Recording 2D and 3D from the same rig will lower the cost of content, says Steve Schklair

It is great to see that audiences have really taken to stereoscopic 3D (S3D) in the cinema – many films are now in the format, including the highest-grossing film of all time,Avatar. However, some critics have said that consumers are not as accepting of the medium in the home, and HD S3D televisions have not flown off the shelves as expected.

But this is not the whole picture. Although sales of such technology have been slow and steady, the initial projections were widely overstated to enable business cases to work, but they were not realistic.

So, what can be done to make the transition move more quickly? The number one item is content. No one buys an S3D set because they are amazed by the electronics; they will buy the sets because they enable them to watch their favourite programming in S3D. Without a lot of content available, the transition will move forward slowly, as it is doing now.

Sport in S3D is going to be a huge draw for audiences to invest in S3D equipment and we are definitely going to see more and more sporting events shot in the medium. Done properly, sport shot in S3D is incredibly compelling. For example, watching golf shot in this way enables you to see the contours and textures of the fairway, which are not necessarily apparent from 2D viewing.

The amount of sport broadcast in S3D is going to increase greatly as broadcasters start to record 2D and S3D from the same rig and, as a result, reduce filming costs.

Right now, when a sporting event is filmed in S3D, there is always a 2D crew on the opposite side of the field, to get both sets of shots. Two complete crews and set-ups to film one game obviously doubles the cost of production. That has to change for the business to succeed.

Both types of filming can be made on one rig. On an S3D rig there are two cameras and the 2D broadcast will simply be the output from one of those. So the capability is there, it just boils down to the creative aspect. Creatively there are differences between how you shoot a 2D and an S3D game – for example, the lower-angle shots look better in S3D, whereas the higher angles look better in 2D. So there has to be a compromise in camera positions that produces good 2D and S3D broadcast.

I believe we will see producers experiment with this soon, but it will not be at a major sporting event, it will be either a regular season or a friendly game where the risk factor is lower. We will see experiments with combined coverage in 2011.

A big milestone will be when the biggest sporting events are filmed in S3D. In 2012, we will see the Super Bowl shot entirely in S3D. The NFL should be ready to do this by next year. A few games have already been shot using the medium, so there is already the experience of shooting NFL games.

Sport is going to be a huge driver for the S3D home entertainment market. Once viewers perceive that there is enough engaging content to watch – especially sport – they will then take the plunge into investing in an S3D set-up.

Steve Schklair is chief executive of 3ality Digital. He will deliver a keynote speech at BVE in the 3D Revolution room on Wednesday 16 February at 3pm