July 30, 2010

Panasonic SDT750 3D camcorder

A lot of people are expected to buy 3D TV sets this year, but what will they be watching on them? If Panasonic has its way, it could be their own 3D masterpieces.

Its new HDC-SDT750 is claimed to be the world's first 3D consumer camcorder (Fujifilm has a 3D stills camera that can shoot video, but it is much lower resolution). It comes with a 3D conversion attachment, which enables it to record right-eye and left-eye images simultaneously through its two lenses. The 960x1080 pixel images are recorded using the side-by-side method.

The 3D lens prevents the use of the camera's 12x optical zoom, and it apparently only works effectively in 3D for subjects that are between one and three metres away – mainly due to the short interaxial distance between the two lenses. However, having to get in close is not a bad thing - 3D does tend to look better when you get close to the subject. There was one tech blog that claimed that because the lenses weren't the same distance apart as human eyes, they couldn't give you true 3D, but that isn't the case. Those who produce 3D for a living use many different interaxial distances (from a few millimetres to a few metres), depending on how close they are going to be to the subject and what 3D effect they want to create.

Given that the illusion of 3D is essentially created by differences in the horizontal space, halving that space (as the SDT750 does) is not necessarily a good thing - although the initial reaction to the results at the launch press conference was positive. The images are then stretched to be watched in HD. As it records to a single sensor block, there is no risk of shots getting out of synch, failing to line up, or of the two images having different exposure, colour or other settings. The 3D images also benefit from the camera's optical image stabiliser, which will be important to stop hand-held 3D shots from being upsetting to watch. All of which means that ordinary users should be able to shoot acceptable 3D without having to worry about doing lots of post processing.  

It also does HD...

The 3MOS camcorder is basically an SD700, probably the most advanced of Panasonic's consumer models. When the 3D conversion lens is taken off, it can record full 1920x1080 (50/60p) HD in AVCHD (at 28Mbps), to an SD card, and has an F1.5-F2.8 35-420mm Leica Dicomar lens. The 3D lens pushes the aperture up to F3.2, changes the focal length to 58mm (35mm equivalent), and shifts the minimum illumination from 1.6 lux to 28 lux (for the US 60p version).

Other features include: Time Lapse Recording (one, ten or 30 seconds, one or two minutes), which works in 3D; and 5.1-channel audio recording using five highly-directional microphones.

The camera has manual controls for focus, zoom, iris, shutter speed and white balance settings – although only white balance is available when the 3D conversion lens is attached.

It should be available by October for less than $1,400, and will work with any 3D TV, plugging in via HDMI.

Panasonic has already launched a professional integrated 3D camcorder, the AG-3DA1, that will also be available next month, although it records AVCHD at the lower rate of 24Mbps. Sony and Ikonoskop have also developed similar camcorders.

Interchangeable 3D lens

At the same Tokyo press conference, Panasonic also announced what it claims is the first interchangeable 3D lens – for its Lumix Micro Four Thirds still cameras (they also record video), such as the GH1.

The compact 3D lens houses twin lenses within the diameter of the lens mount, and should work in a similar way to the lens attachment on the HDC-SDT750.

It should be available before the end of the year, although no price was revealed.

Related posts: Hands on with the new AG-3DA1, Panasonic 3D camcorder gets AVCHD, Panasonic unveils HD 3D camcorder and Panasonic does 1080 50p on a budget

By David Fox

July 27, 2010

Equity fund to harvest Grass Valley

Francisco Partners, a San Francisco-based private equity firm, has made a binding offer to Technicolor to acquire Grass Valley.

Grass Valley makes broadcast cameras (and almost any other kit needed for broadcast production) and, along with Sony, is one of the biggest names in manufacturing equipment for studio and outside broadcast use.

For the rest of the story on this, have a look at my news piece for TVB Europe magazine.

