Archive for the ‘3D’ Category

Sony and Panasonic go head to head with 3D cameras and displays

Stereo 3D is becoming almost mundane in its ubiquity with virtually every company of note in the video space touting product which is capable of acquiring, recording, managing, manipulating, delivering or viewing 3D in some fashion. Sony and Panasonic showed off their new 3D camcorders a the National Association of Broadcasters show here on Sunday.

Cost remains the biggest Cost remains the biggest Cost remains the biggest impediment to production and Sony and Panasonic, both of whom have vested interests in 3DTV channels (3Net and DirecTV’s n3D) and a strategy to sell more 3D displays to consumers, are preparing to ship new inexpensive – and uncomplex – camcorders aimed at putting 3D production in the hands of any professional.

Indeed, by the year end both companies will have professional shoulder-mounted and semi-pro handheld integrated 3D camcorders on the market.

Panasonic’s handheld version (the AG-3DA1) is already out and will be joined in the fall with a second integrated 3D camcorder, this time with a larger imager recording to Panasonic’s memory card format P2. This unit, the AG-3DP1, is intended for use in live productions, sports, independent films and documentaries.

Panasonic claims this shoulder-mounted camera can record 80 minutes of stereo in 10 bit AVC intra to twin 64Gb P2 cards. It contains two 1/3”, 2.2 3MOS sensors. By contrast its predecessor contained 2.7 megapixel chips and records to SD cards.

Panasonic’s shoulder mount will vie for market attention with Sony’s version, which is due out at around the same time. First shown in prototype last September, the PMW-TD300 3D camcorder features a twin optical lens equipped with three ½-type CMOS sensors.

Also shipping this summer from Sony is a compact 3D XDCAM camcorder intended for videographers, events and corporate videos. The HXR-NX3D1 incorporates two ¼-type CMOS sensors, twin 10x zoom lenses and an internal flash memory of 96GB to enable around 7.5 hours of 3D recording.

Panasonic said its 3DA1was finding favour as a training tool at film schools and sports facilities, including at Florida State for college football.

An eye-catching use of the camcorder will be aboard the final mission of NASA’s shuttle Atlantis this June, during which astronauts will use it to document the International Space Station and experiments in orbit.

At CES earlier this year Sony, Panasonic, and JVC all announced consumer-friendly still imaging and digital video stereo cameras as they seek to create a groundswell of interest and even user generated content in the 3D format. The cameras announced at NAB are a step up in terms of professional ergonomics and imaging quality. Nonetheless there are many critics of such single-bodied twin lens cameras who argue that the fixed interaxial distance between the lenses hampers 3D capture of events, particularly when capturing close ups.


James Cameron & Vince Pace Unveil New 3D Venture At NAB

Source: Deadline Hollywood.

The Cameron-Pace Group, announced today at the start of the National Association of Broadcasters confab in Las Vegas, “seeks to accelerate worldwide growth of 3D across all entertainment platforms including features, episodic and live television, sports, advertising and consumer products.” The company, run by co-chairman James Cameron and longtime collaborator Vince Pace, will offer next-generation camera systems, services and creative tools to the entire entertainment industry, not just film. “Our goal is to banish all the perceived and actual barriers to entry that are currently holding back producers, studios and networks from embracing their 3D future,” Cameron said. “We are dedicated to building a global brand that is synonymous with high-quality 3D and spans multiple channels, from features to episodic television, and changes the boundaries of what is understood to be 3D material.”

Cameron and Pace developed under Pace’s company PACE the Fusion 3D system, which was used for the 3D in such films as AvatarTron: Legacyand U2: 3D. PACE has begun the formal rebranding process, and its operation under the Cameron-Pace Group banner is effective immediately. CPG will be headquartered in Burbank, Calif., the current home to PACE.

CPG already is working on film projects that include Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger TidesTransformers: Dark of the MoonThe Three Musketeers,The Invention of Hugo CabretLife of Pi and 47 Ronin.

Third Reich 3D movies unearthed

Films shot on 3D in pre-war Nazi German have been unearthed in Berlin’s Federal Archives.

Two 30 minute black and white propaganda films in 1936 were found by Australian director Philippe Mora, who is prepping a feature length documentary on how the Nazis used images to manipulate reality.

Mora broke new ground with his first film “Swastika” when it was released in 1973 featuring previously unseen color footage from Hitler’s “home” movies shot on a 16mm camera by his mistress Eva Braun at the Berghof mountain retreat at Obersalzberg in the Bavarian alps.

