Editing a 3D Documentary: Review of Panasonic’s 25” BT-3DL 2550

If you want to create a high-quality 3D program, having the best-of-the-best in production equipment is a must – that and a great crew, of course.

So while we’ve been in post-production for our first 3D documentary, our editor Brian Mann and I have been on the hunt for a picture-perfect 3D monitor to QC our cuts.

The latest contender: Panasonic’s 25” BT-3DL 2550, a passive circular-polarized monitor with dual processors.

The Panasonic comes with all the bells and whistles any 3D editor could ask for: pro-connectors, 10 bit 3D LUT for great color accuracy, 3 stereo viewing options including simultaneous, line-by-line, and side-by-side.

But when we brought it in to try it out we ran into an unexpected problem –  the display’s polarizing filter wouldn’t work properly with our RealD glasses. The colour was off – pink tinges galore.

Funny thing was when we turned our 3D glasses sideways it seemed to work. Hmmmm.

We’re not sure whether it’s a proprietary or technology issue. The Panasonic tech support team wasn’t sure either.

So in the end, we chose to send the Panasonic back.

We weren’t up to buying another set of 3D glasses on top of the ones we already had. Panasonic charges $100 per set which, along with the pricier monitor—Panasonic $10 000 vs. JVC $6 600 —is a bit hard to swallow.

We’ll nail down a dual stream monitor soon enough. It’s just going to take a little more digging.

Ian Herring, President


Watching a 3D documentary: 3DTV study shows that seeing is believing

I’ve come across an interesting experiment that captured consumer reaction to the 3DTV experience.

I’ve come across an interesting experiment that captured consumer reaction to the 3DTV experience.

The Nielsen Company invited consumers in Las Vegas, Nevada to watch a 30-minute 3D reel featuring sports, nature, comedy, a music concert, movies and video games and then weigh in on the content.

No surprise – the majority said it was better than 2D. But what’s really interesting is why. They didn’t only like what they saw … they liked how the 3DTV experience made them feel.

Here’s what they found:

-6 out of 10 participants agreed the 3D content was better than their current 2DTV viewing

-48% found 3DTV more engaging

-57% found 3DTV made them ‘feel like they were part of the action’

-48% felt ‘closer to the characters’

These reactions speak to the immersive nature of 3D television. The journey into the third dimension is not only visual – it’s emotional.

For example, our editor Brian Mann and I were checking out a 3D stock footage demo of a waterfall a week or so ago. As I sat in my chair and watched the water flow over the rocks, it was like I was sitting in the middle of a forest right next to it, about to toss a rock into the stream.

I’ve seen a lot of waterfall B roll in my life … but I’ve never felt like that.

More and more people are demanding this superior experience from their home entertainment.

Here’s what the Las Vegas participants wanted to see more of:

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Nielsen study: participants were exposed to 30 minutes of 3D content in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Another Nielson survey asked 27,000 online consumers from across 53 countries if they currently owned or will purchase a 3DTV in the next 12 months.

The good news for 3DTV:

-15% ‘probably will purchase’

-9% ‘definitely will purchase’

-4% already own a 3DTV

But there’s a ways to go:

-21% are still undecided

-19% ‘probably won’t purchase’

-33% ‘will definitely not purchase’

Many consumers are still skeptical about 3DTV. It’s a fact. And it’s a fact that we shouldn’t ignore.

But look at how far we’ve come in just a year.

Last January it would have been next to impossible to purchase a 3D TV for your home. Fast forward to the 2010 holiday season, when 3D home entertainment systems popped up in every major electronics store.

And availability isn’t the only thing that’s improving: the technology out there is getting better and cheaper.

What the future holds…

As 3DTV evolution and accessibility continues to grow, so does the opportunity for great storytelling in a whole new dimension.

And the more people who experience how meaningful this experience is, the more momentum 3DTV will gain.

Ian Herring, President


Editing a 3D documentary: where to find high-quality stereoscopic stock footage

Yet another sign that 3D entertainment is gaining momentum – an expanding library of high-quality stereoscopic stock footage is available online.

This is great news for 3D production houses like ours.

We can only include a certain amount of 2D footage in the 3D shows we’re delivering. It can range from as little as 2-3 per cent per show, depending on the broadcaster.

For our visual effects, this isn’t an issue – we can convert 2D VFX shots into 3D. However, stock footage is a completely different matter.

Where to find it:

Our editor, Brian Mann, recently came across Artbeats, an online source for royalty-free stock footage in high quality stereoscopic 3D. This type of footage could allow us to fill visual gaps and transition between scenes while keeping the show as 3D as possible.