July 20, 2010

Polecam enters compact lens market

The lightweight jib maker, Polecam, has announced the first in a range of ultra-compact lenses designed for use with miniature 3CCD HD cameras. The new HRO 69 (High Resolution Optics) is a 3.5 mm lens compatible with prism cameras such as the Toshiba IK-HD1, Iconix RH1, Panasonic GP-US932, and Ikegami MKC300.

It is available at an introductory price of £2,000, compared to about £8,000 for similar existing lenses.

"Miniature split head cameras have become standard tools for HD video production in recent years, but traditional lens manufacturers have not responded to demand for matching high-quality optics. The Polecam HRO 69 is a C-mount lens designed specifically for 1/3-inch 3CCD HD cameras. It produces far higher resolution images than any comparable model and represents a tremendous advance both for Polecam operators and other programme makers wanting to benefit fully from the compactness of modern HD cameras and recorders," said Polecam founder and Managing Director Steffan Hewitt.

Such cameras are typically used with a Fujinon 4mm lens, an SD lens that was over specified, so still works in HD. "We've gone slightly wider, reduced the distortion and increased the quality," said Hewitt.

"Polecam has invested a significant amount of money and time in developing this new and unique lens [which is being built by a lens manufacturer to its specifications]. This is the first in a range of 3CCD HD lenses which goes a significant way to filling a requirement that the HD broadcast and film markets have been requesting," added its Camera Systems Sales Manager, Nigel Paine.

Hewitt is looking at possibly two narrower lenses (probably a 32º lens initially) suitable for 3D work, and probably one wider one. "If the prime lenses work well, we will look at doing a zoom lens." It will also make an adapter for single chip CMOS cameras.

The HRO 69 offers a 69º horizontal angle of view, F2.2 to F16 aperture range, back focus, and a special bump cover to protect the lens front. It has stainless steel locking screws for aperture and focus adjustment. It weighs just 159g, is 50mm long, with a diameter of 37mm (there is also a 40.5mm filter thread adapter option).

By David Fox

Focusable Fresnel fixtures go Lite

Litepanels' new Sola LED series of portable on-camera and stand-alone lights brings the traditional Fresnel design up to date.

The Sola Fresnels offer variable beam angles from 10 to 70 degrees, full dimming and focus via an LCD touch screen or DMX control, while retaining the dramatic shadows and controllability of the Fresnel design.

The daylight-balanced lights offer instant dimming from 100% to 0 with no noticeable colour shift. Manual focus and dimming control is done via camera lens-style ergonomic controls. The Sola6 and Sola12 have on-fixture motorized control of focus and local dimming via a touch screen, but they are also remote-controllable via an integrated DMX interface. Output is flicker free, and is claimed to remain consistent as the battery voltage diminishes.

Thanks to their use of LEDs, the Solas can draw almost 90% less power than traditional tungsten lights, with very little heat generation. They also weigh only one-third as much as their HMI predecessors and need no external ballasts. The fixtures have a universal AC input and can be used on 85-245 volt power.

There are three models.

The SolaENG (pictured top) is designed for both on-camera and off-camera mounting, and runs from 10-20v DC sources such as camera batteries, or via an AC power adapter. It has a 3-inch Fresnel lens, weighs 285g, uses 30W of power (but with an output equivalent to a 250W tungsten)

The 75W Sola6 has a 6-inch lens and produces output equivalent to a  650W tungsten. It weighs 2.7kg.

The Sola12 has a 12-inch lens, draws 250W, with output equivalent to a 2kW tungsten, and weighs 6.4kg.

By David Fox

3D rigs provide Alterna-tive views

MagiCine has introduced two new stereoscopic 3D camera rigs: the Alterna GV-4 beamsplitter; and the Alterna GV-25 Parallel rig.

The GV-4 provides an inter-axial translation from zero to 10cm and a maximum available convergence of five degrees, which is ideal for capturing stereo images under 4.5 metres.

"The GV-4 (pictured left) represents the accumulation of four generations of designs that have been used in feature production. Its simple and unique camera alignment system assures the most accurate stereo images for minimal post rework. Its simplicity and ruggedness of design allows quick setup and movement between shots saving the production money," claimed John Harvey, MagiCine's President.

