The Definitive Guide to 3D Glasses and Stereoscopic Viewing Systems

3D Glasses After Effects ModelEver wondered why you can’t use your RealD 3D glasses from the cinema at home with your regular TV? Or why your cardboard red and green specs don’t make a normal film appear 3D? Or why that girl from High School always ignored you no matter how hard you tried to impress?

Well I’m not sure we exactly answer all those questions but for a definitive guide to the crazy 2011 world of 3D Glasses and Stereoscopic Viewing Systems do head on over to The Stereoscopic 3D Channel on YouTube and check out The Definitive Guide to 3D Glasses and Stereoscopic Viewing Systems where you’ll find out all you ever wanted to know about 3d glasses but were afraid to ask.

Now back to that girl in High School…

Hyatt Regency, Taba Heights, Egypt in 3D

3d picture of pool at Taba HeightsI’ve just got back from an amazing holiday in Taba Heights in Egypt – did some diving, some snorkelling and a whole heap of lazing around the pool. The Egyptian people are so friendly and make you so welcome in the resort that it is tough to leave! Then there’s also the beautiful Egyptian sunshine vs the Scottish snow!

Whilst there I took the opportunity to shoot a little footage with my little Panasonic HDC-SDT750 Camcorder that I’ll be sharing on The Stereoscopic 3D Channel on YouTube shortly. Unfortunately I don’t know of any underwater housings for the camcorder so all of the footage is above water! I’ve got footage around the Hyatt Regency hotel and the Taba Heights resort as well as some footage off the dive boat and a couple of wild dophins that we managed to swim with.

Anyway now I’m rested and back in gear so we’ll be changing up a gear very shortly on actioning several Enhanced Dimensions’ projects. Stay tuned for more details…

CES 3D Products Roundup

It’s been a busy week on the 3D front with CES as last year being a hotbed of activity on the stereoscopic 3D hardware front.

From a low budget indie filmmaker’s perspective the new 3D camcorders from Sony and JVC look pretty interesting, although as always with fixed inter-axial systems there are limitations to what they’ll actually be able to deliver.

3d-camcorder-jvcThe JVC Everio GS-TD1 3D Camcorder has a pair of 3-megapixel BSI CMOS sensors and two f1.2 lenses (5x zoom in 3D, 10x in 2D). It should be noted that the standard AVCHD specification doesn’t support a full-HD 3D stream, only half-width side-by-side 3D, so JVC has apparently developed a proprietary format it calls “LR Independent format,” with a maximum bitrate of 34 megabits per second. The TD1 also includes 3D sound recording and 3D still photos and time-lapse. It uses a 3.5-inch glasses-free 3D touch panel display and includes 64GB of built-in memory.  The JVC Everio GS-TD1 3D should be available in the US in March for around $2000.

3d-camcorder-sonySony’s prosumer 3D camcorder, the Handycam HDR-TD10 uses 10x zoom, optically stabilized dual lens system feeding data to two Exmor R sensors. The 3D camcorder uses a frame packing technique to save left and right 1080p video streams independently and renders them in combination upon playback. This means the Sony delivers full HD Stereoscopic video, a considerable improvement on the Panasonic SDT750. The camcorder includes a 3.5-inch glasses-free 3D display that can be switched between 3D and 2D modes.  Sound wise this includes 5.1-channel audio, with the new improved speakers and microphone system. The Sony Handycam HDR-TD10 should be available in the US for $1,500 from April. Sony also announced a 3D version of their popular little bloggie camera – although I’d imagine the inter-axial will be so small that the 3d will probably be a little underwhelming.

Several manufacturers have shown glasses free 3d display solutions including 3D TVs, 3D Computers and 3D Tablets (i.e. like the iPad). There’s been an amazing number of 3d related announcements – way too much really for me to cover here! For further details on many of the 3D & 3D related products shown at CES 2011 do check out the CNET website.

Panasonic SDT750 3D Camcorder a hands on review

panasconic-3d-camcorder-01Having used the Fuji W1 since I got it last year to capture some very basic 3D footage I was looking for a not too expensive upgrade that would deliver stereoscopic footage of a better quality than the heavily compressed 640×480 video that the w1 delivers.