Now he has discovered that the Nazis were decades ahead of Hollywood in developing a medium first popularized in the 1950s and now enjoying an international renaissance.

“The films are shot on 35mm — apparently with a prism in front of two lenses,” Mora who is at the Berlinale for his planned $13 million 3D biopic on Salvador Dali, starring Alan Cumming and Judy Davis that he plans to shoot in Germany, Australia and Spain.

“They were made by an independent studio for Goebbels’ propaganda ministry and referred to as ‘raum film’ — or space film — which may be why no one ever realised since that they were 3D.”

One film, a musical set during a carnival entitled “So Real You Can Touch It” features close up shots of sizzling bratwurst on a barbeque; the other “Six Girls Roll into Weekend” has what may be UFA studio starlets living it up.

“The quality of the films is fantastic. The Nazis were obsessed with recording everything and every single image was controlled — it was all part of how they gained control of the country and its people,” Mora said.

He plans to incorporate the material in a 3D section of his documentary — working title “How the Third Reich Was Recorded” — and is convinced there is more vintage 3D footage out there to be found.


If 3D causes headaches… Drug makers take note!

NEW YORK — From Hollywood studios to Japanese TV makers, powerful business interests are betting 3-D will be the future of entertainment, despite a major drawback: It makes millions of people uncomfortable or sick.

Optometrists say as many as one in four viewers have problems watching 3-D movies and TV, either because 3-D causes tiresome eyestrain or because the viewer has problems perceiving depth in real life. In the worst cases, 3-D makes people queasy, leaves them dizzy or gives them headaches.

Based on an online survey, the American Optometric Association estimates that 25 per cent of Americans have experienced headaches, blurred vision, nausea or similar problems when viewing 3D.

Our eyes track an approaching object by turning inward, toward our noses.  Bring something close enough, and we look cross-eyed. 3D screens also elicit this response when they show something approaching the viewer.

The problem is that as the eyes turn inward, they also expect to focus closer, so the eyes have to curb their hard-wired inclination and focus back out.  This mismatch between where the eyes think the focus should be and where the screen actually is forces them to work extra hard.

“That causes at least part of the discomfort and fatigue that people are experiencing,” says Martin Banks, an optometry professor at U.C. Berkeley.

TV makers do their own testing, but don’t publish results. Samsung warns on its Australian website that its 3D TVs can cause “motion sickness, perceptual after effects, disorientation, eye strain, and decreased postural stability.” The last part means viewers risk losing balance and falling.

“We do not recommend watching 3D if you are in bad physical condition, need sleep or have been drinking alcohol,” the site says.

Researchers have begun developing more lifelike 3-D displays that might address the problems, but they’re years or even decades from being available to the masses.

That isn’t deterring the entertainment industry, which is aware of the problem yet charging ahead with plans to create more movies and TV shows in 3-D. Jeff Katzenberg, CEO of Dreamworks Animation SKG Inc., calls 3-D “the greatest innovation that’s happened for the movie theaters and for moviegoers since color.”

Theater owners including AMC Entertainment Inc. and TV makers such as Panasonic Corp. are spending more than a billion dollars to upgrade theaters and TVs for 3-D. A handful of satellite and cable channels are already carrying 3-D programming; ESPN just announced its 3-D network will begin broadcasting 24 hours a day next month.

Yet there are already signs that consumers may not be as excited about 3-D as the entertainment and electronics industries are.

Last year, people were willing to pay an additional $3 or more per ticket for blockbuster 3-D movies such as “Avatar” and “Toy Story 3.” But that didn’t help the overall box office take: People spent $10.6 billion on movie tickets last year, down slightly from the year before. People went to the theater less, but spent more.

3-D TV sets were available in the U.S. for the first time last year, but shipments came in below forecasts, at just under 1.6 million for North America, according to DisplaySearch. Nevertheless, TV makers such as Samsung Electronics Co. and Panasonic are doubling down on 3-D and introduced more 3-D-capable models this month at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Those models cost more than regular ones and require glasses, just like in theaters.

Research into how today’s 3-D screens affect viewers is only in its early stages. There have been no large-scale scientific studies.

source: AP/Marketing Magazine

JVC rolls out 3D Camcorder

JVC today announced the world’s first consumer camcorder to offer 3D recording in Full HD, thanks to a new JVC-developed high-speed processor that can produce two simultaneous Full HD images.

