Shot more 3D video today

Shot using two Lumix GH-2 cameras. Edited in Magix Movie Edit MX Pro (version 18).

Here is the red/cyan anaglyph version. Requires red/cyan glasses and best to watch in 1080p.

Here is the Youtube multiple format version. Click on 3D in the viewer bar, at bottom right, to select your preferred viewing format. When I watched this, the red/cyan version seemed seriously misaligned versus my native red/cyan version, above.

The coming of age of 3D?

3D movies have been around for 40 to 50 years, but the genre has never taken off.

Shooting 3D in film was very complex and 3D was often used primarily as a gimmick to make the movie different, not to tell the story.  Hence, few movies have been seen in 3D.

In the past decade, the big change has been digital technology that makes shooting, editing and fixing 3D video “footage” much easier. But Hollywood could not release many blockbuster 3D films because comparatively few theaters were equipped to project 3D. Today, at the end of 2011, half of the world’s theaters will have been upgraded to digital projection systems – which means they can all do 3D now. As this conversion takes hold on the remaining theaters, the market for 3D films will be much larger – that is, capable of being shown in most theaters.  Did you know that many movies shot in recent years were actually shot in 3D but only released in 2D?   Some of these may be re-released in the future as 3D movies or 3D TV releases.  Let’s hope ticket prices are appropriate and not excessive, a problem that is hindering consumer enthusiasm for 3D at this point.

In December 2012, Peter Jackson‘s movie version of The Hobbit will see Part 1 released. Jackson is shooting The Hobbit in 3D at 48 fps in “5k” (an HD image is almost 2K) using paired RED EPIC cameras. I have a hunch that this movie will inspire a lot more interest in 3D.

Separately, at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, 3D LCD TV displays and projection TV systems were everywhere. Gradually, their prices will come down and more and more consumers will have 3D capable systems. In the interim, you can watch 3D using red/cyan or other colored glasses on a regular TV – this approach is not as good as true 3D but its okay and its cheap.

Camera companies demonstrated 3D consumer cameras at CES. However, shooting good 3D is complicated and I we are a long ways yet from a truly satisfactory point and shoot 3D system for all purposes. Editing 3D also requires about 2x the computer horsepower and hard disk storage – not something every home video enthusiast will have readily available.

At the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, in just two weeks, we know that at least one company will be announcing a glasses free 3D TV. Technology like this has been shown in the past but has not yet entered the mass market.

3D is coming. Will it just be a gimmick?

People said color movies were a gimmick. People said talking movies were a gimmick. Some even thought original B&W movies were a gimmick – after all, they were just a silent, B&W version of stage plays!

As all the pieces come together – good stories, good story telling skills, 3D production equipment and 3D viewing equipment, 3D will become an important part of future entertainment.  And my guess is that The Hobbit will change attitudes towards 3D – it is likely to be the right 3D movie at the right time.

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First 3D video attempt now online

I posted my first attempt at a short 3D video. I made numerous mistakes in both shooting and editing this but it was a huge learning experience. I will be gradually shooting a lot more 3D video over the months to come and will learn many new things with each one that I shoot and edit.

This video was shot using two Lumix GH-2 cameras on a home made interaxial rail. Required: Red/Cyan anaglyph glasses for the stereoscopic images. Recommended: Play in the 1080p mode.

This one was edited in Sony Vegas but I ran into numerous Vegas crashes and hangs. For example, any time I tried to add a title overlay, Vegas would crash on the MPEG4 export; delete the title and the export worked fine.

I started playing with Magix Movie Edit Pro (now known as Magix Movie Edit MX Pro) and it seemed to work much better, plus MEMX features true 3D titles. That is, titles that themselves are rendered in anaglyph and can move or rotate in 3D space. My next 3D video will be edited in MEMX instead.

A 3D Camera Rig

Español: Cámara de TV en 3D con las cámara ind...
Image via Wikipedia

Last night I built an aluminum 3D camera rig that holds two cameras for either still or video photography. My own interest is in shooting 3D video.