The inter-ocular distance and convergence can be adjusted manually or motorised, and the rig should work with any cameras. The mirror box is removable and can rotate 180 degrees for low mode. The open frame design allows for easy access to lens drive-gearing setup. It weighs 14kg without drive motors, and costs $47,000 complete (or $43,500 for a basic setup).

The GV-25 Parallel rig (pictured top) provides an inter-axial travel of 15cm to 62.5cm and a maximum available convergence of twenty degrees, for capturing stereo beyond 4.5m. It weighs just over 10kg and costs $27,000 complete.

MagiCine's previous 3D rigs have been used on productions such as Call of the Wild 3D and Julia X. Based in California, it doesn't have any European dealers yet, but Harvey is looking to establish suitable relationships.

By David Fox

Tuff talk for Soom tripod users

Tuffpak has designed a new case for Sachtler's Soom tripods. "Travelling with the original Sachtler bag has the disadvantage of always having to dismount the Soom tube when wrapping up while the Tuffpak can accommodate the Soom as is," explained Florian Granderath, of Camera Support Granderath, the European Tuffpak importer,

There is also a Tuffpak now for transporting Sachtler's castor Dolly S, which perfectly fits into the Tuffpak #236600.

Also new are locks for the most popular Tuffpak cases for two stage 100mm and 150mm legs with fluid head. For European news crews, the Californian manufacturer now has wheeled tripod cases that handle all popular two-stage 100mm tripods with a fluid head. Tuffpak's octagonal shape, thick walls and recessed integrated handles make them suitable for air transportation of tripods, mic or lighting stands.

By David Fox

Select few filters make Image Maker

Tiffen's new Image Maker series of professional filter kits offers a selection of filters for use in different shooting scenarios. The five sets of optical filters have been selected to enhance the results for particular shooting conditions and requirements.

Each kit includes three 4x4-inch filters using Tiffen’s ColorCore technology to provide a range of effects and densities that can add production value to the resulting footage. The filters have been selected for specific applications, offering filters used to control light – typically in exterior shoots – as well as those used to for aesthetic creation of mood that cannot be achieved with lighting alone. The filters are intended for use with professional video cameras including HD DSLRs.

"Professional stills photographers and movie cameramen have always used optical filters, whereas in video, they tend to be used for just technical corrections, such as UVs, IRs and NDs. But then, faced with a range of over 2,000 filters, many videographers don’t know where to begin. The Image Makers kits addresses that dilemma by provide a logical starting point – and at a reduced price, with filters that will, at least, be very useful and may encourage more creative ideas," explained Carey Duffy, Technical Director (Filters), Tiffen International (pictured).

The Image Maker Fundamental Kit contains an UltraPol Circular Polarizer, Neutral Density 0.9 and Pro-Mist 1/4, and is ideal for outdoor applications.

The Contrast Kit has a Soft Contrast 2, Ultra Contrast 1, and Low Contrast ½, and is aimed at for controlling contrast in bright sunlit exteriors, while capturing lost detail in shadow areas.

The People Kit includes the Nude FX 1, Nude FX 3, and 812 Warming Filter, and is designed for portrait work, offering enhancing filters that provide flexibility and control when shooting skin tones.

The Grad Kit contains a Clear/Cool Blue 2 Soft Edge, Clear/Straw 2 Soft Edge, and Color-Grad ND0.9 Soft Edge. These half-colour, half-clear filters add colour selectively with a graduated density transition for smooth blending into the scene.

The Diffusion Kit contains a Black Pro-Mist 1/4, Gold Diffusion FX 1/2, and Glimmer Glass 1, and is suitable for people shots, with each filter creating a diffused image that does not look as if it has been shot through a filter.

The filters are supplied complete with a padded pouch with a belt loop.

By David Fox

New LED light hits the spot

Gekko Technology's new kezia 200F white-optimised spot lamp is claimed to offer the same light as a 1kW tungsten fixture for less than 200 Watts of power.

