I’ve turned to the Sony EX line to shoot B cam for our first 3D documentary, after we discovered that the two Canon 7Ds we planned to use can’t send an HDSDI signal to our Transvideo Cineform 3D Monitor.
Two Sony EX3s seem to be an intuitive choice, since this model has genlock in capability.
It looks like we can pair one Sony EX3 with a Sony EX1: the EX1 lacks a genlock in, but according to Chapman only one of the cameras needs to have it … we can send signal from the EX1 into the EX3 and then send both to the monitor.
But the Iconix aren’t like normal video cameras – no tapes, hard drives or flash cards. They “see” the footage and then spit it out.
So where are we going to store it?
If this were a scripted production, shot in a studio or on a controlled set, a tape or digital recording deck with a large array would be the way to capture the footage at the 100 MB/S or more, the minimum bitrate we need to satisfy broadcast requirements.
But because the Fonte Nova demolition is event-based and will take place in an industrial worksite, we need a recording system that’s cordless, portable (not too heavy, cumbersome), and hearty.
I think the nano3D will satisfy these criteria for us – it’s a just-minted twin drive designed to record stereoscopically and keep everything in sync between the two cameras.
We plan to mount two Canon 7D DSLRs on the Indie Rig, a mid-sized model that’s currently being shipped to our production house.
Our stereographer, Sean White, chose the middle-of-the-road rig because he was worried that a small one wouldn’t allow for enough coverage when using a wide-angled lens, that the cameras would “see” the inside of the beam splitter box.
And a large rig was out of the question for the event-based, run-and-gun industrial-worksite shooting that’s required Blowdown, the explosive demolition series we’re going to shoot. Our stomping ground will be a huge, condemned sports stadium in Brazil!
But there’s a huge potential downside to our mid-sized, non-refundable rig – if the Canons don’t work, logistically or qualitatively, we won’t be able to mount larger, higher-calibre video cameras because the rig’s not big enough.
But it’s a gamble we have to take – as far as we can tell, there aren’t any other systems like this … no documentary has been filmed this way, using a hand-held self-contained unit.
Two is better than one, right? We’re getting a clearer idea of what it will take to shoot our inaugural 3D documentary: To effectively capture Blowdown in the third dimension we’ll need two different kinds of rigs.
For our A cams – we need a handheld, side-by-side rig, with all of these components:
I’m running up against the same issues as I had with finding a camera that may work … only amplified.
There are even fewer beam splitter rigs that would work to film Blowdown – an event-based production in an industrial work environment – than there are cameras.
Here’s why: At this point in time the 3D supply companies are geared only to feature and giant screen projects.
This means the few beam splitter rigs that might fit the bill require at least 25 kilograms of equipment – and rent for roughly $6,000 per week.
One company gave us a quote to buy, coming in around $60,000 – plus camera, monitors and record decks – plus a Steadicam operator to schlep this around.
This just won’t work for us because of the:
– Cost: above our budget – which is on the high end for documentary;
– Crew power: the Steadicam operator would be an extra body to travel, house and feed; and
– Logistics: the weight and the sheer volume are above our single operator criteria – which is maximum 20 kilos: The camera, the rig, the steadicam, battery and monitor would weigh in almost five kilos too heavy, especially when you’re running around an industrial work site, trying to capture moments where you DON’T get another take.
Even if we could get past all these obstacles, if we could find a way to use these rigs, it turns out there’s only a few exist in the world … and they’re hopelessly tied up.
The results are in, and the good news is, in fact, also the bad news – the list is even shorter than I anticipated.
I didn’t expect to find much – now the team’s confirmed my fears that there is absolutely nothing out there for the size we need that meets current broadcast specs.
Even the Panasonic and Sony’s mechanic guts are using older technology – and the compression will not meet the strident broadcast requirements – so that means even if they arrive on shelves today, we can’t use them. (There are options to bring up the bit-rate, but that presents its own suite of problems – more on that later.)
So this coming week we’re looking at the only games in town (well, actually out of town … all hail priority shipping) – Iconix and SI-2Ks – for a side-by-side configuration.
The list of accessories is extensive to make these work – we’re gathering what we think we need, and I’m sure we’ll require more – I’ll post the final manifest once we figure it out.
I’ll also continue to share all the other tech/spec/how-to trials of our mission: impossible as we slog through them – next step, the Iconix SI-2K showdown.