Shooting A 3D documentary: How to record 1080P to a Nano3D drive using Sony EX3s

We recently shot a show that will be delivered to broadcasters in 1080i.  Our 3D camera system choice for this shoot was a beam splitter with two Sony EX3s gen-locked, recording a 140mb to Nano3D drives.

Because of the large amount of VFX work and the convergence needs of 3D, we wanted to capture native 3D in 1080p – this makes it possible to work with a full frame of information.

When our DOP camera-tested native 3D he found that it was only possible to shoot 1080i as that’s what standard the Nano3D drives record to – even though the genlocked EX3 system was set to record 1080p. Annoying, but I decided we’d make it work.

So we got the footage in as 1080i – and loaded it into the off-line FCP and Cineform 3D edit system. That’s where we ran into a problem.

What was going on?  The native files were playing back fine in FCP – but when we brought it over to Cineform to do convergence and 3D adjustments we got visual tearing and had interlace issues.   When we did our adjustments the fields no longer matched.

We identified the source of the problem was within Cineform First Light, and it was the interlaced files that didn’t match – in interlaced footage the shot was broken up into two fields, top and bottom.  Our problem was with our adjustments  – the order was being mixed up so the shots looked terrible.

So went back to the source file – and figured out we had to add another step and de-interlace it and then re-input the 1080p frame back into Cineform and then it would work  – making it 1080p, the frame file we wanted to shoot it in the first place.

Bonus: as we problem-solved the above interlacing issue with Cineform we also found out that the Nano drives can record 1080p – if you tell them that the signal is in fact 1080psf.

PSF stands for Progressive Segmented Frames and it is how the camera delivers video down a single SDI cable.   1080p is so large it has to broken up into smaller pieces – called, packets.   It doesn’t change the video, just reformats the video during transmission down the cable.

One has to tell the Nano drives that the signal is coming as a 1080psf – and it will happily record 1080p.   So now we don’t have to de-interlace the file and can work in 1080p right off the drive.

After the 3D and VFX work is done and the final on-line completed we can re-interlace the files and deliver final output to the broadcaster.

So on future shoots we can shoot 1080p – we just have to tell the Nano drives that it’s coming IN as 1080psf – not 1080p.

One less step to take in our post work flow – and now we can work in 1080p.

Ian Herring , President

Watching a 3D documentary: buying the right passive technology monitor

It’s coming up to the year anniversary of Avatar’s release.  A film that changed the way I think about broadcast formats and revolutionized our production house.

Within 12 months we landed our first 3D television production for Blowdown, our ongoing television series on structural implosions.

In that year we built and tested two main 3D systems and several secondary systems.  Of equal challenge was the post work flow in 3D.  The production team worked closely with our edit team and managed to come up with a smooth edit to output work flow.

Early on we adopted the 3D TV passive technology, which means the TV does all the work and we can use inexpensive and readily available glasses – the same ones used at the cinema.

Our latest purchase and the smallest 3D TV is the Panasonic BT-3DL2550.  It’s a 25.5-inch TV – portable and can be used in the field to monitor 3D rushes or as an on-line monitor.  This is a piece of equipment I am really looking forward to using.

The consumer is going adopt 3D at home in the same way when passive shutter 3D TVs come available.  LG is releasing this – the LD920 47-inch TV – eliminating the expensive and awkward battery powered active shutter glasses.

This technology, priced right, will pave the way for consumer friendly 3D tv’s and encourage the adoption of the format.

Ian Herring, President

Welcome to Parallax 2.0

We’re jumping the gun and ringing in the new before the year-end countdown.  We’ve had an amazing 2010 here and are all still wrapping our heads around the fact that it isn’t June.

I started the year back East in February and battled the blizzards that dumped on Washington, DC.

In April, we managed to catch the last Air Canada flight of Paris before Eyjafjallajokull, the Icelandic volcano closed European airspace.

It was Brazil in August, escaping the heat in Vancouver for “winter” in Salvador.

We shot our first show ever in 3D, a fabulous addition to our Blowdown series.

In November, we began shooting our brand new series at Dover Castle with our host and co-production partner, Dan Snow.  No small triumph for a project more than three years in the making.

So, besides the 60,000 Aeroplan miles I’ve banked this year, what does it all mean?

It means that here at Parallax Film Productions we’re always on a journey.

We’re looking for a new adventure … and we’ve found it in this vast e-universe.

The launch of the new website is pushing us in new directions, opening doors to the possibility that our creativity can be interactive and we can reach out to our audiences in ways that doesn’t always include a broadcaster.

We are stepping out from behind the curtain and redefining the nature of our storytelling by sharing what excites us every day. Whether it’s a new 3D TV or a story from the back pages, it’s all the stuff we strive for:  being excited and engaged.

We hope that you’ll join us.

Connect with us and our community via Facebook or Twitter. Weigh in on YouTube or our website  – we want to hear what you think of our content. Sign up to receive our news. Share your updates. And reserve front row access to the new stuff comes down the pipe.

We’re not sure what this new world has in store for us. But one thing’s certain. It’s going to be quite the ride.

Ian Herring, President