"The kezia 200F is optimised for use in film production or studio broadcast," said David Amphlett, Gekko's founder and Managing Director. "It allows precise adjustment between 2900 and 6500 Kelvin including presets for selection of 2900, 3200, 4300, 5600 and 6500K via DMX or an optional rear panel. A built-in colour-feedback system ensures colour temperature remains constant when the light is dimmed, as ambient conditions change or as the unit ages."

Interchangeable optics provide beam angles of 20, 35, 60 or 80 degrees. Output intensity is 8300 lux at 1 metre, 1900 lux at 2m and 900 lux at 3m.

The 200F joins the kezia 50E and F, and the 200E, which were introduced at NAB 2010. All four models are based on Gekko's kleer colour LED technology, which provides a very broad-spectrum of light with precisely controllable colour temperature. The kezia range is supported by a range of reflector options, honeycomb louvres, barn door accessories and diffusion gratings.

By David Fox

July 16, 2010

Sony's HD DSLR in a Handycam

Sony has announced the world’s first consumer HD camcorder with interchangeable lenses. It is basically an HD DSLR in a camcorder body as it also has a DSLR-sized APS-C sensor.

The Handycam NEX-VG10E boasts a 23.4x15.6mm Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor, which is 19.5 times larger than the sensors typically used in consumer camcorders. This will give it very shallow depth of field, the effect most people think of when asked what makes video look like a movie. In fact, APS-C is about 5.5 times larger than the 2/3-inch sensors used in most broadcast cameras (although they do tend to have three of them).

It is the same 14.2 effective megapixel sensor and Bionz processor used in Sony's EVIL new NEX-5 almost-DSLR camera (EVIL is not a moral judgement on my part, but stands for Electronic Viewfinder, Interchangeable Lenses - with a sensor the size of most DSLRs it only lacks the optical viewfinder and that makes it a lot smaller and lighter).

Lens choice

The NEX-VG10 accepts E-mount or A-mount interchangeable lenses. There are currently only three E-mount lenses available, but there are lots of A-mount lenses from Sony, and others, as that is the format used by Sony's Alpha DSLRs. This means that users will be able to fit a wide range of ultra-wide angle, macro, super telephoto or specialist lenses (like the Lensbaby tilt-shift effect lenses), but will have to buy an additional sub-$200 adaptor. The camcorder can also be used for high-quality still images (but in JPEG only).

With such a large sensor, it should do well in low light, and reviews of the NEX-5 against other small "video DSLRs" indicate that it performs pretty well, so how the sensor stacks up against other prosumer camcorders should prove interesting.

It comes as standard with an E18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OSS lens – an11x optical zoom range; giving 27mm-300mm (35mm equivalent) in stills mode (3:2 aspect ratio), but a not so wide 32.4mm-360mm in video mode.

This lens has been optimised for video so that it offers smooth, low noise autofocus and iris control and built-in Optical SteadyShot image stabilisation. At wide-angle settings, its Active Mode enhances anti-shake performance further and promises to steady jittery images "even while walking". The lens also has a circular aperture for the creation of "beautiful bokeh effects" (the shapes seen in out-of-focus background highlights) whether shooting video or stills.

The downside is that it records AVCHD, up to 24Mbps, although, as seen with Panasonic's GH-1 EVIL camera, perhaps there is the scope for hackers to push its video bitrate up further – and even at 24Mbps it is higher than the 17Mbps NEX-5.

It shoots full HD 1920x1080 50i or 60i video (European or US versions), which is recorded to either Memory Stick PRO Duo or SD media cards, while its only restriction on continuous shooting time is battery and card capacity, unlike almost all HD DSLRs. 

