It seems we’re not alone in the quest to find a beam splitter rig/camera system that will work as our B cam setup for shooting our first 3D documentary.
My previous blog outlining the issue has been posted on the Yahoo! Group thread P+S Technik 3D Stereo Rig + 2 Sony EX3, where there are entries from several people looking for information on how to make this – and similar systems – work for them.
Here’s our particular issue: we’ve been testing a Sony EX1 and a Sony EX3 mounted on a Film Factory 3D Indie BS Rig, but are having issues getting the cameras optimally positioned.
One alternative mentioned in the Yahoo! thread is a P+S Technik rig, but from what I gather it’s more expensive than the Film Factory Indie unit we’ve purchased.
Another up-and-coming alternative seems to be Alister Chapman’s “Hurricane” beam splitter rig, evidently designed specifically with Sony EX3s in mind.
A week of testing our B cam beam splitter rig system has revealed that the Sony EX1/EX3 duo we’re using with the Film Factory 3D BS Indie Rig aren’t ideal for shooting our first 3D documentary.
The issue isn’t technical – Alister Chapman reports using the same cameras successfully, and we were able to genlock the EX3 to the EX1 by connecting the EX1’s Y channel of the component output to the EX3’s genlock in connector, just as he has.
It’s logistical …the cameras are just too big and cumbersome for this particular beam splitter rig.
We’ve modified the rig so they fit better, but getting them aligned vertically is rough – the mics protrude and we’re still seeing the edge of the box and/or the bottom of the mirror when we use our Sony EX 5.8 mm lens (which has a 56-degree horizontal angle of view).
Wide shots are a must for Blowdown, the explosive demolition documentary we’ll be filming, so we need a system that will effectively capture this kind of footage – ie. we need to hit the sweet spot on the mirror, have the cameras vertically aligned and not see the rig when we use wide-angle lenses.
The alternative is enlarging the image in post to eliminate the part(s) of the shot that contain the rig, but that will degrade the quality, so I want to try and avoid this (especially since we’ll be blowing the footage up it to a certain degree already to facilitate convergence).
So, now we’re working with Canon Canada directly to get loaners of the XF305, which has just been released.