The new GS-TD1 uses two camera lenses and two 3.32 megapixel CMOS sensors – one for each lens – to capture three-dimensional images much the same way that human eyes work.  JVC’s new high-speed imaging engine simultaneously processes the two Full HD images – left and right images at 1920 x 1080i – within that single chip.  The newly developed “LR Independent Format” makes the GS-TD1 the world’s first consumer-oriented camcorder capable of 3D shooting in Full HD.  JVC’s new camcorder offers other shooting modes as well, including the widely used “Side-by-Side Format” for AVCHD (3D) and conventional AVCHD (2D) shooting.

The camcorder uses a JVC 3D Twin HD GT Lens that sets a new standard in high-resolution lenses with extra-low-dispersion glass for crisp, high-contrast images, as well as multiple aspherical lenses for fine image reproduction. The GS-TD1 also features round iris diaphragms that enable beautiful bokeh effect (background blurring) shooting of video and stills alike.

Additional highlights include 3D optical 5x zoom, Optical Axis Automatic Stabilization System for disparity control to give depth to 3D images, JVC’s BIPHONIC technology for dynamic 3D sound and Automatic Parallax Adjustment to optimize the 3D-video comfort zone .

There is nothing difficult about using the GS-TD1, which operates like other consumer-friendly camcorders from JVC. A 3.5” 3D touch panel LCD monitor displays 3D images without any need for 3D glasses, making it easy to check 3D images while shooting and watch 3D playback in the field.

JVC’s other new HD Everio with 3D capabilities is the GZ-HM960. . Similar to other HD Everio models in size and features, the GZ-HM960 is distinguished by its 2D-to-3D output function, which turns any 2D footage into 3D. Output can be viewed without glasses on the camera’s 3.5-inch 3D LCD monitor, or by connecting the camcorder to an external 3D television. Bluetooth® wireless technology enables integration with other devices, such as smartphones, to synch images with Google Maps™.

The GS-TD1 and GZ-HM960 both use Everio MediaBrowser software (for Windows®) for full management, editing and sharing of content. In addition to full-fledged video and still image editing, files can be uploaded effortlessly to social media sites such as YouTube™ or Facebook. In the GS-TD1, the software allows 3D video to be shared on YouTube™.

The JVC GZ-TD1 Full HD 3D camcorder will be available in March for $1,999.95.

The HD Everio GZ-HM960 will be available in February for $949.95.

Chapman 3D Expedition treks to 19,000 feet

Chapman University’s Dodge film school has tapped eight student filmmakers to shoot a 3D documentary on their expedition to reach the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro at 19,341 feet.

The students — four male and four female — are set to depart Monday for Tanzania. Chapman said the students were selected after proving to be physically fit enough for the task and eager to climb the highest mountain in Africa.

Each will shoot his or her own expedition documentary, chronicling their experience and each will also take turns operating a Panasonic 3D camera.

Panasonic loaned the crew a 3D camera for two months in exchange for two minutes of “beauty shots” from Kilimanjaro. Dodge College Professors Jeff Swimmer and Jurg Walther will lead the expedition.

Swimmer said he’s planning a similar journey next year to Antarctica.


Sony + IMAX = match made in heaven

(Reuters) – Shares of Imax Corp went for a roller-coaster ride on the last day of 2010, climbing steeply on a report Sony Corp or Walt Disney might be interested, but plunging after Imax poured cold water on the speculation.

Britain’s Daily Mail, without citing sources, reported late on Thursday that Sony may be readying a bid for the big-screen movie company at more than $40 per share. The newspaper also named Disney as a possible suitor, citing “industry sources”.

Imax shares jumped as much as 20 percent early on Friday but shed most of those gains after Imax said in a release it was “unaware of any corporate developments” that would account for the rise.

A deal for all outstanding Imax shares at $40 each — a 58 percent premium on Monday’s close — would value the company at more than $2.5 billion.

Traders and analysts put the takeover talk into the speculative basket, suggesting the price mentioned was too high and the year-end timing suspicious.

“I’m not going to bother wasting my time on that,” said one trader. “Too many whispers in the world.”

Investors, while trading in record volumes of Imax stock, also seemed to shrug off at least the suggested price, with the shares jumping to $32.30 early in the Nasdaq session before falling back to $28.06 by 3:55 p.m. Eastern, still a 4.5 percent gain on Thursday’s close.

