February 15, 2010

Panasonic 3D camcorder gets AVCHD

Panasonic has released the specifications for its integrated HD 3D camcorder and confirmed that it will record in AVCHD. This may be a good choice from a cost point of view, but it isn't exactly edit-friendly.

It uses MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, a very efficient codec, that packs a lot into a little space (in this case up to 24Mbps), but because all the picture information is spread out among a group of pictures (typically over 12 frames at 24fps) rather than included in every frame, the computer has to work hard to give you the ability to edit on each frame. Or, of course, you can transcode all the video as you import it (as you have to do with Final Cut Pro and Avid anyway – Premiere and Edius can edit AVCHD natively).

However, the AG-3DA1 (as it will be called) does have dual HD-SDI outputs, so you'll be able to record to a pair of Convergent Design nanoFlash recorders, or Fast Forward Video's compact two-channel 100Mbps JPEG 2000 recorder.

The AG-3DA1 will weigh less than 3kg, have two lenses, with two 1920x1080 2.07 megapixel 3-MOS imagers, recording 1080/60i, 50i, 30p, 25p and 24p (native) and 720/60p and 50p. It can record for up to 180 minutes on dual 32GB SDHC cards at 24Mbps, and has HDMI output, two XLR connectors, built-in stereo microphone and twin-lens camera remotes. A lot of traditional 3D rigs use a lot of power, but the AG-3DA1 promises to use only 16W.

It incorporates stereoscopic adjustment controls, to allow the convergence point of the lenses to be adjusted for the best 3D effect, and it will also automatically correct horizontal and vertical displacement. These sort of adjustments are usually fairly fiddly on existing 3D rigs, typically requiring you to connect a laptop or some other video processor.

The camera could appeal to anyone wanting to do handheld 3D shots – if you find that the subject matter of some of the more extreme observational documentaries already make you nauseous, just wait until you see The World's Most Disgusting Diseases, Ever in 3D.

The camera will be available Autumn 2010 (made to order).

Related posts: Panasonic unveils HD 3D camcorder and Ikonoskop goes stereo with 3D A-Cam

By David Fox


  1. What about editing and if you have to set a convergence point wouldnt being handheld be crude unless your made of metal or stone and your first name is sachtler??

  2. Scott, I agree that handheld can look crude in 3D - a lot of movement can make people feel sick, especially when there is any vertical disparity. You'd be best to use a tripod or a Steadicam-type rig. The convergence point you set on location is your starting point - this is something that you will almost always fiddle with in post (partly to allow smooth transitions between edits and partly to fit within your depth budget - read my piece on Mastering 3D on our main site: http://www.urbanfox.tv/production/p17-3dMasters2010.htm).

    Post is where anyone on a low budget can have problems - you'll probably need a plug-in or two for your editing software, and then something to view the 3D on. You can always do the edit as normal in 2D and then go to a post house for finishing.