MESA region (may not be exact)

MESA (Middle East and South Asia) as a Broadcast 3D market:

Yesterday we got an invite to attend a day long intensive session on products that comprise Harris Corporations’ advanced media workflows that allow broadcasters to deploy 3DTV, 3Gb/s, HD and integrated baseband/broadband operations easily and cost-effectively. Being interested in 3DTV, we were among the first to RSVP to attend the seminar.

It was noted in the invite that this was the first such event by Harris for their Middle East and South Asia markets combined, and as expected there were attendees from GCC countries, North Africa and the Indian Subcontinent at the event held in Dubai.

Is there market awareness and potential for 3DTV in the MESA region? No and Yes, respectively would be the answer…

Harris Corporation’s glass-to-glass pipeline for Broadcast 3DTV (click for larger image)

Stereoscopic 3D – The Convergence of Cinema and Broadcast TV:

The presentation followed by a workshop started with Routers and Multiviewers from Harris. For those of us with stereoscopic 3D backgrounds rooted in Cinema, these are new equipment, workflows and pipelines to think about. At Realvision the reason we are looking into learning more on where Broadcast TV is heading with regards to stereo 3D is for one reason alone – S3D is going to be the common convergence point for Feature film making, Cinema and Live Broadcast TV.

The reason is that in 3D…bigger is better. Would audiences go to the Cinema to watch TV programming? Our belief is Yes. Everything from a pop concert to live sports, Formula One and even the Opera or the Oscar Awards has the potential for drawing back audiences to the Cinema, sometimes much more than the dismal “feature productions” that are being trashed out by studios to cash in on the 3D craze.

It is for that reason that learning what “Multiviewers” and Magellan™ Routers do, is important when looking at having a grasp on this emerging area of stereo 3D.

Taken from the Harris Corporation website, their “glass-to-glass” Stereo3D offering is based on:

  • ADC™ & D-Series™ automation systems
  • CENTRIO™ and QVM6800+ multiviewers
  • Invenio® asset management
  • IconMaster™, IconStation™ and IconLogo™ master control and branding systems
  • Inscriber® G7™ broadcast graphics system
  • NetVX™ and NetPlus™ networking and encoding
  • NEXIO® ingest and playout servers
  • OPTO+™ fiber optics
  • Platinum™ and Panacea™ routers
  • QuiC™ media analysis server
  • Velocity™ editors
  • X50™ and X85™ signal processors

Questions asked by RealVision during the Seminar:

First off, it has to be said that the entire day long presentation including the (human) networking Lunch was a great learning experience for all, including the Harris presenters!

Although not much of the Stereoscopic 3D pipeline was shown, and we did not get to see any equipment configured for stereo 3D workflows, thanks to questions asked exclusively by Real Vision, there is no doubt that regional systems integrators now got curious as to the future potential and logic of setting up 3Gs based platforms for broadcast studios and OB Trucks, so as to be future proofed when submitting quotations to broadcast networks in the region.

So does Harris have a “glass-to-glass” solution ready today? To be perfectly honest, we can’t confirm nor deny it. This conclusion was based on these questions:

1) Core Ingest and Processing Codec Support: – The presentation said that ingest servers support industry standard codecs such as Avid’s DNxHD and Apple Prorez.

RealVision: Is there support for codecs such as CineForm and Native Red? The reasoning being, that Red Cameras and cameras such as the Si2K are as popular in Live event and Broadcast in Stereo3D as existing industry stalwarts, the Sony F900’s , 950’s and T1500’s.

Further reasons from RealVision:  In a live event today captured in Stereo3D, the streams are being captured and uplinked live, while at times a time delayed version is being recorded and sent to any number of on-demand services such as news clips, and/or for later capsule generating. At times there are cameras for events such as Awards ceremonies and “cutaway” cameras at sporting events that are shooting “3D video bites” that are not directly linked to the live OB van. These stereo 3D rigs benefit from recording full 4:2:2 quality to the codecs mentioned, and later a great deal of time would get wasted if they had to be transcoded to DCT based codecs such as DNxHD and Apple Prorez.

It makes sense to have the highest quality native support on ingest and processing equipment geared for real-time live Broadcast 3DTV.

2) Velocity – The NLE (non linear Editor)

Realvision: Is the Velocity NLE realtime enabled for Stereoscopic 3D online editing?

Reasoning from RealVision: Cutting promos can be done right in the OB Van if needed for any number of reasons during a live event, if there is a stereo 3D capable NLE system on-board. This would mean at the least having two tracks that can be viewed in realtime and output as discrete left right or frame 3d compatible formats. Quick capsules in Stereo3D can be created. In the case of Broadcast 3D studios doing traditional game show episodes, this is also an in-dispensable tool to offer directors. The NLE would need to be capable of 2k realtime stereo3D editing.

3) Inscriber 3D: The titling package

Realvision: Is Inscriber stereo 3D enabled? Also does it support the ingest of either a pre-formatted XML “depth file” or some kind of depth meta-data for automatic or semi-automatic placement of CGI graphics, subtitles or Captions in Stereo Z space.

Reasoning: Creation of stereo 3D titles and graphics and placement is time critical for the CG crew in an OB Van. These titles are usually human placed in Z-space, but there are a number of approaches ranging from Disparity meta-data to depth maps that are being researched, investigated and some being implemented. One such organization active in this area is Screen Subtitling. Their very good white papers on understanding the challenges and some solutions for Stereoscopic 3D caption and graphics placement can be downloaded here.

Shot Boxes for Stereo3D? (Image copyright Harris Broadcast)

4) PPC – Stereo 3D enabled Production Playout Center:

Realvision: Are the NEXIO® Production Playout Centers capable of storing/displaying stereoscopic 3D content? Can such content be previewed in realtime by an on-line Stereographer in an OB Van?

Reasoning: One of the most challenging jobs for a stereographer is juggling “Depth” at live events. Just arming a stereographer with a customized Preston Convergence controller or other such proprietary interaxial/convergence controller does not guarantee that every shot in a live production will be depth-legal when cutting or switching between Stereo3D camera or S3D sources as the many mistakes during the FiFA 3D cup in 3D showed us recently.

Being able to monitor in 3D, inside a broadcast truck on a sizeable 3D panel or display versus guessing the depth from a 2D thumbnail or preview window, is like a night and day difference for an on-line stereographer. This allows him/her to take a call on what to switch to, or if need be use filler stereo3D clips from the shot boxes or Stereoscopic 3D DDRs (Digital Disk recorders).

These were some of the questions asked by us to the very co-operative team from Harris Broadcast. The answers were to be fair, encouraging, and we hope to see a true “Glass-to-Glass” Stereoscopic 3D pipeline demo for BroadCast 3DTV from Harris at the next MESA roadshow or event soon.

Disclaimer: This is a review as recollected after attending the Harris Broadcast Mesa event at the Westin Hotel, Dubai on Nov 10th 2010. It has been reproduced here to contribute to the knowledge of Systems integrators in the Middle East and South Asia, looking at building stereoscopic 3D capable 3DTV networks and OB Trucks. As such the article is for educative purposes only.

  • Bob Johnston

    Excellent report Clyde, As the capture technology matures, the pipelines are preparing all over the world.

    Bob Johnston’
    3D Producer / Technology Strategist / International Media Development