Record breaking Usain Bolt in Manchester – in 3D!

By , 15th September 2009 14:17

UsainBoltI’m just wrapping up my annual visit to Amsterdam where I work with the organisers of IBC, the world’s leading international broadcast technology exhibition and conference – an event where the importance of sport to television is highlighted by the number of exhibitors showing sporting footage to demonstrate their wares.

One of the main themes throughout this year’s show has been 3D TV.  IBC has been covering the renaissance of 3D in cinema for several years.  The debate is rapidly moving on to when 3D television transmissions will become commonplace.  In the UK, Sky is planning to launch a 3D channel for special events in 2010 which will show one-off events on a pay-per-view basis initially.  Until compatible hardware becomes widely available at affordable prices, sports enthusiasts who want to experience live sport in 3D will have to make a trip down to their local digital cinema.  But if you get the opportunity, I’d thoroughly recommend it.

I managed to catch a fascinating session on the new challenges of producing live TV content in 3D.  One of the case studies presented was a project to capture Usain Bolt’s attempt on 150 metres world record in 3D.

The attempt on the rarely-raced distance took place on a specially laid track on Deansgate, one of the main streets through Manchester city centre, on 17 May 2009.  Bolt covered the distance in a new world best time of 14.45 seconds. The production company who captured the race on video described the race as the fastest race of all time – as Bolt’s split time for the last 100 metres was just 8.72 seconds, well inside Bolt’s own 100m world record.

Here’s the footage of the race – in 2D – which has been derived from the same camera set-up used for the 3D footage.

The Manchester Evening News – whose offices look down on Deansgate – reports on the outcome here.

Despite the challenge of setting up the shoot in typical Manchester weather, the 3D footage on a big cinema screen was spectacular.  It was much more dramatic than the 2D footage available on youTube.

So not only should Deansgate get a plaque for the setting of the new 150m record, it may well qualify for a plaque as the venue of the first athletics world record captured in 3D!

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