Home of Professional Cinematography since 1996
3D Camera Systems
Published : 4th November 2010
Any opinions on what 3D camera systems are leading the pack? Is there a list of 3D Stereographer consultants in Los Angeles?
Tom McDonnell, S.O.C.
Cinematographer / Camera Operator
Los Angeles, CA
New Orleans, LA
I would also be very interested in opinions on this.
We've used many different cameras along the way but the only one that I
think justifies the term '3D camera system' at the moment is SI-3D, based on
the SI-2K Minis. I will mention up front that we have worked closely with
Silicon Imaging during its development and spec'd a lot of the features in
the software but it's hard to argue with the facts. Every other setup that
I am aware of currently is essentially two discrete cameras sync'd together
(or not, in the worst case). SI-3D knows that it is a 3D camera system -
you have unified control of settings, guaranteed camera & timecode sync and
a multitude of 3D monitoring options. Recently launched recording units,
such as the Minideck from SI/Cinedeck and the Wrangler Mini from 1Beyond,
provide options for very mobile CCUs for the cameras.
We were out in Kenya in November, filming wildlife (with Mark Deeble & Vicky Stone) using the SI-3D setup, and I can honestly say that I don't think there is another camera system around at the moment which would have allowed us to get the range of shots that we did in the limited time that we had. Whilst not quite matching the speed of 2D filming, the intuitive monitoring functionality allowed us, as Stereographers, to pretty much keep pace with the operator (I hope you'd agree, Mark)!
I look forward to seeing other such mature systems, in regards to stereo,
and am interested to see what the Epic will offer but, for the moment, I
think SI are leading the way. Now there's a gauntlet...
Thanks for the information Campbell.
Have you had a chance to look at the Sony 3D equipment? They are using some/all of it in this video : http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=10815726&
Pace, 3ality, ParadiseFX, and Element Technica are certainly worthy rigs
but cost is everything. Did you take the Sony 3D class?
There isn't a list of Stereography Consultants but there are plenty on CML:)
DIT : 3D tech
LA to Arizona
>> Pace, 3ality, ParadiseFX, and Element Technica are certainly worthy rigs
>> but cost is everything.
Agreed - these are definitely the leading rigs. The ET rigs, in particular
the Quasar (such as the one in the video), seem to be becoming the most
widespread. However, the initial question was about camera systems - sure,
the rig is crucial in any 3D filming setup, not least because there are all
sorts of possibilities for interaction between the camera system and rig
(e.g. 3ality setup) but it doesn't make a camera system. I'll lay down the
gauntlet again... anything look like challenging SI-3D at the moment in
terms of 3D camera systems? Anybody know what we can expect in terms of
stereo functionality, beyond genlock and slaving of controls, from the Epic?
Have you had a chance to look at the Sony 3D equipment? They are using
> some/all of it in this video:
Yes, and we've used most of it in a live setup (filming rugby in the UK),
albeit with 1500s rather than the P1. The Sony processing box is definitely a big step forward for live and will probably become the de facto standard for live broadcasts. However, it is no use in its current form for jobs that require a degree of mobility (and simplicity). As for the P1, I haven't used it yet so I can't comment on whether it offers any particular stereo-friendly functionality other than its size. Perhaps someone from Sony could step in?
>The <Element Technica> rigs, in particular the Quasar (such as the one in the video), seem to be becoming the most widespread.
On what do you base this statement? For what country? Do you have sales or
Anyone who attended NAB understands that 3D is currently in total anarchy in terms of almost any aspect you can name, many manufacturers are clawing and scratching and making some outlandish claims attempting to secure a piece of the pie, and blanket statements from anyone about leading or widespread use of particular hardware need to be clarified.
I'm not saying you're wrong; I'm saying that a lot of people look to this list for some guidance, and you need to back up blanket statements of that sort with something other than gut feelings or personal requirements.
DIT and Video Controller extraordinaire.
High quality images for more than three decades - whether you've wanted them or not.