Some 25 million of Imax’s Nasdaq-listed shares had changed hands by that time, compared with a daily average of around 1.5 million over the past 12 months.

Imax’s shares were 4.1 percent higher at C$27.97 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Sony and Disney did not respond to requests for comment on the media report.

An Imax spokesman said: “The first Imax became aware of these rumors was through yesterday’s Daily Mail article. It has been the company’s long-standing policy not to comment on such rumors.”

Any studio takeover of Imax would hamper its growth, according to Eric Wold at Merriman Capital, as other studios would be less willing to show their films on the oversized screens and, in turn, theaters would be less inclined to install more screens.

Imax, which had put itself up for sale in the past, posted a third-quarter profit that blew past analyst expectations, and forecast rapid expansion of its theater network, especially in emerging markets such as China.

The company made a net profit of $19.2 million in 2009 after two years of losses.

Imax shares have risen tenfold in the past two years, as the company capitalized on the popularity of 3D movies such as “Avatar” and “Toy Story 3,” weathering the downturn felt by other theater chains.

Apple presses towards 3D handhelds

Apple has been awarded a patent for a 3D stereoscopic display system fuelling rumour that it is considering adding 3D screen/projection technology to its products, including the iPhone, iPad or Mac computers. Alternatively, the company could be about to enter the 3DTV business – an intriguing prospect. The patent was first applied for back in 2006, but has just been granted, and it is a step in the right direction for Apple to bring about its own form of autostereoscopic (glasses-less) 3D display technology:

Source: HDGURU 3D

End of Year B.O. tallies suggest that 3D is cannibalizing the industry

Nikki Finke reports on the dilemma facing distributors with regards to the new technology and ticket pricing:

The Top 5 Grossing Movies of 2010 in North America were Toy Story 3 (3D – Disney/Pixar), Alice In Wonderland (3D – Disney), Iron Man 2 (2D – Disney/Marvel distributed by Paramount), The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2D – Summit Entertainment), and Inception (2D – Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures). Interesting how not all were 3D despite the higher ticket prices, which has prompted one prominent media analyst this week to call on the movie industry to scale back on the number of 3D movies it has planned because demand for them is lessening and 3D is “not the panacea which Hollywood studios hoped it would be”, says Rich Greenfield.

He notes that total movie industry box office is down over $152M or 30% year-over-year. And 4th quarter-to-date, box office is now down over 8% and could easily end the quarter down 9% given how poorly newly opened films are performing. In turn, attendance for Q4 2010 will likely be down around 12% – “a staggering number for an industry that expected 3D technology to motivate people to get out of their houses and go to the movies,” he says. ”The U.S. consumer is becoming increasingly less interested in 3D movies. While the horror and gross-out comedy genres may benefit from 3D (think Saw 3D or Jackass 3D), the vast majority of 3D movies this year have been disappointing at best (the exceptions being Alice in WonderlandToy Story 3, and Despicable Me).”

Greenfield calls this “A Recipe for Disaster: Hollywood is combining substantial price increases ($3.25 3D upcharge is the average in the US on a $7.00-$7.25 average 2D ticket), with annoying glasses that substantially dim the light of a movie and which young children spend more time playing with than wearing, with sub-par content (not to mention the fact that 3D gives some people headaches and others cannot see 3D imagery at all). While you may think of us as the ‘3D Grinch’, we fundamentally believe content and story are the key factors to success and that technology alone is not a long-term path to success or profits. The movie industry should reduce the number of 3D movies it has planned or at least substantially scale back the upcharge as they are simply charging way too much for poor content. Did a Jack Black comedy, Gulliver’s Travels really need to be in 3D? We suspect even if the movie was bad, lowering pricing (to 2D levels) would have ended up selling more tickets.”

Although others’ projections for 2011 and 2012 box office are upbeat, Greenfield maintains that weak box office is likely to accelerate studio plans for early release premium Video-On-Demand. “While the exhibitors continue to focus on the risks to cutting into their 4-month release window, we suspect the weakness in exhibition attendance trends is likely to provoke Hollywood to accelerate their plans to release movies earlier in the home. Studios need to find new revenue streams to bolster movie profits in 2011 and beyond. We continue to expect multiple studios to begin trialing early-release, premium-priced VOD by late Q1 2011/early Q2 2011.”

