Archive for January, 2010

PostHeaderIcon 3D: The Latest Fad – Again?

The fate of today’s accelerating 3D trend is an open question in my mind, and I am really hoping for guidance from  you on this one. On the one hand Panasonic (and others) will almost certainly be introducing simple and affordable 3D camcorders in the coming 18 months. The plastic mockup of Panasonic’s 12-bit AVC-Ultra camcorder based on the HPX170 model garnered many long covetous stares from NAB showgoers in 2009. The advent of 3D consumer plasma displays this year is surely another indicator that 3D is for real this time, and not just the province of the privileged few à la James Cameron’s Avatar. On the other hand there are so many technical and craft hurdles to overcome when shooting 3D, the complexity of processing the faux 3D images inside the brain lending itself to many unknown and unwelcome physiological effects beyond the well-recognized 3D Headache’ in audiences subject to unfused 3D imagery. Where are we going with this? Please tell me.

PostHeaderIcon Best Wishes to Shooters in 2010!

First day of the first month of the new decade. Time to think a little bit more perhaps about our priorities in life, our relationships with the important people in our lives, and to a lesser extent with our craft and careers.

Regardless of the current state of the economy, which is dismal for many of us, the changes in technology in cameras and image acquisition are rattling more than a few of our collective cages. Last Monday night on December 28 I presented my heretical thoughts to a ribald group of 110 shooters and presumably interested attendees at Birns & Sawyer in Hollywood CA. Sure we talked about the new gear and lenses as Doug Leighton from Panasonic and Joe Patton from Canon described their respective wares.

The real issue that seemed to dominate the collective discussion, however, had little to do with the physical tools of the trade but the reality of necessarily adapting to the transforming workplace. Many comments from the group expressed support for all things 3D, a notion apparently shaped by the current studios’ increased demand for 3D content. The crowd suggested that 3D capture could become the norm for many shooters in the coming year.

For general live-action titles I’m not sure 3D will ever become more than a minor niche player. One reason is the current requirement that audiences don specialized headgear which interferes with the immersive quality of the cinema.  In the future, halographic technology may very well obviate the need for intrusive glasses. But we’re not there yet.

Some members of the Hollywood group took exception with what they perceived as my anti-super high resolution bias; the feeling no doubt fueled by the less than flattering comments for higher and higher resolution capture devices like the RED One and Epic. My contention was and continues to be that the current Resolution Religion permeating our ranks is fundamentally flawed, when in fact what shooters ought to be demanding is Performance, Performance, Performance, and not Resolution, Resolution, Resolution, which is after all but one measure of a camera’s performance.

Low-light sensitivity, dynamic range, ergonomics, ruggedness of hardware, optics, and appropriateness for the story at hand, should be at the forefront of every shooter’s consciousness, and not merely the number of pixels that can be jammed into a poorly performing albeit cheap CMOS imager the size of a battleship.

Let’s continue in the new year to seek gear with superior performance that can help us garner greater employment and plum assignments. I don’t deny that very high resolution image capture can be advantageous in some applications. Just let us not make it the only point of discussion because it doesn’t serve us well either economically or in terms of our craft, which after all requires maximum versatility and performance in the current highly constrained business environment.