Campbell Goodwille wrote:
>>I'll lay down the gauntlet again... anything look like challenging SI-3D at the moment in terms of 3D camera >>systems?
With apologies, this is just personal reaction but they all look like big honkin' kluges to me. From the minimal details that the secretive manufacturers allow, it's hard to tell. I'll compare it to moving from black and white to colour. Would you use a three strip technicolor camera? None of these things are as straightforward as those were. And we're a long way from something that simplifies the 3D production process as much as switching to monopack for colour.
When we talk about these systems we're still talking about all the elements separately. The SI looks great, but I don't see it isn't also two cameras synced together. It is still a "rig". All these systems except the Panasonic seem like Lego projects-- some are just much better realized than others. But they all seem to be something you assemble on location, with way too many variables involved.
The Panasonic is going to be very popular for a lot of markets, but it's also targeted towards television and doc and maybe indie feature work. We need something similar - perhaps with interchangeable "lens fronts" for the high end, commercial and feature work.
I know everyone simply wants to be able to use two of their favourite PL Mount lenses that can just be grabbed from rental inventory, but I don't think that's going to be practical. Purpose built lenses combined with purpose built cameras, completely integrated, are what we need for doing 95% of shots and productions. Not optical bench science projects, no matter how small.
DP / 3D camera Operator
Bob Kertesz wrote:
> >The “Element Technica” rigs, in particular the Quasar (such as the one in the video), seem to be becoming >>the most widespread.
>> On what do you base this statement? For what country? Do you have sales or rental figures?
I base this statement on discussions that I have had with rental houses such as Panavision and VER, who are purchasing significant quantities of the ET rigs. Now forgive me if I have misunderstood the situation in the US, but in the UK, Panavision already have a handful and are expecting to have 10 ET Quasar rigs in the very near future. I know that Panavision and VER already hold a significant quantity of ET rigs in the US, although I don't have accurate numbers on this. There is certainly no other rig available in the UK in such quantities. Regarding sales, somebody from ET would have to step in to answer that one accurately but I do know that they have shipped over 50 so far. As for rental figures, every time I speak to Panavision London, most of their rigs are out on jobs so I'm confident they are not sitting around gathering dust. Are you aware of any other beam-splitter rig that rental houses are offering, other than just one-offs?
And, I would disagree that 3D is in total anarchy. There is admittedly a lot of confusion amongst a great many people who know very little about how to go about making good 3D. There are plenty of us, however, who know what we are doing, who have in fact been doing it for some time already, and are pushing on with exploring (and learning from) the creative opportunities that the medium offers.
Regarding Steven's comments about an equivalent of the Panasonic for high-end work, until somebody comes up with a better alternative to the beam-splitter, there's no way that this is going to fulfil our requirements.
The range of interaxials required in order that the 3D doesn't dictate the entire way that content is made is such that the only solution I can see in the short to medium term is a dual-head system that can be mounted either side-by-side or in a beam-splitter configuration. It is then up to the rig manufacturers to provide engineering that makes this transition as seamless as possible. Dare I say it, but this is what ET have done with the Neutron.
I hope that other manufacturers follow suit.
London (still stuck in LA though)
Campbell Goodwille wrote:
>> until somebody comes up with a better alternative to the beam-splitter
I didn't say anything about a camera for high end work not having a beamsplitter, btw.
A tightly integrated 3D camera unit could still be based around a beamsplitter for minimal interoculars.
I see a lens box, similar to the studio lenses on studio and sports broadcast rigs that is not normally accessed by the production crew, anymore than you currently open up a zoom lens now. Some might use side by side optics, it might use beamsplitters.
But it's a lens system special built for 3D production, in the same way that we now have lenses optimized for digital sensors.
Arri and Stereovision had something like this with their 3D lenses in the 80s.
The Neutron is impressive. I think it'll be quite popular. It still strikes me as something that will require a lot more prep and assembly than shooting with any standard kit for 2D work. Filming in 3D takes extra time, my belief is that the extra time ON SET should only be in setting the correct parameters for the shot, not in building and aligning a rig.
