Sky To Test Premier League in 3D; UK OB Units Ready for 3D

Sky will launch its long-awaited 3D service in April, but Europe’s first stereoscopic TV channel will be previewed on Jan. 31 with coverage of the Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester United. OB companies in the UK are beginning to invest in the technology, with Telegenic building the first European 3D truck and Visions announcing two 3-Gbps vehicles that will be able to handle the format.

Sky 3D will eventually be available at no extra cost to all Sky+ HD subscribers, but, until the necessary domestic equipment is on the market, the service will be seen only in suitably equipped pubs. Sunday’s taste of what is in store for viewers will be screened on 3D-ready TV sets in nine venues in London, Manchester, Cardiff, Edinburgh, and Dublin. With the official launch of Sky 3D, hundreds of pubs will be offering stereoscopic football.

Eight 3D camera rigs will be located around Arsenal’s Emirates stadium, feeding into Sky’s 3D outside broadcast truck. At the end of last year, the broadcaster commissioned a dedicated vehicle from Telegenic for sport and entertainment production. Full details on the truck are still to be confirmed, but it is reportedly capable of supporting seven 3D rigs and will feature standard HD equipment, a Calrec audio desk, and up to four EVS systems.

Gerry O’Sullivan, director of strategic product development at Sky, says, “People have already embraced 3D cinema, and, because Sky’s 3D service uses the same kind of technology, we’re confident there will be a demand for sport, movies, concerts, and drama in 3D.”

Meanwhile, two new Visions trucks have been commissioned for Sky’s Premier League and UEFA Champions League broadcasts. They will replace three existing vehicles and will feature 3-Gbps infrastructures to support HD and, in the future, 3D. This will also allow material to be easily transferred from the trucks to Sky’s new Harlequin 1 broadcast centre, which is currently under construction.

Says Rob Newton, technical manager at Visions, “By going 3-gig, we’re future-proofing the trucks for 3D at a later date.”

Sky Sports Operations Manager Keith Lane says, “We challenged Visions to provide us with a streamlined truck solution incorporating pioneering technology for our football coverage. These two new trucks will give huge efficiencies and the tools for our production teams to provide the best coverage.” He notes that 3 Gbps also has the potential for 1080p.

The Telegenic and Visions trucks will additionally support Sky’s move away from Dolby E to discrete audio for carrying multiple audio channels for surround sound. “Discrete audio will cut down the Dolby E workflows and fits in better with what will happen at Harlequin 1, which will be a tapeless environment,” Lane explains.

Visions’ 3-Gbps trucks will be the largest in its fleet and are due on the road in July, ready for the start of the 2010-11 football season in August.