The launch of three U.S. 3D TV channels over the past 12 months indicates that 3D is more than an ephemeral craze. Hence, a major 3D thrust at NAB 2011 should be of no surprise.
This year, the 3D Pavilion will be dispersed throughout the Las Vegas Convention Center, with 3D nodes in the North, South and Central Halls. There will also be 3D classes and seminars at Post-Production World starting on April 9 and continuing through to April 13. There is also a full day Master Class in 3D Filmmaking, plus 3D screenings and pitch sessions at iHollywood’s demo night at the Star Theater.
Last year’s early rollout of 3D tools was limited in variety and product readiness. But this year not only will there be finished products to buy, but also a choice of makes and models of 3D camera rigs, cameras, lenses with controllers, monitors, stereo recorders, plus software for improving results in production and in post.
For starters there will be more 3D field monitoring options like Marshall’s 24″ 3D-241-HDSDI LCD monitor which uses the circular polarizing filter method for viewing flicker-free images with battery-less glasses. Transvideo will launch its HD 3D View S series with built-in genlock analyzers and synchronizers for synched output via SDI 1 or 2. TV Logic’s TDM-150W is deemed “the world’s first pro stereoscopic OLED monitor,” with ultra-wide viewing angles. Panasonic will feature a new 25” field monitor, the BT-3DL2550 3D LCD, with multiple display options while JVC will bring its big screen 46” GD-463D10 3D monitor and new smaller models.
The 3D camera rigs coming to NAB are getting smaller, lighter and easier to handle. Element Technica’s new Atom rig is smaller than its Neutron but can still handle a pair of Red Epics or Si-2Ks. An even smaller rig better suited for Steadicam shooting (for example, with Red’s new Scarlet) is Genus’ Hurricane.
NHK’s 3D production division, Cosmomedia America, will show some of its custom-made 3D camera rigs, possibly including a compact beamsplitter rig suitable for handheld work. You’ll also see other custom rigs by Pace Camera and 3ality Digital interspersed throughout NAB adapting various cameras for 3D.
There will also be multiple stereo recorders. Astrodesign is introducing the highest capacity 3D recorder yet. The HR-7502 records up to three hours of raw 3D HD, or 2K, on a removable 1.5TB disk. Convergent Design’s Nano 3D, “the world’s smallest 3D recorder,” records QuickTime/MXF files (left and right) to separate CF cards at speeds up to 280 Mbps.
However, not even the smallest of these rigs can beat the world’s first stereo camcorder, Panasonic’s AG3D-A1, for mobility. But if you need your 3D ultra-light and cheap, Sony’s new 3D NXCAM may be the fix, with native 24p (1080) and an LCD viewfinder that requires no glasses, for under US $3,500.
New software applications will further improve the quality of footage captured with 3D rigs. Dashwood Cinema Solutions’ Stereo3D CAT simplifies the calibration of left/right eye cameras while their Stereo3D Toolbox manages demuxing of side-by-side, interlaced and over/under-formatted footage.
Cineform will unveil new partnerships and a new product line which enhances the capabilities of its pioneering 3D software, Neo3D. Among other things there will be workflow support for newer cameras like Arri’s Alexa, Red’s Epic and Panasonic’s AG-AF100.
Canon and Fujinon will display their respective lines of 3D capable 16-bit lenses with digital servos. Canon’s 3D Lens Adjustment Software will enhance precise stereoscopic tracking of zoom, focus and iris for matched pairs of its HD broadcast lenses. Similarly, Fujinon’s Precision Focus Assist enables fast, accurate focusing of HD images under challenging conditions.