3D Lenses make sense when they are paired to match and calibrated

While you might think that the recent explosion of 3-D production throughout the United States, particularly for sports and movies, would be a windfall for manufacturers of broadcast and professional production lenses, the results have been decidedly mixed. It depends upon which vendor you ask.

Some productions to date have used existing Canon HD lenses pulled from the shelf and paired up for stereoscopic image capture, but this requires a certain technical skill to get the optical alignment right. Others have employed a new generation of 3-D-compatible lenses (from such companies as Fujinon andThales Angeneiux) to get the job done, but there’s still some technical tweaking to be done.

Perhaps the most important issue for professionals is finding the right combination. Many think you have to find an identical pair of lenses and be sure to use those same two lenses together for every production to ensure perfect alignment and, thus, good (i.e., easy on the eyes) stereoscopic images. However, representatives for both Canon and Fujifilm said there is no such thing as a “perfectly matched” pair of lenses. Using sophisticated manufacturing techniques and careful QC processes, all of their standard 2-D HD lenses are typically designed to be 3-D-ready; however, there are some differences to be aware of.

Adjusting tolerances

Larry Thorpe, renown imaging expert and national marketing executive for the broadcast and communications division at Canon U.S.A., said most portable HD lenses contain approximately two dozen separate lens elements (large box lenses include almost three dozen). The optical design of the lens includes accommodations for adjusting the minute tolerances associated with all of these lens elements and their mountings.

“Although the present state of the art in lens design makes these tolerance differences virtually imperceptible in lenses used in normal 2-D production, the differentials between tolerances of any two lenses can become visible in a 3-D application,” Thorpe said. “Over the past year, based upon many 3-D projects in which we have become involved, our R&D team is presently exploring possibilities of further tightening control of these tolerances.”

Thom Calabro, director of marketing and product development for the Fujinon broadcast and communications products division at Fujifilm, said that his company has already figured out how to tighten these tolerances. While Fujinon clearly designates if a lens is 3-D-capable (including four new B4 mount lenses), it does not sell them as matched pairs. Basically, users can be assured of good results if they use any two Fujinon HD lenses with “T5DD” at the end of the model number.

“After our normal manufacturing process, we perform a final test,” Calabro said. “During this testing, we designate a certain number of these for 3-D. Each lens is carefully rechecked to ensure that the optical axis is of a very tight tolerance. Our 3-D-designated lenses can be mixed and matched, of course, with lenses of the same focal length. This makes it ideal for mobile companies who frequently move lenses between trucks. There is no need to keep track of ‘paired’ lenses.”

While Fujinon T5DD lens customers don’t need to designate a matched pair among their stock, Canon stresses the need to identify camera-lens combinations that work well together, even for 2-D HD acquisition.

Finding the right camera-lens combination

“You’re not just matching lenses; you’re also matching cameras,” Thorpe said, adding that there are two key issues to be dealt with when matching a 2-D HD lens-camera pair for 3-D operation

First, when a lens is mounted to a camera, there is an inevitable mechanical tolerance associated with the lens’ optical center and another separate tolerance associated with the camera’s optical center. These separate tolerances can be additive or subtractive in terms of the final optical axis for a given lens-camera combination because both tolerances entail plus and minus limits. Recognizing this, tolerance limits for both have been carefully established between the optical and the camera manufacturers.

“These (tolerances) are on the order of some tens of microns,” Thorpe said. “The resultant small miscentering of the lens-camera optical axis typically translates into tens of pixels (for a 1920 x 1080 HDTV video format). For a 2-D HD camera, this is of little consequence. For 3-D pairs, however, the differential can be troublesome.”

He said Canon has been training 3-D technical crews on how to take any two lenses, loosen their respective mechanical mounting plates and, by an interactive trial-and-error process while mounted on the two chosen cameras, converge the lens-camera optical centers to the fullest degree possible.

Of course, this process can be time-consuming and tedious, and Fujinon’s Calabro said that it’s not necessary in the case of T5DD lenses.


Return top

About 3D & Digital Cinema

If you are a tech head, cinema-phile, movie geek or digital imaging consultant, then we'd like to hear from you. Join us in our quest to explore all things digital and beyond. Of particular interest is how a product or new technology can be deployed and impacts storytelling. It may be something that effects how we download and enjoy filmed entertainment. It may pertain to how primary and secondary color grading will enhance a certain tale. The most important thing is that you are in the driver's seat as far as what you watch and how you choose to consume it.