Quad Stereo

Not surprisingly, it doesn't have XLR audio inputs, but it does have a new Quad Capsule Spatial Array Stereo Microphone (pictured right) fitted to the top that uses "advanced processing algorithms to combine signals from four separate omnidirectional microphone capsules". Rather than being omnidirectional, we think they mean four overlapping cardiod microphones, as that is the only way the next statement makes sense, as this is claimed to result in "exceptionally clear stereo audio with a highly directional response" (omnis can never be directional...). There’s also a 3.5mm jack for an external stereo microphone (so think about buying a BeachTek or similar XLR adapter), plus a headphone jack.

It has a 3-inch LCD with 921,000 dot resolution (640x480 pixels), although, maddeningly the LCD doesn't appear to be able to face forwards, which would have been very useful for anyone shooting their own pieces to camera. It also has a high-resolution (1,152,000 dots – 800x480) electronic viewfinder. Users will have manual control over Iris, Shutter Speed, Gain and White Balance.

Battery options include the NP-FV100 that provides power for up to 330 minutes of continuous HD shooting. It has HDMI output and a USB port, and weighs 1.3kg with the standard lens and basic battery. It should be available by September for less than $2,000.

By David Fox

July 14, 2010

What makes an HD camera?

The BBC has updated its commissioning guidelines for HD, with a list of the cameras it considers to produce HD (although that doesn't necessarily rule other cameras out). As all network programmes for the BBC must be in HD by April 2011, anyone thinking of shooting for the BBC needs to check they are using the right camera. There certainly isn't a lot of hope for anyone wanting to use lower-cost cameras (although if you use a camera with at least half-inch sensors and record at bitrates above 50Mbps to a nanoFlash, AJA Ki-Pro or other external recorder, they shouldn't have a lot to object to - check first).

HD programmes can use no more than 25% standard definition material. The following formats are considered to be standard definition from the HD: Summary of Delivery Formats (PDF):
  • All standard definition video formats   
  • HDV from all manufactures
  • Cameras with image sensors under 1⁄2-inch
  • Frame based (intra-frame) recording formats below 100Mbs
  • Inter-frame based recording formats below 50Mbs
  • Super16 film whether transferred to tape in HD or not 
  • 35mm film transferred to or copied from SD tape formats 
  • Non linear editing codecs with bit rates below 160Mbs 
  • Live contributions links of less than 60Mbs (MPEG2)
  • 720 line cameras (except the Varicam AJ-HDC27 and AJ-HDX900)
On the audio front. 5.1 surround sound is not necessarily necessary. "We also take deliveries in stereo and we are working on wrap-around sound alternatives. Sound requirements will be confirmed for individual projects through the commissioning process," it says.

The full list of approved cameras:
  • Panasonic AJ-HPX3700, 2700, 3000 & 2100
  • Panasonic 'Varicam' HDC27F & H
  • Panasonic AJ-HDX900
  • Sony HDW F900R & 900
  • Sony HDW 790, 750 & 730
  • Sony CineAlta F35
  • Arri D21 & Alexa
  • Panavision Genesis
  • Thompson Viper
For use by Independent productions only:
  • Canon XF 300E & 305E
  • Red One
  • Sony PDW 800 & 700
[UPDATE: The BBC has now approved the XF300 and XF305 for use in all HD productions, both by independent producers and for in-house use - it has already bought at least 60 of them...]

[Further UPDATE: For the latest April 2011 list have a look at AF101 wins BBC HD approval]

Mini cameras:
  • Iconix HD-RH1
  • Panasonic HCK10 / HMR10
  • Toshiba IK-HR1S
  • Toshiba IK-HD1
The XF300 is the most affordable camera here (about £6,000 - the XF305 pictured above adds HD-SDI output, Genlock input and Time code i/o for not a lot more). Of the main list, the cheapest are Panasonic's venerable tape-based HDX900 and the P2-based AJ-HPX2100, both about £23,000. Several of the cameras listed are no longer being made.

By David Fox

July 12, 2010

OLED puts on stunning display for 3D

Two new 15-inch OLED HD location/production monitors offering "stunning picture quality" have been introduced by TVLogic, including a version for stereoscopic 3D.

