D channel, since it’s going to be a regular channel from Monday onwards.
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