Here’s the problem: beam splitter rigs are extremely sensitive – anyone who works with them has undoubtedly discovered that you have to have perfect alignment of the two cameras to each other, and to the mirror.
To make sure they’re aligned, we need to use a 3D monitor – so we can see both cameras on the same grid.
The model we’ve purchased (and as far as I can tell the only one that fits our field requirements, tech demands and budget) – the Transvideo Cineform 3D Monitor – takes an HDSDI signal from both cameras and combines them.
The Canon 7Ds aren’t built to send this signal … so there’s no way to see them on the monitor.
Even if we could somehow convert the signal they do send to HDSDI, the monitor also needs these two signals to be genlocked – impossible with these models.
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.