Low Budget 3-D: Panasonic Brings 3-D to the Indie Market
After everything Jeff”s written lately about the impact of 3-D on indie films, I couldn’t wait to get to Panasonic’s New Product Road Show (and lunch), at the W Hotel in Hollywood, because they promised to demo their new HD 3D camera – about $30,000 for the camera, monitor and two pairs of stylish 3-D glasses.
To add to the wow factor of the AG-3DA1, Panasonic set up a high-end 3-D camera near the buffet – $200,000 and the guy guarding it looked nice but probably wasn’t if you accidentally bumped into the thing getting more beet salad.
Inside, during the presentation, we were told that the conventional 3-D two-camera system is expensive, complicated, and time-consuming.
(See illustration from Panasonic’s sales brochure if you think I’m overstating.)
The time it takes for two-camera lens adjustments limits the number of shooting cuts per day.
For the independent film producer, the cost of hardware, the commensurate skills required of operators, and the resulting lengthening of the shooting schedule are all problematic.
The AG-3DA1 solves these problems. First, it’s two cameras in one housing: two lenses, lined up and locked down.
From the front it looks friendly and futuristic, like E.T. or a Viewfinder, depending on your cultural reference.
You can change the parallax (a word I don’t think I’ve used since Intro to Photography), from zero, so the image floats on the screen, to positive, so the image floats deep in the frame, to negative, so the image reaches out into the audience beyond the screen.
Next, it’s lightweight – a little more than two pounds – and can be hand-held, although Panasonic’s self-proclaimed product evangelist, Bernie Mitchell, said it “begs for sticks.” (Anyone for a 3-D remake of Climbing Everest?) We didn’t see any hand-held footage; would be interested to hear from anyone who has.
The AG-3DA1 is also versatile: pull a card out and, voila!, it’s a 2-D camera.
The learning curve with the AG-3DA1 is significantly faster than with more complicated 3-D systems, and Panasonic, via their education partner, Creatasphere, is offering workshops across the country, starting in the fall.
I asked Dom Cicchetti, Panasonic’s business development manager, higher education, who he thought would really benefit from the AG-3DA1, and he said, “Students and young filmmakers who really need to understand and work with 3-D. Game developers, and even seasoned professionals.”
Panasonic is betting that the explosion of 3-D content for film and television will continue, and they want a position at every entry point in the market.
Shipping begins in September. You can reserve your AG-3DA1 now for a $1,000 (non-refundable) deposit.
(For lots of pictures and a filmmaker’s perspective, visit animator and filmmaker Albert Art’s blog, The Rez. He put together a great product review after visiting the Panasonic pavilion during the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.)
Technology Good News & Bad News – in case you missed the link in the first paragraph, here’s Jeff’s most recent post about the potential impact of “big budget” 3-D on the indie film market.