Panasonic's upcoming AG-3DA1 integrated 3D camcorder has undertaken its first live transmissions this week from the French Open Tennis, writes David Fox.
Although the camcorders won't ship until September, Panasonic currently has about 100 engineering samples in use worldwide, with seven taking part in the Roland Garros event in Paris.
Two of the cameras are being used in tests and for the evening review programme and five for live acquisition, with one camera fitted to a cable cam system, two close to the net and two available for video acquisition of VIPs and player interviews after matches.
Orange is broadcasting all centre court matches live in 3D for the first time, and 3D content is also being delivered via GlobeCast to Panasonic’s HD 3DTVs in retail stores.
Because the interaxial distance between the lenses is fixed, the cameras are not particularly suitable for very close-up 3D work or for long distances, and are best suited to subjects that are about 3m to 30m from the camera. As the camcorders are fully integrated, they are a lot simpler to set up and use than conventional dual camera 3D rigs. They are also very light, at under 3kg.
The camcorder's specifications haven't been finalised yet, but the engineering samples are almost complete, with some aspects, such as the lens manufacturer (probably Leica) and zoom ratio (probably only x5), still to be decided.
Users can view the left or right eye outputs in the LCD/viewfinder, or a mix (for setting the convergence), but it will also be possible to control convergence remotely, although this would currently need two HD-SDI links if done wirelessly (it would be possible to use a single HDMI link, but no one makes one yet).
Apparently, demand for the AG-3DA1 (€16,800) has been strong, with just as much interest in it in Europe as in the US.
Panasonic had one AG-3DA1 on show at the launch of its new Experience Centre at Pinewood Studios, near London, last week. The Centre will have a dedicated room for 3D demonstrations, equipped with its new BT-3DL2550 25.5-inch 3D production monitor (which will be available in the Autumn for €8,600).
It was also showing its new AG-HMX100 multi-format HD/SD digital AV mixer, which supports 3D. It claims the mixer is "the first affordable live switcher for use in 3D production." It will be available soon for €5,100.