There is little doubt that the 2010 FIFA World Cup will be the technological highlight of the year. While many will travel to South Africa to watch the games live, countless millions will be

3D Image
armchair viewers. Do the broadcasters have anything new to offer? Will it be a conventional 2D medium resolution image or can we expect something more?

It seems we are on the brink of a technology breakthrough, spearheaded by the rapid advancement in High Definition (HD) television. Local channels will be broadcasting HD footage of the games - albeit via subscription channels - and local broadcasters are gearing up to ensure they have sufficient HD OB vans to cater for the need. This has also meant big business for local suppliers.

"The World Cup has already benefited Sony with the 4x HD OB vans for the SABC," says Jess Goedhals, General Manager of Sony Broadcast South Africa. "Two of the units were also used for the 2010 Final Draw, one as a technical operations centre (TOC) for the Host Broadcasting Service (HBS) and the other to do the multilateral production."

Nic Bonthuys of SABC TV Outside Broadcasts adds that the production received accolades from all over the world. "The units, which were acquired by the SABC to replace their current analogue fleet, will be used for larger sports productions, variety (two units were also used for Miss World and Miss SA in December 2009) and news events."

During 2010, the units will be used to do the SABC's unilateral coverage and they will not be used by HBS for the multilateral production. Some units will be available for rental to international broadcasters.

OK, so we know that HD will be the de facto broadcast standard, but is there anything else perhaps?

This from the FIFA World Cup website: For the first time in the history of the FIFA World Cup, the action on the field at this year's tournament will be broadcast using the next-generation technology 3D. FIFA has announced that it had signed a media rights agreement with Sony, an official FIFA Partner, to deliver 3D images from up to 25 matches of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. To this end, FIFA will use the best expertise available in its production in 3D, and take advantage of Sony's technologies and know how in the area of 3D.

This groundbreaking deal means that viewers watching the matches on Sony's 3D products will experience the sheer immediacy and visual clarity of the action as if they were on the pitch themselves. FIFA is working on whether a live right will be offered in the coming months.

Sony Pictures Entertainment will produce and distribute the official 3D film of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa after the event.

Saly viewers at home are unlikely to benefit from the 3D images as the technology for transmission, reception and the actual screen will not be available - however this quantum leap in technology will no doubt in time reach our shores.