Panasonic describes its new HD 3D camcorder as a 'training wheel' for the industry as it prepares to deliver the first pre-production units, writes Adrian Pennington.
"In the US there are just six to eight producers capable of doing 3D sports, in part because conventional mechanical rigs are simply too expensive for many people to get their hands dirty by playing around with them," Steve Maher, Panasonic's director of Engineering Business Development Group told TVB Europe. "The market needs something as intuitive and, frankly, as cheap as this in order for people to feel they can pick it up and make mistakes with it. The only way to learn 3D and to feed the demand for 3D content is to learn from practice."
It's no coincidence that a pre-production model and the announcement of the product's release was timed for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) where Panasonic was heavily promoting 3D across its TV display range.
"We're using the model here more as a marketing tool," Maher admitted, adding that the full specification for the $21,000 (_13,500) camcorder will be revealed at NAB. Orders are however being taken now ahead of shipping around IBC.
"There's no point pricing the market out," said Maher. "A professional broadcast product like this needs to be at an affordable level." That said, the company won't be mass producing the device, but making them to order.
The camcorder incorporates two non-removable 12x zoom lenses, camera head, and memory card recorder into a single compact housing weighing 3kg.
TVB Europe understands that it combines two distinct 3-CMOS sensor cameras recording full resolution 1080i video compressed using the company's long GOP AVC HD codec. A left and right eye stream are recorded one to to each card so that to all intents and purposes the streams are kept separate until post production.
Up to three hours of HD can be recorded using dual 32GB SDHC/SD memory cards. Frame rates of 24, 25 and 30 progressive or 50i, 60i will be supported but not 50/60p. The viewfinder allows left or right eye image views, or a combined view, while the remote control allows an operator to adjust the convergence point while in use. Panasonic also plans to offer a professional-quality 3D HD LCD monitor for field use as well as a professional HD digital AV mixer for live event production.
Panasonic will continue to refine the software processing optics to include "morphing the rasters to fix known lens aberrations, synchronization of left and right images when tracking and automatic adjustment for such factors as tilt," explained Maher.