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Wimbledon 2012 3D technology: Behind the scenes

We take a behind the scenes look at the 3D technology at Wimbledon 2012

Wimbledon 2012 has come to an end with Andy Murray losing to Roger Federer in the final. We were at the tennis championship with Sony taking a look behind the scenes at how it's filmed and broadcast in 3D.

This year's tournament saw five days' worth of coverage recorded in 3D by Sony including the men’s quarter-finals and the women's and men’s semi-finals and finals matches. Broadcasters including BBC and ESPN showed live 3D coverage and a total of 14 broadcasters were offered the 3D feed globally to be watched on 3D TVs like the Sony KDL-46HX853.

Wimbledon Women's Final 2012

David Bush, director of marketing for Sony Europe said: "We're excited to be working again with the AELTC and raising the 3D experience even higher.  New technological advances have allowed us to produce Wimbledon on an even greater scale this year."

See also: Group test: What's the best TV?

Among these advancements is the use of SR-R1 HDCAM SR recorder cameras as well as PMW-TD300 camcorders. Sony said: "The SR-R1 is a compact memory drive unit, which supports dual-stream recording and is ideal for high quality 3D stereoscopic image capture."

Sony uses a total of six 3D cameras, one of which is mounted on the score board, on centre court to record the matches. There's also an additional camera on the roof for interviewing and panning around the grounds. See also: Digital Home Advisor.

The standard non-3D cameras get priority for position but the 3D cameras use some unorthodox and interesting angles of the play. The BBC also allows Sony to take its 2D feed from six cameras and convert it to 3D for additional shots.

For the first time Sony has recorded the footage onto SR memory cards instead of tape. We were told the cameras record at 220Mbps per eye and a total of around 30TB of data is captured over the tournament.

The 40 strong 3D crew work mostly from outside broadcast trucks parked just outside the Wimbledon ground. We were lucky enough to take a look inside and see what goes on.

Not only does the 3D get recorded by cameras inside the ground, a team of stereographers who adjust the 3D image for the viewer. Before the match begins the cameras are calibrated to show the 3D as best as possible.

Wimbledon 3D Stereographer

What you might not know is that the stereographer constantly adjusts the image during live broadcasting to produce the best possible experience for the viewer. Too much 3D and the viewer can be put off and too little and the experience is lacking.

The stereographer actually sees the image in black and white in order to see what areas are being highlighted by the 3D effect. The graph on the left hand screen (above) indicates how much 3D there is in the picture.

On-screen graphics, like the score and statistics, have to be remodelled in 3D because converting them from 2D wouldn't look right.

Wimbledon Production Suite

The OB truck also contains a production suite which you can see above. There are two identical audio suites for handling all the sound. When both are used one mixes the sound for TV broadcasting and the other mixes for cinema since some matches are available to watch in cinemas.

Wimledon Audio Suite

We also managed to take a look at the technology behind Hawk-Eye, the system which tracks the ball for adjudication.

The Hawk-Eye system uses a total of eight cameras around the court to track the ball's movement. There are also two extra cameras for redundancy purposes, for example a fan may block one camera with a flag.

Hawk-Eye at Wimbledon

Hawk-Eye is used on four courts at Wimbledon and has a crew of four people in the booth including one official umpire. Since the footage in in 2D, when a player challenges a call and Hawk-Eye is used to decide the point Sony's cameras film the player and crowd watching the court-side screen for the result. Without the animations Hawk-Eye records about 2MB of data per match.

Sony will be filming the London Olympic Games 2012 Tennis at Wimbledon in a matter of days and Hawk-Eye will be used for the event too.

Follow Chris Martin and @PCAdvisor on Twitter.

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