Super Hi Vision (and 3D, and Stereoscopic, and DSLRS) in TC0
The Super Hi-vision camera
After years of being mothballed Television Centre's TC0 burst back to life with a bang today as R&D brought together one of the biggest experimental broadcasts in years. BBC Sport asked us to help them demonstrate a selection of the latest broadcast technologies that will be available for the 2012 games, so we have brought in the NHK Super Hi Vision system, stereoscopic 3D, a couple of our own 3D projects, and 6music were using their own rig (plus a few cheekily sited Flips) to capture content for their website. At the height of activity this morning, when our own 'making of' crew, plus BBC Click were on set, there were probably in excess of 25 cameras trained on the band!
The main camera, the biggest in the pictures, and the key reason for this demo, was an NHK Super Hi-vision camera, which records an image of mind blowingly high resolution, 33Mega pixels per frame. These images were displayed around the studio on 4k (4000 horizontal lines resolution) monitors- even though these are the highest definition monitors in the BBC, the image is actually being down converted from its raw form!
Alongside the Super Hi-vision we had another pair of cameras, aligned to give a fixed stereo pair to be merged with the Super Hi-vision in post production to create 3D with extremely fine texture, as part of the i3DLive project.
Dual camera stereoscopic mirror rig for capturing 3d images
To one side of this set was the 3D Stereoscopic mirror rig hired in by BBC Studio Resources . This method of mounting 2 cameras allows the separation to be managed down to less than the width of the camera bodies would usually allow. Down at the back of the studio we set up an HD screen with alternating circularly polarised scan lines so the image could be watched in real time with glasses, and it was also recorded for future use.
6 music has also brought along their usual, but far from dull, video set up for band sessions- they use 3 large sensor cameras, one on a shoulder rig, one on a track dolly and one on a tripod, each with small add on monitors. With this set up, plus a few lightweight Flip cameras taped to various areas of the set, the 6music team will be putting together a very striking webcast of the session.
Oliver Grau calibrates the perimeter cameras.
Above and around the whole of TC0 is a fixed ring of a dozen cameras, each with a ring of chroma key blue LEDs, that allows us to shoot the action from all angles at once. This is the BBC R&D 3D capture rig- and it's true 3D, in that we capture a complete 3 dimensional model of the scene, not just a view that looks 3D from a certain angle, as stereoscopic techniques do. With a little bit of last minute calibration, Oliver Grau and team from the 3D4you project were able to grab a good content set for later processing.
Sound and Fury
The complex soundscape produced for the on site demonstration of the technology was a product of both R&D's own engineers, including Andrew Mason and David Marston, and also our colleagues from Radio Outside Broadcasts, who brought along their brand new truck to take the live sound feed and turn it into beautifully balanced 5.1 surround near instantaneously.
The demonstration also included a live internet supported stream of the data from the SHV all the way to Tokyo, using elements from JANET, and NTT amongst other carriers. BBC R&D provided network test and monitoring equipment and skills, and NTT managed the stream, including an integrated 2-way video-conferencing link.
Tremendous credit to Tim Plyming in Sport for pulling the whole exercise together, to 6music, Radio OBs, Studio Resources, and to John Z, Oliver, Stephen, Chris, Andrew and everyone in R&D who is making this such a vibrant new facility.
Tomorrow we will be hosting the Taekwondo Scotland National Team demonstration, again over a live link to Japan, and then, who knows! TC0 is back, with a bang, and the future is ours to make.