3-D cameras for broadcast, motion pictures capture attention at NAB Show

It was another year for new 3-D cameras at the NAB Show as major video manufacturers tackle the production issues and high costs that have been plaguing producers of 3-D content for TV and motion pictures. Counting those introduced last year, there are now literally dozens of options to choose from.

The industry as a whole is clamoring for operator-friendly, light and single-body production equipment that can replicate the 2-D HD production experience, and there was clear evidence this year that vendors understand the requirements and are working to make cost-effective production a reality. Here are a few notable cameras that were presented at this year’s show.

Panasonic’s current handheld camcorder, the AG-3DA1, will be joined in the fall with a second integrated 3-D camcorder, the AG-3DP1. Featuring a larger imager and using the P2 memory format, the new shoulder-mount model is intended for use in live productions, sports, independent films and documentaries. The AG-3DP1 can record 80 minutes of stereo in 10-bit AVC-Intra to dual 64 GB P2 cards. It contains two 1in, 2.23-megapixel CMOS sensors. By contrast, its predecessor contained 2.7-megapixel chips and records to SD cards.

Sony introduced a new shoulder-mount 3-D model that will be available this fall. The PMW-TD300 3-D camcorder features a twin optical lens equipped with three half-inch CMOS Exmor sensors for each eye view. It was developed in cooperation with Discovery for its new 3-D channel.

This summer, Sony will also ship a compact 3-D DAM camcorder intended for videographers and corporate videos. The HXR-NX3D1 incorporates two quarter-inch CMOS sensors, twin 10x zoom lenses and an internal flash memory of 96GB for about 7.5 hours of 3-D recording.

JVC unveiled the new GY-HMZ1U ProHD 3-D camcorder at the show. With an integrated 3-D twin lens design powered by JVC’s large-scale integration (LSI) chip for high-speed processing of HD video, the GY-HMZ1U can simultaneously record each left and right image in 1920 x 1080 resolution. The handheld camcorder features dual 3.32-megapixel CMOS sensors, one for each lens, and delivers 34Mb/s AVCHD recording in 3-D or 24Mb/s in 2-D. Video can be recorded with time code at 60i to provide smooth motion, for sports and other fast action, or 24p for a film-like effect. The GY-HMZ1U can also capture 3-D time lapse and 3-D digital stills.

Meduza introduced a “beyond 4K” camera that will be available in September. Content for the camera is acquired at 3072 x 4096 pixels and covers everything from 15/70mm giant screens to general theatrical screens, as well as 3-D TV.

“The image is being acquired at a 1:1 pixel ratio for giant-screen 15/70mm format and still allows for smaller extraction for traditional cinema and TV,” said Jonathan Kitzen, president of Meduza Systems. “This will represent massive cost savings in image enhancement and post production. All other cameras on the market have to blow up to get to this format, the largest in the world, but the Meduza does not have that requirement.”

Additionally, FOR-A demonstrated an ultra-compact 1920 x 1080 camera head — actually two heads measuring 40mm x 40mm x 56mm that can be configured the same interocular distance apart as the human head. The small size of the 3DC-300FH camera head and 3DC-S100 CCU (part of the company’s relationship with the Flovel Company, based in Tokyo) makes it ideal for extreme close-up work and POV camera locations, such as a GoalCam in ice hockey broadcasts. The external CCU includes features that can be used to adjust horizontal and vertical shift in the image.