We tested Artbeats free download of a waterfall in S3D. It looked fantastic and lived up to their promise of high quality 3D stock footage.

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Still image of Artbeats waterfall download. View with Red/Cyan glasses for full 3D effect.

3D stock options:

Artbeats’ clips are available in S3D HD and S3D 4K formats. Predominantly, their footage has been shot on RED ONE or RED MS using a stereo rig. There is not an extensive range of categories… yet. Mostly they feature aerials, animals and nature.

On the upside, new content is added monthly and will soon include pyrotechnic, new city scene, establishment, winter scene and additional aerial collections shot on RED Epic cameras using a beam splitter rig.

Metadata provided by Artbeats:

– positive parallax percentage (the customer has the option to position and crop to set convergence)

– interocular separation measurements

– maximum screen display size (anywhere from 42” televisions to 42’ movie screens)

– frame rate (24p, 25p and most in 30p)

– clip length (5-60+ seconds)

What it will cost you:

Prices range from $449-$799 USD for left/right and side-by-side formats. Some rights managed clips have a higher sticker price, so be sure to check the fine print. They also sell the RAW (.R3D) file of a RED clip for an extra $100.

Artbeats is right on the pulse of 3D accessibility. We haven’t purchased anything yet, but we will certainly keep them in mind as we move forward.

Ian Herring, President


Showing a 3D documentary demo: polarized home entertainment gear

Great news: we’ve nailed down all the equipment I need to show our 3D demo to broadcasters next week.

We’ve cut together test footage/VFX in preparation for the first 3D episode of Blowdown – the upcoming implosion of the Fonte Nova Stadium in Salvador, Brazil – to share with broadcasters.

But I couldn’t find a 46-inch JVC GD-463D10 to show it on – the company’s out of stock and backlogged.

So JVC’s providing us with a demo model – one of only four in the U.S. – for the screening.

A rep from CineLineWest, a local supplier, contacted the company on our behalf, and they’ve arranged for one of the two demo monitors on the East Coast to be shipped for the meeting – many thanks.

I’m not sure exactly why there’s such a shortage, but we’ve heard part of the issue is a high failure rate with glass in the screens during the manufacturing process because it’s a new technology and, as with any other new product, it takes time to refine the assembly line.

Our editor, Brian Mann, is making DVDs of the demo and a HQ digital version for my MacBook Pro so I’ll have the option of playing it either way (redundancy … yes).

We ordered 10 pairs of “Buddy Holly” circular polarization glasses from 3DStereo.

Thanks to the rep there as well, who offered to drop them off at FedEx on a Saturday.

And to top it all off, two pairs “James” specs from MicroVision Optical 3D – “the most current secret agent look.” Rocking.

Now our broadcasters will be able to experience the third dimension of home entertainment – a taste of things to come.

When they see this stuff, I think they’re going to feel the way I do – like this is how it was always meant to be.

One giant step closer to the real thing.

I’m not going to rest easy until the screening is finished … I can’t wait.

Editing a 3D documentary: how to burn 3D HD footage using Final Cut Pro

Our editor, Brian Mann, has found a way to burn up to 20 minutes of 3D HD footage that will play in a Blu-ray player … without a Blu-ray recorder.

He discovered the work-around after I asked him to compile some test material we’ve shot/composited so I can show it to the broadcasters we’re delivering our first 3D documentary to.

Here’s how:

1) Put a standard-issue DVD into burner.

2) In Final Cut Pro, choose File, then Share.

3) Choose Blue-ray, then Export.

4) Wait for it to finish, and voila. The DVD thinks it’s a Blu Ray disk.

I plan to show the DVD (a montage of 3D footage and 3D VFX) during a meeting with broadcasters so they can see the visual style we’re developing.

Playing the file off of a laptop’s the alternative, but could prove problematic for several reasons:

1)Laptop would have to be powerful enough to play the files.

2)The file could crash or not play back properly.

3)Cumbersome extras – like a DVI to HDMI cable – would be required.

With a DVD, we can set up a JVC 3D HD monitor and a Blu-ray player, then play the DVD knowing it will work.

Sure, it will only burn 20 minutes – but that’s more than enough for my presentation purposes. Easy to play 3D content in a boardroom setting.

Of note: Brian’s encoding side by side so that the footage will display on the monitor properly – no dual stream. Not something we want to forget.

That, and plenty of backup copies.


Video: testing lenses for 3D HD filmmaking – how to tell which ones stack up

The great lens showdown is over: Meuser Optiks it is. After an intense push to 
After an intense push to choose lenses for our A cam system so we can shoot our first 3D documentary, these German lenses – 3.4 mm, designed for a 1/3-inch CCD sensor, and HD capable – were the ones that made the cut.

