In a surprise announcement, the BBC are to show their first-ever 3D broadcast on a terrestrial UK TV channel. Both the ladies’ and men’s finals of the 125th Wimbledon will be screened in 3D on the BBC HD channel. In the past, the BBC experimented with rugby in 3D, which we covered live way back in February 2010. However, back then the screenings were only made to 40 cinemas across the UK. This time, the BBC will show the tennis finals in 3D on the HD channel as well as in cinemas, in partnership with Sony who announced back in March that they were the official 3D partner for the All England Lawn Tennis And Croquet Club and would be showing Wimbledon in 3D in cinemas through their distribution partner, SuperVision Media.
So how can you watch the Wimbledon finals in 3D?
Well, the BBC HD channel is free-to-air, so all you’ll need is a 3DTV, some 3D glasses and the ability to watch the BBC HD channel. Then simply tune in to the action on Saturday 2 July and Sunday 3 July. This is the first time UK viewers will be able to watch a live 3D broadcast without a Sky subscription. The BBC HD channel is available on Freeview HD (channel 50) , Virgin Media (channel 187) , FreeSat (channel 108) and Sky (channel 169).
Should the BBC spend money on 3D Tennis?
Some people have voiced concerns that while the BBC is supposed to be making cuts and downsizing (the license fee is frozen for 6 years, a real-terms cut of 16%), it’s spending money to show Wimbledon in 3D when very few people, as a percentage of the UK population, will be watching the 3D broadcast on a 3DTV in their homes. While it looks like extravagance, in actuality it could be that the BBC has done a very good deal. Obviously, the BBC already cover Wimbledon and have the contract until 2014, so their correspondents and equipment will already be on location in SW14. As Wimbledon is one of the sporting “crown jewels” which can only be shown live on terrestrial TV, the BBC knew that Sky couldn’t buy the rights to show it, which means that Sony, who have put in the technical expertise along with CAN Communicate including the 3D cameras, really only had the BBC to offer the 3D rights to. I don’t know details of the deal, but it could be that the BBC got some valuable 3D live content and a lot of good publicity for not a lot of money.
Sony will sell the 3D content worldwide, so will presumably make a return on their investment, either directly or indirectly via a boost to their sales of 3DTV’s, 3D cameras and Playstations which can play Blu-Ray 3D discs. Sony recently bought “Hawk Eye”, the technology which shows whether or not any given shot in tennis was “in” or “out” using vision processing and triangulation which should look particularly good in 3D. The Lawn Tennis Club will make money from licensing the 3D rights, so it seems like a good deal for everyone, but especially so for the BBC!
As I said, the announcement by the BBC was somewhat of a surprise. Even Techradar thought it unlikely that the BBC would show the event in 3D when the initial 3D announcement was made by Sony.
See Wimbledon 3D At The Cinema For Free
In addition to it’s HD channel coverage, the BBC is offering tickets to 3D screenings at the following cinemas…
BBC Television Centre
There’s a maximum of two tickets per request and the events are on 3rd July at 1.15pm. For full details, and to apply, click here.
Sky’s Reaction To The BBC Showing Wimbledon In 3D
One interesting angle to this story is, “what do Sky make of it”? As one of the pioneers of 3D in the UK, it must be galling to miss out on Wimbledon. On the other hand, Wimbledon in 3D will almost certainly increase interest in watching 3D sporting events, and Sky has the only dedicated 3D channel in the UK which is where people will naturally turn for more 3D programming. John Cassy, the directory of Sky3D, said…
for 3D TV to truly prosper in this country, it’s essential that forward-looking broadcasters across the board help encourage industry peers – whether they be fellow broadcasters, production companies or even talent- that 3D represents a genuine opportunity – both commercially, and, as with Wimbledon, creatively, satisfying the demands of UK viewers to enjoy the best TV experience available, and in so doing helping the BBC support UK innovation. (source)
Technical Aspects Of Filming 3D Tennis
As mentioned above, CAN communicate are the technical partner working in conjunction with Sony and the BBC to create the 3D footage. Regarding the technical aspects, they said…
CAN will use the same 3D workflow that was successfully deployed at the 2010 FIFA World CupTM. With 5 camera positions per match, each position will comprise 2x SONY HDC-P1 cameras with Canon lenses fed into a SONY HD fiber adapter mounted onto Element Technica rigs and configured with SONY MPE-200 processors for convergence and interocular alignment.
The 3D signals generated from the 5 camera positions will be fed to a dedicated 3D outside broadcast facility supplied by our partner, NEP Visions. Pictures will be processed using a complete SONY 3D broadcast solution and encoded for 3D TV broadcast and 3D cinema audiences