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Tuesday, 30 August 2011 16:20

3-Dimensional Discoveries

Written by  Carl Mrozek
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Just a few years ago, 3D rigs, monitors and other production gear were few and far between and hence quite expensive to rent, let alone to buy. Moreover, much of what existed, especially in terms of 3D camera rigs, was large, heavy and fairly immobile. Today, the number and size range of rigs and integrated cameras are growing steadily as is the toolset of peripherals for improving and simplifying 3D production.

Many of these new tools are being produced by familiar companies while plenty of others may be completely new to most readers. Here’s a cross-section of the leading 3D tool developers and their latest, coolest production tools.

cameraaccess_abelcine_phantom-65-3zd.jpgsfwAt NAB 2011, AbelCine (pictured left) introduced a truly unique 3D camera system. The Phantom 65-Z3D is a single-lens, single-camera, single-recorder system that combines the Vision Research Phantom 65 Gold camera with MKBK Zepar Stereo 3D optics. Its 65mm sensor captures two 35mm-sized images side by side with no image distortion or excessive parallax. Being self-contained, the 65-Z3D is fairly compact, lightweight and is thus ideal for shooting in tight spaces.

Canon added synchronization firmware to its XF305 and XF300 camcorders to enhance their 3D capabilities. The Canon 3D Assist Function includes performing OIS lens shift to optically align two XF305 or XF300 camcorders, and a Focal Length Guide displays the zoom position of each camera relative to the other in order to calibrate zoom settings accurately. Canon’s smaller XF100 and XF105 HD digital camcorders can also be configured for 3D capture. For full-sized cameras, Canon Broadcast introduced its “3D Lens Adjustment” software for precise stereoscopic tracking of zoom, focus and iris. Their 3D bridge cable controls zoom, iris and focus for a matched pair of Canon HD broadcast lenses with built-in 16-bit precision digital servos.

Cel-Soft Cel-Scope3D enables fast camera adjustment for accurate stereo 3D during image capture and in post. Disparities are analyzed and displayed as graphics on 2D or 3D monitors. It can be used for live feeds and to play back 3D files in post.

Cinedeck LLC showcased its Cinedeck EXTREME V2.0 with full support for Avid DNxHD, CineForm and Apple ProRes in a seamless camera-to-post workflow. Its Stereo Option for 3D capture and playback add dual-camera monitoring, capture and playback to its mobile stereoscopic 3D capabilities that are built on CineForm’s award-winning Neo 3D and First Light stereoscopic production technology. Cinedeck now offers SI-2K 12-bit RAW 2K or HD uncompressed and CineForm recording, and 3D-LUT color processing with dual-SDI monitoring on the Cinedeck EXTREME.

cameraaccessories_covergentdesign_cd-gemini-05_300-dpi.jpgsfwConvergent Design (pictured left) introduced Gemini 4:4:4, a 10-bit uncompressed 4:4:4/4:2:2 video recorder with a 5-inch touch screen for a monitor and playback with dual HD-SDI and 3G-SDI inputs/outputs. Virtually every HD format up to 2K is supported in 4:4:4, all for under $6,000. The 3D/Stereo option enables stereo recording and playback on a single Gemini with independent L/R channel files and synchronized playback of two streams. The Nano 3D records separate L/R MOV/MXF files with an I-frame-only 4:2:2 codec editable in Avid, FCP, Premiere and more at up to 280 Mbps.

Dashwood Cinema’s 3D solutions include Stereo3D CAT which simplifies the calibration of left- and right-eye cameras on location. Stereo3D Toolbox manages the de-multiplexing of side-by-side, interlaced and over/under formatting. Dashwood Stereo3D utilities support the ingesting of 3D footage from various cameras and its output to monitors and recorders. And Dashwood’s 3D chart includes disparity correction and HIT convergence adjustment with automatic scaling.