The TDM-150W 3D monitor won three awards when it was launched at NAB, and Paul Goodwin, Divisional Head, Broadcast and CCTV Products at Pyser-SGI, its UK/Ireland distributor, said: "In 40 years in the broadcast industry, it's one of the best products I've seen." He acknowledged that other manufacturers are working on similar displays, but this is the first such 3D monitor.

The Organic Light Emitting Diode display offers "true blacks, because it's an emissive display" and the viewing angle is impressive. "You can go right to the edge and get a good picture," he claimed. "It's a jaw dropper."

It offers many benefits over LCDs, including "the widest colour gamut, 10,000,000:1 contrast ratio, amazingly fast image response [good enough to match a CRT] and full 180 degree viewing angle for the most vivid 3D experience yet."

The TDM-150W has a 120 Hz Active Matrix OLED display with a native resolution of 1366x768 combined with active shutter glasses for 3D. Features include: full HD-SDI input and output with 3G and dual-link; 2D/3D Hot Key; Left/Right Channel Only function; and firmware updating using Ethernet or USB. Power consumption is low at around 42W maximum.

Optional accessories include: a carrying case, V-mount, 19-inch rack mounting kit (6U) and sun hood.

Also new is the TVLogic LEM-150 - a version for 2D display, with many of the benefits of the TDM-150W. Pyser-SGI has already taken orders for about 50 of the 2D versions, which will be available by the end of July, while the 3D model should ship by September.

By David Fox

Weisscam gets high speed revamp

The new Weisscam HS-2 MK II high-speed camera now offers improved image quality and is ready for 3D shoots. A year after introducing the Mark I, P+S Technik and the DoP Stefan Weiss have brought out a revamped version of their Weisscam HS-2 model (which can do more than 1,400 frames per second in 2K, 2,000 fps in 1080p or 4,000 fps in 720p).

The Mark II should produce better pictures, thanks to an innovative Dark Reference Adjustment function with sophisticated noise reduction, which enhances and stabilizes blacks and low light areas while providing an extended dynamic range.

The camera's speed rates have been extended, and it can now do any frame rate from 1 to 4,000 (depending on resolution), with any shutter speed.

To make it easier to use on stereoscopic 3D productions, it gains multi camera synchronization capability.

It has two Dual Link HD-SDI outputs, allowing parallel recording and monitoring of both 12-bit RAW and 10-bit (4:2:2 or 4:4:4) HD signals via HD-SDI. It also has Gigabit Ethernet output.

Users can set up predefined Recording Modes and customizable Segments for different settings to ensure latitude and flexibility on set.

On-board memory has been increased to 36GB from 16GB, which allows extended recording time, and the electronic viewfinder has an integrated DVI interface.

The camera has a Super 35 format CMOS sensor, with greater than 600 ISO sensitivity, and more than 10 T-stops dynamic range.

The complete package consists of a Weisscam HS-2 MK II "Basic", DM-2 DigiMag recorder, HU-2 HandUnit, Electronic Viewfinder, HS-2 Camera Control Software (XP based), and cases.

By David Fox

July 07, 2010

First BBC drama shot on HD DSLR

Conker Media, a subsidiary of Lime Pictures, is shooting BBC teen fiction Shelfstackers on the Canon EOS 5D Mark II. The comedy soap will appear online first then on BBC 2 and is believed to be the first large scale use of a digital SLR camera by a UK broadcaster to date.

Read Adrian Pennington's report at TVB Europe.

July 06, 2010

Mastering 3D - from lens to screen

As you may notice from some of our other posts today, we were at the recent 3D Masters 2010 conference organised by TVB Europe magazine, which was held at BAFTA, in London. The conference covered all aspects of 3D from acquisition to playout. There was also a technology display, and we talked to exhibitors about some of the problems of 3D and how their technology can help to overcome them.

Interviewees include:

- Rob Portus, freelance rig technician, Decode: on what makes a good 3D rig, the difficulty in matching lenses, and overcoming problems on set.

