BBC plans to use 3D and ‘super hi-vision’ for London Olympics

[From The Guardian]

[Image: Jamaica’s Usain Bolt wins the men’s 100m final in a world record time in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Photograph: Dan Chung for the Guardian]

BBC plans to use 3D and ‘super hi-vision’ for London Olympics

Executive in charge of 2012 coverage has spoken about the proposed experiment at the Edinburgh televison festival

Mark Sweney
Sunday 28 August 2011

The BBC is considering plans to broadcast the 100 metres final of the London Olympics in 3D, as well as trying out a new technology that delivers picture quality said to be 16 times better than HDTV.

Roger Mosey, the BBC executive in charge of the corporation’s London 2012 coverage, told reporters on the sidelines of the Edinburgh international television festival that 3D coverage for the 100m and other events was “certainly on the agenda”, as part of a “limited experiment”.

The event will see world record holder Usain Bolt seeking to restore some pride after being disqualified from the world championships on Sunday, following a false start.

The BBC will also test “super hi-vision”, a new broadcasting technology so advanced it is not expected to be in homes for a decade. Three 15 metre (50ft) high screens will be erected around the country so that the public have a chance of seeing the imagery that Mosey said was so good it would match up with the experience of watching from the stands.

“When you sit and watch it you really get the experience of being in seat D5 in the stadium,” he said. “Super hi-vision might be a better long-term prospect than 3D in some ways as it gives you the feel of being in the stadium. People are knocked out by it.”

Super hi-vision screens will be erected at the BBC’s Pacific Quay building in Glasgow, Broadcasting House in London and, subject to negotiations, the National Media Museum in Bradford.

The BBC is likely to broadcast the Olympic opening ceremony using the technology, which employs a single camera to capture a wide shot. It has already been tested on sports such as basketball and “big stadium events”.

Mosey added that Sharp was working on an 215cm (85in) TV set using super hi-vision technology but that it was unlikely to be widely available until 2022.

The debut of super hi-vision is part of a tradition of trialling new TV technology at the Olympics. Mosey said that the BBC led the way, delivering the “first properly televised” Olympic Games when they were hosted in London in 1948.

The Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 was the first to use HDTV cameras. However, it was not until Beijing in 2008 that the BBC first broadcast in HD.

However, Mosey said that the first 3D Olympics would not amount to a “24/7 service” during the Games, partly because it would mean interrupting its HD programming.

“It is fair to say there is a trade-off between 3D and HD,” he said. “We don’t want to damage the mass audience that watches HD with [too much] 3D, which is viewed by a minority”.

Earlier this year the BBC made its first 3D broadcast, televising the men’s and women’s Wimbledon tennis finals on BBC HD.


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