Wednesday, April 13, 2011

3D and High Frame Rates @ NAB

3D and High Frame Rates - the twin horseman of the film-making apocalypse - may not have been the stars of NAB, but they certainly put in an appearance in Sin City. And while this may not have been the year of 3D, with James Cameron giving the keynote, you had to know that 3D would make headlines, though I'm surprised over how small those headlines have been. Sony announced a couple of 3D video cameras at the show; did anyone notice that, or did you only hear about the F65 4K camera?

Putting that aside, wherever 3D goes, discussion about presenting movies at high frame rates seems to follow. Higher frames rates - 48p or 60p -improve the quality of 3D movie presentations because:
3D is two images superimposed that have slight differences between them; left eye right eye, differences. If the motion of the object on the screen from one frame to the next meets or exceeds the displacement between the left and right eye, 3D goes away. It’s lost totally. And you’ve got all these movie directors who want to do action scenes, car crashes and fights and stunts, with fast camera moves, and slamming fists and explosions. And if you actually analyzed those frames, there’s not any information there for substantial periods of time, and the 3D effect virtually vanishes
- Douglas Trumbull
BUT, many people believe that part of the "film look" is the judder caused by shooting in 24p. They find higher frame rate content starts to look like television news (and that's not a complement.)

Let the debate continue...

James Cameron Keynote
James Cameron gave the keynote at NAB, and used it to promote 3D and shooting at higher frames rates. Cameron and Vince Pace have formed a joint venture focused on 3D production called CAMERON – PACE Group (CPG) to promote the "worldwide growth" of 3D. They are evidently unfazed by slow sales of home 3D:
He says that in as little as two years, “everything will be produced in 3D and 2D versions will be extracted from that.”
FilmSchoolRejects: James Cameron is Going to Force You to Watch 3D Forever and Ever
Broadcasting & Cable: NAB: James Cameron, Vince Pace Form New 3D Venture

ARRI announced this week that they have formed a partnership with Cameron and Pace, who will have exclusive commercial access to the first ALEXA M systems (a modular version of the ARRI ALEXA) that will be available in September 2011.
ARRI: ARRI and Cameron - Pace forge 3D partnership

Peter Jackson says that he is shooting The Hobbit in 3D at 48p, and has written about it on Facebook:
Shooting and projecting at 48 fps does a lot to get rid of these issues.  It looks much more lifelike, and it is much easier to watch, especially in 3-D. We’ve been watching HOBBIT tests and dailies at 48 fps now for several months, and we often sit through two hours worth of footage without getting any eye strain from the 3-D.
Two hours with no eye strain at all - well, that's conclusive then!

Joking aside, it's interesting reading; though his suspicion that 24fps was chosen as the minimum speed required for audio fidelity is actually incorrect [See: The 24p debate: Part I].

Importantly, Jackson is convinced that people can get used to it:
Film purists will criticize the lack of blur and strobing artifacts, but all of our crew--many of whom are film purists--are now converts.  You get used to this new look very quickly and it becomes a much more lifelike and comfortable viewing experience.
Not so fast, says Kevin Jagernauth at The Playlist:
Peter Jackson, James Cameron and Douglass Trumbull, who all have breathlessly and excitedly expounded on the topic have all failed to mention just how this fancy pants approach will improve their ability to tell a story
Facebook: 48 Frames Per Second
The Playlist: Peter Jackson Confirms & Talks Shooting ‘The Hobbit’ In 3D At 48 Frames Per Second

if 48's key selling point is that it makes 3D more tolerable, that's an awfully thin angle for consumers...

Andrew Reid wonders if 48p is really evil, or whether there's a lot of other evil out there; notably how we watch films at home:
Of course 'cinematic' is more than a frame rate - it is the way the camera draws attention with depth of field and focus, it is a whole number of other things. Dynamic range, framing, sound.I don't blame 48p or 60p.I blame the way people are digesting films and video in the home. Modern displays are awful.
EOSHD: Is 48p evil?

Meanwhile, at NAB:

Ethan Daniel Schur at Stereoscopic 3D to the Home has been posting daily reports of what he's seen at NAB. An excellent place to read about the things you didn't read anywhere else. His comment about the placement of the convergence control on the Sony HDR-TD10 seems to make sense to me...
Stereoscopic3D: NAB Day One | NAB 2011 Day Two

Contemplating wearing an eyepatch at NAB so people will feel too awkward to pitch me any 3D gear.

3D Pavllion
Interesting article on the 3D Pavilion at NAB, with comments from Tim Dashwood of Dashwood Cinema Solutions, Jon Shapiro of 3ality Digital and Eric Bergez of Qube Cinem.
"Not all 3D is created equal," says Jon Shapiro, 3D@Home member and co-founder of 3D gear manufacturer 3ality Digital. "Continued growth of a robust home market requires that consistently high-quality 3D content is available. We want to help educate the next generation of 3D stereographers, directors, producers, and technicians, as well as amateurs, and thus improve the consistency of 3D video overall."
NABShowDaily: 3D Pavilion: Systems, Services, Solutions

The Sony F65; in 3D
Sony announced a new high-end 4K, (2D) camera, the F65. I have no idea why they decided to shot this short promo video from the show floor in 3D - maybe because they could?
Youtube: Sony Professional - Overview of the new Sony 4k camera - 3D

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