They work with our Iconix 1/3-inch sensors, and the interaxial distance can be set close enough to allow us to fil  1 ½ -2 metres away from our subject.

The Schneider Cinegon 5.3 mm lense and the Fujinon 4.8 mm HD Prime lens just didn’t work as well for us.

Here’s video of the test screen – our stereographer, Sean White, explains what we’re looking for while we’re watching the test footage on our new JVC 3D HD monitor

Another to follow ASAP on why the system should work to shoot the prep and implosion of a condemned sports stadium in Salvador, Brazil for the explosive demolition series Blowdown – YouTube’s fighting me.


Editing a 3D documentary: working with two audio channels in Cineform Neo3D

Looks like we’ll have to find a workaround for the audio issue we’ve encountered with Cineform Neo3D software in order to edit our first 3D documentary.

As I’ve mentioned, the 3D files that Cineform creates only have two audio tracks.

To capture ambient noise as well as a conversation between two subjects for the explosive demolition show Blowdown, we have to capture at least three channels (a boom mic and two lavs), sometimes four (camera mic).

Our editor, Brian Mann, has been in conversation with Cineform developers to see if we could find a way to edit with more than two channels.

They’ve been very prompt in replying and helpful.

But unfortunately it looks like there’s no way to edit more than two channels of audio using the current version.

There’s no particular reason why the program’s this way – it’s just a design factor that isn’t optimal for our specific post production needs.

As far as we’re concerned it’s the best high-end game in town, and otherwise it’s working great.

Cineform’s lead Mac engineer plans to add it to the list of things to add to their future release, First Light.

In the interim, we’ll have to figure out how to adjust our workflow.

Editing a 3D documentary: JVC HD 3D LCD monitor review

Our HD 3D monitor has arrived!

It’s the 46-inch JVC GD-463D10, and it means our editor, Brian Mann, doesn’t have to view footage in anaglyph anymore.

Moving to polarized is a relief – no colour loss, no red and cyan ghosting … and no headaches.

Purchasing the monitor ($6,600 later) was obviously a must – you can’t produce a high quality 3D show, like the first 3D documentary we’re going to shoot, editing in anaglyph.

We managed to fit it into an edit suite and set it up. Brian, Jakub and I check out some VFX footage on our newest 3D toy:

When it comes time to cut this Blowdown, Brian will use the monitor to see what he’s editing in Final Cut Pro (which, as I’ve mentioned, can’t edit in 3D without third party program help – we’re trying Cineform Neo3D out).

This view is key – cutting 3D shots means there’s a lot more to consider – parallax, convergence, wide and close, how much positive depth/negative depth exists in each shot.

If you cut shots with huge discrepancies in depth it’s really uncomfortable to watch, so you can’t just chop shots together – even with a flashy transition.

The only rub with the monitor is that it doesn’t do dual stream, which means the footage is technically at half-resolution (ie. don’t get both eyes full res).

So even though we’re editing in dual stream (to deliver the highest quality possible), we can’t view it that way on the JVC screen.

We looked into dual stream monitors – Panasonic’s due to release a 25-inch unit in the fall – but it’s prohibitively expensive (approximately $10,000).

And, more importantly, it’s too small for us to view our footage in a size that’s representative of our final product (how many 25-inch televisions have you seen lately?) – a shortfall that could lead to convergence that isn’t optimal for our audience.

Oh, and the JVC came with two free pairs of polarized glasses.

Looks like we’ll do just fine:

Editor Brian Mann works with the JVC HD 3D LCD monitor

Editing a 3D documentary: Cineform 3D software audio challenges

We’ve fed footage from our 3D green screen shoot into post, where we’ve promptly encountered our first editing glitch. We’re running a trial version of Cineform Neo3D software to see if it will work for editing our first 3D documentary.

The reason we’re trying this program is that it allows for dual steam, which means each eye is at full res and in real time, so we can do convergence, colour correction and other editing in real time rather than having to render whenever we make an adjustment.

Cineform also works with Final Cut Pro, the editing software we normally use to cut 2D HD there’s no way to edit 3D in FC without a 3rd party programs, as far as we know.

Great for picture, but there’s a problem with audio.

The 3D files that Cineform creates will only have two audio tracks.

To capture ambient noise as well as a conversation between two subjects, we have to capture at least three channels (a boom mic and two lavs), sometimes four (camera mic).

And since Blowdown – the explosive demolition series we’ll be filming – is event-based, there’s no opportunity for ADR, and you can’t recreate most of the ambient sound in post.