Decode recently showed a pair of new 3D rigs at Cine Gear, including D-REX, a “big rig” for larger cameras like the ARRI ALEXA and RED ONE. The company’s D-RAPTOR is a smaller rig for midsized cameras, like the Sony EX3 and F3, Canon XF300 and XF305, and others. Both are passive rigs but, with minor conversion, they can use Preston or CMOTION wireless interaxial and convergence controls. Decode’s 3D rigs are the first from the U.K.

Datavideo’s (pictured right) Live S3D-1 camera may currently be the smallest integrated 3D HD video camera. Its C-mount lenses can be brought even closer together than most human eyes and can be controlled via Wi-Fi or USB.cameraaccess_datavideo_s3d-camera.jpg-sfw

Element Technica’s latest beam splitter 3D rig, the Atom, is designed exclusively for use with the RED EPIC along with full-sized PL primes or smaller zooms, like the Thales Angenieux Optimo 16-42mm or 30-80mm. Weight-wise, this 5K-3D beam splitter system is comparable to various 35mm cameras and can easily be switched from side-by-side to beam splitter mode in the field. It can also use controls from Element’s Quasar, Pulsar or Neutron rigs; and live interaction among all functions is now feasible in real time at resolutions from SD to 5K in both 2D and 3D.

Fujinon/FUJIFILM North America Corporation – Optical Devices Division’s 3D synchronous control system synchronizes zoom, focus, exposure and more for all of its 16-bit, 2/3-inch HD, motor drive (MD) lenses encoded for 3D and robotic apps. With Fujinon’s 3D synchronous controller, PF (Precision Focus) and non-PF lenses can now be used in a 3D setup, and Digi-Power lenses can also be adjusted wirelessly from 100 meters.

cameraaccess_gopro_3d-hero.jpg-sfwGoPro’s (pictured left) HERO 3D system syncs two 1080p HD HERO cameras together in a side-by-side 3D rig/underwater housing which functions down to 180 feet beyond scuba range. With it, you can simultaneously record 2D and 3D HD (1080p) video and stills and then edit them with bundled CineForm Neo3D software. CineForm is now wholly owned by GoPro. 

HydroFlex’s (pictured below right) Neutron BORG 3D underwater housing for Element Technica’s Neutron rig and SI-2K cameras is good down to 60 feet. A cameraman can operate the 114-pound BORG 3D underwater while 3D interaxial and convergence are adjusted topside.

JVC recently introduced an integrated 3D camcorder at NAB 2011. Its GY-HMZ1U ProHD features one 3.32 megapixel CMOS sensor per lens. Its integrated 3D twin-lens design uses JVC’s LSI chip for accelerated digital processing to record L/R images at 1920x1080 resolution while simultaneously in AVCHD at 34 Mbps. JVC also showed its 46-inch GD-463D10 3D monitor, which is among the largest 3D field monitors now available.

Marshall Electronics’ new 3D LCD monitor, the 3D-241-HDSDI, offers 3D/2D side-by-side viewing with a difference-map display at a resolution of 1920x1200 and high contrast ratio of 1000:1. It also uses battery-free polarized glasses.

Meduza Camera Systems introduced the first single-stereo 3D camera yet capable of capturing 4K+ quality. With a 3072x4096 pixel sensor, it’s capable of covering everything from 70mm giant screens and general theatrical screens to 3D TV. Due to be released in the fall, this camera weighs less than 15 pounds and features precise, remote-controlled interaxial and convergence adjustments.

As anticipated, Panasonic (pictured below right) introduced a new, larger shoulder-mounted 3D camcorder at NAB 2011. The AG-3DP1 uses a pair of 1-inch 2.2-megapixel CMOS sensors and 10-bit AVC-Intra codec to capture and record up to 80 minutes of 3D on dual 64GB P2 memory cards. Even more groundbreaking than the AG-3DA1, the AG-3DP1 is ideal for documentaries, reality TV, small feature films and handheld shots at concerts, sports and other live events. Also new is Panasonic’s BT-3DL2550 3D monitor, a 25.5-inch, 1920x1200, flicker-free 3D LCD monitor with multiple display options.cameraaccess_panasonicag-3dp1-4.jpg-sfw

P + S Technik beefed up its hand-held “Evolution” Freestyle rig with heavier-duty camera plates for use with cameras like the ARRI ALEXA, RED ONE, Weisscam HS-2, and more. The fortified Freestyle also has heavier-duty roll, tilt and height adjusters. P+S Technik’s standard rig can be used with various-sized cameras from RED ONEs to SI-2Ks and even DSLRs.

