Q&A: Paul Tobyansen of CAMERON | PACE Group on 3D coverage at the Masters

CAMERON | PACE Group heads to Augusta, Georgia this week to take part in the 3D broadcast of the 2013 Masters Golf Tournament. CAMERON | PACE Group (CPG) has been involved in four Masters broadcasts and has been nominated alongside CBS and ESPN3D for a Sports Emmy in the “Remote Technical Production” category for tournament coverage for the last three years in a row. 

The tournament, which runs from April 11 to 14, will be broadcast on CBS, ESPN and ESPN 3D.
As final tournament preparations were underway at CPG headquarters in Burbank, CA., we talked to Paul Tobyansen, an Emmy award-winning longtime sports producer and stereographer, about the challenges and rewards of 3D coverage at the storied sports event.

CAMERON | PACE Group: What are some of the production challenges specific to the Masters?

Paul Tobyansen: Access to the course is limited throughout the week, and we deal with many obstacles. When we arrive on site, there are players on the course practicing. Carts are not allowed off the cart paths. From a production standpoint, the most important thing to remember is the setting. We don’t want to see cameras. The entire focus should be on the beauty of the course and its surrounding area. The experience is all about seeing the azaleas in bloom, not about seeing a camera behind a golfer trying to hit a tee shot.

We're constantly trying to frame shots that give a clear view of the action but ensure the camera operator is invisible. We want to keep the attention on the players, the course, and the fans. We work very hard to keep it that way. This aspect of production is unique to golf, and very challenging technologically. For example, our positions for camera deployment are extremely restricted and our operators are under strict controls on how far they can wander from left to right while using a handheld system.

CPG: What equipment is CPG bringing to Augusta this year?

PT: We’re providing 12 camera systems for CBS and ESPN 3D. These systems will cover the last four holes of the Masters in addition to the opening tee. We'll be supplying four system types: a fixed side-by-side rig, a Maxi dynamic side-by-side rig, a standard dynamic side-by-side rig, and a standard dynamic beamsplitter, which is a handheld system.

The systems will all be integrated into Shadow Unit 15, a CPG broadcast mobile unit. Inside there'll be the CPG TF-2000 camera control unit, along with our RCP-2000, the newest and most effective remote control we offer for broadcast sports. In addition, we'll be employing our Shadow technology. There will be three Shadow systems covering the event that will provide 3D content while simultaneously allowing 2D capture. 

Each system incorporates new HPR (height, pitch, roll) technology that allows the system supervisor to manipulate the rig within the mobile unit. This means that a technician is no longer required out on site, which is very helpful in cutting costs and also in keeping the systems active throughout the broadcast.

CPG: How has production for the Masters evolved over time?

PT: The only thing that's drastically changed over the course of our involvement is the technology. We used to have upwards of ten techs out on the course because the systems required potential hands-on adjustment during the broadcast. This year, I have four technicians doing the exact same job, and it doesn’t require nearly the sort of active participation that it did in the past. The process now is much simpler: a technician will set up the system and walk away. The tech's hands-on presence is only there in the event of a catastrophic technical failure.

CPG: How does the casual viewer respond to seeing the Masters in 3D? How does it augment the traditional broadcast experience?

PT: Throughout the course of my career, I’ve been involved in hundreds of live sporting events, and I can honestly say that the Masters stands out above them all. There is nothing like golf in 3D. When you hear an announcer mention that a putt “breaks left to right,” it’s simply impossible to get enough detail in 2D to make that sort of distinction. In 3D, you will actually notice the grain of the grass even though the grass only a sixteenth of an inch long. You can see how the ball is going to roll; you can see how a golfer should hit his putt.

At Augusta, we have put monitors in a viewing area so the general public can see what we’re doing as we do it. The responses have been overwhelmingly positive. People are blown away by our 3D coverage.

It’s all in the details. They can see the dimples on the ball and the sweat drip off a golfer’s face. The viewer feels like they are a part of the action. To sum it up, a fan once said, “I felt like I was standing in the front row instead of 40 rows deep.” It’s a very special experience and I’m happy to play a part in it.

Dalton Abbott
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About CAMERON | PACE Group (CPG)

CAMERON | PACE Group (CPG) is the industry leader in 3D technologies and production services from SLATE²SCREEN™. Led by founders and cochairmen James Cameron and Vince Pace, CPG delivers the highest-quality 3D through its technology products, solutions, and creative tools engineered for use across all media channels. Supporting filmmakers, broadcasters, studios, networks, and creative teams globally, the company has unparalleled expertise in helping content producers realize the full potential of 3D as a powerful and immersive medium. CPG’s easy, efficient, and cost-effective 3D solutions have supported productions generating more than $8.5 billion in box-office revenues, enabled 31 3D feature films, more than 300 3D broadcasts, and multiple 3D media experiences in all formats. CPG-supported films and broadcasts have won numerous Oscars and Emmys for both technical and creative achievements, including three Best Cinematography Oscars in four years. For more information about the company, please visit www.cameronpace.com.

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