- Robin Palmer, head of software, Hamlet: on how to avoid problems in post production by getting it right during recording. Its latest technology allows users to quickly see differences in exposure, or other settings, between lenses and to make sure they are correctly aligned.

- Damon Hawkins, Post & DI, Quantel: who talked about how to use the latest version of its Pablo 4K system (V5) to do depth balancing, vertical alignment and control divergence, as well as compositing, grading, pan & scan, and create deliverables. The system was used on Avatar for conforming, depth balancing and all the subtitling.

- Deepraj Sandher, application specialist, Avid: talks about the latest version of Avid's Media Composer non-linear editing system (V5) and how it can be used for stereoscopic editing.

- Russel Leak, sales director, Brainstorm Multimedia: It supplies 3D graphics services and software systems for broadcast, often for use with incoming real-time data (such as for sports or election results). He talks about how best to integrate graphics with 3D video.

- Adolfo Rodriguez, director of marketing, Omneon: Its servers and storage for playout, acquisition and archiving can all handle 3D, playing out perfectly synchronised left and right channels, or single channels side by side (depending on what broadcasters need).

Related posts: 3Ality check for 3D camcorders, The 3D skills shortage, The 3Ality of the HD to 3D transition, BSkyB prepares for 3D launch and Sky 3D - setting the standards.

3Ality check for 3D camcorders

We've written before about the upcoming release of small, integrated 3D camcorders from Panasonic, Sony and Ikonoskop, but are they really good enough for 3D productions? We interviewed the effervescent 3Ality Digital Systems' CEO, Steve Schklair about them, and anyone interested in buying one of these camcorders will want to hear what he had to say....

Schklair was one of the keynote speakers at TVB Europe magazine's 3D Masters 2010 conference, which was held at BAFTA, in London, and organised by TVB Europe magazine.

Related posts: Mastering 3D - from lens to screenThe 3D skills shortage, The 3Ality of the HD to 3D transition, BSkyB prepares for 3D launch and Sky 3D - setting the standards.

The 3D skills shortage

The technology for stereoscopic 3D is good enough for broadcast TV use, but one of the big problems still remaining is the shortage of skilled crew, especially stereographers. Steve Schklair, CEO of 3Ality Digital Systems, one of the most experienced 3D production houses in the business, talked to us about what needs to be done and where there are opportunities for working in 3D.

Schklair was one of the keynote speakers at TVB Europe magazine's 3D Masters 2010 conference, which was held at BAFTA, in London, and organised by TVB Europe magazine.

Related posts: Mastering 3D - from lens to screen, 3Ality check for 3D camcorders, The 3Ality of the HD to 3D transition, BSkyB prepares for 3D launch and Sky 3D - setting the standards

The 3Ality of the HD to 3D transition

The always-interesting Steve Schklair, CEO of 3Ality Digital Systems talks about the creative and technological challenges in the transition from HD to 3D, puts the business case for moving to stereoscopic production, and tells us how to get the best out of 3D.

Schklair was one of the keynote speakers at TVB Europe magazine's 3D Masters 2010 conference, which was held at BAFTA, in London, and organised by TVB Europe magazine.

Related posts: Mastering 3D - from lens to screen, 3Ality check for 3D camcorders, The 3D skills shortage, BSkyB prepares for 3D launch and Sky 3D - setting the standards

BSkyB prepares for 3D launch

BSkyB began transmitting 3D sports and events to pubs and clubs across the UK in April, where its surveys showed that about 70% of people were very pleased with it. It is launching a new "appointment to view" 3D service to the home in the Autumn (http://introducingsky3d.sky.com). We talked to its chief engineer, Chris Johns, about its plans, which include going beyond the TV screen - he demonstrated how to view 3D on an iPhone.

[UPDATE: Sky's 3D channel will officially start on October 1, with a weekend of golf (three days of live Ryder Cup coverage) and two 3D films, Bolt and Monster vs Aliens.]

Johns was one of the keynote speakers at TVB Europe magazine's 3D Masters 2010 conference, which was held at BAFTA, in London, and organised by TVB Europe magazine.