Polecam recently introduced its 3D-capable head for use with HD mini-cameras, like Toshiba’s IK-HD1 and HRO69. Its 3D-mounting plate attaches directly to all standard Polecam rigs, and it’s optimized for studio shooting and close-ups.

RED Digital Cinema compact, 5K-resolution RED EPICs are among the favorite cameras for use on 3D beam splitter rigs. Element Technica’s Atom uses EPICs exclusively, but RED ONEs have also been used on many larger 3D rigs. The company’s 3D “REDucation” collaboration with 3ality Digital will feature workshops and classes in 3D production techniques for seasoned and aspiring filmmakers, including a “Camp RED” youth summer program for students ages 9 through 15.

Red Rock Micro’s micro3D is a state-of-the-art rig that uses two video cameras in a side-by-side configuration. It has the standard two axes necessary for control of the 3D effect, and it enables passive adjustment of convergence, interaxial, roll, pitch and height with matched pairs of all HDSLRs. Optimized for small-format cameras like the Canon XF105, the rig can also support larger cameras, such as the Canon XF305, Sony EX3 and even the RED ONE.

Schneider Optics’ round and window-sized quarter-wave retarder filters are designed to remedy partial polarization by ensuring that both optical paths have identical properties. The #d windows also protect 3D beam splitters from flying debris, which is tough to clean away without damaging the rig.

Silicon Imaging’s SI-3D camera system captures 2K-resolution imagery in 3D and records up to four hours of CineForm RAW 2K or HD footage direct to disk. It features 10.5 stops of latitude and variable frame rates, and RAW Bayer data can now be captured directly from the single-sensor with SGO Mistika.

Sony introduced a new shoulder-mount 3D camcorder that will be available this fall. Co-developed with Discovery Communications, a 3D pioneer on TV, the PMWTD300 3D features a twin optical lens plus three half-inch CMOS Exmor sensors per eye view. Sony’s even smaller HXRNX3D1 will also ship soon. This ultra-compact 3D camcorder has two ¼-inch CMOS sensors and twin 10X zoom lenses. It’s ideal for corporate videos, weddings and other events as it can record nearly eight hours of 3D HD on its 96GB internal flash memory. Also new are Sony’s 42-inch LMD-4251TD and 24-inch LMD-2451TD 3D field monitors which use the 3D circular polarizer system. Sony’s HDC1500 studio and HDC-P1 POV cameras are two of the most widely used cameras on 3D rigs in North America, if not around the globe. Moreover, the company’s PMW-EX3 is one of the favorite midsized cameras for use on smaller rigs.

3ality Digital’s TS-5 3D rig is one of the lighter rigs (at 22 pounds) on the market today, and it’s great for shooting in tight spaces where a larger tripod-mounted rig can’t fit. The TS-5 can be handheld or mounted on a Steadicam and uses 3ality Digital software for quick, accurate setups, camera alignments and smooth tracking. The TS-5 Light is a smaller, streamlined version of the TS-5 beam splitter rig that was shown at NAB 2011. Even smaller is the company’s new Handheld Wonder Module, which is used with smaller, lighter cameras and includes a camera-sync source, flip-flop/rotate/multiplex, and a switchable multi-source viewfinder interface.

Vinten’s 3D wedge adaptor is designed for balancing under/through beam splitter 3D rigs on various Vinten pan-and-tilt heads, including the 950, 750 and 90 Vector heads. The 3D wedge adaptor offers clearance for under-slung cameras, which increases downward tilt.

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