The rig is small, light weight, easy to transport and will hold any modest sized still or video camera. I stole the construction idea from someone else and will pass all that along “soon”.

I hope to “soon” start shooting 3D video with two cameras. With family events, business travel looming, starting to write my M.S. thesis in software engineering, and bad weather, having a chance to put it all to use and test it out may be a while yet!

But sometime in the future, I hope to share some cool 3D stereoscopic videos. Get your red-cyan glasses ready!

English: Strasser, Mike. Stanford University. ...
Image via Wikipedia
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Low end camera and camcorder sales dive, expensive cameras rise

Study: Smartphones Putting Serious Hurt on Point-and-Shoot Camera Sales | News & Opinion | PCMag.com.

Smart phones are replacing the very low end still and video cameras.

2011 versus 2010:

  • Point and shoot camera unit sales down by -17%
  • “Pocket” camcorder unit sales down by -13%
  • Traditional camcorder unit sales down by -8%
  • High end point and shoot cameras (10x zoom are larger) up by 16%
  • High end detachable lens cameras sales up by 10+%
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“Peter Jacksons Hobbit Wont Save 3D Movies”

Peter Jackson
Peter Jackson (Image via RottenTomatoes.com)

I think this writer is off his rocker: Peter Jacksons Hobbit Wont Save 3D Movies and Thats a Good Thing – Forbes.

He argues 2D movies are better and will be better still when shot and projected at 48 fps instead of 24 fps. Okay. He then says that 3D adds nothing to the viewing experience. Hmmm.

Except that real life is, you know, in 3D.  And the author’s argument seems to be that life would be better if it were only in 2D.

Actually, his long winded argument boils down to ticket prices for bad 3D movies are too high so 3D will just be a short lived fad. Like talking pictures were once said to be a short lived fad, and then color movies were a short lived fad. Or not. Each time people said the new technology did not add much to the movie experience.

What I think he means to say is that most 3D movies so far – with some exceptions – have been made to exploit 3D as a gimmick and then charge way too much to see them.  The added costs for 3D are apparently about +10%, but they have charged far, far more than that to watch them.

A great tale, with great acting, and a great director, shot in 3D, will be more interesting than a 2D version of the same movie. But it comes down to how much they charge to see it.  The movie distributors and theaters have not yet figured out that the price to value ratio needs to be appropriate – and they are not there yet.

I think The Hobbit will be another amazing film from Peter Jackson and will inspire more interest in high quality 3D.

Heck, I plan to start building my two camera 3D rig this weekend (really).

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Panasonic Lumix GH-2 Firmware 1.1 update just released

Joint update service for Four Thirds lenses | Digital Camera | Digital AV | Consumer Products | Support | Panasonic Global.

Notably, the new firmware adds

  • Improved noise reduction for low light usage
  • Powered zoom lens features to work with the new X-Series lenses
  • 25p mode for PAL cameras
  • 30p mode for NTSC cameras
  • Improvements to auto focus
  • Improvements to burst mode

The better online discussion as to what the new firmware provides is likely to be here.

Noise reduction – I shot a test clip before and after, using 1080/24p video mode at ISO 2500. There is a noticeable improvement but noise is certainly visible – just guessing but it seems it could be as much as 40% to 50% less noise. It is possible that the noise improvement is better at ISO 3200; I believe 2500 is the highest the native image sensor goes to in video mode and 3200 is done through software signal processing. I think. I have not looked at the noise in terms of still images.

HBR – I previously wrote that I wasn’t sure what was happening here. My mistake. On PAL cameras, this is a new 25p mode and on NTSC cameras this is a new 30p mode. My mistake was that I had inadvertently rendered my new 30p video as a 24p mp4 file, which meant some frame blending had occurred. To correct what I wrote previously, the new HBR/1080/30p looks great!

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