Related posts: Mastering 3D - from lens to screen, 3Ality check for 3D camcorders, The 3D skills shortage, The 3Ality of the HD to 3D transition, and Sky 3D - setting the standards.

Sky 3D - setting the standards

We interviewed BSkyB chief engineer, Chris Johns, about the importance of technical standards for 3D production and the hot issue of 2D to 3D conversion (he doesn't like it, but....). Sky made its technical specification for PlanoStereocopic (3D) programme content available online at http://introducingsky3d.sky.com/a/bskyb-3d-tech-spec and if you are thinking of shooting 3D it is well worth a read (it's fairly short).

Johns was one of the keynote speakers at TVB Europe magazine's 3D Masters 2010 conference, which was held at BAFTA, in London, and organised by TVB Europe magazine.

Related posts: Mastering 3D - from lens to screen, 3Ality check for 3D camcorders, The 3D skills shortage, The 3Ality of the HD to 3D transition, and BSkyB prepares for 3D launch.

July 03, 2010

Lowel increases light speed for Europe

Lowel-Light, now part of Tiffen International, has improved its delivery times to European customers, thanks to new warehousing and distribution systems offering next-day delivery and local currency payment.

The warehousing has been located at BBP Light in Amsterdam to take advantage of the city’s fast transport connections throughout Europe. "Now that European customers can order duty-paid goods in their own time zone, pay in their own currency and get next-day delivery we hope our Lowel lights will be as successful here as they have been in the USA," said Kevan Parker, Tiffen's European Sales Manager.

Its portable lighting includes: the versatile Blender LED fixture (pictured) that mixes daylight and tungsten to match ambient lighting; Softcore, which brings soft, high colour rendering index (CRI) daylight fluorescent to most softboxes; and the Trio three-lamp fluorescent for studio quality daylight or tungsten lighting. We have a Lowel Rifa light as part of our lighting kit, which is a very nice soft light that collapses like an umbrella into a tiny package for carrying.

By David Fox

PAG offers support for DSLRs

The PAG Orbitor was originally designed for use with handheld camcorders, but it is now also available for HD DSLRs.

The Orbitor’s shoulder assembly has a counterbalance weight to offset the weight of the camera and accessories. The weight of the entire assembly is supported from underneath by a sprung telescopic suspension rod that slots into a waist belt. The rod absorbs any bounce created by walking, reducing camera shake.

The shoulder assembly is secured to the waist belt using two shoulder straps, to prevent movement of the rig during use. The system is simple to set-up and adjustable for differently shaped users.

It has a quick-release camera mounting plate, compatible with Manfrotto tripods, for quick interchange between supports, or for switching from DSLR to a camcorder.

The Orbitor accommodates such camera accessories as a follow focus system, a monitor and an audio recorder, and costs £425.

By David Fox

Little space - Lots of light

France Télévision has equipped its Bordeaux studio with eleven Litepanels 1x1 flood lighting fixtures fitted by the supplier, K5600 Lighting.

"We decided on the Litepanels 1x1 LED lighting fixtures as the studio is very small. We faced the challenge that there is very little space between the studio decor and the journalists. Being extremely flat, the fixtures are well suited to our studio. The speakers’ faces are perfectly illuminated and yet the decor is only faintly lit up," explained Didier Gorbaty, DoP and technical consultant for France Télévision in Bordeaux.

Colour temperature was also an important factor in the choice. "There are a lot of plasma displays with a colour temperature of 5600K. Therefore, it is an added advantage to have Litepanels lights working at the same temperature. As TV news is produced in the studio, it is important that the faces be lit softly in a clear light, without any noticeable effects. The 1x1 fixtures are perfectly suited to this purpose." 

The 1x1 fixtures can be combined with different frames into 2x2 or 4x4 configurations, produce little heat (saving on air conditioning), and use little power.
They are available in 3200K and 5600K, can dim from 100% to 0% with minimal colour shift, and are flicker-free.

By David Fox