Although I’m keen to experiment with rigs (more news on that to follow soon), I wanted something that matched the w1 for simplicity of use when wanting to just grab some basic footage in 3D and really the only consumer option that can deliver some quality at this point is the little Panasonic SDT750. Having seen the footage that “Short Film Weekends” produced with this I was convinced it could be useful for a specific type of footage so I bit the bullet and ordered one.

Having had the camera a week I thought I’d give a little more info and thoughts on the results.

The camera itself is a well regarded 1080p HD camera for shooting standard 2D footage – the couple of test I did straight from the box without actually doing any manual settings looked great – crisp, clear and with a really nice balanced colour. Installing the 3D lens was a bit fiddly for me but the set-up beyond that point was pretty straight forward, following a few knob twiddling instructions. Then it was time to get out and shoot some footage.

It just so happens we’ve had the worst snow in Edinburgh for a century so the river just across from where I live was in full flow as the melt set in. This did give me some stunning scenery to shoot – although the path was solid ice so after one shot where I was wobbling about, any further movement was limited to panning/tilting. This footage can be seen on YouTube.

As you watch the footage you can see the limitations of the really small inter-axial distance of the dual lenses on the 3D adapter – the result of this is you get a reasonable 3d effect from about 1m-4m but beyond around 10m it become pretty much flat instantly. The footage demonstrates this as you can see with shots where close branches of trees/shrubs work well, the river does have a bit of depth but any longer shots are pretty much flat. This doesn’t make the camera unusable – it just means it should be used in shots where 1m-4m is the expected range.

xmas-tree-3d

Shooting indoors this is a much more practical limitation (unless many of you live in castles that have rooms that are 25mx25m, etc) as in most shots your focal point is likely to be pretty close, well within the anticipated range. The only downside of this is the lens does reduce the light intake so good lighting is required. This isn’t perfect as the probable scenario for using this camcorder is not well lit studios, but more likely to be poorly lit birthday parties, etc. Our second clip of my family decorating the christmas tree demonstrates some footage taken indoors with a variety of lighting levels.

Previewing it on my Panasonic 3D TV was simple – just slip the SD Card into the card slot and the TV fires up the mdia player ready to play the 3D clips. On the TV the first batch of clips look bright with a reasonable 3D effect, but the darker clips looked a bit blurry and I struggled to really discern much 3d effect. In fairness I’ve not learnt the camcorder controls yet so everything here is just on full auto so I hope to improve results indoors when i have more time to play with this camera.

In summary I’d say this camera could produce reasonable results working within its limitations – the fixed, low inter-axial with no control over convergance point does severely limit its use though so do be sure you understand it’s limitation before buying. If what you want to shoot is simple 3D, in brightly lit conditions and you’re not over concerned about convergence control then this camera will deliver a pleasant if not amazing 3d result. If you want every shot to be a perfect 3d shot you’d be better looking at hiring the higher end big brother of this (the Panasonic AG-3DA1) or actually if you have the budget/time/skills a proper flexible 3D rig will deliver considerably better results.


Panasonic AG-3DA1 3D Camcorder in Action

Panasonic 3D CamcorderI managed to get a look at the Panasonic AG-3DA1 Integrated Full HD 3D Camcorder today at an event in Glasgow and although I must admit to having a healthy dose of scepticism at the outset I was actually very impressed.

Okay it has to be viewed in context – the inability to change the interaxial distance does have some serious drawbacks in terms of limiting the camera to certain shots, but for what it is and ease of use I don’t think you can beat this. Consider the complexities of alignment in all axis, left right stream synchronisation and trying to keep the whole system colour balanced and matched for every shot and you can understand what this has going for it. The image coming from it viewed on a passive JVC 3D monitor were clear and crisp and the 3D effect was really well balanced – it did a much better job than I had expected. Watching recorded clips on the seaside from Brighton back on the Panasonic TX-P50VT20B 3D TV was really pleasing with reasonable levels of depth, good colour rendition and no divergence at all, with most of the image in the positive parallax.

It’s not going to create the next Avatar, don’t get me wrong but this camera is really well suited in a corporate and low end video market where time and budget constraints are a limiting factor. Add in to this the limited experience and training time a small operation would have for a currently niche market and you can see this device really shining. Most importantly it will deliver pretty good quality 3D right out of the box, as opposed to some of the horrific experiments we’ve all seen from inexperienced users creating stomach churning level of divergence.

Now the only question is where am I going to get the £15,000+ from?