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Telecast Makes 3D Push

Telecast Fiber Systems, the Belden subsidiary which specializes in fiber-optic camera connection and control units for remote sports and news production applications, is undertaking a “huge 3D initiative” heading into this year’s IBC show, says Director of Product Marketing and Management Jim Hurwitz.

The Worcester, Mass.–based company has been involved in 3D production since 2004, and made specialized fiber-optic camera connections for Sony F950 cameras that director James Cameron and 3D specialist Vince Pace used in shooting the Oscarwinning 3D blockbuster Avatar. The modified versions of Telecast’s popular “Copper- Head” camera-mounted transceivers allowed Pace to break the Sony cameras down and mount only the essential imaging components (the optical blocks) of the two cameras in his company’s “Fusion 3D” rig, to minimize weight and bulk, and use fiber to remotely connect to the cameras’ processing units as well as camera control and monitoring gear.

While remote productions for HD have been able to use legacy triax cabling, the dual HD signals coming from a 3D camera rig make triax unusable because of its bandwidth limitations, says Hurwitz. With fiber, Telecast can multiplex up to 16 uncompressed HD streams on a single strand of fiber, and place 64 in total on a small-diameter “tactical,” or military-grade, fiber cable.

“Fiber is going to be a requirement for 3D,” says Hurwitz.

Telecast has developed the CopperHead 3400, the first CopperHead unit designed for dual-camera 3D rigs for sports coverage and scripted 3D film and television productions. The 3400—which was shown as a concept at NAB but is now fully productized and shipping—is designed for use with camcorders or compact “box” camcorders like Sony’s new P1. The device, which starts at $17,000 for use with non-powered tactical cable (powered options that support various distances run an additional $2,700 to $4000), provides transport of two 1.5-gigabit-per-second HD camera signals to the control room or truck, as well as the data used to control both the cameras and the 3-D rig’s motor system, over a single fiber-optic cable.

At IBC, the company will also formally unveil its new Gemini product, a 3D camera rig communication and power support unit that works with popular full-size hard cameras such as Sony’s HDC-1500 that use SMPTE Hybrid fiber (with copper strands that supply power). The Gemini box will power the camera and handle the transport of all the ancillary bi-directional data streams, including data for the convergence operators, and return HD/SDI on a single piece of fiber cable, compared to the three cables typically used in stereoscopic 3D applications.

“It’s designed to allow a stereographer to multiplex that all onto single cable, for two full cameras that are typically connected with SMPTE hybrid cable,” says Hurwitz. “When they’re used in stereo applications, you normally have to have two big SMPTE hybrid cables, and another cable for the 3D information.”

Gemini, which Telecast plans to demonstrate at IBC, lists for $13,000 for tactical fiber (non-powered) and $18,000 with hybrid (powered) fiber.

Telecast will also introduce at IBC an affordable CopperHead unit targeted at the electronic newsgathering (ENG) and satellite newsgathering (SNG) markets, the Copper- Head 3050. While pricing for CopperHeads used to start at $15,000, the new 3050 starts at $9,900 says Hurwitz, making it affordable for news operations at local stations. The 3050 system provides a single fiber-optic link between any professional camera or camcorder and a broadcast truck. It can deliver uncompressed HD video and simultaneously transport bidirectional digital (SDI or HD/SDI) and analog (NTSC or PAL) video, as well as all two-way camera control, audio, video, data, sync, tally/ call, prompter and intercom signals between the camera and the base station.