Friday, June 25, 2010

Tech Expo @ Rule: Panasonic 3D

Got to see the Panasonic 3D camera, the AG-3DA1, in the flesh for the first time.

The first thing you notice is how cheap the camera looks; and this is supposed to be a $20,000 camera. The $6,000 Sony EX-1 looks like it's precision milled from metal - it isn't - compared to the cheap plastic-moulded look of the AG-3DA1. The other thing you notice is the twin lenses at the front, but once you get past those, the rest of the body sort of looks like a regular camera.

Interestingly, the camera operator is unlikely to have a true idea of what the 3D image the camera produces looks like; both the LCD and viewfinder give a combined image that shows the ghosting caused by the visual "misalignment" of different objects within the scene. But it's not polarized or otherwise encoded, so you can't wear glasses to see the 3D effect.

You can tell where the point of convergence is in the image; the region of the 3D image that sits on the plane of the projection screen. Something in the 3D space will either be in-front of, on, or behind, this plane. Things that are close to the point of convergence will have practically no secondary ghost image.

The LCD/viewfinder also gives a numerical display of the range of the image that is safely within this convergence point. You have to be careful not to have things too far in-front of or too far behind the convergence point.

Like Sony, Panasonic also has a professional 3D monitor that uses circular polarizers and static glasses (and halves the vertical resolution.) They had the camera hooked up directly to the monitor, and it was interesting to see a "real-world" scene rendered live using 3D.

I don't know if it was the glasses, the way the camera was setup, or what, but I was struck by how the image seemed to have a water-like feeling to it. You felt like you were looking at things in an aquarium. When watching movies on large LCDS screens (with the active glasses) I've sometimes felt like I was looking at layers of cutouts when the 3D effect was exaggerated, but this was the first time I felt like the image was swimming.

Panasonic: Professional 3D

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