Here’s a very exciting new product I was first given a sneak preview of at Cinegear in LA a couple of weeks ago, but now I have had a slightly longer look and a chance to take some pictures at Broadcast Asia. It comes from a new name to the market, Korean based Today 3D, but don’t let that worry you, I know some of the guys behind this and they know what they are doing. In addition many of the products coming out of Korea in recent years have been very good, like the NextoDI range of media backup devices. The device is a full wireless electronic follow focus designed primarily for 3D applications. There will be different models capable of driving up to 8 motors for full stereo focus, zoom, iris, interaxial and convergence control down to an entry level 2D wireless follow focus.
The hand controller is beautifully well built, machined out of a solid block of alloy and it feels reassuringly solid, if just a little heavy in your hand. On the right side there is a nice big, silky smooth focus control that sits nicely in your hand. On the face of the controller there is a slide control that would normally be used for the other functions such as convergence or most commonly interaxial. The unit is full programmable via a small joystick and menu system with a multicolour display giving you information about your focus distance, zoom position and interaxial etc. It runs off rechargeable Canon DSLR batteries which easy enough to get hold of wherever you may be. The final price has yet to be announced but I have been reassured that it will be extremely competitive, probably a lot less than a comparable C-Motion controller. It won’t initially come with motors but it has the industry standard motor interface so can be used with motors from Heden, Preston, M-One etc. It’s a great looking piece of kit that really feels built to last. I’m hoping to get hold of one for a full review and test drive in the near future. There are also some other interesting 3D products coming from Korea including some innovative transparent alignment charts! Watch this space.
Well I’m a happy chappy. Took delivery of my second PMW-F3 today so that I can shoot my 3D projects using a pair of F3′s rather than my EX1/EX3. Now I have a working lens converter that allows me to use standard 2/3″ broadcast lenses on the F3 the F3 is fast becoming my default camera for almost everything. So the I took the decision to trade in my EX3 against a second F3. For lenses on the 3D rig I’m going to use DSLR lenses. Today I checked out my Nikon 50mm f1.8′s and these were just fine but my Tokina 28mm f2.8′s are un-useable as the lens optical axis shifts as you focus causing alignment errors, so I need to find some alternative wide angle lenses. I’d really like two sets of Zeiss PL mount Compact Primes, but that’s way beyond my budget. I might try and stretch to a couple of sets of Zeiss ZF.2′s, but I think that for the moment it’s going to have to be a case of building up pairs of lenses as I can afford them.
My 3D rig will be available in many countries via Manfrotto from the 1st of March. Production has been in full swing for the last few weeks and we now have finished rigs in stock at the factory. In the UK rigs will be available from Manfrotto or from the Hurricane-Rig.com website (approx €6700 euros, £6000 GBP plus VAT, price TBC). In the USA select Manfrotto Dealers will be selling the rig for $7995 USD.
We are working on a range of add ons for the rig which include a motorisation kit that will add motorised Interaxial only, interaxial plus convergence as well as dual focus and zoom options. These will options will fit all Hurricane rigs so there is no need to wait for these options to become available. Pricing TBA, but it will be very competitive and you can pick and choose the modules that you need.
As you walked around the BVE show in London last week you could not help but notice that just about every stand had some kind of reference to 3D production. The impression given was that 3D is here, it is going to be huge and everyone needs to be able to shoot in 3D. But is this really the case? Certainly there has been a big increase in the number of 3D movies produced in the last 18 months and Avatar is now the largest grossing movie ever made, much of the profits coming from 3D screenings. Sky TV in the UK are starting a 3D TV channel later in the year and Discovery, ESPN and others have announced their intentions to launch stereoscopic channels. To add to all this the TV manufacturers are also bringing large ranges of 3D TV’s to market.
But before you all rush out and spend large sums of money on expensive 3D camera rigs you need to look more closely at what’s going on and consider who will actually want to watch 3D. Now I am a fan of 3D, don’t get me wrong and I do believe that 3D is here to stay, but as I see it, until display technology finds a way to eliminate the need to wear special glasses 3D is going to be reserved for special events, movies and spectaculars. Lets face it who’s going to want to have to put on a pair of glasses after a hard days work, just to watch the news or a soap. This is supported by Sky’s recent 3D seminar where they stated that they are only looking at showing 4 hours of new 3D programming every week and the only things they are looking for are movies, major sporting events, special events and one off, mega specials – “planet earth” type big budget docs. The rest of the week will be repeats and re-runs. So, in the UK it’s likely that there will be a couple of OB trucks kitted out for 3D for sports and other events filing a couple of hours a week leaving just two hours which will be split between docs, specials and movies.
Now Sky 3D won’t be the only outlet for 3D in the UK. There will be some corporate productions with budgets big enough for 3D and there will be a market for a few on-demand specialist channels and 3D BluRay’s and DVD’s but the really big market will be the 3D games market. Even so for most production companies, 3D could be an expensive mistake. Investing in expensive 3D rigs, pairs of cameras, 3D production monitors and edit systems won’t be cheap. In addition there is a whole new set of skills to be learnt, shooting 3D is very different to 2D. Perhaps (sadly) the real future of 3D TV lies not with true 3D capture and filming but with clever boxes like the JVC IF-2D3D1 2D to 3D converter which can take existing 2D material and convert it in to pretty convincing 3D for the price of a single pro camcorder. It may even be that one day all home TV’s will contain a similar converter and you will be able to watch whatever you want in Pseudo 3D at the press of a button.
So back to the original question, how big is the 3D market? Well I think it’s actually pretty small, probably best left to a few specialist production companies or 3D consultants and facilities companies. Certainly lots of 3D TV’s will get sold to affluent techno geeks and home cinema enthusiasts, but lets face it, HD was a hard sell and you don’t need glasses for that.
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