I’ve been playing with the Sony 3D link kit for the F3. I’m still discovering some of the fine details of how and what exactly it gives you, but what I will say right now is that it really, really simplifies 3D with a pair of PMW-F3’s.
The kit comprises of a couple of SxS cards with the software keys required to activate the cameras plus a special cable that connects the two cameras together. After loading the software keys on to both cameras you get an additional menu option to activate the 3D link in one of two modes, master or slave. With one camera connected to the other and one set as master, the other as slave the first thing that happens is that the cameras will sync with each other. My initial testing indicates that this is more than just Genlock, it appears to be full shutter sync. I’ve tried a few fast shutter speeds and so far have not seen anything to suggest the shutters are not in sync, but a proper test is still needed to confirm this.
Other things that happen is that the cameras will both go in and out of record in sync and the timecode of the master camera is used by the slave. If you change the shutter on the master camera the slave also changes. I’m still learning more about the way the 3D link system works and I really like it a lot. Anyone doing a lot of 3D work should seriously consider it. It is pricey at around $5k for the kit for a pair of cameras (although it does also include a couple of SxS cards) but the stable sync, dual start/stop and small things like the sync shutter speed changes does remove another set of things to worry about during your 3D shoot.
I’m running an introduction to 3D workshop at ProKit, Chiswick, London on the 17th of January 2012. Topics that will be covered include: Understanding Stereoscopic Vision (Stereopsis). The basic principles of 3D production. Understanding Disparity and Convergence. Choosing a camera or rig. Different rig types. Practical shooting using Parallel and Converged methods. Practical shooting using the very simple Derobe method. Overview of 3D editing.
It’s a lot to cram into a day. It won’t turn you into a stereographer, but it will give you the basic tools that you need to get started in 3D. The day is suitable for camera operators, producers, directors and editors, in fact almost anyone considering embarking on their first 3D project. We will have a couple of camera rigs to play with. The cost is £100 per person and spaces are limited. We will be using the Hurricane rig, but this is not just a sales pitch for the rig, it is a genuinely educational workshop and the skills you will learn apply to all 3D productions. However should you purchase a 3D rig the course fees will be refunded. Contact ProKit 020 8995 4664, or drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a place, places are limited to give all attendees good hands-on time.
Just a quick note on a rather obscure subject. I do a lot of 3D work. Buying pairs of PL mount lenses for my F3’s is beyond my budget right now, so I hire in lenses when I need them. However for my own projects I use DSLR lenses, mainly Nikkors and Tokina’s. One thing that i have discovered is that many of the older manual Nikkors have a tendency to shift the image left and right when you focus. This then miss-aligns the rig. The more modern internal focussing lenses are much, much better in this respect with little or no shift at all. The only problem with the more modern IF lenses is that they often don’t have iris rings (so iris is adjusted with a MTF adapter) and the focus control often has a slipping clutch making repeatable focussing a little harder. So neither is perfect. For 3D applications I think the more modern IF lenses are preferable.
Here’s a very exciting new product I was first given a sneak preview of at Cinegear in LA a couple of weeks ago, but now I have had a slightly longer look and a chance to take some pictures at Broadcast Asia. It comes from a new name to the market, Korean based Today 3D, but don’t let that worry you, I know some of the guys behind this and they know what they are doing. In addition many of the products coming out of Korea in recent years have been very good, like the NextoDI range of media backup devices. The device is a full wireless electronic follow focus designed primarily for 3D applications. There will be different models capable of driving up to 8 motors for full stereo focus, zoom, iris, interaxial and convergence control down to an entry level 2D wireless follow focus.
The hand controller is beautifully well built, machined out of a solid block of alloy and it feels reassuringly solid, if just a little heavy in your hand. On the right side there is a nice big, silky smooth focus control that sits nicely in your hand. On the face of the controller there is a slide control that would normally be used for the other functions such as convergence or most commonly interaxial. The unit is full programmable via a small joystick and menu system with a multicolour display giving you information about your focus distance, zoom position and interaxial etc. It runs off rechargeable Canon DSLR batteries which easy enough to get hold of wherever you may be. The final price has yet to be announced but I have been reassured that it will be extremely competitive, probably a lot less than a comparable C-Motion controller. It won’t initially come with motors but it has the industry standard motor interface so can be used with motors from Heden, Preston, M-One etc. It’s a great looking piece of kit that really feels built to last. I’m hoping to get hold of one for a full review and test drive in the near future. There are also some other interesting 3D products coming from Korea including some innovative transparent alignment charts! Watch this space.
Well I’m a happy chappy. Took delivery of my second PMW-F3 today so that I can shoot my 3D projects using a pair of F3’s rather than my EX1/EX3. Now I have a working lens converter that allows me to use standard 2/3″ broadcast lenses on the F3 the F3 is fast becoming my default camera for almost everything. So the I took the decision to trade in my EX3 against a second F3. For lenses on the 3D rig I’m going to use DSLR lenses. Today I checked out my Nikon 50mm f1.8’s and these were just fine but my Tokina 28mm f2.8’s are un-useable as the lens optical axis shifts as you focus causing alignment errors, so I need to find some alternative wide angle lenses. I’d really like two sets of Zeiss PL mount Compact Primes, but that’s way beyond my budget. I might try and stretch to a couple of sets of Zeiss ZF.2’s, but I think that for the moment it’s going to have to be a case of building up pairs of lenses as I can afford them.
