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Panasonic’s Tommy James on 3D

Besides supporting MediaProCamp II with sponsorship, Panasonic Solutions Company rep, Tommy James, was an important participant, not only as Key Note Speaker but by hosting an informative session on cutting edge 3D technology and techniques.

It's an interesting note that as a large multi-national electronics company, Panasonic "Gets It." They understand the best marketing is person to person. It not only puts the products in the hands of influential consumers such as MCAI members but creates a real dialogue from which both media pros and manufacturer can benefit.

In fact, one of the points James made in his keynote speech was just that: manufacturers respond to the market. So, in a sense the future of 3D depends on whether professionals such as MCAI members find application for it in corporate video, commercials and indy films.

James brought with him to MediaProCamp II Panasonic's new 3D camera with fixed inter-ocular lenses. The AG-3DA1 is the world's first professional, fully-integrated Full HD 3D camcorder that records to SD card media.

The unit he had was a field test model since the production models won't be available for at least three more months. The AG-3DA1 promises to democratize 3D production by giving professional videographers and moviemakers a more affordable, flexible, reliable and easier-to-use tool.

In addition to the camcorder, Tommy James also brought a Panasonic BT-3DL2550, a 25" professional-quality 3D Full HD LCD monitor for field use, and the AG-HMX100, a professional HD digital AV mixer for live 3D event production.

James compared the camcorder to larger, heavier 3D rigs with two mounted cameras shooting into a prism. He pointed out the trade-offs of making the Panasonic AG-3DA1 camera so small, lightweight and affordable. The fixed lenses present some limitations but independent filmmakers and television producers on a budget will more often than not be happy to take those trade-offs for the affordability it presents.

Some creative techniques and technical issues are quite different in 3D, James pointed out. For instance, the point at which the two lenses frame the image exactly the same--the convergence point--is what determines the three dimensional effect, separating the foreground and background. That convergence point is not the same as focal point but is another element for the videographer to deal with. Tommy introduced the roundtable to a term we'll be hearing a lot more of in the future: Stereographer.

Other subjects included on-set viewing options and 3D workflow from capture through post. James had lots of practical techniques unique to working in 3D which he's picked up from top cinematographers and directors in his professional role presenting Panasonic to the film and TV industry.

The discussion was lively and many layered. The nature of questions revealed a good number of participants either having worked with 3D or knowing quite a bit about it. James' answers were honest, straight forward and detailed. Our thanks to Panasonic Solutions Company and Tommy James for participating. And like most of the sessions of MediaProCamp, it wasn't long enough. For those that joined this session, it was one of the highlights of MediaProCamp II.