3DTV 2011: Panelists Say There's Still A Lot To Learn About Production

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New York -- It's clear the industry still has a lot to learn about 3D production techniques as a group of executives shared their real-world experiences in a panel discussion at the "3DTV 2011-What's Next?" event here Thursday afternoon.

The panel was moderated by TV Technology Editor Tom Butts at the NewBay Media conference hosted by Multichannel NewsBroadcasting & Cable, TWICE, TV Technology, DV and Videography.

Jerry Passaro, senior vice president, network operations and distribution, at MSG Network, who produced a 3D hockey game between the New York Rangers and New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden last March, said he's learned the key is staying low with camera shots, cutting slow and minimizing the use of graphics.

For Mark Rodin, executive director, Seminole Productions at Florida State University, it's taking advantage of new technology, like the Panasonic camera, which has had a huge impact on his filming of collegiate games. Because of its auto-alignment feature, he now has 40 minutes of highlights per game instead of five. "Things I thought would not be comfortable from a theory standpoint are now very comfortable with that camera," Rodin said.

Most of the panelists'  production experience was in sporting events, as that type of programming has been an early-adopter of 3D technology.

"When done correctly, 3D literally takes you to the game," said Jack Kestenbaum, director of technical operations, at YES Network, which shot a pair of New York Yankees-Seattle Mariners games in 3D last July. "It's said HDTV is a window into the game, 3D places you in the chair."

Sports is not the only programming genre that can be enjoyed in 3D, pointed out Joe Signorino, senior project engineer, NEP Broacast, who has produced 3D music and cooking shows for DirecTV. "It's often easier to accomplish good 3D in those environments, than in big sports venues," he said.

And those obstacles of producing in those environments are sometimes significant. "To make it cost efficient is very difficult, said Kestenbaum. "At most venues, the infrastructure is not conducive to this. So return on investment is very difficult at that point."

Because 3D cameras have to be placed lower in venues, the equipment ends up taking seats that could otherwise be sold for high prices. Passaro said devices have to get smaller and more robotics need to be introduced, which will be the linchpin to sustained 3D sports success. "It has to become a business for the networks," he said.

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