FIFA doesn’t have a monopoly on breaking new ground in live 3D broadcasting from South Africa. Daily live 3D broadcasts from on safari are about to begin featuring a unique set of production technologies, writes Adrian Pennington.
The content is being distributed via the internet and being offered as the WildEarth 3D channel to IPTV platforms.
Viewers will be treated to live safaris from Djuma in the Sabi Sands game reserve, part of the Kruger National Park, in the company of a single presenter/expert ranger from the back of a Land Rover. 2D transmissions have been broadcast since 2007 but on August 15 the feed goes live in stereo 3D.
“We are providing an immersive experience in nature,” explains Graham Wallington CEO and co-founder of WildEarth.TV. “Unlike National Geographic, Animal Planet or other wildlife related broadcasters who are in the business of creating documentaries, our focus is on faithfully recreating a real life experience in nature.”
The broadcast is shot with one camera rig in a continuous point of view movement using technology specially devised for the project by 3D Rigs
“For most 3D productions you would use an operator to pull the convergence while shooting but it is not feasible in this case because of the space on the vehicle and the unrehearsed nature of what we are filming,” explains Russ Bowden, 3D Rigs owner and chief designer. “As the camera’s focus or zoom is adjusted we needed software which would calculate the correct interaxial and convergence parameters of the lenses and then move them in real time.”
Two Sony FCB-H11 HD block cameras have been fitted to a customised 3D Rigs’ Pro Ultra mirror rig which is described as a ‘working prototype’. The FCB-H11 has a built in zoom lens ranging 5.1mm to 55mm, or up to 600mm with a digital zoom applied.
“We believe this is the only rig on the market which is computer controlled in this way,” he claims. Night shoots using Infra-Red photography will also be tried – another first it’s claimed.
Distribution is by H.264 1080i, multiplexed together and sent by microwave link and then by fibreoptic cable to a final control gallery in Djuma. The signal is decoded back to two 1080i feeds and routed side by side into a single 1920 x 1080 HD frame at 25fps.
This signal is ingested into a Content Delivery Network (CDN) and sent as H.264 video over IP to a cloud-based Master Control where the feed is archived and played out at 6Mbps to IPTV operators around the world.
“The cost of delivery via an IP network is far cheaper than deliver by satellite,” he continues. “We are tiny compared to the traditional behemoth production companies but we are able to bring a live channel to market for the amount they would spend on a Christmas party.”
The WildEarth 3D feed will also be streamed live to its own website. There’s even an iPhone app launching next month which, with the aid of Zeiss Cinemizer specs, will allow the user to watch a side by side (frame compliant) stereo version.
Once this is off the ground WildEarth plan to dive beneath the oceans and film sharks – live and in 3D of course.