Camera mounting rigs for 3D production come in a variety of shapes and sizes, depending upon how and where you want to use them. Several live sports and entertainment productions to date have provided invaluable experience in how to make 3D look its best (for example, 3D cameras should be positioned as close to the field as possible to immerse the viewer in the action).
At the NAB show there were “beam splitter” rigs, with one camera shooting horizontally from the back of a dual lens configuration and the other shooting vertically from the top or bottom. Some refer to it as the “half-mirror 90-degree approach.” The later, displayed in the Ikegami Electronics booth, is designed to maintain the lowest profile for the camera
position (and thus save some sight lines).
New rigs are now available from 3Ality Digital, Element Technica, Pace and P+S Technik, to name the major ones, with two traditional HD cameras—either camcorders, box-style models, or a mixture of both—mount
ed at either a 90-degree angle or side-by-side. There were many discussions about where such rigs would work best.
The general consensus is that a wider field of view requires the camera (and lenses) to be farther apart. But not too far or convergence will be a problem. At this point the field is wide open and there is no “perfect” camera system for 3D.
3Ality Digital is now offering its 3flex camera rig, which automatically aligns and corrects mechanical and optical imperfections, using artificial intelligence and image processing. The systems include semi-automatic setup and alignment capability, as well as S3D metadata file output.
Element Technica, manufacturer of the Technica 3D family of 3D rigs, said it has delivered 50 of its Quasar beam splitter rigs, reflecting the current huge momentum behind 3D production in all forms.
P+S Technik’s Freestyle Rig offers the ability to capture stereoscopic images with dual Sony EX3 camcorders in a handheld Steadicam system. Developed in collaboration with Philippe Bordelais (an experienced Steadicam operator and stereographer) the prototype design uses patented Carbon Formula One technology and carbon fiber parts for lightweight and easy maneuverability.
Canon showed what it called a “separation box” that allows one zoom controller and one focus controller to simultaneously control a stereoscopic lens pair with high tracking precision (expected to be released soon). The company also showed a new zoom demand controller for simultaneous control of two lenses.
New software is under development to make stereoscopic tracking (lens zoom and focus) even more precise and allow differential offsets to be made – through the Digital Drive unit’s display – to compensate for minor zoom and focus tracking differences between any two lens pairs. Also under development is another separation box, which will allow Canon’s ENG controllers to be used for controlling zoom and focus in 3D lens pairs.
Supporting simultaneous control of two productions, Pace has developed an innovative way to allow camera operators to shoot 2D and 3D with the same camera position. The operator has two joysticks, one for 2D and the other to control dual lenses mounted on a “Shadow-D” rig that is mounted on top of a box-style lens.
The rig was shown at the recent NAB shows using two Sony HD box cameras and 16-bit encodes inside dual Fujinon HD lenses mounted side-by-side for wider and atop stadium (overhead) shots. [Beam splitter rigs are recommended for tighter shots and cameras located closer to the field.] It also employs a “Frame Link” software and hardware system.
Several sessions at NAB addressed the issue of camera technique and overall 3D production, including the fact that a TD or director should stay on a 3D shot longer than they would with 2D and there should be less cutting between cameras, to minimize audience disorientation.
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