I recently helped shoot a 3D cinema commercial for the Wimbledon Tennis Finals which will be shown in Cinemas and on TV in 3D. There were two 3D rigs used, an Element Technica rig with a pair of Phantom HD Gold’s, shooting at 1000 fps as well as one of my Genus Hurricane Rigs equipped with a pair of Sony PMW-F3’s with zeiss ultra primes recording onto a Nano3D as well as to the video village. The F3’s were used at both 1080P 25fps and 720P 50fps. We had a wide variety of Chapman grip (no relation) equipment including ride on dolly’s and sliders. The commercial was shot at a tennis club in Kent, dressed up with fake scoreboards, green backdrops and umpires in original wimbledon uniforms to make it look like Wimbledon over two days.
The weather was fantastic and the shoot went very well. The Zeiss Ultra primes worked very well on the 3D rig with each lens pair being very well matched and needing only minimal re-alignment each time we changed focal length. The F3’s were set up with no added detail correction and using cinegamma 1, S-Log not being available at the time of the shoot. My main role was as second unit camera operator/stereographer to shoot some of the main tennis player 3D shots at 25 and 50 fps as well as 3D blue screen effects shots including flying dirt and grass as well as various spinning tennis ball shots. For the 1000 fps shots with the Phantom HD Gold’s we used pairs of 18Kw lamps to light the players, and this on a bright sunny day!! In order to keep a similar look for the F3 shots we took full advantage of the cameras built in ND filters to keep the foregrounds bright with the background dark.
For some of the blue screen tennis ball shots we used some older Arri PL mount macro lenses. Below you’ll find a 2D version of the commercial. If I come across a 3D version I’ll post it here.
Hello from Culver City, LA. I spent most of this week up in Hollywood showing of the Genus Hurricane 3D rig on the Manfrotto booth at Cinegear. It’s the first time I have ever gotten sun burnt at a trade show! Most of the show is outside on a back lot at Paramount Studios and the weather was just beautiful. The booth was swamped most of the time, sadly not because I was selling lots of 3D rigs but because we were giving away free ice cream! As usual there was good interest in the rig and it was good to meet some of the people already out there shooting stuff with it. I took a little bit of time out to go and mooch around the show… I’ve never seen so many sliders in one place, almost every booth appeared to have one! I also got a sneak peak at the new Cineroid EVF with HDSDi inputs. Looks promising and it’s made of metal rather than plastic so has a very robust feel.
Genus were also showing their new Elite matte box which can take 5.65 x 5.65 filters as well as 4 x 4 and 5 x 5. It comes with a nice folding top flag as well as side flags. If you need a matte box for bigger lenses and bigger filters you should definitely take a look. The build quality is very good. Another nifty Genus product is the new lens support bracket for 15mm rods. This can support long or heavy lenses and has a 1/4″ screw to bolt to the lens or a pair of rollers that will support a big lens allowing the focus ring to rotate even if the lens does not have a proper attachment point. Clever stuff! Hopefully I will be able to get one to review properly (and the matte box).
Today I was at Samy’s Camera in Culver City running the first day of a 2 day 3D workshop. It was really busy with some well know DoP’s in attendance including Geoff Boyle, I think we had about 50 students in total. It was a fun day (apart from an LG 3D TV that refused to play ball), with some very intelligent questions being asked by the group. Tomorrow we have the second more advanced part of the course with a slightly smaller group. As soon as the class finishes I’m dashing off to the airport to fly to London to meet a courier with my F3 camera kit and then on to Berlin to shoot the Duran Duran gig at the Tempodrom on Wednesday.
What do you think of the new look to the website? I was getting bored with the old look. This is a little more interesting. Any issues or problems do let me know. Coming soon I will have a review of the Vinten 100 tripod head (big thumbs up) and a SxS to SD adapter card from Sonnet, plus hopefully the full Duran Duran story.
I shall be in LA with the Genus Hurricane Rig for Cinegear at the beginning of June. Then on June the 5th and 6th I am running a two day 3D workshop where you can gain full certified Hurricane Rig accreditation. The normal fee for the full two days is $500 USD however if you purchase a hurricane rig between now and then the course is free and you get the option to do the second day hurricane rig accreditation workshop again for free. If you just want to attend the first day and the intro to 3D workshop then you can attend for just $50. Make any purchases at Samy’s totalling $500 or more and the day is free. Lunch will be provided and it should be a lot of fun as well as an interesting insight into the world of S3D. See http://www.samys.com for more details.
Cinematographer and film maker Alister Chapman's Personal Blog Blog