I'm not convinced that one rig that can do every shot one can think of in 3D is the correct path though.
DP/Instructor, shooting 3D professionally since 1991.
Pace, 3ality, ParadiseFX,
I think the advantage of using these tools in LA is you can get some great local tech support and they have a list of experienced crew. With gigs under their belts.
3D rigs as rentals need a support tech from the rental shop IMHO. They will allow you to do your DP gig with less hassling with the rig. And a I would suggest a stereographer on your team that has worked with the rig you rent.
I have done post colour correction and stereo fixes on gigs from all 3 of the above companies.
Sadly I was tied up and missed NAB. I know the new rigs are improving every gig. But I'll only speak to images I have dealt with.
LA, CA, USA
I do. We shot the SI-2ks using SI-3D on a number of rigs for three weeks in Kenya. Shooting was under typical wildlife documentary conditions, often from an open balcony mount on a Landcruiser, exposed to the sun with the odd dust storm and rain shower thrown in. I was very impressed with both the set-up time and the short response time (essential for filming unscripted wildlife) that the SI2k/SI-3D combination allowed us - working with stereographers Campbell and Andy Millns. There will be more on the shoot to come, but it was a great collaborative effort.
In filming wildlife, we are typically used to two year shoots (!), but we were delighted with what we were able to achieve in 3 weeks and what started out as 'proof of concept' rapidly evolved to become a 10 minute pilot.
Cornwall & Kenya
First of all I'd like to say that my comments have nothing to do with live
event 3D or big budget 3D, 3ality and Pace have those beautifully handled.
My comments refer to the origination of 90 minute drama with budgets from
$500K to $25M.
I'd like to agree with Steven Bradford and continue with his approach.
The most expensive part of shooting a movie is time.
Cast time, crew time, location time, studio time.
As a result shooting systems have to be fast.
The rig that Inition have mainly used on location, I believe, is the now nearly 3 year old Dark Country rig, and there was an opportunity for marketing missed!! Hmm, the Geoff Boyle rig! Anyway, Element Technica have got the nearest so far with the Neutron, Binocle apparently have a similar rig.
The big problem is that you can't get them yet and certainly not in sufficient quantities.
I don't want to mess around aligning rigs on a shoot or building them each day, with the Neutron and SI's you have the chance to use multiple rigs, each rig pre-built and aligned to particular lenses.
I know that you can take this approach with Quasars and Genesis but the rigs are then too big and have to be disassembled for company moves etc.
I look forward to the day when I can grab hold of a one-piece camera and
shoot just as I can in 2D.
The Panasonic isn't this unfortunately because of the limited minimum IO, it needs to be a lot less.
I love the Minideck and the similar machine form 1Beyond.
SI have the whole shoot and record of 3D integrated in a way that nobody
Of course there are so many vested interests involved in this whole process
that you will get 100 conflicting opinions about all of this.
My approach is to get useable 3D and not to impose a 3D presence on the
shoot, as such it will not produce "outstanding 3D" but then again maybe I
don't want to!
Shoot parallel, vary the IO, be conservative with IO but if your only market is TV then you can let it rip a bit! Use HIT to get the "convergence" where you want in post.
Nobodies eyes match perfectly, so why do we try and get the L&R images to
match perfectly? Get them close enough that they don't distract but don't
waste time trying for perfection!!
OK OK, I know, I want to aim for perfection, as I always do. But I also want to come in on time and on budget and work again!
Geoff Boyle FBKS
mobile: +44 (0)7831 562877
How's the German composite SteroTec rig in terms of stiffness.
I took a quick look at it over at Able Cinetec in Burbank, CA. They claimed that one can pull camera, change locations and remount cameras without having to re-align them.
It DID seem very stiff. I've been on 3D projects where every time we moved the cameras/rig we had to go through a very involved re-aligning procedure.
Mako, Makofoto, South Pasadena, CA